As we left Amman and said goodbye to our guide, the former chief of police of Jerusalem, and the friendliest single man we met in the Middle East (there was some discussion about whether our tip of $150 for him was enough), we were headed for the border between Israel and Jordan.
Which occurred at the Jordan River, just above the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea and the Jordan River are two of the most overrated landmarks in history.
The Dead Sea, 1300 feet below sea level, has so much alkali in it that it feels slimy. It looks clear. But feels slimy. When you rub your fingers together.
You can't imagine how anything could live in that water.
One little taste and you pucker up like you've just stuck your tongue in a pickle vat laced with ammonia.
The Jordan River is a muddy little trickle, about thirty feet across. Just to give you an idea of how attractive it is, remember the story of Namaan.
Namaan was a king, who had one major problem in his life--he was a leper. He heard of this Israeli holy man named Elisha who could heal. So he sought him out and asked what he should do to get healed. Elisha, perceiving that the king's real problem was a lack of humility, and that that was what was causing the leprosy, told the king to go dunk himself in the Jordan River. The king was furious, because it was such a dirty little river; but he did it and was healed.
The Jordan empties into the Dead Sea.
Well, our bus, and the forty or so of us on board dropped down this curving little road to the River and the border crossing.
There was a guy on the Jordanian side, a little pillbox of guys, actually, with machine guns.
And, as we crossed this precious little river, that had seen the blood of so many centuries and centuries of hate we entered Israel, the Promised Land.
And saw another guy, or pillbox of guys, with machine guns.
It was remarkable how much they all looked alike.
It was remarkable, too, how much the land on the other side looked just like the land from which we had come.
There was nothing magical in the transformation whatsoever.
I was disappointed.
One of the great lies, one of the great temptations of the human mind, is to take the metaphorical for the literal.
The word "Israel" in the Old Testament, and the New, is a symbol: it means "strivers with God," or "children of spiritual victory." It refers to these "descendants" of the man called "Israel," descendants in spirit of Israel, who fought a great spiritual battle in the Bible, and who was formerly known as "Jacob," but who, upon winning his battle, became known as "Israel."
Thus, "descendants" of Israel, "People" of Israel, "Land" of Israel have nothing to do with the ugly little patch of desert and scrub land over in the Middle East that so many fight over and lose their lives for. It has to do with those of us, who willingly, courageously, take on the spiritual battle, and go against the appearances that the material world would have us believe in, no matter in what form those appearances come, nor in what manner the battle is waged.
The "God of Israel" is the God of those who search and struggle their way through this battle.
It is the greatest battle any person can wage in his lifetime.
It is a privilege to wage it.
It has nothing to do with the patch of land that we recently have named "Israel," except insofar as it stands as a historical symbol in the Bible for the spiritual battle that we all must fight.
Israel, the historical site and nation and group of people that were running around there, may have been the most important historical place on earth.
But that history is important as it is recorded in the Bible, again, serving us as a metaphor in the present day.
As a historical fact; as an important historical fact; it is dead and buried.
The kicking and screaming you hear over there are the efforts of a people to resurrect their own self-importance. And that is deadly. For them, and us.
This is not to say that there shouldn't be a nation of Israel.
But it should be like any other little country that sort of seeks to base its claim to independence and reality on the basis of a historical fact, that sort of identifies it.
Like Britain sort of bases its claim to prominence on the fact that it was once the greatest nation in the world. I think this was the sort of spirit that we supported Israel on in the first place.
But when, as it is rumored in the Middle East, the goal of their expanding settlements is to bring the lands of Israel under the star of David, that is, to expand them to cover all the lands that were once governed by the King whose star resides on their flag, I draw the line.
In my own mind, For me.
The deadly thing going on there, and the same thing is true on this Indian Reservation I live on for that matter, is that as soon as a group of people starts thinking of themselves as special or important, death moves in.
In the case of the Indians, it is death by suicide.
All this business about puffing up the national or cultural identity of the Indians, which has the direct effect of making them start thinking of themselves as separated and important (chosen), immediately sets them on the road to self-destruction.
The road is always the same for those who want to proclaim that they are distinctive and set apart.
The Nazis found it out in the preaching about the Aryan Race.
