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 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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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:34 am

by Charles Carreon
April, 2004


Everyday begins this way. Waking on a sterile single-wide sleeping cushion. Just like the one your spouse, your children, and your neighbors have been sleeping on. Uniformity is the rule. Then, before all else, or perhaps after you shave if you are a bit indulgent, you take your Prozium. The swift injection to the neck, inoculating you against feeling, killing for the duration of its effect, the temptation to feel. For feeling is the enemy of humanity, the seed of evil hidden in the human heart.

Onward marches humanity, in continuous victory over the senses. And continuous war against sense offenders. The most zealous among us are children, zealots with eyes of steel that spot the quivering emotionality in the shoulders, the uncertain tip of the head, the lagging tread, that betray the sense offender. Those who are dumping their Prozium into the toilet, crushing it underfoot, stowing it in a hollow in the bathroom wall, anything but injecting it into their neck.

Under the influence of Prozium, freed of the disturbing emotions, an extraordinary level of discipline emerges in the mind of the most ordinary person. Emotions, far from helping us to achieve our most cherished goals, throw the human animal into a tizzy of unproductive, confused action. Ultimately, emotions lead to war, to the angry release of frustrations built up within the prison of the emotions. So humanity was left with no choice but to take up war against the emotions.

Prozium is the weapon that put the foe to flight, dealing a hammer blow to the demonic emotions within the heart of every human. Lost, of course, was the fleeting delight that intoxicates the sense offender, but gone too was the impulse that leads to war, the inflamed mob mind that seeks vengeance on itself. The social contract finally was enforced to the ultimate level, requiring the fortress of selfhood to be razed in order to protect all humanity from the evil motives of individuals.

Sense offenders refuse to make the sacrifice demanded of them by the righteous needs of all. Their swift elimination is the desire of all of the citizens of Libria, and the duty of the Grammaton Clerics, specially trained in the science of death.

The road to sense offenderhood is a short one. It begins with a single stumble, so one must be ever vigilant. Perhaps, through accident, one breaks a vial of Prozium, and through misfortune, fails to replace it and skips a dose. Perhaps no harm will come of it. Perhaps no powerful emotions will rise up to claim your soul, but by forsaking Prozium even for a moment, you run the risk of being thrown off track, into the dangerous byways of sense offense.

For the sense offender at first everything seems brighter. A delusive ecstasy grips the mind, prompting untoward expansive behavior, which should be the first warning sign for friends and relatives. The sense offender may express pleasure inappropriately, or protective impulses toward non-human life forms that they call "pets." The sense offender will seek to feed his or her habit by all means necessary. It quickly goes beyond stretching out the intervals between Prozium administration, while grasping furtive pleasure in the brushing of one's hair for an inappropriately long period of time, humming in the shower, or entertaining notions. Soon entire days are spent in sense affairs, conjuring excuses for absence, drifting ever farther from the margin of true Libria, taking refuge in the Nethers, with hardened sense offenders. In time, the evil strikes. Sense offenders take up arms to satisfy the hate breeding in their hearts. Claiming to be protecting themselves from the Librian state, they engage in gun battles in defense of clandestine lairs stuffed with contraband sense objects.

Finally, the dialectic of the sense offender emerges, a self-justifying rant that seeks to overthrow the very rationale that has redeemed humanity after millennia of war. Sense offenders teach a heresy -- that Libria has institutionalized the war of each against all under the ideological cover of benefit to all humanity. That Father has enslaved his children in chemical bonds, that Prozium is poison. Such a slander cannot be allowed to stand. Nor can the perpetrators of the heresy be tolerated. Having taken up arms against Libria, at the hands of a duly consecrated Grammaton Cleric, they pay an immediate price for their crimes.

Skilled in the art of the Gun Kata, and intuitively tuned to know what sense offenders are feeling, Grammaton Clerics are lethal weapons capable of delivering fire in a 360-degree radius under conditions of total darkness, killing every sense offender within a reasonable circumference of their center. A Cleric performing the Gun Kata maintains continuous movement. He is always other than where his opponents believe him to be. He cannot be touched, and strikes at will. His enemies are, invariably, defeated. He is the hero of all true Librians.

To be a Grammaton Cleric, and a sense offender. The thing is not unheard of, and swiftly dealt with. When a Grammaton Cleric cracks, what kind of bones are exposed?

I can only say that it begins like this. A restless night after a hard day's work. A broken Prozium vial, and a lie to conceal it. Ripping the protecting sense-masking material from the transparent windowpane, tasting the light of the sun glinting over the shining towers of Libria. Seeing the liquid rays glinting through the hazy morning air. I spy a greying woman, like myself, being born along in a herd of drab-clothed workers, stroking her hand on the smooth metal of the banister rail. I imitate her, and quickly feel what she is feeling. It is a small stimulus, a bit of pleasure slyly snagged. A sense offender on the loose. And I do nothing to apprehend her.

Sucked in by the flow of sensual experience, I tried to surf the wave, but was quickly overwhelmed. It began as an ordinary day on the job with my new partner, knocking down the doors of sense offense lairs, torching menageries of memorabilia, burning up the dangerous fuel of emotion stored in yet another hidden vault. For years I've sent sense offenders to Processing, but on that unguarded day the eyes of a sense offender stopped me with a gaze. And what a gaze. Two green eyes too large for their sockets in a pale face of outrage unashamed of its sensuality. Framed with a mane of red hair, slashed with an angry mouth of accusation. And later in another sense lair, indulging for a moment in playing with the evidence, I was overwhelmed by something called Beethoven, that I played on an ancient victrola.

Now it seems I must confront my teachers, who are infallible in the ways of death. Having learned their ways, having mastered the emotions and the Gun Kata, I am compelled to reject their authority. Father's declarations poison the mind with fear, and by fear we are prevented from questioning him. I have no fear, so I am free to question Father, and his answers do not satisfy me.

From now on, I will make only instantaneous decisions from among compelling choices. This Grammaton Cleric seeks neither vengeance nor reward. Simply truth.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:35 am

by Charles Carreon
August, 2003


Many of the students who started class early are finishing early. Take Stephen Batchelor, who started out way ahead of the crowd, translating Buddhist texts, chumming around with lamas in Dharamsala, learning the Vajrayana equivalent of the merit badge system. Not only did he understand it, but he could relate it in writing. If anyone seemed destined for the title of "lotsawa" it would certainly have been him.

But somewhere along the way, his sincerity became an obstacle to his growth within the Tibetan Buddhist system. Failing to sufficiently value his opportunities within the hierarchy, he allowed his personal desire for understanding to take precedence. He could have been a khenpo, now people respect him less than a bonpo. What went wrong? He's so low even people who haven't started their ngondro can afford to dislike him without fear of reproach. His books are no longer endorsed by important lamas, his stock is about to be de-listed, and there is certainly nothing in his 401K.

How does this happen? Surely it is Stephen's fault. A deep personality flaw that took its time in manifesting. Previously undetected strata of stony pride and repelling the drill bit of vajra wisdom. A heart unsoftened by devotion, refusing entry to the guru's grace. All things that any Pema-come-lately knows to avoid, and will avoid, as the protectors give them strength. And don't forget to use deodorant, prostrations make you stink like a pig.

While apparently quality people like Batchelor consign themselves to the trash heap of modern Buddhist road-kill, low-lifes continue to move up the ladder. The hereditary low-lifes accept their entitlements with all the aplomb of pampered royalty, knowing better than to question a system that bestows such blessings. Aspiring purchasers of titles have found that generosity is indeed the first perfection to which they must aspire. All other blessings then follow.

Dr. Rick Strassman, the bold and dedicated psychedelic researcher had his license to practice Buddhism summarily revoked when an aging Zen master got wind of his plans to let people explore their minds with chemicals under the rubric of a spiritual quest. Meanwhile, Joan Halifax, ex-wife of Stan Grof and long-time promoter of altered states, tacks "Roshi" onto the end of her name, apparently having found a more accommodating doctrinal perch. Or perhaps it turned out, under questioning, that she didn't inhale.

The search for doctrinal legitimacy is doomed. Buddhists are as sectarian as Baptists, just as convinced that their sect is right and that others, while tentatively entitled to acceptance as sister-sects, would fundamentally be better off changing their beliefs to accord with the Real Truth. The real strengths of the Eastern sects are their incorporation of mass methods of subjugation by the use of powerful symbols. Uniformly patriarchal, skilled in using authoritarian props like thrones, robes, staffs and scepters, the Easterners can control a crowd more reliably than Mick Jagger. And accomplish the same thing -- subjugate all the men, and excite all the women. In this way, both sexes work for free, attempting to work their way up to the pyramid of recognized loyalty and desirableness.

What many aspirants have found is that it's a long way to the top, and there isn't much of a view. When you have collected all of your merit badges and apply for your certificate, it turns out there's not much there. If you want a title, a position where you can work like an indentured servant indefinitely to accomplish things that someone else decided must be done, you may retire in this position. But most people would find a job at the post office more rewarding. The apex of a religious venture is always as detestably twisted as any other human power focus. But it is twice as galling to find yourself there at the end of a quest for self-fulfillment That is where the exiles are coming from, and no one wants to hear what they have to say. They are going down the upstaircase, and are seen as just being old and in the way, poisoned by the wine of sour grapes. But suppose they are like the people heading out of the Two Towers on 9-11? Suppose they are telling everyone to turn around, go back, and return home for their own safety. It will give them no satisfaction to see those who do not listen consumed in the disaster.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:36 am

DON'T BLAME RAMANA, by Charles Carreon

I'm a connoisseur of silly little buttons that say things like, "You must be from the shallow end of the gene pool." One of my favorites is "Never judge a client by his lawyer." It might also be said, "Don't judge a guru by his cultists."

Ramana Maharshi is a classic example. All of the bootstrap self-enlightened bozos like Bubba Fuck Job and Andrew Cohen, who need an authority to hang their hat on, try to say, "We're self-enlightened like Ramana Maharshi." And they'll hasten to add, "We're actually even better than Ramana, because blah blah blah."

Well hate to tell ya guys, but Ramana didn't cite any authority for his Realization. He didn't induct his Mama into the cult (she showed up willingly after she got old), or marinate in quality drugs and top-shelf booty. (Well, says Fuck Job, it may not be enlightenment, but it's a better ride than you got. Which, minus the insanity, is probably right.)

But Ramana has attracted parasites like any huge being. Remoras and lampreys clinging to his enormous spiritual bulk, then dispersing themselves through the spiritual seas, where they feed rapaciously. Instead of spreading the immense serenity of Ramana, who was a mountain of spiritual stillness, these fools spread irritation and anxiety. Ramana made one trip in his entire life -- from his home town to Tiruvannamalai, to abide at Arunachala, the mountain sacred to Shiva. He discovered a being, himself, who really needed nothing. So he sought nothing. Not disciples, or recognition, or an offering. His self-abandonment was complete, and would have ended in death had his new friend, Palani Swami, not intervened with food and shelter, pulling him out from under the Shiva temple where the young God-struck sadhu had taken up residence to avoid the rocks thrown by the naughty little Indian boys.

The modern day emulators of Ramana are quite different. They travel the world like Spiritual CEOs, administering a sacred fiefdom that adopts the legal firepower of an international business behemoth, operating under a code of secrecy and a freedom to abuse adherents that even Wal Mart managers would envy. Bubba Fuck Job has flown around the world at least eighty times, visiting his victims, and encouraging them to blow their minds and wallets on a God Jones. No wonder he called himself Jones.

I'll tell you who Jones is, if you don't already know. There's a book called "The Lotus Crew," about Harlem heroin dealers moving Triad heroin. It's beautiful if you want to taste the thoughtstream of addiction. In drug dialect, Jones is the addicted being himself. There is only one Jones. Jones is who you see in your friend's eyes when you know he's doing the product. You know when you're talking to Jones, not your friend. Because Jones lies. Lies like a mother fucker.

Ramana emulators are really some of the worst, most dangerous cult leaders. But you can't blame Ramana. He discovered the knife. They cut themselves.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:38 am

DR. RAY BROWN BIOGRAPHY, by Charles Carreon


Dr. Ray Brown, who was familiar with the Berry Islands of the Bahamas, where he had previously searched for Spanish treasure galleons, returned there in 1970. He detailed his experience in an interview with the author Charles Berlitz.

When we returned to where we had been before, looking for the sunken galleons, a violent squall came up. We had to hang on to mangroves on the island, it was so violent. Six to eight foot waves broke over us and we lost most of our equipment. In the morning we saw that our compasses were spinning and our magnometers were not giving readings. We took off north- east from the island. It was murky but suddenly we could see outlines of buildings under the water. It seemed to be a large exposed area of an underwater city. We were five divers and we all jumped in and dove down, looking for anything we could find. As we swam on, the water became clear. I was close to the bottom at 135 feet and was trying to keep up with the diver ahead of me. I turned to look toward the sun through the murky water and saw a pyramid shape shinning like a mirror. Thirty-five to forty feet from the top was an opening. I was reluctant to go inside... but I swam anyway. The opening was like a shaft debouching into an inner room. I saw something shinning. It was a crystal, held by two metallic hands. I had on my gloves and I tried to loosen it. It became loose. As soon as I grabbed it I felt this was the time to get out and not come back.

I'm not the only person who has seen the ruins -- others have seen them from the air and say they are five miles wide and more than that in length.