It breeds the most insidious kind of hatred.
Well, anyway, we crossed the border, and entered what seemed like the closest thing to a police state I had ever encountered.
They shuffled us off the bus through the beginning of what were to be many long laborious, slow lines before we were to leave the country.
They were looking for bombs, I guess.
Anyway, they gave you the feeling that they must be very important people to have to go to this much trouble to check everybody to see if anybody would want to hurt them.
They might ask the real question, and search the really dangerous thought, their own, to see why there seems to be so much hatred in the world directed toward them.
Is it magic?
Did somebody gratuitously select the Jews for persecution?
I know, God did.
That's why they are the chosen people. They are chosen for persecution!
Whenever people start feeling threatened, and start responding to life and other people on the basis of their belief in their own self-important persecution by others, they start doing things that bring exactly that result about.
Like how they treat tourists.
It's like there's not another person in the whole goddamn world more important than those that reside in the Jewish State. Which is true.
And, equally and conversely, there isn't any citizen of the Jewish State that is more important than any other citizen in the world.
But you can just see the fear coming in, and gripping the thought of people who think they have been singled out for annihilation.
They start doing things that start bringing the beginning of that very annihilation about.
By the time I had gotten through the first line, and shuffled off into my first little room to wait, patiently, endlessly, for the others, composed mostly of little old ladies and a few of their husbands, I was ready for a little frivolity to break the tension.
So I sat down behind this desk, and gazed out at the wooden chairs that sat before me and said, in a mood and manner befitting this totally Kafkaesque scene, "Well, I suppose you wonder why I've brought you here."
"Don't make jokes!" our tour leader, the bible teacher, snapped at me.
"Great Zot," I said to myself, since out bible teacher was my very good friend, and normally very cheerful and childlike in her humor.
"Don't make jokes" she said again, without prompting.
I had never heard her use a sharp tone of voice with me before.
I would like to digress for a moment.
All over this country you see these black tents that are filled with Bedouins. And their animals.
They are the remainder of the sheepherders that lived in Jesus' day. You know--the fellows whom the angels came to. The little childlike kids with little crooked sticks to help their little lambs get out of difficult places, and to protect them from the wild beasts.
The kids that have angelic faces and golden curly hair.
With little lambies, white as snow.
That they sling over their backs and around their necks when they are carrying them out of trouble.
The ones with faces "aglow" at the sight of the "Savior."
Well, that is one of the popular myths about Christianity and its origins, one of the popular kitschy myths, to borrow a good Jewish expression, that I would like to explode right now.
I raise sheep.
Or I did.
Back on the two farms I had in Walla Walla.
Along with dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese, one cow, and a host of wild animals.
We had an expression in Montana for what lies on the underside of a sheep--"Dingleberries."
It is most often applied to a cow. The backside of a cow.
But it can refer to sheep too.
On a cow, dingleberries are those little pieces of fecal material that hang down from its anus attached to long coarse hairs. As the cow wags its tail to keep the flies off, these little balls of fecal material become round.
Hence the name "dingleberries."
What is underneath sheep is a little different. Partly because it doesn't have a tail to wag down there, partly because it lies in the stuff on the underneath side, and partly because the coat of a sheep is covered with lanolin.
That's right. Lanolin.
You know, that stuff they used to use in hair cream back in the '50's to make what we now call "greasy kid's stuff."
Pick up a sheep with your hands, which you have to do all the time, because they're always doing such stupid things, and you've got your hands full of natural grease.
The combination of fecal material, urine, and natural grease make for an entertaining and enjoyable combination of elements to get your hands into. Much less your head. As you are most certainly bound to do if you pick one of these squirmy little bastards up and sling him around your neck.
Well, Jesus was certainly aware of this. You can't get away from sheep in the Holy Land. They're everywhere.
Along with these perfectly placid guys who are standing around, gazing at the sky and the grass, waiting for their next chance to pick one up.
We visited a Bedouin tent while we were there. The guy had a couple of nice looking daughters.
You could kind of get into their lifestyle--open air, goat's hair fabric for the tent cloth, family, friends, and animals all right there in one homey (nomadic) little group.
Until I looked at one of the pillows, or what looked like a pillow lying on the ground outside. Clearly it was a place for someone to place his head and catch a few zzs....except that it was filled with sheep turds.
Now, if you think about it, the texture of dry sheep turds--they are sort of like a bag of dry doggie food--makes for a perfect pillow to receive the contour of your head.
The caves we visited all had the same feeling, The whole floor was composed of dried and stomped animal leavings.
They are very light, and bouncy, and arable. And they are extremely comfortable to sit on. And they don't even smell bad when you get used to the fact that that's the way things are.
In fact I like it.
It reminds me of my very favorite smell in all the world--freshly cut alfalfa, or fresh hay that has just been rained on. In the summer.
Its nice to have some barnyard smells--some manures of various blends--or it isn't pure and natural. It smells like the freshly scrubbed hay and animals you find at the local county Fairs. Where the kids get up at 4:00 in the morning to wash and scrub everything in sight so that it doesn't look like what it is--a barnyard, full of barnyard animals.
Now I am not a good sheep rancher. I make no claims or pretensions or professions in that direction.
I was strictly a kid who had been raised by middle class intellectuals in small town USA, but who had always dreamed of raising his own sheep. And maybe a couple of cattle.
Strictly a gentleman farmer.
So I got a couple of sheep, for openers, and tied them to my lawn with ringbolt stakes.
A ringbolt stake is one that has a swivel in the top so that the sheep can chomp a circle around and around the stake without creating a thousand knots in the rope.
I bought the sheep from a Seventh-Day Adventist.
Adventists don't eat meat.
It's against their religion.
Gets tuberculosis and other unclean things that defile the temple of God.
That's your body.
But they do sell meat.
For others to kill.
To defile their bodies.
Ah, so it goes.
With the saved, and the unsaved.
Well, I had this dog.
His name was East Rattlesnake Jake.
You can look him up in the doggie annals of pure pedigree Golden Retriever hunting dogs. (No. SA-946959.)
I got Jake back home in Montana when I went to Whitman to teach.
I had always dreamed...for ten years I had dreamed...that when I got out of graduate school and settled down on a little farm teaching Philosophy in a small liberal arts school, that I would be in a perfect bird-hunting place, and I would get the perfect bird-hunting dog.
Which I did.
My folks lived on a little gulch in Montana, in Missoula, called "East Rattlesnake Gulch." And the guy I bought the dog from, a fellow named George Hummel, also lived up there.
George had taught me how to hunt birds when I was growing up in Montana; he raised champion hunting dogs--field trial Golden Retrievers--and I wanted to get one from him.
He got me one, I paid $300 for him. And I registered him with the Pedigree People as East Rattlesnake Jake.
Jake was the best hunting dog in the world.
He and I would go out alone, endlessly, and get quail, pheasants, and ducks. And geese.
Jake retrieved two huge honkers, one with band no. 518-18949, from across this huge swollen river. I had gotten a double, a double, mind you, with my Winchester 101 (made for Sears), and Jake went across that river to retrieve both of them for me.
The second goose, a beast that weighed about fourteen pounds, I had just barely winged.
That goose dove on Jake a total of three times on his way back across.
That was a tired tired doggie at the end of that trip.
He was so tired he couldn't even get up on the bank with the goose in his mouth at the end of his retrieve.
I was never so happy.
Or so proud.
I hugged that dog and shouted for joy.
We had done it.
The childhood dream achieved, right then and there.
Well, I tell you this story about East Rattlesnake Jake because all did not work out perfectly well in our relationship.
You see I had to leave Jake at home, while we went to school. (My wife was teaching science at the Catholic Junior High.) So I had to leave Jake at home all alone.
Except for his two newfound friends.
Edna and Dorothy.
I had named these lambs after my grandmother and my mother, neither of whom I was on speaking terms with at the time.
The idea was that you fatten them up with lamb feeder mash, to supplement the grass, before you kill them.
You buy them as little lambs, and then you fatten them up at your own expense.
Until the day of doom.
And then you take them to the local neighborhood killer, (somebody like Kathee's dad), and have him kill and skin and chop them up into steaks and chops and roasts--exactly what you would like to eat.