Reports from the other divers who were with Dr. Brown at the time are unavailable since three of them have died or disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle while diving. Dr. Brown still has the crystal, which he sometimes shows to lecture audiences. Inside the round crystal can be seen a series of pyramidal forms. When one holds the crystal, a throbbing sensation is felt in the hand of the holder, whether by autosuggestion or some quality inherent in the object.

Dr. Brown did not express an opinion as to the identity of the place that he visited except to say that it was an underwater pyramid surrounded by ruined buildings. He believes that the pyramid and the other buildings extend farther down under the sea floor, with only the upper portions visible. Brown does not reveal the coordinates of the pyramid, which, if located near the Berry Islands, is definitely not one searched for by the Ari Marshal expedition.

During the mid-70's Dr. Brown practiced naturopathic medicine in a thriving office in Mesa, Arizona. His waiting room was full of people eager to receive his diagnosis and prescriptions for homeopathic medicines. Everyone had a miracle to tell. There were a couple in our family -- saving a newborn from death's door when hospital doctors had turned their hands up, and a remarkable permanent recovery from disabling pleurisy. Some of our friends had a little baby afflicted with seizures so serious he was medicated with phenobarbital around the clock. He was like a slug from the downers -- couldn't roll himself over. Dr. Brown got him off the phenobarbital, and put him on 1Million -X Homeopathic Belladonna. A few months later we got a photo in the mail from the happy parents -- the little guy was sitting up on the beach, looking at the camera and smiling. Dr. Brown's medicines were ones he personally made using special machines with ultrasound capabilities that he had designed himself. The result was, he explained, the creation of super-strength homeopathic compounds that had the vibrational imprint of the minerals and even the DNA of medicinal plants. He had an ebullient enthusiasm about his ability to cure disease, almost as if he thrived on seeing sick people, to see how many he could help as quickly as possible. And he charged next to nothing. Even the poor could pay for his medicines, and for some reason, there were a lot of us. But you can't do your job too well in the medicine business. We heard the AMA busted him and shortly thereafter he became very difficult to find. Now nobody can find him. If you're out there, Ray, drop us an email.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:39 am

by Charles Carreon
August, 2003

I just finished reading "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," by Rick Strassman, M.D. who practices psychiatry in Taos, New Mexico and is a Clinical Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Dr. Strassman managed to finagle permits to administer DMT, "an extremely short-acting and powerful psychedelic," at the UNM School of Medicine. Beginning in 1990, and continuing for five years, he administered 400 doses of DMT to 60 human volunteers.

Dr. Strassman has great intellectual credentials, including degrees from Stanford and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. He interned in general psychiatry at U.C. Davis Medical Center where he received the Sandoz Award for outstanding graduate resident in 1981. He has also been a Zen Buddhist for over 20 years and is deeply interested in the liberating spiritual potential of psychedelic drugs. Dr. Strassman's avowed purpose for his DMT work was to find ways to do good things for people with psychedelic drugs, but he was compelled to follow strict bio-medical protocols that ultimately hamstrung his research efforts and made him question whether there was any point in continuing. He left the project after his wife contracted cancer, and the promised additional support for his psychedelic research from other medical professionals failed to materialize. Dr. Strassman makes it clear that a great way to screw up a promising scientific career is to become interested in psychedelic research. He recounts a telling conversation with an anonymous "Dr. K," at the San Diego V.A. Hospital. Dr. Strassman was on his fellowship, and was having a "rambling and wide-ranging" conversation with Dr. K., when he ventured one of his pet theories:

"Do you think," I offered, "that the pineal [gland] might produce psychedelic compounds? It seems to have the right ingredients. Maybe it somehow mediates spontaneous psychedelic types of states -- psychosis for example." Dr. K. stopped in his tracks and turned on his heels. His brow furrowed and he peered at me intently through his glasses. A palpable menace glinted from his eyes. "Ooops," I thought. "Let me tell you this, Rick," he said slowly and firmly. "The pineal has nothing to do with psychedelic drugs."

Dr. Strassman learned his lesson, and did not speak the words "pineal and psychedelic in the same breath to anyone" for the remainder of the year.

Of course, we expect scientists to be uptight, because they have grants to protect, wives to support, kids to feed, and politicians to please. However, Strassman never expected to discover that his fellow Zen Buddhists were even more uptight than Dr. K., who just didn't want anyone screwing up his reputation in the pineal gland business.

Strassman's experiments utilized intravenous injections of DMT at dosage levels calculated at .05 mg./kg. of body weight for a low dose, and .4 mg./kg. for a high dose. The onset of psychedelic effect after injection is immediate with doses of .2 mg./kg. and above. What Strassman discovered in his experiments upended his hypothetical applecart. He expected people to have mystical and near-death type experiences. He did not expect for many of his experimental subjects to declare with certainty that they had met other beings during their experience, whom they described as "clowns" or "elves," who took an intensive interest and delight in the experimental subject's appearance in their dimension. These beings reside behind the brilliantly colored curtains of psychedelic light that immediately invade the visual sense field within seconds after administration of the drug. Ultimately, Dr. Strassman seemed to give up on his efforts to interpret these beings as projections of psychological features, as one subject after another refused to accept that characterization, insisting that the beings were real, the place where they met the beings was real, and they did not reflect mere inner experiences in a Freudian or Jungian sense.

Dr. Strassman was also surprised when one person after another recounted experiences strangely reminiscent of alien abduction stories when receiving a high dose of DMT. Admittedly, Dr. Strassman was administering the DMT in a large hospital, where medical hardware was everywhere present, and bio-medical protocols required that he take blood draws, blood pressure readings, and even EEGs and MRIs of people tripping their brains out. Nevertheless, lots of people recorded experiences that involved detailed visualizations of large numbers of intelligent beings, often reptilian or automaton-like, tending huge machines in vast illuminated complexes, and performing examinations of the experimental subject. They often bonded with one of the strange beings and were regarded indifferently by the rest.

This reminded me of my friend Ernesto's DMT experience that he recently recounted. Depositing the DMT powder on a bed of dried pscyhotria viridis, which has a small amount of naturally occurring DMT in it, and putting another layer of psychotria viridis on top of the dust (to prevent it from bursting into flame) he applied a butane lighter flame and consumed the entire bowl in one breath. The effects were as fast as promised, and as he exhaled the white smoke, complex colored patterns appeared in the smoke-swirls. His entire psychosomatic system began to vibrate, from the inside out and from the outside in, and the only thing he could hear was a mantra, a single word repeated endlessly. This mantra seemed to protect him from disorganizing energy, keeping him collected around his center. He felt a bit of anxiety that the experience might get out of control, but it did not. With eyes open or closed, he saw colored patterns of an extremely complex geometric structure that gradually began to resemble reptilian structures such as scales and bones. After around five minutes, Ernesto got up from his seat and laid down under a blanket. There, for around the next 1-1/2 hours, he continued to experience a reptilian presence. This reptilian presence was somewhat disturbing to Ernesto, because of the conditioning we have against reptiles, but the reptile presence spoke to him gently, encouraging him to appreciate the reptilian history in his body, and its great strength and resilience. The reptilian spirit told him that it was a source of his strength, that he needed in order to succeed as a living being. Ernesto accepted this understanding, and gradually dealt with the tension between conditioned repulsion and wholesome self-acceptance. He saw images of primitive spears, the extensions of reptilian talons and claws. In days following, Ernesto's strength and resolve in the course of ordinary life seemed strengthened and smoothly directed. A few nights later, he advised, he had brief DMT-like colored visions in his dreams. He stated that the experience had not been anywhere near as frightening as common stories had caused him to expect, and if given the opportunity, he would try another DMT voyage.

According to his grant proposal, Dr. Strassman was not supposed to be giving therapy, but leading people through the inner world always requires the intuitive skills of a healer. He never knew when one of his experimental subjects would experience a terrifying upheaval. One poor fellow, a happy raver-type with charming looks and a light-hearted attitude, who had consumed lots of MDMA (ecstasy) in recreational settings, suffered a nightmare ordeal on a high-dose trip. The drug kicked in, his feet convulsed in a kicking motion, and he remained rigid for ten minutes. Then he opened his eyes, sat up, and declared that he had just been raped anally by two crocodiles who sat on his chest and immobilized him so completely that he was unable to sit up or reach out for a comforting hand. As he put it, when the experience began he thought it was a dream but "then realized it was really happening." Of course, with the time distortion effect added in, this was a monolithic exercise in agony. Interestingly, this subject considered the experience fundamentally beneficial, in that it increased his appreciation for ordinary life. He cut down on his ecstasy-taking in trivial social interactions, moved in with his girlfriend, and assumed a quiet lifestyle.

Whether covered with contrived nonchalance, or with a veneer of spiritual sophistication, the soft underbelly of the human psyche is quickly exposed by this substance. A woman who prepared for her session by flipping through the New Yorker had an extremely miserable trip on a very low dose and accepted no further injections. A modern-day shaman named Carlos kept trying to explain away his high anxiety before each administration of the drug, which induced violent shaking notwithstanding his profession that his first dose was nothing much. Eventually he had a full death experience that he considered fully valid spiritually, but wished he had been with friends out in the mountains when it took place. But some of the most enthusiastic were unable to continue. In certain cases, DMT high-doses induce huge spikes in blood pressure, in one case so severe Dr. Strassman was ready to call the cardiac team, and diagnosed the slight headache that the subject felt after the trip as the result of extreme vaso-dilation in the large blood vessels that enter the base of the skull. But the experimenter was pleased with the experience, and notwithstanding his disability, wished to take further trips. Though he was not permitted by Strassman, the subject remained grateful and considered it a very important experience that confirmed the rightness of his spiritual direction.

Under the guise of trying to determine whether DMT administration develops a tolerance in the user, Dr. Strassman developed a protocol of four high-dose injections approximately one hour apart. These doses were .3 mg./kg., not the highest dose but plenty psychedelic. Dr. Strassman said that everyone who was given the opportunity persevered through all four doses, a moderately exhausting experience.

First, the answer to the tolerance question -- DMT does not build up a tolerance, and each successive dose was just as powerful as the first. What changed was the character of the experience, which seems to profit from familiarity. The first high dose trip is the shocker, when people don't know what they are going to see and aren't sure they like seeing it. The second and third trips grow increasingly familiar. And by the fourth trip, many people felt cleaned out, healed and freed of persistent anxiety. One young woman in her early twenties who professed a lesbian orientation and was highly attractive to people of both sexes, had a persistent pain in her belly. She had been raped repeatedly by her step-father at sixteen. During her four sessions, she met the beings on the other side, whom she called the elves, and discharged the pain in her midsection, which she connected with the rapes. She valued the experience very highly and felt that she would now enjoy her life a great deal more.

In addition to the powerful psychedelic effects, which caused people to blurt out things like, "Here we go!" and "They were on me quick," DMT releases large amounts of vasopressin, prolactin, growth hormone, and corticotropin, all of which may have psychological effects. During the drug effect, pupil diameter doubled within two minutes, and body temperature would rise. Dr. Strassman's theory that the pineal gland may produce DMT seems unsupported by the information in the book, but it is an intriguing theory, an explanation for why this organ, centrally located in the brain, contains so many of the precursor substances that create DMT.

Reasons for joining the experiment were the expected -- people wanted new experiences, wanted to understand the nature of their own existence and God, and wanted to deepen their understanding of life. Interestingly, many of them found a bit of what they were looking for, or at least thought they had. Dr. Strassman himself became increasingly uncertain as he looked for concrete changes in behavior, beyond expostulations of enthusiasm. From my point of view, Dr. Strassman may have been looking too hard in the wrong places. When it comes to judging how we are doing, it's hard to say that anyone knows better than we ourselves.

After years of doing the work, Dr. Strassman indeed was getting tired. One can imagine the stress of responding to the heightened mental states and emotional reactions of sensitive people questing for self knowledge. Then his wife got cancer and they moved to Canada to be closer to her relatives. Dr. Strassman started commuting to Albuquerque from Canada every couple of months, jamming in as many psychedelic sessions as possible. The fatigue took a further toll.

As I mentioned, Dr. Strassman is a long-time practicing Zen Buddhist, and like many Buddhists, had talked with other Buddhists about how LSD had led them into the search for enlightenment. He had a number of friends, long-time students in an unnamed Zen Buddhist organization that we could possibly identify by connecting the dots: the group is based in the midwest, the teacher died recently, the head of the organization is now a woman, and the organization chooses its leaders by election. It is a large group. Also, they are a bunch of assholes.

How do we know they are assholes? Because they dumped shit all over poor Dr. Strassman when he needed it the least. He had shared his thoughts about his work, and his hopes and aspirations to connect the spiritual path with psychedelic methods, disclosing deep thoughts to a person he thought was his spiritual counselor. Within the DMT sessions themselves, he incorporated attitudes of modeling equanimity and projecting compassion, Buddhist attitudes that helped subjects to benefit from the experience. Additionally, he selected for the experiment numbers of persons who had experience with psychedelic drugs and meditation, believing that they were best adapted to deal with the jarring effects of the experience. For all this respect and the place of honor that Dr. Strassman accorded Buddhism in his life and work, he was rewarded with the most arrogant, presumptuous declaration of insult that I have heard delivered from a Buddhist source in recent years. His former Buddhist pals derided his work with DMT as "not right livelihood," and denounced his plan to administer psychedelics to the terminally ill as an "appallingly dangerous" effort to "play God." With the full confidence of having reached enlightenment themselves, they decreed: "An attempt to induce enlightenment experiences by chemical means can never, will never, succeed. What it will do is badly confuse people and result in serious consequences for you."