One of my favorite days was when I hog-tied Edna and Dorothy and put them in the back seat of my Volvo and hauled them off to the butcher for slaughter.
They shit all over the back seat.
Well, it was an odd way to raise sheep. And, after I took Jake's two companions away from him, whom he simply loved to chase all day around in a circle tied to their ringbolt stakes, he left me.
The good-for-nothing son-of-a-bitch ran off and never came back.
I tried everything to keep him there; but once a dog gets the feel of the life of the wild, especially if the wild is the inside of another dog's private parts, he is gone.
I tried everything.
I even castrated him.
I finally engineered a cable and a slipknot made out of 10,000 lb, nylon rope, and a chain, that would hold him.
But then he would just sit and look at his honey, and whine, quietly, right outside my bedroom window.
My wife and I took him to Seattle to visit her folks for Christmas that year, and we lost him.
He took off.
That was it.
I know where the son-of-a-bitch is now, and it serves him right. He's in one of those concrete floor and cyclone fence kennels, and he gets out twice a year to go bird hunting. He was such a good dog, and so demonstrably had field trial champion blood in him (his relatives were National Champions) that anybody with half an eye for those things picked him up.
He used to live in a place that literally had pheasants and ducks all over his 100 acre backyard. All the time.
Cest la guerre.
The other time I raised sheep was in my other farm in Walla Walla, up in the mountains.
This was more enterprising.
I converted a little field, adjacent to the house, to a pasture. Plowed it. Disced it. Harrowed it. And planted super good sheep fescue on it.
I also had a sheep shed.
Or a barn, that I converted into a sheep shed.
I tried a cow in it at first.
A steer, actually.
But he was too big.
And when I shot him it was too big a production. Requiring neighbors, and pickups, and hoists to gut him out. And people who knew what they were doing.
So I stuck with sheep.
They're so much more lovely too. And cuddly. And cute.
I bought three big old ewes.
And got them pregnant.
My neighbor's ram.
Sheep gave us syphilis, Did you know that?
Or we gave it to them, one or the other.
I don't know how.
You'd have to be mighty horny.
Over in the Middle East they have fat-tail sheep.
These are woolies (as we call them in Montana) that have particularly fat, ugly tails. That collect even more burrs than your regular skinny-tailed sheep in the Northwest.
The idea with tails, when the lambs are born, in January and February, right when it is ass-freezing cold, even in the barn, is to cut them off right then. Or use an elastrator on them.
Or so I had heard.
An elastrator is a rubber band.
That you place around the tail, up close to the asshole, and after a week or so the tail falls off. For lack of circulation.
You do the same thing to the nuts.
Of the boy sheep.
Son-of-a-bitch that must hurt.
Well, I heard about this, or read about it in books, so I figured I'd go the elastrator route. Since I didn't want to cut the balls off my newborn lambs.
However, I only had five lambs, come birthing season, and I didn't see the need for investing in all the fancy equipment you need to place the rubber band around the balls and the tail.
So I went out in the barn with my own rubber band, snagged a couple of the critters, and did the work simple as pie.
That was a mistake.
You see the rubber bands that are made for this kind of work are very thick, and very heavy....round, and about a quarter of an inch in diameter.
And the elastrators are metal pieces of equipment that are specially made to stretch, and get the rubber band on and around the tail, because they are so thick and heavy that you can't do it by hand.
And the rubber bands I used were little dinky wimpy things, that let blood get through, and circulate, a bit.
Which meant--you guessed it--gangrene.
It was a pity watching the balls of one of my three triplets get bigger and bigger, until they're almost dragging on the ground.
Then he died.
God how embarrassing.
I lost another one to coyotes.
Coyotes, lovely little darling creatures that they are, if they smell anything that looks like a wound on an animal, will pack up and run him to death and kill him slowly by eating him.
Starting at the ass end.
Or the guts.
One of the sheep--the mother of my triplets--got into the chicken laying mash, I looked out at her one morning after she had eaten about thirty pounds of it. She was lying on her side, which was hard to do because she was so round.
At about this time my wife and I started a little woolie graveyard, under a little cluster of apple trees by the pasture.
Before we were done there were I think four sheep buried there.