This pronouncement certainly confused Dr. Strassman, who until then had been receiving encouragement from his old stoner pals who had put on Buddhist robes. He realized that there was a succession struggle going on within the Zen group, because the old abbot was dying, and "senior monks were lobbying for elected posts," each vying for the position of "most zealous defender of the teaching."

Then Dr. Strassman really stuck his foot in it. He published an article in Tricycle, Fall 1996, calling for "a discussion of integrating psychedelics into Buddhist practice." As Dr. Strassman put it, the "article sealed my fate ... my lifelong affiliation with the order would implicate it as contributing to these new ideas." In order to distance the Zen group from Dr. Strassman's vile heresy, his erstwhile friend, a nun who had been elected new chief poobah, "sent copies of the Tricycle article to members of my new meditation group as well as to other groups and the monastery [including] scribbled comments" Dr. Strassman had made during their private conversations. She also "wrote to the local congregation telling them not to enter my house because there might be psychedelic drugs kept in it." (This reminds me of James Thurber's mother-in-law's fear that electricity might leak out of the sockets and electrocute you. It also reminds me of Timothy Leary's statement that LSD is a substance well-known to cause insanity in those who have not taken it.) This betrayal by his old spiritual comrades was apparently the last nail in the DMT experiment's coffin. Says Dr. Strassman, "Although I could see beyond the hypocrisy that motivated much of the monastery's repudiation of my work, it took its toll." Shortly thereafter, he wrote closing summaries on all of his projects, packed up his drugs and mailed them to a secure facility near Washington, D.C., where "the supplies of DMT, psilocybin, and LSD remain ... to this day." Probably right next to the Ark of the Covenant, left there by Indiana Jones.

To read Dr. Strassman's account of the screwing he got at the hands of the robed bitches, check out Chapter 20 of his book, entitled "Stepping on Holy Toes."


by Rick Strassman, M.D.


Chapter 20 from "DMT: THE SPIRIT MOLECULE"

There generally is little support for the incorporation of spirituality, with its nonmaterial and therefore non-measurable factors, into clinical research's fold. We will see in this chapter that neither is organized religion, no matter how mystically inclined, open-minded and secure enough to seriously consider the spiritual potential of clinical research with psychedelics.

There are several places in this book where I refer to my interest in Buddhist theory and practice. In addition to theoretical and practical contributions to the research, I also received much personal support and guidance from decades of involvement with an American Zen Buddhist monastery. From the initial inspiration for the psychedelic research to the development of the rating scale and our methods of supervising sessions, my understanding of Buddhism pervaded nearly every aspect of working with the spirit molecule.

Being raised a Jew in southern California in the 1950s and 1960s, my religious training emphasized learning the Hebrew language and Jewish festivals, history, and culture. We also remembered the Holocaust and supported the newly formed Jewish state of Israel. We learned little about how to directly encounter God. This was something for the ancient patriarchs alone: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.

There were moments of joy in my Jewish education. Singing Hebrew folk songs and prayers in large groups was ecstatic, although I didn't use that word at the time. So were the complex swirling and whirling Israeli folk dances we learned. In addition, one of my religious school teachers did try teaching us to meditate. We closed our eyes when she did, and then looked around the room through half-shut lids to see who was peeking. Our teacher had a beatific expression on her face, sitting at her desk, fingers interlaced in front of her lap. Once or twice during this classroom meditation I glimpsed something inside that felt good, calm, and right, but I also was startled and a little uncomfortable contacting it.

I later found Eastern religious teachings and practices provided the most accessible methods to begin satisfying the desires for deeper truths that emerged during my college years. In this way I'm similar to many of my generation. These "new religions" included Zen and other forms of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sufism. Their emphasis on mystical union with the source of all being resonated deeply with that need for ultimate truth. The personal certainty embodied in recently arrived Japanese, Indian, and Tibetan teachers, and the spiritual exercises that promised results confirmed by generations of practitioners, combined to make an irresistible package.

My introduction to the mysteries of the East came in the form of Transcendental Meditation in the early 1970s. I enjoyed the quiet and peacefulness of this practice, but the intellectual underpinnings did not appeal to me. Soon thereafter, I discovered in Buddhism both the practical and intellectual inspiration I was seeking.

Buddhism is a meditation-based religion, 2,500 years old, that in impartial, psychological, and relatively easily accessible terms describes and considers all the states of mind one could possibly imagine, whether horrific, beatific, neutral, helpful, or harmful. In addition, Buddhism offers practical, cause-and-effect moral codes that apply the insights of meditation to daily life.

It took a few tries to find a suitable Buddhist community. Once more, Jim Fadiman at Stanford pointed me in the right direction, this time to a midwestern United States Zen monastery run by a rather reclusive, but startlingly solid, Asian teacher. I attended two weekend meditation retreats there in 1974 and felt as if I had arrived home. The monks were serene but down to earth, and we enjoyed being with each other. Most interesting was that most of them had gained their first view of the spiritual path while on psychedelic drugs.

They did not volunteer this information, of course. But in the free-wheeling early days of the temple, such informal self-disclosure was common. It was as simple as asking, "Did you take psychedelics before becoming a monk? How important were they in your decision?" The overwhelming majority had taken them and had experienced their first glimpse of the enlightened state of mind with their assistance.

A five-week retreat at the monastery during a break from medical school helped me develop a portable and efficient Buddhist practice. The meditation was straightforward: sit comfortably, back straight, and just sit. "Just sit" as in "just walk," "just wash the dishes," "just breathe." In other words, focus all your attention on the task at hand. When sitting, therefore, you just sat. No thinking, daydreaming, fidgeting, emotional reactions, talking, or whatever else complicated the sitting process. The regular in-and-out movement of the breath functioned as an excellent anchor, a point upon which the wandering mind could ground and focus its attention whenever distracting thoughts or feelings interrupted uncluttered awareness.

Upon returning to medical school, I reserved a room for lunchtime meditation and there were always one or two people joining me for a half-hour "sit." I stayed in close touch with several monks, visited the monastery regularly, and hosted a retreat led by priests traveling to New York.

Buddhism and meditation also seemed a rich field of academic study. I arranged to take a medical school summer elective for mental health professionals at the Nyingma Institute, which had been established by a Tibetan Buddhist lama in the hills of Berkeley, California. During this course we learned the basic principles and practices of Buddhist psychology. It was here that I first learned about the Abhidharma, the Buddhist system of psychology.

Abhidharma roughly translates into "catalog of mental states." There are hundreds of Abhidharma texts, but the Nyingma lama was interested in sharing with us only the most basic principles.

One fundamental tenet was that the normal flow of personal experience actually was a smooth synthesis of several component parts. These facts are called the skandhas, or "heaps," the five "things" that make up our conscious state: form, feeling, perception, consciousness, and habitual tendencies. We spent days discussing each of these until we developed a consensus definition with which we felt comfortable and could express in familiar Western terms.

Another important point was the possibility of, and methods for, dissolving the glue that held these skandhas together. By deconstructing, as it were, the facade of our sense of self, Buddhists believe we can access deeper layers of reality, compassion, love, and wisdom. There was a sequence of stages in that process, and a knowledgeable teacher could help the meditator recognize and progress through those steps. Buddhism had refined these techniques over millennia, and millions of practitioners had verified and validated these methods and their results.

While these meditations were more elaborate and complicated than "just sitting," they were fascinating, and they produced the promised results. I needed to write a scientific article on my summer experience, and I used that opportunity to publish a description of the Abhidharma system and some of my own meditative experiences. Learning about Abhidharma also got me thinking about its usefulness in measuring psychedelic states.

Upon graduating from medical school, I returned to California for psychiatric training. There, in Sacramento, I helped establish and administer a monastery-affiliated meditation group that met weekly and sponsored retreats led by monks. For years the group met in my house, and I had many opportunities to discuss my interests, psychedelic and otherwise, with members of the monastic community. At the monastery, I underwent a layperson's ordination into the Buddhist sect whose teachings the abbot followed, and I maintained close ties with my original monk friends, who now were becoming senior members of the priestly hierarchy.

Career and training opportunities drew me away from Sacramento after my four-year psychiatric residency at the University of California in Davis, but I returned two and a half years later to join their faculty. The local meditation group I helped establish still met, but the parent organization's structure had changed substantially. Many monks had left the fold as the teachings became increasingly focused on the teacher himself and his spiritual experiences. At the same time the abbot was becoming more reclusive, surrounding himself with trusted assistants. In addition, there now existed a hierarchy within the lay community. The atmosphere had taken a turn toward "who is in, and who is out." The informal and relaxed give-and-take no longer existed.

When I later moved to New Mexico, I considered myself loosely affiliated with the monastery's extended Buddhist community. I was not inclined to deal with the political structure now necessary to start a local meditation group, but I did seek out other local members and I meditated with them regularly in an informal setting. In addition, I remained in regular contact with several monks at the head temple, many of whom were now twenty-year acquaintances. While the monastic community as a whole had lost some of its luster, I considered it my spiritual home and was married there in 1990.

There are many ways my Buddhist training and practice affected the DMT research. One of these was in how we supervised volunteers' encounters with DMT.

Supervising psychedelic sessions usually is called "sitting." Many believe this comes from the idea of "babysitting" people who are in a highly dependent, at times confused and vulnerable state. Even more importantly, though, is "sitting" in the meditational sense. The research nurse, either Cindy or Laura, and I did our best to practice "just sitting" while being with our volunteers: watching the breath, being alert, eyes gazing straight ahead, ready to respond, keeping a positive and aware attitude, letting the research subject's experience unfold without unnecessary interference.

My understanding of meditation also helped me guide people through the stages of the DMT experience. For example, I applied the Abhidharma's model of mind when coaching volunteers not to get swept away by the onslaught of colors, or to investigate the space within the grains of wood in the door if they kept their eyes open. Suggesting volunteers let go, focus on the breath and body sensations, keep an open but fluid mind to whatever came their way--all of these were tools I had acquired during decades of meditation practice and study.

Another example of how psychedelics and Buddhist meditation met was in the development of our rating scale.

Previous paper-and-pencil psychological questionnaires that measured psychedelic drug effects had serious shortcomings. They assumed that psychedelics were "psychotomimetic" or "schizotoxic," and therefore they emphasized unpleasant experiences. Many of these scales were developed using volunteers, sometimes ex-narcotic-addict prisoners, who were not told what drugs they were given, or what the effects might be.

To offer an alternative to these tools for measuring the psychedelic experience, I used an Abhidharma and skandha-based method of characterizing mental states. This purely descriptive model meshed well with what's known as the "mental-status" approach to interviewing psychiatric patients: You talk with someone and gently investigate the quality of their basic mental functions, such as mood, thinking, and perceptions.

The familiar Abhidharma terms "form," "feeling," "perception," "consciousness," and "habitual tendencies" became the framework or structure within which the rating scale's questions emerged, and how we classified replies to those questions. However, instead of calling them skandhas, "clinical clusters" seemed more appropriate and palatable for a Western scientific audience.

We gave and analyzed this new questionnaire, the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, or HRS, at the end of every DMT session for the entire project. The results were remarkable.

It is well-known in clinical psychopharmacology that a good questionnaire is more sensitive than any biological factor in assessing drug effects. In other words, a well-designed rating scale is better than measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, or hormone levels in distinguishing doses of a drug, or different types of drugs, from each other. I hoped that the HRS would follow in that tradition, and this it did without difficulty. We were better able to separate responses to various doses of DMT, or the effects of combining DMT with other drugs, using HRS scores than by measuring changes in any biological variable, including all the cardiovascular and blood hormone data. However, it also validated the wisdom and strength of the Buddhist approach to mental states.

Clifford Qualls, Ph.D., the Research Center biostatistician, and I grouped together HRS questions using the "clinical cluster" or skandha method and compared this method of analysis to a large number of alternative purely statistical models. The Abhidharma's technique was as good as, if not superior to, ones developed solely upon mathematical considerations. Since the computer-derived classification of results was no better than the clinical cluster one, and since using the skandhas made more sense intuitively, the Buddhist classification system won out. Other groups have since used the HRS and confirmed its usefulness in measuring other altered states of consciousness, drug-induced and otherwise.

Buddhism also helped me make sense of people's DMT sessions. Its far-reaching perspective includes all experiences: spiritual, near-death, and even nonmaterial or invisible realms. However, I did come up against two serious limitations in my lack of Buddhist education.

How was I to respond to a volunteer who spoke as if she or he just had undergone a drug-induced spiritual experience? Was it "real" enlightenment or not? As detailed in Chapter 16, "Mystical States," these sessions certainly left me feeling as if something deeply profound had happened. And there was no question on the volunteers' part that they had undergone the deepest and most profound experience of their lives. However, it was beyond my training and expertise to determine the validity or "certifiability" of a volunteer's understanding with anything other than psychiatric models of interpretation.

Another problem was how to relate what I knew about Buddhist approaches to nonmaterial beings with what our volunteers were reporting. For example, Tibetan and Japanese versions of Buddhism possess a full roster of demons, gods and angels. I understood these encounters to symbolically represent certain qualities of ourselves, not autonomous noncorporeal life forms.

When volunteers began reporting contact, my first reactions was, "Oh, this is something they talk about in Buddhism. They are just aspects of our own minds."

These encounters got stranger, however, and the beings started testing, probing, inserting things into, eating, and raping our volunteers. A Buddhist framework seemed less capable of explaining these types of experiences. Generically I could apply the inherent skepticism of Buddhism in taking anything as "real" or "special" about these stories. That is, it was "just meeting beings." These apparent life forms were not necessarily any wiser or more trustworthy than anything else we might meet in our lives or minds.

Nevertheless, I needed some guidance, both for the spiritual experience and the "contact" aspects of our work. I began sharing our findings, and my questions, with trusted monk friends. The one to whom I turned most often was Venerable Margaret, a Buddhist priest I met in 1974 during my first stay at the monastery.

A clinical psychologist in training, Margaret became a Buddhist monk after realizing, "I didn't want to be let loose on the world the way I was." She wanted to experience her own mental and spiritual health before trying to help others. She loved monastic life, however, and stayed on. Margaret and I spoke the same language, shared the same concerns, and viewed the human condition through similarly trained clinical eyes.

Before beginning the actual DMT studies, I happened to spend a few days at the monastery. My two-year journey through the regulatory labyrinth, seeking permission and funding to begin giving DMT, was drawing to a close. Margaret had risen to chief assistant to the abbot, and her time was heavily scheduled. However, we found an opportunity to meet and I updated her on my personal and professional life. The conversation moved into my interest in giving DMT to human research subjects. Sharing with her my belief that the pineal gland might make DMT at mystical moments in our lives, I speculated about its possible role in death and near-death states.

The lanky and shaven-headed woman monk touched the tips of her fingers together in front of her mouth, tenting them in and out. Her intensely blue eyes narrowed, and she looked over my shoulder, meeting the white wall with her gaze.

She said quietly, "What you are suggesting is something that only one out of a million people could do."

I took this intentionally unclear remark as encouragement to go deeper with the topic. Wondering about the role of psychedelics in spiritual development, I commented on how many of the now-senior monks had gotten their first sighting of the spiritual path from LSD and other drugs.

Margaret laughed, saying, "You know, I honestly can't say if my LSD trips helped or hurt y spiritual practice!"

"Hard to tell, isn't it?" I replied.


She looked at her watch, picked up her tea cup, and graciously excused herself.

The next year, 1990, I was married at the monastery. At separate meetings before the ceremony, I chatted with two other monk friends, now some of the highest ranking officers in the order. Both of them had taken psychedelic drugs in college with a fellow who later became a close friend of mine in New Mexico. This mutual acquaintance was well-known for using MDMA in a psychotherapeutic setting. They both asked about their friend and his MDMA research and were in kind fascinated by my plans to study DMT.

After wrapping up the dose-response study in 1992, I wrote a long letter to Margaret describing the full range of the stories volunteers shared with us, including near-death, enlightenment, and being contact. I also shared with her my feelings that the setting was too neutral, and our volunteers too familiar with psychedelics, for any real beneficial effects to result. I raised the issue of helping people more directly, along the lines of a psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy project with the terminally ill.

I was drawn to a terminal illness study because of the promising work in this area performed during the first wave of psychedelic clinical research in the 1960s. In addition, its emphasis on the positive effects of spiritual and near-death experiences possible with psychedelics appealed to my deeper interest in these drugs.

Margaret replied, "Most interesting! But to what purpose? Maybe future 'helping' work will shed some light on that." She also wondered about the risk-to-benefit ratio and advised performing such a study only if I was sure there were extremely few risks and an equally high likelihood of success. Insightfully, she also asked me to consider the lack of time available to undo any harm incurred from a painful or disturbing psilocybin session.

The years passed quickly, and by the end of 1994 my questions grew regarding the utility of my psychedelic research. Adverse effects accumulated, and long-term benefit was difficult to assess. In addition, the constant exposure to psychedelicized volunteers was beginning to exhaust me. I shared these developments with Margaret.

As always, she supported whatever seemed most useful for my own spiritual growth. If it involved giving up the research, she understood. However, she encouraged me to look for someone to whom I might transfer the project so the work I had begun would not end in my absence.

The additional circumstances described in the last chapter led to my moving to Canada, but I commuted to Albuquerque in order to continue running studies. After relocating, I met the members of the local monastery-affiliated meditation group and started sitting with them. There existed a major branch of the order in a nearby U.S. state across the border, and their priest scheduled a retreat in our community. Venerable Gwendolyn arrived, and the weekend workshop began.

Gwendolyn had entered the head temple directly from her parents' home. She had had a series of extraordinarily profound spiritual experiences at the monastery and was a highly ranked teacher. Nevertheless, she was not especially wise in the ways of the world, and running an urban meditation center was a significant challenge to her social skills.

During a pastoral counseling session with Gwendolyn, I let her know of the New Mexico research and some of my growing ambivalence toward it. I appreciated the opportunity to air my story to a monk who knew nothing about me, and to listen to her fresh perspective.

I was surprised to hear Gwendolyn's voice on the phone a week later.

"I was sick for three days after talking with you, it upset me so. I called the abbot, who as you know is near death. This is the first issue he's taken a personal interest in for over a year. He and I talked, as I did with other senior monks. We have decided you must stop your research immediately. I'll write you this week a more formal letter."

I replied, "Let me think about it."

Two weeks later, a letter came, not from Gwendolyn, but from Margaret. It began with, "I hope what I heard third-hand isn't true. But if it is, let me say this." With that introduction, she began an indictment of my research: past, present, and planned:

"Your psychedelic research is ultimately futile, devoid of real benefit to humanity, and dangerous;

"The idea of administering psychedelics to the terminally ill is to me appallingly dangerous. It comes about as close to 'playing God' as anything I've seen in the mental health professions;

"An attempt to induce enlightenment experiences by chemical means can never, will never, succeed. What it will do is badly confuse people and result in serious consequences for you."

Gwendolyn's letter arrived next.

"[Your research] constitutes wrong livelihood according to the Buddha's teachings.

"That DMT might elicit enlightenment experiences is delusional and contrary to the teachings of the Buddha;

"Hallucinogens disorder and confuse the mind, impede religious training, and can be a cause of rebirth into realms of confusion and suffering;

"This is the teaching and viewpoint of myself, [the abbot], [the order], and the whole of Buddhism.

"We urge you to cease all such experiments."

I reminded these monks of the years of dialogue I'd had with them regarding my interest in and performance of psychedelic research. I also pointed out the continuous interest in my work by members of the community, and the absence of any prior recommendations to avoid or stop it. If anything, there was enthusiasm and encouragement to use these interests as grist for going deeply into my own spiritual relationship to the outside world. I recalled the many conversations I'd had with monks who'd validated the importance of their psychedelic experiences as leading to their first inklings of enlightenment.

Additionally, I was eager to discuss some of their concerns. These included the obvious problems associated with thinking that certain knowledge was accessible only with an outside agent; that is, a drug. I also accepted the theoretical possibility raised by Gwendolyn that someone might mistake a real enlightenment experience for a psychedelic "flashback."

However, none of these attempts at enlarging the dialogue met with any success.

What was going on?

The abbot was dying, and he was making sure the teachings he left behind were as unsullied by controversy as possible. In addition, senior monks were lobbying for elected posts that would determine the future of the community. Who was the most zealous defender of the teaching? Those whose positive psychedelic experiences had led them to Buddhism in the first place had to remain silent, and close rank behind those without such backgrounds. Psychedelics could not become a divisive issue at this crucial moment in the monastery's existence.

And then the Fall 1996 issue of Tricycle, The Buddhist Review came out with my article calling for a discussion of integrating psychedelics into Buddhist practice.

In that article I presented Elena's first high-dose session, which we've read in Chapter 16, "Mystical States." Her experience served as an example of the type of spiritual breakthrough possible with DMT in someone open to them--that is, a person with a serious meditation practice, solid psychological mindedness, and a deep reverence and respect for drugs like DMT. I also raised the concern that isolated experiences, occurring without any sort of spiritual or therapeutic context, were not especially effective in producing long-term serious change in our volunteers. I therefore concluded with the following:

"I believe there are ways in which Buddhism and the psychedelic community might benefit from an open, frank exchange of ideas, practices, and ethics. For the psychedelic community, the ethical, disciplined structuring of life, experience, and relationship provided by thousands of years of Buddhist communal tradition have much to offer. This well-developed tradition could infuse meaning and consistency into isolated, disjointed, and poorly integrated psychedelic experiences. The wisdom of the psychedelic experience, without the accompanying and necessary love and compassion cultivated in a daily practice, may otherwise be frittered away in an excess of narcissism and self-indulgence. While this is also possible within a Buddhist meditative tradition, it is less likely with the checks and balances in place within a dynamic community of practitioners.

"On the other hand, dedicated Buddhist practitioners with little success in their meditation, but well along in moral and intellectual development, might benefit from a carefully timed, prepared, supervised, and followed-up psychedelic session to accelerate their practice. Psychedelics, if anything, provide a view. And a view, to one so inclined, can inspire the long hard work required to make that view a living reality."

This article sealed my fate within the monastic community. My lifelong affiliation with the order would implicate it as contributing to these ideas. Gwendolyn sent copies of the Tricycle article to members of my new meditation group as well as to other groups and the monastery. In it she scribbled comments she remembered I made during what I believed was our confidential pastoral counseling session. She wrote to the local congregation, telling them not to enter my house because there might be psychedelic drugs kept in it.

Her behavior brought these issues to the boiling point. I lodged a formal complaint against this breach of confidence. As much as calling Gwendolyn's behavior into question, I wanted a definitive statement from the order regarding their attitude about my research. They complied on both counts.

The monastic review agreed she had indeed broken confidence, but it was for a "greater good." That is, it was done to "prevent mistakes from being made in the name of Buddhism." One could not be a proper Buddhist and consider psychedelics to play any part in it.

There was little I could do. Holiness had won out over truth. This particular brand of Buddhism was no different from any other organization whose survival depended upon a uniformly accepted platform of ideas. Only they could determine what were permissible questions, and what were not.

Later I learned that the monastic community had elected Margaret head of the order. The two monks who had taken psychedelics years before with my New Mexico friend also did well in the elections. One was elected abbot of the monastery, the other his chief assistant. So political ambitions also took on greater importance than a truthful dialogue. It was unlikely that the organization could admit and openly discuss that their three leading teachers were former LSD users, or that they had decided to enter a monastic life after drug-induced inspiration.

Although I could see beyond the hypocrisy that motivated much of the monastery's repudiation of my work, it took its toll. Combined with the events and circumstances I described in the last chapter, my energy to continue with the research flagged considerably. After completing two long-distance research trips to Albuquerque, the extra pressure exerted by my spiritual community broke down the last remnant of my desire to continue. It was time to stop.

I resigned from the university and returned the drugs and the last year's worth of grant money to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. I wrote closing summaries on all the projects and sent copies to the boards and committees who had been working with me for the past seven years. The pharmacy weighed all our drugs, packed them up, and mailed them to a secure facility near Washington, D.C. The supplies of DMT, psilocybin, and LSD remain there to this day.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:52 am



Joshua Carreon
Lover of Nature and People
July 8, 1976 - February 16, 2007

Celebrating A Life

"Forever. After all time there will be love."


Reincarnation With Delias

by Joshua Carreon

Delias, are you a genius? I think you seem to be. From the way you act. The way you shake the branches of an oak tree. So you get your stick unstuck. You use some kind of logic, D. It used to surprise me, but now it just strikes me as being somewhat strange. Your curious doggy ways. If you were a monkey, you would be Curious George. And I’d be the guy in the red hat. You’d drive me crazy, D. You would literally be driving cars up the walls of my apartment, while I was at work. Lucky for me I have no job. Delias, you are a joy. With you, I am happy. Why is the world so fucked up, D? Why did your master go away? Why did my friend have to die? I mean, I kind of know why ...


but still it doesn’t quite make sense. What, if anything good, can come from death? The death of someone you love.

I hope you die before me, D. Humans need to live longer than dogs. And I need to live longer than your average human. I’ve got to live for our cause. To build a new house for the spirits of all my dead friends. They need some place to be where they can relax. Houses of the holy -- Led Zeppelin, D. They were a little before your time. A little before mine, too. They were wild though, D. Just like me an’ you. We shall honor thy contributions, D. So that others may one day honor ours, amen, Delias.

Delias I want to see you when you die. I hope I am there with you, because you probably need a good friend around that time. I know I do. We’ll stick it out though. I’m sure we’ll die fighting. Either fighting or from old age, and that’s just glorious, we both know that for sure, D. For that is the way kings die, in modern as well as ancient times. The crown never touches ...


the ground. Someone will take it up, to faithfully uphold the throne as the rightful heir of all the territories which we have conquered, Our endless wealth as far as the eye can see. From where the sun sets to where it will rise again.


Joshua was our first-born child. Though Tara and I are both from Arizona, Josh was a local boy from the start -- conceived in a peach orchard on Wagner Creek. He was born in County Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. After a week of watching Josh struggle for every breath, the doctors declared he was going to die. We signed Josh out against medical advisement, and after being duly threatened with prosecution in the event of Josh's death, took Josh to Dr. Ray Brown, a legendary homeopathic genius. Thanks to Dr. Brown, Josh lived, and also on his ...


advice to seek a cooler climate, we moved to Ashland. From 1980 to 1983, we lived in Colestine Valley, where Josh spent the days playing with his sister Maria on the floor of a yurt lit with kerosene lamps and warmed with wood. Eventually, by the light of a kerosene lamp, I filled out an application for law school, which led us to move to Los Angeles. The first night we glided down the L.A. freeways in our old Econoline church van, seeing the endless streams of white and red electric fire crawling over the hills, Josh leaned forward from the back seat and asked me, "Are we really going to live here?" We did, for ten years.