Each with a little tear saying good-bye to yet another fond earthly hope.
Then came slaughter time.
I bought a block and tackle hoist to lift the carcasses as we skinned them and "dressed" them, (i.e., got the guts out in a wheelbarrow to go feed the chickens and cats and coyotes).
I don't know why, but for some reason we always had a hangover when it came to the morning of killing and slaughtering sheep.
The problem was to kill them effectively on the first shot. Sheep are so dumb they don't know that they've been shot.
It's awful to blast one of the poor critters, that you've been feeding and caring for all summer in your beautiful mountain home and pasture, and have them just look at you blankly after the bullet has gone between their eyes.
Especially on a hangover.
I remember when my wife got me into the rabbit business.
For fifty bucks.
The moment of truth came for one of those furry little cute fuzzy critters, that I had been feeding greens to all summer, and watching raise their young.
I couldn't do it.
I got drunk.
I got sick.
And finally, because I had to be a man and do the dirty deed, I got out my machete.
I held that little furry Peter Cottontail's head out on the Cottonwood chopping block, and thunk.
Down came the executioner's blade.
A few kicks and it was over.
And Peter Cottontail was in the refrigerator on a plate.
Where he stayed.
For the next three weeks.
My wife got out of the rabbit business shortly thereafter.
I tell you these stories because I want you to see that the horseshit "sweetness and nice" that surrounds the mystique about "Jesus" and his "lambs," his "flock," is based on a destructive and insidious lie, or set of lies, that are there to seduce and keep the truth away from you.
Truth is hard.
That was the one good thing that Nietzsche saw, and the one thing that made him good.
He also saw the rottenness of Christianity for what it is.
Something that would turn us all into fat lazy animals, seeking nothing more than "green pasture happiness for the herd."
The truth is that sheep stink.
They are stupid.
They take a lot of work, care, and attention.
Correspondingly, truth is hard. The truth about yourself stinks. You have to overcome your stupidity. And all of that takes a lot of work, care, and attention.
This notion, peddled in so-called "Christian" bookstores particularly, that Christianity, or the teachings of Jesus Christ, are there to reconcile us with the material world, to make our life easier and at peace with the onslaught of material thinking on our spiritual nature, is pure, unadulterated sheep dung, rattling around inside a pillowcase.
And if you are seriously going to pick up that cross and take on the world of materialistic thought, it is going to be hard--far far harder than just picking up a dirty, smelly sheep and slinging him across your back and around your neck.
You are going to have to assault your old ways of looking at the world, your old dependencies, your old attachments, your old beliefs about the nature of reality.
Christianity is not a religion for the simpleminded.
It is a religion for the toughest minded of all--those who would suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune because they know, they have seen with a higher kind of certainty than the scientific mind can offer, that there is a reality there, unseen, composed of Truth and Love, that will take them to the Promised Land, a state of understanding and awareness, if they will dare to follow their hunch and intuition that it is there.
That takes guts.
Fifty thousand times more depth of insight and power of intelligence than following Aristotle around, with his magnifying glass to the ground, trying to piece Life together by one sure rock and crumb and molecule after another.
The corruption, the rotten insidious corruption, that Nietzsche and Sartre and Freud, and all the noteworthy intellectuals have helped us in this century to see, is that the Church, with its lily-white, spiritually and morally incompetent and inept vision of life, culminating in the Scopes trial of the 1920's, has been feeding the minds of men such silly, offensive lies, that none but the sick and corrupt have dared to enter the Church.
Or the feeble-minded.
The guys who should be in church, who are in church in their pursuit of truth in the halls of the academy, and the streets of the business world, and the courtrooms, are so offended by what they rightly see going on inside a church that in their own best sense of conscience they won't dare enter.
Out of self-respect.
That they want to preserve.
The corruption that I see and that I speak of is all summed up for me in this image of sheep.
The lies that the Church puts across about even something so simpleminded as the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep--who the shepherd is, what the sheep are, and what the purpose of the relationship is--are symbolic, for me of all the ugly, rotten corruption that I see going on in the Church.
One of the first things we did when we got inside Israel was to visit Masada.
First we visited Jericho.