In L.A., Josh suffered an enormous health setback when he was poisoned by Dursban ...


a pesticide applied to our student housing apartment. Paralyzed up to the neck for a week, over the course of a year, he reacquired the use of his limbs. As soon as his strength allowed, he became a fearless skateboarder, earnestly punishing his body against the West L.A. concrete. When we moved to Santa Monica, near Venice Beach, Josh discovered street art. We didn't watch TV, but he figured that being in L.A., we were TV, and played his role with elan. While still in middle school, he had customized a set of spray-paint tips to control his line, feather and shade pigments. He rode the buses and became streetwise. He was fiercely loyal to his two sisters, Maria and Ana, and loved our summer trips to Ashland and Colestine. When we moved back in 1993, Josh connected with his Oregon roots, snowboarding, roaming the woods ...


and railyards as he'd roamed L.A.'s streets. Formal schooling never really took with him, but a look at his work shows a lifetime of learning. Old barns and abandoned walls were his canvases in a studio open to the sky. His poems, both worldly-wise and innocent, are those of an adventurous mind.

Josh created photo-resist silkscreens with photography and computer graphics, printing on everything from sheet steel to t-shirts and paper bags, often highlighting with brilliant paint. As the Ashland Free Press illustrator, he developed a mature voice, serving the community he loved with enlightening images. His legacy has begun.


"Some pile and stack their whims. I heap my obsessions."

Joshua Carreon, Self Portrait
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:54 am

by Charles Carreon
April, 2004


Kurt Wimmer, who wrote the screenplay and directed Equilibrium, explained in a December 2003 interview that he underwent a psychic renaissance some years back, after years of emotional shutdown. Wimmer explains that he shut down emotionally after he suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous art-school assholes, and decided all art was shit. Eventually, he went back into some European museums and realized he'd made a mistake. Art is great, and he wanted to feel again. So Equilibrium, for him, is about fighting back against emotional repression.

In an interview before the movie's release, Wimmer noted that in Libria, the fictional world of the movie, sense materials are banned with the "EC10" rating, that "EC" stands for "Emotional Content," and that he explicitly relates this to the Motion Picture Association of America's content rating system, with its PG13 and NC17 ratings. As a screenwriter, I presume he's felt plenty of pressure to write within these demarcations, which is undoubtedly difficult and frustrating. But for me, the movie was good for a great deal more than voicing a complaint about modern censorship. I heard and saw the movie from the perspective of one who sees Americans daily gobbling up Eastern philosophies that urge the annihilation of feelings. Some critics decried the movie's premise as absurd, but I do not find it so. Buddhism, especially as understood by many Americans, takes it as an article of faith that feelings cause problems and people are better off without them. Most people imagine this as a favorable condition, in which they are not bothered by intrusive or unpleasant feelings, but that's not how it works in actual practice, which often becomes a war against all emotion arising in the meditator's mind.

For example, the four "noble truths" of Buddhism are:

1. Life is suffering
2. Desire is the cause of suffering
3. Desire can be ended
4. Desire can be ended by following the Buddhist path

Whether the Buddha really laid out his philosophy in this fashion, we'll never know, and different people believe different things. For example, Tibetan Buddhists give lip service to the four noble truths, but in practice, find desire too attractive to abandon.

Suffice it to say that the Buddhist four noble truths somewhat resemble the precepts that guide the Librians:

1. Humans engaged in wars for centuries
2. Wars were caused by an inner defect
3. That defect is the capacity for feelings
4. Feelings can be overcome by taking Prozium
5. Everyone must take Prozium

Wimmer didn't mention Buddhism at all in the interview, which surprised me at first. He had plenty to say about the mechanics of casting the film (it wasn't easy), finding the monolithic architecture (Albert Speer's Germany), and working with Christian Bale (splendid). He seemed almost to disclaim the idea that there was an overarching social theme binding his work to 1984 and the other dystopian epics. He distanced himself from the idea that the work was a form of social commentary. He relished discussing filming the Gun Kata sequences, which he himself designed as the apotheosis of the gunslinger's art. He just never seems to have much to say about the authoritarian ethos as an objective phenomenon, suggesting it merely provides a social frame for the mental atmosphere of emotional suppression.

If Wimmer is being candid about his perception of the film, he has produced more than he realizes. Equilibrium shows us how Western technocratic efficiency could be blended with Eastern didactic methods to mold society into a pliable whole whose citizens accept complete domination as the price of peace. In Libria, the citizens are under the vigilant eyes of heavily armed men at all times. Each person is relegated to their space. Solitude and uniformity are the two attributes of the Librians. At every turn, the Librians are reminded of their good fortune to be in this condition. Each one keeps watch on every other, helping them to guard against the evils of sense offense.

Ironically, the defenders of the system, the Grammaton Clerics, are finely developed sensors, who mask their ability to feel under the title of Intuition. This Intuition they place at the service of ferreting out sense offenders. The GCs are thus able to enjoy exercising their feelings as emotional dowsers, while keeping the blame pointed at the sense offenders for having feelings in the first place. GCs are the government point-men and designated hitters in the frequent shootouts with armed sense offenders, who are loath to surrender themselves for Processing, and persist in hopelessly defending their hoarded copies of old paintings, brickabrack, and cool junk stashed in little hidden rooms. Hopelessly because Preston and other GCs, when pressed, perform the Gun Kata with great accuracy, killing the hell out of every damn sense offender in sight and out of sight, in a whirling blaze of bullets that is highly Asian in its derivation.

A Grammaton Cleric channels sensing into Intuition, and aggression into lawful killing, which is a moral imperative, because of the great risk that feelings pose to society at large. Librians compete to demonstrate loyalty to Father, by rejecting their impulse to feel with eager certainty. Libria rewards those citizens who pursue their practice of self-repression zealously. In Libria, all public gatherings are supervised by men dressed in body armor and motorcycle helmets, patrolling with assault rifles at the ready. All public gatherings appear to be for the purpose of imbibing Father's wisdom, which flows freely from giant telescreens, all day, every day.

The Clerics are just footsoldiers, of course. When they get old and start to show signs of feeling, they are pushed aside and ground underfoot. Only ignorant youth can abide the claustrophobic restraint. The Clerics, true believers, are the front line in the battle against common sense. The Clerics are subject to pressure from above, however, and when Preston gets called on the carpet, it's a very nice carpet, in a room with beautiful marble pillars, and sumptuous Renaissance paintings adorning the walls. The members of Father's inner circle are apparently free to acquire and enjoy sense objects.

Hypocrisy is the true tent pole of authoritarian doctrines that prescribe the right course of conduct for every individual. In Tibetan Buddhism, it has been routinely revealed, the authorities are completely unable to walk their talk. Celibacy has apparently been honored only in the breach by many teachers, both the prominent and the obscure. Similarly, while preaching patience and serenity, many lamas use anger and blackmail to influence the behavior of their students. On this one-way street, the lamas are always free to manifest emotions, and students never are. Loyalty is the first and last rule in Libria, and in Tibetan Buddhism. As Preston discovers that the Librian system is fundamentally anti-life, he argues to Father's top man that, if sense offenders are simply to be killed upon discovery, without any process whatsoever, it is simply mayhem. In response, he is told that process does not matter. What matters is our obedience to the will of Father. For anyone who has been involved in a cult, this exchange is familiar. That is when we know that the cult is telling us to kiss our conscience goodbye, and learn to follow orders. The increasing popularity of a philosophy that leads in that direction is a cause for concern. Equilibrium, intentionally or unintentionally, shines a bright light on the problem.

Many critics have derided the movie, chanting Orwell, as if they were not the very purveyors of dishonest speech that Orwell exposed in "Politics and The English Language." Ty Burr of the Boston Globe committed a primary Orwell sin against the English language when he spouted this criticism of Equilibrium: "what once was conviction is now affectation." This statement is very bad English, not grammatically, or stylistically, but rather in the way Orwell primarily identified -- it says nothing. Consider these questions: (1) Who was it that once had this "conviction?" (2) What "conviction" was it that they held? (3) What relation did this "conviction" have to the "real Orwell"? (4) When did this presumably meritorious "conviction" attain the status of a hoary social dogma, so that nowadays, dystopian visions are mere "affectations?" and (5) Since when did it become the vogue to pay homage to Orwell with Orwellian proclamations?

Indeed, the critics seem to have been dispatched on their own clerical missions as enforcers for the media chieftains. Adopting the favored Big Lie strategy of painting themselves as precisely what they are not, these critics venerate the name of Orwell to attack the living spirit of dissent that Orwell championed. I would wager real money that most of these critics last read Orwell in high school or college, and are comparing Equilibrium with their vague recollection of that work. Somehow they have missed the fact that Christian Bale delivers a tremendous depiction of emotional repression as Preston, the exemplary Cleric, and that the character of Preston's son is masterfully presented by a young actor whose taut reserve and well-contained spite surprisingly transform in a scene that is as tender as a dystopian movie can possibly manage without breaking the illusion. Particularly slavish in their knee-jerk condemnation of this movie were Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post, and Manohla Dargis of the LA Times. Dargis appears actually not to have seen the movie, but had to make deadline and dinner, too, so it was just as easy to trash a movie all the other critics were trashing. The review leaves you with nothing but an aftertaste of fussy impatience.

Josh Bell, writing for the literary powerhouse, Las Vegas Weekly, committed ludicrous offense to the English language with what Orwell called a "dead metaphor": "Wimmer delivers the already labored story with the subtlety of a sledgehammer." This phrase was born to be delivered directly to the "huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves." Please note how vividly Orwell's "dump" appears before your eyes, unlike Bell's sledgehammer, which collapses of its own weight, and fails to injure the target. After reading all the serious critical assessments of Equilibrium, it would be fun to read what these same critics said about "Millionaire," "Survivor," or are saying about the latest TV "reality" epic, which I think is called "Trump Jerks Off!" Undoubtedly we will find the serious brows of these lofty critics creased with worry about these cheesy distractions. Not! These critics, in the interest of "giving good copy" to their media overlords, try to make everyone feel good about how ordinary folks love the current reality-fare, which is truly Orwellian. The concerted effort to massacre a film that warns of media consolidation and mind control was planned and executed by people who are desperately afraid of its message.

A culture of emotional suppression may seem like the farthest thing from those of us suffering from sensory overload, advertising poisoning, and information glut. However, in precisely this environment, lots of people are beginning to think that feelings really are our problem. There is widespread acceptance of meditation jargon that declares the "ego" or "self" to be an enemy, an illusory enemy that steals happiness. It seems like I meet someone everyday who blandly declares that our selves are illusory. I almost feel too polite to object to my own disappearance.

Perhaps people aren't ready to start shooting Prozium into their neck like chickens getting a hormone injection, but they sure gulp all the Prozac they can get their hands on. Chemical regulation of human behavior is on the agenda of both government and the international drug companies. We are always on the search for painkillers and stimulants that do not have the "drawback" of causing euphoria like morphine and amphetamines. Taking Viagra, a dangerous drug that is killing large numbers of young men, is seen as the equivalent of buying a nice truck that will make you look like a stud. Blowfish toxin is being explored as a non-addictive painkiller. Modafinil is supposed to keep you awake for two or three days, without making you feel excessively glad to be alive.

There's tremendous lost productivity due to emotionality. People take sick days, stress leave, and murder their coworkers when they get too emotional. They talk back to management, ask questions about their job benefits, and get their hackles up about work conditions. Wouldn't it be great if we had a drug that made people not want to ever join a union? Of course, people wouldn't take it if you called it Disperse! But if you called it something else, like Attune, then people would be more interested.

American citizens are uncertain whether our government really is "of the people, for the people, and by the people." Awed by our government's restless exercise of military power, bowled over by the government's intrusion into our privacy, hamstrung by the new fetish for "security," people increasingly feel irrelevant. We have our own Father, a white dominator who is never too busy to punish the evildoer, never straying far from the rules of a hundred years ago. Our Father took power without permission, and has kept the populace cowed for three years. We may not be herded into stadiums to listen to harangues yet, but personally, I don't want to live anywhere near one.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:57 am

PART 1 OF 6 (Frequently Asked Questions About Tibetan Buddhism)


© 2000

Q: What is American Buddhism?

A. Some people are afraid of the "A"-word. America is a country named after an Italian mapmaker by a Spanish freebooter who enslaved natives, and worse yet, mistreated them without generating profit, and thus was harshly chastised by the Spanish nobility who funded his expeditions. The country grew in a rough and ready fashion, becoming a hothouse for cultish innovations like Quakerism and Puritanism, which found out how pleasant religious intolerance can be when the whip is in your hand. The most successful businesspeople were smugglers, who were put out with the British Crown for extracting taxes on pricey wares like tea, fabric and other basic luxuries. They were also handy with their firearms, which emboldened them to the point of rebellion.

Seeking to dress up their "revolution," these so-called "Founding Fathers" engaged in vandalism (the Boston Tea Party and other outrages involving destruction of property including the homes of British-appointed tax-collectors). Not above planting evidence, these "freedom fighters" dressed up like "Indians" before looting the British tea-packets.

In a further effort to put a moralistic spin on their outrageous refusal to tender taxes due for the defense of the colonies, the smugglers got together, called themselves a Congress, and put together a fine little piece of excuse-making that they had the audacity to call a Declaration of Independence. For sheer arrogance and presumptuousness, this document has not been exceeded in history. It begins:

"When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitled them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to Separation."

In short, these smugglers said, "We're outta here, we're on our own trip now, and here's why ..."

What reasons would motivate smugglers to revolt? Oh, the usual -- unwillingness to pay debts lawfully owed to the government. Preference to risk prison rather than loss of profit. But what justification did they assert? All manner of moralistic tripe, I assure you, against a government that the citizens of the British mainland had found more than adequate for their needs. Not good enough for these belly-aching smugglers, though, who cast stones at the monarchy like this:

"[W]hen a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security."

While we can only look back at the intemperance, the hyperbole, characterizing this document, and shake our heads at the folly of our ancestors, we are still their descendants. We cannot avoid the shame of realizing now that, had we remained British subjects, we would have such an illustrious monarch as Elizabeth, so fine a PM as Tony Blair, so noble a royal as Charles, so marvelous a knighted minstrel as Sir Paul McCartney. Instead, we have Hollywood. Just punch yourself in the face.

But we must face the fact that we are Americans, and that throwing off imagined oppression is our path to glory. Would we be worse off if we were Canadians? Of course not. We would still speak the same language, although I daresay we would've sorted that thing with the Frenchies rather differently. You know, one Union, one Language, no Mason-Dixon line, "Fourscore and seven years ago ..." And of course, Rhett, the quintessential northern guy's final goodbye to the Southern Belle: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

As they say in New Age empowerment seminars, we've got to "Go with our strengths!" And when it comes to blowing through new fads, trying on another culture for size, and giving it back to them with the butt all stretched out, no one can do it like Americans.

It's only been a few years since rice crackers were introduced to this country, and now soccer moms are thinking of new ways to combine them with tofu. Yoga used to be something that swamis did to read minds, but now you do it to get your health premiums down, just like you reduce your auto premiums by buying a car alarm for your car. Acupuncture used to be that scary thing that Chinese people did with needles, likely unsanitary and useless, and now some health plans actually pay for it! But remember, this is also the country where smoking tobacco was once considered a healthful habit that even women could safely indulge in, the same country where marijuana is still illegal. We are exceptionally adaptable, not necessarily extraordinarily smart.

When it comes to beliefs, you might say we're promiscuous. A drive down the full length of a major metropolitan avenue in many an American city will take you past ashrams, dojos, mosques, Buddhist centers of many types, not to mention as many new age babas as a dog has fleas. Thanks to those old smugglers who wrote that crazy Constitution, they all live in relative peace in the same city.

Meanwhile, back in the bosom of "spiritual enlightenment," India, interfaith warfare is a given, and if a mushroom cloud appears over Karachi, it will undoubtedly bear Lord Shiva's face. In many Asian countries, Buddhism is the state religion, as in Burma, with attendant social benefits, such as large temples and a thriving mining economy in which you can conveniently collect your wages in heroin.

Arrogantly put, American Buddhism might be just that basic spirit of good humor and toleration that lets all the coreligionists engage in their doctrinal competitions, neither backing nor inhibiting any of them in their debates.

But we can also look at what an Asian Buddhist said about American Buddhism. Trungpa Rinpoche said that it's the only Buddhism Americans will ever practice. And now, the floor is his:

TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: The conventional moral law purely has to do with relating with your conscience rather than dealing with situations. If you relate with a situation in terms of your conscience or your perceptions, it means you don't actually relate with the situation at all. For example, if you had to investigate a murder case, you might want to dissociate yourself from the case altogether, thinking, "I don't want to be involved with murder at all." Then you have no way at all of understanding how and why one person murdered the other. You could let yourself become involved with that murder case and try to understand the rightness and wrongness of what was done as scientifically as possible. You could look into the situation in terms of cause and effect and gain some understanding of it. But on the other hand, if you think, "Becoming involved with murder will just get me in contact with bad vibrations, so I'll have nothing to do with that," then you seal yourself off completely.

This is exactly the same thing that seems to be happening in present day society. Particularly the young generation doesn't want to have anything to do with society--let alone understand it--because it's something ugly, something terrible. This creates tremendous confusion and conflict. Whereas if people were to get into society and try to understand what is wrong, there might be some intelligence coming out of that. Complete rejection without discrimination seems to be the problem.

STUDENT: Don't you think there have been some things we've all learned from that rejection you were just talking about?

TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: Yes and no--both. A lot of people have rejected Christianity and gone to Hinduism or Buddhism. They feel that they no longer have any associations with Christianity at all. Then later--from the point of view of aliens--they begin to realize that Christianity speaks some kind of profound truth. They only see that from the point of view of aliens, having gone away. They begin to appreciate the culture they were brought up in. Finally they become the best Christians, people with much more understanding of Christianity than ordinary Christians.

You can't reject your history. You can't say that your hair is black if it is blond. You have to accept your history. Those wanting to imitate Oriental culture might go so far as to become 100% Hindu or 100% Japanese, even to the point of undergoing plastic surgery. But somehow denying your existence--your body, your makeup, your psychological approach--does not help. In fact, it brings more problems. You have to be what you are. You have to relate with your country, the state of your country, its politics, its culture. That is extremely important, since you cannot become someone else. And it is such a blessing.

If we could become someone else, or halfway someone else, that would provide us with a tremendous number of sidetracks and possibilities for escape. We should be thankful that we have a body, a culture, a race, and a country that is honestly ours, and we should relate with those. We can't reject all that. That represents our relationship to the earth as a whole, our national karma, and all the rest of it. That seems to be the starting point for attaining enlightenment, becoming a buddha, an American buddha.


Q. In Buddhism, one is supposed to look to see if there is a real "Self" only to discover that it's unfindable as a solid object, and therefore non-existent. But actually, the Self does exist as a "Concept." And it is because we have this concept of Self, that we are able to manifest and project the experience of that Self as a being and a personality in the world. So even tho' the experience is not a real, solid object, it's the only reality that we can ever know.

A. The Sutra of the Cup

Polonius: What think you, Verbonious, is a cup a cup?

Verbonius: Like that one you hold, made of clay?

P: Yes, like this one.

V: No, it is not.

P: Why is that, Verbonious.

V: Lend it me.

P: You have it.

V: (Placing cup inside a cloth, he breaks it, then opens the cloth to show his friend.) Where is your cup?

P: You've broken it.

V: So it's not a cup.

P: Yes, it is, it's just that you've broken it.

V: (Shaking the cloth holding the shards.) There now, it's merely shards of clay.

P: Shards of the cup. (Turning to a friend, Neutronious) What think you, N?

N: I think Polonious makes the shards real to prove the cup unreal.

V: There, well spoken, you make one thing real to make another unreal.

N: Further, he makes the shards equal to the cup, but the cup and the shards have never been in the same place together. How then can they be equal?

V: Well, I'm vexed.

P: Makes two of us.

V: Things can only be themselves, for once they become something else, they cannot be equal to another thing. These seeming "transformations" of things are apropos of nothing, for a thing can only be equal to itself, and what it becomes when broken tells us only the nature of new thing, which has always been broken, never otherwise.


Q. In the saying, "form is emptiness; emptiness is form," doesn't appearance depend upon emptiness, rather than emptiness depending upon appearance.?

Answer 1:

From Suzuki Roshi (more or less)

When we sit
We have something
(right hand rests in left palm)
We have our body
And we have our mind.

Sometimes when we sit,
We forget we are there.

Then we resume our ordinary life
and everything appears .

This is the first creation.

Building on this first creation,
we can create things,
like pots or poems or political machines,
But all of them depend on this first creation.

Answer 2:

From Lao Tze (more or less)

When we say do the practice
Wave Hands Like Clouds,
we do not really mean that "you"
"wave" your "hands."

The description is to remind you
to look into the sky
where the vast circulation of the clouds
provides the pattern for your own
natural pattern of breath

Let your hands float like clouds
on the gentle wind of continuous awareness -- a unity

Answer 3:

From Trungpa Rinpoche (more or less)

Trungpa Rinpoche used the term "touch and go" to describe how to use awareness meditatively.

A questioner asked him how to know when to "touch" and when to "go."

Trungpa Rinpoche answered: You've missed the point completely -- the point is touch and go happen at the same time."


Q. It is necessary to receive dharma from a pure source that is unmixed with other traditions.

A. The stinginess of the Indians in trying to "prevent the dharma from leaving India" was as inane as people thinking that being photographed would result in the theft of their souls. The obsession with "keeping Dharma pure" in Tibet became a cover for de-legitimizing various valid schools of practice. It is preferable to listen with an open mind especially toward your own thoughts.


Q. Teachers, lamas, gurus and authority figures are necessary to teach you the path of dharma.

Many people hope to find someone who embodies their ideals of spiritual attainment. It's not easy trying to find a person who can do that, and you're always likely to suffer disappointment, because our hopes are rather high. If you need a godlike guru, your demands are going to be hard to meet. If you want to be sure your teacher has experienced "higher levels of spiritual awareness," you may well have been born during that particular moment allotted for the birth of a sucker. If you're satisfied with someone who has achieved less than something substantial, then why bother finding a teacher at all?

Increasingly, I look at my fellows, thirsting for spiritual realization, and conclude that they are actually distracting themselves from less exciting concerns that, however, genuinely affect their happiness.

Many people seem very concerned simply to be on a spiritual path -- I can understand feeling that need. I felt it most acutely for years. Why? The answer generally does not become evident until one has been on the path for a while, the hidden, less spiritual reasons begin to appear.

When the less spiritual reasons for being a practitioner appear, it is something like getting a hay fever attack when you go out to see the pretty blossoms. You don't welcome the discovery. You consider the arising conflicts to be "obstacles to practice." You identify with the "good practitioner" and dis-identify with the distractions and obstacles. However, the obstacles are really the truer you. The "practitioner" is a total johnny-come-lately from a psychological point of view. You may tell yourself that your spiritual yearnings are actually the deepest aspect of your nature, but that's not likely true.

Get to know your bad boy or naughty girl. They have so much to tell you about why you're on the spiritual path. They're into it -- you just don't know why ....

As soon as anyone wants to be Chief, the relationship becomes questionable. People can get into that if they want, but the risks are so high, I can't imagine why they would. The source of the tradition may be scriptural, but its current condition is so uninspiring as to justify its total abandonment. What is it that cannot be taught in a simple, dignified, eye-to-eye relationship? Special things, of course, magical things, Koresh things, Jim Jones things, Osel Tenzin things. I can do without these things.


Q. How can you choose a spiritual path?

A. The problem with trying "methods" and evaluating their effectiveness is that all you can do to see if they are working is to look in the mirror. Then you don't know if you've tried hard enough, or long enough. And you can't tell if the benefits you feel today are lasting, transient, or even the precursors of new problems.

But almost certainly, miracle cures will elude you. You will probably never feel a huge root of guilt suddenly pulled out of your heart whereafter guilt, shame and embarrassment will never bother you again. The loneliness that ties you to the earth will probably never dissipate, allowing you to float into the zero gravity of limitless space. Probably nothing really permanent or amazing will ever happen.

What will happen? You will get older, your skin will sag, your hair will turn gray, and your memory will get poorer. You will discover the transiency of relationships, the evanescence of situations. You will see days turn into months and years, and you will see your term on the earth growing shorter and shorter.

In the midst of this, you will have the opportunity to live. It's like that story about the fellow who got chased off the cliff and hung onto a strawberry vine. While the tiger roared above, another appeared below. A black mouse and a white mouse began to chew on the vine. He spots a strawberry and pops it into his mouth. It was delicious.


Q. Should I renounce worldly existence?

A. Ramana Maharshi said, if you remain as you are, you will think you are a layperson. If you renounce the world, you will think you are a renunciate. Better than changing your label is knowing yourself.


Q. How can we develop goals for the future while at the same time living in the present moment?

A. If you take that approach, you will treat "spiritual life" and "worldly life" as fundamentally antagonistic. Worldly life requires planning. Spiritual life "requires " spontaneity. An interesting alternative to this approach is proposed in the works by Takuan Soho, in which he shows how the meditative state of awareness is the most effective survival/competitive condition. In a series of letters to a feudal Japanese lord, he used a didactic technique of established effectiveness, linking something the lord knew about (swordsmanship), with what he wanted to instruct him about (meditation). Thus, he explained that to be a faultless swordsman, one must utilize the mind that abides no place, the same mind of nonattachment that one practices in zazen. The lesson of the book? Samadhi is to the mind what edge is to a sword. And best of all, a sword wielded with the power of samadhi will not betray either the holder of the sword, or even the foes s/he faces.

The elegance of this solution is obvious. We solve all of our problems one way -- through right action (which incorporates right view). We develop our natural endowments because it feels right. Trusting your inherent sense of what feels right suggests that we might want to try this road, which is neither offensive nor defensive with relation to "samsara" and leads right to the target -- happy living.


Q. All worldly appearances arise from conditioning, so there is nothing special about our experience. Why make a big deal about the "wonders of "nature" and such? Isn't that just glorifying the sensual world?

A. A Sufi once said "miracles are not to impress the credulous or encourage the faithful -- they are a means of transmitting understanding."