The old city, the one (or two or three) in the Bible is about thirty feet down, below the ground level of the current habitation, They have it excavated to the point where they think they have found the old wall.
But Masada was more interesting to me.
Because of the Romans.
The Romans had surrounded this little city, built on the top of something that looked like a Mesa, by the Dead Sea. Some guy had built a fortification there to protect himself and his group.
From any intruders.
It was occupied last by a group of Jews who took their own lives by suicide rather than give in to the Romans in 72 A.D. The impressive thing to me was that the Romans could have got them in a position where they would take their own lives.
It took a cable car to get to the top.
At least a mile long ride, at a sharply inclined angle, up, much steeper than 45 degrees.
When you get out, on top, you are immediately impressed by how impregnable this natural fortress is.
The Jews had all the natural supplies they needed. Huge cisterns, that could hold, say, a hundred thousand gallons of water. Great storerooms of food. A nice view.
And no hope of anyone assailing the vertical cliffs, that rose at least a thousand feet straight up.
Unless it was the Romans.
The Romans had a knack for doing the impossible when it came to subjugating the will of somebody they felt should be under them.
In Carthage, you may remember, after the Third Punic War, they decided to end their quarrel with the Carthaginians once and for all. So, after they burned and sacked the town for the third time they plowed it.
They plowed it under with horse-drawn plows.
An impressive way to tell a people that they lose.
I remember too, in the case of the revolt of the slaves, led by Spartacus.
When the Romans finally put down the rebellion they decided to make an example of the offenders of the law, so they crucified 6,000 people and lined the Appian Way with them.
6,000 people screaming and writhing on crosses, for miles.
An impressive display of power.
A good example for those who might stray from the system.
Well, in Masada they did something similar, to subjugate this little town and make sure there wasn't any little enclave of resistance within the Empire.
First they built a wall around it.
When I say "they" I mean the guys with the Roman lash in their hands. The other guys, the slaves who picked up the rocks and set them in place, out there in the God-forsaken desert--they didn't count.
What was impressive to me was how big a lash they must have had to get those poor bastards to work for them.
Building this huge wall.
Around this city on a butte.
Maybe a thousand feet high.
A couple of miles in diameter.
You can still see the wall today, as you stand on top of the mesa looking down.
You can also see the ramp.
That's right, The ramp.
The ramp was how the Romans finally got the inhabitants of the city to yield and kill themselves.
They built a ramp, or rather the slaves on pain of being lashed to death built a ramp, stone by stone, that was going to go from the bottom of the mesa, at about where the wall was, to the top. Where the city was.
Presumably it would have been a fairly simple proposition to attack and destroy the city with a road built right up to the front door.
Like a bunch of soldier ants destroying a termite colony in Africa, once the queen termite is dead and there is nothing left to fight for.
You can still see the ramp, or the huge pile of rubble that stands for the ramp, today.
The reason that Masada interested me more than Jericho, or any of the other places we saw in Israel, was because it reminded me so much of today. It was a metaphor.
Of the scientific, or so-called scientific thought today.
That would seek out and destroy any enclave of resistance within its Empire, that might remind it of something other than itself.
Oh, it might tolerate anomalies and peculiarities in its midst, so long as they willingly yield to the subordinate classification of being anomalous.
But it will tolerate nothing that stands in its relentless way as claiming to be reality, Too.
And the religious guys, gutless little strangers to truth that they are, ceremonially kill themselves in the face of the oncoming enemy, and give in to his will, his way of thinking, and kiss his boots to save themselves a few strokes of the lash.
When I was in the loony bin I got a good picture of how relentless an enemy of spirituality, love, and humanity the scientific mind and mentality can be.
There were three girls in there with me. Beautiful girls all three. Totally hypnotized by our culture and the effects of the scientific way of life.
(The "scientific way of life" is simply the values and the sense of reality and substance that we are taught in school, from kindergarten to postdoctorate. If the hypnotic trance that such an education brings us into can be called a "set of values" or a "sense of substance" at all.)
These three lovely girls were all in for trying to kill themselves.
As was my best friend in the bin.
A young guy, about college age, who had become totally cynical about life as he saw it projected in America, and with good reason.