We behold a miracle that transmits understanding when we look up through our protective blanket of air, at the sun's blazing disk, from a vantage point on a rock spinning about a thousand miles an hour, using an optical device about the same as that used by an octopus, processing photon stimuli into neural impulses that are organized by a bio-supercomputer into a display of color, depth and form that appears as a relatively accurate 3-D holographic representation of the physical world to an awareness that is still uncertain of its own origins or identity.

If you can get this type of transmission just from contemplating a basic sensory activity -- seeing light -- how can you call it "glorifying the sensual world?" It is a question of how you approach the experience, isn't it? We can put on analytical, sensual, aesthetic, or possessory "lenses" and then we'll see the world and ourselves in that light. Those are all choices, human choices. If we think that Buddhists must decline to see the world because it will trap them into sensuality, that seems cowardly. The brave choice would be to keep seeing, and to learn more about how to successively use all of these "lenses" and also how to take the glasses off altogether. That "lense-free" seeing might be an analogy for a meditative view. But we never stop seeing.


Q: Why don't Buddhists ever make any progress in their practice?
A: They're always in retreat.


Q. Aren't gurus "life experts" who provide the most important life guidance?

It is probably a mistake to assume that spiritual teachers know more about what is important for human life than all of our other advisors. Most gurus are useless to advise us about how to find a job, fix the bugs in our computer, or locate a good, cheap rent-controlled apartment. And yet, getting each one of those taken care of is a building block of modern happiness. In fact, gurus are forever asking for assistance to get just these elements of their life in place. Many Buddhist meditation centers end up being primarily focused on satisfying the housing needs of the teacher and his entourage.

What precisely is so precious that we have to process one entire guru in order to extract it? Simply this: a dose of self-confidence. That's it. It's what almost everyone gets from their guru that keeps them coming back.

It's like "before and after" advertising: Before I had a guru, I was totally lost. I had headaches, and drank too much, never got a date and felt bad about it. After getting a guru, I still have the headaches, I drink only when I fall off the wagon, and I don't feel bad about not getting a date, because I can always go meditate. What's the big difference? I'm willing to give myself a good pull out of bed in the morning and face the grind again. I have hope.

Why do I have hope? Because without it, I would be lost. Is this guru anything other than a placebo? Is there any milk coming out of that nipple? I don't know, but there's a sucker born every minute. Just don't pay for the milk until you see it.


Q. Is it reasonable to try to hold teachers accountable for their actions?

Answer 1:

It depends on how we view the teacher. If we deify the teacher, believing that he must be infallible or we wouldn't bother receiving his teachings, then to judge his actions seems absurd, like Adam talking back to God about the apple dispute.

My view is that infallibility and omniscience are themselves absolutely untenable notions. God-kings and godling-nobles are nonsense.

Up here in Oregon we say, "Keep 'em honest." Guess that means, "Don't trust 'em."

Lying is very human. Lying is what we do rather than comply with social constraints. We fabricate a little image that blocks people's view of a part of our life. An embezzler creates an image of honesty, behind which she mines out the accounts. A cheating spouse creates an image of faithfulness behind which to engage in extramarital liaisons.

Therefore, whenever we see that someone has an appearance that is quite perfect, quite in conformity with our expectations, we should give it the 360 walk-around.

It is easiest to deceive people who don't ask questions. Deception is made easier for the deceiver who is free to define their own version of good conduct.

One of the bummer things about being deceived is that somehow the message of the truth still keeps leaking through the deception. The dissonance is disturbing. The deceiver keeps denying what the deceived person is feeling, claiming it's groundless, but conflicting messages keep coming through. If it's not about anything too important, it's tolerable, but if it's about the pristine honesty of the teacher, it can be very disturbing.

Students who suspect they're being deceived, but can't cope with the realization, will go even farther to help maintain the deception. Then the deceiver has achieved the ultimate triumph -- the victim's aid in maintaining deception.

Answer 2:

By withdrawing support from those who abuse trust. By sharing the bad news as well as the good news. The good news is that life is a doable situation, with room for failure, discovery, learning and development. The bad news is the institution of religion has often been the vehicle for many a scoundrel to dupe their prey. We're familiar with Jimmy Swaggart, but vulnerable to Sogyal Rinpoche, because it's a new style. We just have to out the stinkers, and those who remain might just have some worth.


Q. Isn't keeping one's mind in the present a necessary exercise in concentration, for taming the wayward mind?

A. Before we decide, let's consider what's been said.

Keeping -- Stopping
mind -- me
the present -- where I don't want to be
necessary -- but have to ...
exercise -- it's not the real thing
concentration -- but have to stay focused
taming -- back, beast!
the wayward -- never could teach her anything!
mind -- "Bad, bad brain!"

Yes, with sufficient moral resources we can tame the wayward minds, get them off the streets of our awareness, and return this consciousness to the control of decent people everywhere!


Q. Can Alan Watts be considered a Buddhist authority? Remember, Alan Watts had a fraction of the resources we have now. He had D.T. Suzuki, Rhys Davids, and relatively few others writing in English who had any direct contact with Buddhism. Watts did quite brilliantly with what he had access to, but since Alan's death (1973), we've had dozens of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's books to read, we've had Naropa Institute, we've had all of Nyanaponika Thera's writings published by Western publishers, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Stephen Batchelor (who was taught in the traditional Tibetan, Korean and Theravedan systems), Lama Surya Das (who was the disciple of "Hindu" Holy man Neem Karoli Baba --Baba Ram Das' guru-- and studied under at least five of the giants of 20th century Tibetan Buddhism: HHDudjom Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, HH the XVI Karmapa, HE Kalu Rinpoche and Dzogchen master Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche), the irrepressible Pema Chodron, Richard P. Hayes (schooled in Korean Zen and Theravadin systems and a true Pali scholar), Tsultrim Allione, Thich Naht Hanh's amazing books and lectures and retreats, Sogyal Rinpoche, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Robert Thurman, Susan Salzberg, Shinzen Young and many, many other Westerners and non-Westerners who have earnestly studied and practiced buddhadharma and have shared their experiences with us in the English language.

A. I remember reading Alan Watts in many places on the road throughout the US and Europe and the East all the way to India, wandering around looking for the crazy shit these people all talk about.

In Goa I once made a find on the beach: Michener's "The Source," his magnum opus, stuffed with a now-debunked version of Hebrew history. Somebody left it out on the beach to weather. It had about 1,200 pages, so it became an Asian traveler's luxury item -- toilet paper.

Now if that had been "The Way of Zen," I would not have wiped my ass with it. In fact, I had my copy of TWOZ in my little hut, where I enjoyed reading about Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Han Shan , Ta Fan, Ryokan, Basho, and many other Japanese and Chinese Zen authors. Isn't it true that Watts could actually read some of the Chinese and Japanese stuff? Didn't he like go guesting around in monasteries all over the world? Didn't he sit, and talk, and do tai chi and get laid by models, and everything else that gurus are s'pozed to do? But he's a white boy, and everybody knows white boys can't get guru status unless they cut their hair, shave their scrota, wrap themselves up in a monk's robe so they look like a bald tamale, and go hole up in a cave for an extended period of time. Then they got credibility. But they still fulla shit.

Alan Watts, that guy had style you should envy. When he talked, people listened, and that wasn't because they was stupid. It's because he had writing ability, speaking ability, a love of humanity, and was enough of an Englishman to take everything with a grain of salt.

Alan Watts was one of the Pied Pipers of that time period. Leary, Alpert, Shunryu Suzuki, Kesey, those guys lit fire to history, backed up by throngs of Dylans, Donovans, Country Joes, Grace Slicks, etcetera. Yeah, they all got old and their hair went gray and their guts got flabby and their teeth fell out and their wives died and they got cancer, whatever. That's a given. Happens to everyone. But they were alive in the life of the day, and gave us all reasons to look a little deeper, even if it was just the LSD 25 making the sky look bluer, and maybe the Grateful Dead weren't even a very good band, whatever!

So the question really isn't whether Alan Watts was an authority of Buddhism. He wasn't. He didn't want to be. He wanted to share the beauty of humanity's treasures of philosophy, art, aesthetics, and expression. Probably all of the Westerners since then are better at playing the authority game.

But even if you buy into their authority games, it's still good to read and listen to Alan Watts and his type. It's the territory. It's the fertilizer. It's the graveyard, the archives, the records. Take it and build with it as ye will. Maybe you care not about it, but I hear the voices of Ginsburg and Kerouac and Morrison and all o' them secret voices in the graveyard. They were bad. And they wish the same for you.


A. What do you think about making wishes such as "May all beings be happy" and all of that other well-wishing on a cosmic scale?

Q. May-be I missed the point of all this May-saying, but this seems a lot like praying, except that instead of assuming that God can grant the prayers, Buddhists assume that God is out of the picture, so we address our prayers to ourselves. But the basic psychology of prayer, which is to express our wishes and try to hope them into existence, seems to still be operative in the Buddhist version.

Let's take a classic Buddhist prayer -- "May all beings be happy ..." How likely is it that 's going to come true, either now or in the future? Well, the possibility is nil, as noted by the Buddha when he said "All life is suffering."

So, unless you somehow eliminate this nagging doubt about the viability of what you're wishing for, this is going to be a sort of rickety prayer.

The first, and possibly correct way, to eliminate the doubt, is to discover that you don't really expect the wish to come true -- you just want to be able to wish it. Indeed, when you think about it, the fact that something is unattainable doesn't negate the value of wishing for it. Indeed it is how we push the envelope of the possible. By hoping for universal happiness, justice or peace, or for ecological preservation of the planet as a vital living habitat, for that matter, we align our wills with positive forces.

You might ask, then, why do we have to wish for such big things? Why not wish for something arguably achievable: "May the global population of humpback whales increase by 20% each year for the next ten years."

Well, one of the famous big wish-mongers, the Siddha Busuku, laka Shantideva, in his classic Bodhisattvacharyavatara, advises us to wish for the greatest good for the greatest number of beings because the karmic effect on one's own mind is thus the greatest. He claims that if you wish for total enlightenment for all beings, that the benefit of this wish is incalculable. Smaller wishes, such as to gain enlightenment for oneself only, have accordingly much smaller benefits.

Do you believe in Shantideva's calculus? Well, whether you do or not, if you attempt to put it into action by encouraging yourself to really make his "biggest, bestest wish," you will discover a substantial resistance to the idea. I personally discovered a nagging doubt about the practicality of the whole idea. How, I kept thinking, could we even get hunger, homicide, and disease under control, much less provide religious instruction to lead all beings to enlightenment? And suddenly I realized that the same degree of effort that is required to make our world a hell would be sufficient to turn it into heaven, if only we all applied ourselves correctly. That last "if" is huge, of course. Like a gigantic key bigger than any hand that could ever lift it. And yet, if we could just change our minds.


Q. Don't you think rules are necessary for all realms of human conduct?

A. Allow me to simply refine this question. What do you think does more for the common person -- rules or understanding the reasons for the rules?

Do you think people obey rules because they are rules or because they make sense?

Does the persistence of a rule eventually reduce appreciation of the reason for the rule?

Does anything foster understanding of the reasons for rules better than open discussion?

Can people usually devise their own codes of conduct when presented with circumstances requiring controlled behavior?

If people fail to regulate their conduct in accordance with the wishes of others, at what point is it appropriate to regulate it for them?


Q. We have a right to be happy.

A. Let's concede this. Nevertheless, people are unable to assert this right very effectively. Our efforts to pursue happiness and overcome suffering are at best qualified success. We need to be more strategic in our pursuit of happiness. The Way is taught to help us take note of the factors that increase happiness and diminish suffering. The steps to take are commonsense, but they still run counter to impulse. Trying to escape from the net with too much fervor causes it to grow tighter. Thus, skill in applying ourselves to the work is required. As Suzuki Roshi said, "we make effort to get rid of effort."


Q. How much autonomy should we expect to give up when learning and practicing Buddhism?

I was never into religion. I was into mysticism. When I first started getting teachings from my lama, it was Buddhist mysticism. Fifteen years went by, and it began to be more and more about Buddhist religion. In the early days, there was no authority except for the lama's mental clarity, serenity, and joy. Twenty years later, we've got Steven Segal sitting in the temple with Catherine Burroughs. We went from inherent authority, that inspired immediate respect, to purported authority that earned automatic contempt.

When structures, rites and personages become more important than what is being heard and practiced, then the sacred company seems a bit less sacred. When money, corporate structure and mandates from on high become part of the routine, it's time for an early exit. Loss of autonomy is only part of it -- loss of dignity as you become a pawn in a numbers game is also part of the package. Ya gotta pick your sangha carefully -- which, depending where you live, might land you without any sangha at all, given nothing but undesirable choices.

There shouldn't be any need to surrender spiritual freedom to realize Buddhist mystical insights, at least if the Diamond Sutra is any authority.

Here's a couple of quotes:

Chapter 14 -- Perfect Peace Lies In Freedom from Characteristic Distinctions

Therefore, Subhuti, bodhisattvas should leave behind all phenomenal distinctions and awaken the thought of incomparable enlightenment by not allowing the mind to depend upon notions evoked by the sensible world -- by not allowing the mind to depend upon notions evoked by sounds, odors, flavors, touch contacts or any qualities. The mind should be kept independent of any thoughts that arise within it. If the mind depends upon anything, it has no sure haven.

Chapter 10 -- Setting Forth Pure Lands

Therefore, Subhuti, all bodhisattvas, lesser and great, should develop a pure, lucid mind, not depending upon sound, flavor, touch, odor, or any quality. A bodhisattva should develop a mind that alights upon nothing whatsoever; and so should he establish it.

As far as the interdependence of everything, try:

Chapter 20 -- The Unreality of Phenomenal Distinctions

Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Buddha be perceived by his perfectly formed body?

No, World-Honored One, the Tathagata cannot be perceived by his perfectly formed body, because the Tathagata teaches that a perfectly formed body is not really such; it is merely called a perfectly formed body.

Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be perceived by any phenomenal characteristic?

No, World-honored One, the Tathagata may not be perceived by any phenomenal characteristic, because the Tathagata teaches that phenomenal characteristics are not really such; they are merely called phenomenal characteristics.

For a good closer, let's try an excerpt from this chapter, the apex of humility without pretense:

Real Designation Is Undesignate

Subhuti, what do you think? Does a holy one say within himself, "I have obtained perfective enlightenment?"

Subhuti said, "No, World-Honored One. Wherefore? Because there is no such condition as that called "perfective enlightenment." World-Honored One, if a holy one of perfective enlightenment said to himself, "Such am I," he would necessarily partake of the idea of an ego entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality. World-Honored One, when the Buddha declares that I excel among holy men in the yoga of perfect quiescence, I do not say within myself, "I am a holy one of perfective enlightenment, free from passions." World-Honored One, if I said within myself, "Such am I," you would not declare, "Subhuti finds happiness abiding in peace, in seclusion in the midst of the forest." This is because Subhuti abides nowhere: therefore he is called "Subhuti, Joyful Abider in Peace, Dweller in Seclusion in the Forest."


Q. Where can we learn about compassion?

A. When I was fourteen I was taken out to a ranch by Pete Noli, my Nanny's son. She had lots of kids, but mostly girls. Navajo/Mexican stock, and plenty big Pete was. A real cowboy, quiet, good natured, playful. Sometimes a little too playful, like when he'd shoot out a lariat from his hand and it would snag my little four-year-old foot and yank me to the ground like a calf. Pete would laugh. His sister Patsy was beautiful. A beautician, actually. She chewed gum and saved her dimes in large thin decanters and eventually married a German jet pilot.

Pete didn't exactly lift up a flower, but he did show me a lesson of total everyday compassion once, when we were out at his uncle Elias' ranch riding the range in four-wheel drive pickup. He'd heard there was a cow stuck in the mud and was going to go get it out. He grabbed a shovel and we took off.

Driving through the savage waita-minute bushes and the baking sun out to the big sandy river, I believe he called it. I don't know exactly -- it was sure big and sandy.

He found the cow and man was it stuck. It had been there a couple of days maybe, and it was stuck up to its armpits sittin' in a lake of shit. So Pete just pulls on some waders and grabs the shovel and steps in next to the cow and starts shoveling shit. I sort of commented that that was a lot of gross shit, and he just said like it was nothin', "It's just a little hay." Kept right on digging, and I noticed it really did look like hay, a bit stinky, but still hay.

Well Pete's labor there was not short. He dug like a half-acre of shit, and then hooked up a harness under the cow, hooked that to a block and tackle, hooked that to the winch on the truck, and pulled that cow out of the river and over onto dry land where it could get its legs back, which was several hours. I couldn't believe how much work it was.

Never in all that time did Pete blame the cow. Cows will do that sort of thing. It's a cowboy's job to get them out of it. Apparently without making a big whiny fuss. I wish I had learned that lesson, but now that I remembered it, I think I'll give it a try.


Q. Which works better in practice: positive or negative reinforcement?

A. Put crudely:
Encouragement works on pride.
Correction works on shame.
Both pride and shame balance on the single fulcrum of self-love.
Like every other teeter-totter, it works from both ends.


Q. Would it be helpful for Buddhists of various sects to look for areas of commonality in their practice?

A. A fair number of people seem to looking for practice encouragement. Given what we all face each day -- weird political news in a retrograde era, job stress, relationship stress and all that -- we could sure use some encouragement to build our individual practice.

There is a lot for dharma practitioners of all types to agree on, like:

That it is beneficial to sit with yourself and remember the sources of your positive motivation.

That we possess a calm center of our being that wordlessly expresses something meaningful, and which we all experience continuously and moment-to-moment.

That while the plight of sentient being seems hopeless, the miracle of existence is a challenge we cherish and an opportunity that we should develop to the fullest.

That every day and every moment provide a new opportunity to plant the seeds of what we wish to harvest for ourselves, and for others.

That whatever we are presented with, we wish to meet it with nobility of spirit, even unto our last instant and beyond.

That we can always express what Trungpa Rinpoche called "basic warmth" -- fundamental human kindness.


Q. What makes "American Buddhism" distinctively Buddhist in nature?

A. To think of the source of positive motivation is refuge.

Continuous awareness of wordless meaningfulness is meditation.

To never abandon sentient beings or faith in our ultimate enlightenment is the bodhicitta.

To assert one's power to create reality is discipline.

To aspire to nobility is to be a child of the Noble One.

To be just plain decent is the most basic Buddhist virtue.

Is this too generic? Possibly not restrictive enough? You wish to find that which is "uniquely" Buddhist? This might be like trying to find a good, thirst-quenching drink that is unique. None are unique. All contain water. So many spiritual disciplines have a similar character ... because they all arose from efforts to satisfy the same basic human need.


Q. What is the relationship between physics and dharma? Shouldn't the saying "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" actually be rendered "matter is empty, emptiness is matter?"

Answer 1:

I don't think that Avalokiteshvara was talking physics but rather psychology, when he said:

"Here, O Sariputra, bodily-form is voidness; verily, voidness is bodily-form. Apart from bodily-form there is no voidness; so apart from voidness there is no bodily-form. That which is voidness is bodily-form; that which is bodily-form is voidness. Likewise (the four aggregates) feeling, perception, mental imaging, and consciousness (are devoid of substance)."

This seems clear, since the sutra leads off with "bodily form" as the first of the "aggregates," i.e., one of the skhandas, the five psychological constituents of fictitious identity.

Thus, the empty "form" is our experience of concrete selfhood. This form experience is very concrete, but purely psychological. I think meditation helps us both to emphasize our experience of the skandha of form and simultaneously perceive its transparency (emptiness). When we practice simple awareness of physical sensations, while taking a walk, or engaged in sitting practice, or in the practice of mindful sexual experience, to name my three favorites, we experience the ephemerality of our concreteness.

Thus, we feel that form is concrete, particularly if someone parks a truck on our foot, but the actual experience of pain is transparent, empty, transitory awareness. Only a fool would hesitate to say "Get that truck off my foot!" Only a Bodhisattva will simultaneously experience no attachment to the injury or anger toward its cause. That is because the Bodhisattva, like the Buddha (in a prior incarnation) when the Raja of Kalinga cut off his limbs, was free from attachment to the skandha of form.

It is understandable that Gary Zukhov and other people whose first love is science may misunderstand the Heart Sutra's teaching that "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" as a statement of scientific fact.

It is for people like ourselves, whose first love is dharma, to gently emphasize that the Buddha was the Great Physician, not the Great Physicist.

Buddha's insights were into the human mind, not into the arcana of physics -- which has the marvelous task of describing a world where the speed of light is finite, but space is limitless, and curved as well!

You will recall that, when Jesus was asked whether Jews should pay taxes to Caesar, he asked to see a coin, and indicating that the coin itself was impressed with Caesar's image, he responded, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." Looking within our soul, we see that it is the very image of the divine. We give our coins to the economy, and dedicate our spirit to its pure source.

Similarly, the Buddha had his sphere of activity -- the realm of the human mind. Einstein, Fermi, Bohr, etcetera, have their own realm. As fair-minded Buddhists, we should have no trouble allowing scientists to explain what matter is, while leaving it to Buddha to clarify what our perception of matter is.

Buddha is Lord of the Mind, which is the only realm he explored or endeavored to explain. To make him the Lord of Form will lead to an unfair loss of credibility for the Lord of Mind.

Answer 2:

Physics should not be confused with Dharma. I object to the misuse of the concept of emptiness to discuss the nature of purported "objective phenomena."

Dharma is applied psychology for uncovering the dynamics of the mind, which siddhas surf with unerring exactitude and complete abandon.

The emptiness we are lacking is emptiness of preconceptions, which leaves us posing rigid like chesspieces on eternity's gameboard, or attempting to take leave of ourselves, but always leaving our hat behind. Eventually the hats disappear, but still they leave a ghostly afterimage.

To expound the emptiness of things is to presume their existence. How can such refutation succeed?

Once you posit the existence of anything beyond yourself, the "hair's breadth difference" of which the Third Patriarch spoke has been established, and "Heaven and Earth are set immeasurably apart."

If you accept yourself and do not attempt to refute your own existence out of fear of yourself, and accept all appearances and do not attempt to refute their existence out of fear of them, you are an ordinary man. How fortunate.

Answer 3:

Certainly "both ends" of the sensory experience -- "perceptive organ" and "perceived object" are part of the skhanda of form. But as Professor Guenther noted, when you see red, there is no patch of red stuck to your eye. The Buddha's effort was to show us the transparency of the whole process of perception by making the image and the image-perception part of a single flow. Realizing the unitive nature of the mental process of perception, from which neither subject nor object can be abstracted, we move towards dissolving the imputed separateness of perceiver and perceived.

Buddha's effort was not to explain how the eye functions with a lens made of water, focusing light on a retina infused with rods and cones, connected to an optic nerve that feeds impulses to the visual cortex.

That's for the neurobiologists.

Without particle accelerators, microscopes, gas chromatographs, and radio telescopes, Buddha could only be the Great Hypothesizer of physical reality.

Without deep meditative insight, Einstein could not teach the Heart Sutra.

Render unto Einstein what is Einstein's; render unto Darwin what is Darwin's; render unto Leary what is Leary's, and unto Buckminster Fuller what is his; also and always render unto Budhha what is Buddha's. This does not reduce the Enlightener of all Humanity to a lesser status, if indeed you see Shakyamuni that way. But you do not want to make the same error the Pope made when he forced Galileo to retract his description of a heliocentric universe.

Absolutism, omnisciency-mongering, arrogation of all-knowledge to the exalted ones -- these are the products of dogma.

Humble acceptance of the limits of inquiry, and acknowledgment that one cannot know what one has not inquired into -- these are the marks of honest intellectual labor.


Q. The Buddha's teaching is not rocket science.

A. But every bit as ambitious. If Buddha was correct, and Nirvana exists, with perhaps additional Mahayana and Siddhayana plugins, then it's big news in my little patch of dirt, where death still reigns supreme. If indeed there is a path beyond sorrow, let's find out what it is, and implement it.

But it is possible that what Buddha discovered has been lost. We really don't know . Maybe we are consuming substitutes developed over the years. They are all so interesting that it doesn't really matter.

Perhaps Buddha discovered something personal, and all of his followers also discovered something personal, as Buddhism has continued to be understood by everyone in their own way. Perhaps Sangha is good for supporting each other in their personal quest, as distinct from trying to conform to a shared external vision.

Perhaps removing impediments to thinking altogether is a good first step toward allowing all the elements in our minds to circulate to that new arrangement that is more satisfying and less anxious. I think it helps if we intuit and affirm the existence of a better way to be, and then go there, right away.

Maybe there is a mental corollary of physical gravity that gives your mind inherent stability.

As Chuang Tzu said, "If a drunk man falls out of a cart, he will not be hurt, or if he is hurt he will not be killed. This is because his spirit is in a state of security. If such security can be gotten from wine, how much more so from the Tao?"


Q. What is gravity in a spiritual sense?

A. "To him that hath, more shall be given, and to him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath."

This sounds like "an hard saying," a lot like the "eat my flesh, drink my blood" speech, "after which, many more walked not with them." One of Jesus' more punk days.

Yet true in the case of gravity's effect upon small objects, which "lose themselves" to the larger gravity of the planet. The planets themselves are in bondage, unable for all their velocity to escape the grip of the sun. The sun is unable to alter its place in an outer arm of the galaxy. The galaxy is unable to change its place in the meta-galaxy. Thus all is in order, and all are subjects of the larger order.

"Just remember that you're standing
on a planet that is spinning
approximately 1,000 miles an hour,
which is orbiting a star..."

Yet gravity is called "the weak force."
This is to distinguish it from "the strong force."
The strong force is that existing in electron bonds.
Boom! Gunpowder -- nitrates. Sodium explodes on contact with water.
Gravity is weak by comparison.
But it has a characteristic that the strong force does not.
It aggregates.

Because gravity aggregates, it is actually the first stage of the process of stoking the solar furnaces, the cradles of all creation.

The hydrogen of space gets pulled together. The big clumps have more gravity. They overpower comparatively smaller clumps. Aggregation proceeds at faster rates. Gravity continues to aggregate, and overwhelms the atomic structure of the hydrogen atoms, causing them to release their internal fire. The subatomic volcano inside the star will ultimately be the laboratory in which all of the atoms in the Periodic Table are constructed.

Gravity is just the "in door" for cosmic sex.

Gravity and space are inseparable.

Anything that exists within space is subject to gravity.

All things that are subject to gravity will aggregate.

As the aggregation process proceeds, the structure of those things, atoms, subject to aggregation, is destroyed.

In the cosmic smelters of the stars, atoms are melted and the resulting stew radiates energy.

Energy, as we know, is not subject to gravity.
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