A very bright existentialist type, he lay down on his bed one day and lined up a bunch of reds on his stomach, and began taking them one at a time, listening to his stereo.
If his sister hadn't happened to have come home unexpectedly he wouldn't have been there for me to meet.
When he got out he sent me letters crying for help.
I didn't know how to answer them.
At the time.
The three girls were gentle things. Vulnerable. Out of place.
One of them had deep cuts on her wrists, from three different times of trying to kill herself.
She had epileptic fits to amuse herself. And the attendants.
She had hauntingly beautiful eyes, that burned with resentment at the demonstrable cruelty and inhumanity around her.
The second girl had a heart. And was big on the idea that she wasn't worthy of living or equal to the demands of living either.
One day, while I was there, she went out on a group walk and, facing a rush of oncoming traffic in Seattle, she started to step out in front of it.
One of the attendants pulled her back.
The third girl, who is no longer with us, was a wreck.
She had shot her 4-month-old baby with a '22. In the neck. And it lived. Paralyzed.
So she walked around as rigid as a lamp post. The veins on her arms and her neck constantly stuck out. And throbbed.
When you first walk into a loony bin the first thing you notice, the overwhelming first impression you get, is pain.
Somehow, some way, all these poor bastards that have opened their minds and been conned by society are stuck in their thinking that they are the guilty ones for having screwed up their lives, and let down the people around them.
That is the way it works.
Instead of identifying a hypnotic dream that has gripped their imagination, the dream that they have been persuaded to accept as reality....the dream, the system, the set of ideas they have grown up with has them believing that it is they who are the guilty and sinful ones who deserve to die or end up in a loony bin. To make a distinction.
Loony bins are every bit as much to be feared as they are.
When you are in a crisis, totally vulnerable, and ready for a quantum leap of growth, the last thing in the world you need is somebody nailing your feet to the floor with drugs and feeding you some scientific horseshit theory about the nature of reality and the nature of your life.
I know what I am talking about here.
I have studied these theories--all of them--for sixteen years.
I wrote my doctoral dissertation on them.
I have studied the people, and the environs in which they operate--academic and clinical.
And I have been on the inside.
Ruthlessly, mercilessly intimidated by these people who think that they know what's coming down in life.
Based on their scientific theories.
Their scientific "understanding" of man.
An understanding which is so hideous, so deformed, so baseless, that it will lead you 180° in the wrong direction if you even start to let it in the door.
It's that compelling.
Once you start going with the theory that you are an animal, (at the top end of the Phylogenetic Scale) even in appearance, even for an instant, they've got you.
Because the whole theory follows from that.
Life in matter.
Life in matter.
We are talking about the key to the kingdom, the key to understanding the error that has cost mankind so much discord and pain and futility for lo these many centuries.
It is a metaphysical point.
A philosophical point.
And the key to it is the refusal to believe or acknowledge the belief, or entertain the existence of the appearance of a belief, that life exists in matter.
I know this sounds preposterous.
But I ask you to hear me out.
The key, the key to understanding life, hinges on, depends on, our willingness to disbelieve all those (so-called) "scientific" appearances that would have us believe that life arose from the (miraculous or accidental) change of inorganic matter into what is called "organic" matter. And all of the attending ramifications of that theory that trail in the wake of it.
Like the whole of biological theory about the origin of life.
The fact of death.
And the need of material resources and supports to maintain growth and health.
The queen termite, in your little colony of changing, vital, growing ideas and grasp of life's essence, the fortress that you must defend at all costs on pain of committing suicide or yielding to the Roman lash, is that you are a spiritual being: you are not material; you cannot be material; indeed, it is inconceivable that you can imagine yourself to be, even in part, a material man of God.
That is the belief that you have to work your way out of.
That you are material.
That is your job.
Whatever it takes you.
The belief, the orthodox religious belief, both Christian and Jewish, is that you are a body and soul, united, (with a "mind" thrown in).
That is the concession to the "scientific," the essence of the materialist's conception of life.
The concession that lets the Romans build the ramp.
I know it is hard to believe.
I know it is preposterous.
That we are all spiritual.
That the ground we walk on is holy; and like Moses we should take our shoes off to acknowledge that fact when we recognize it.
But you can't recognize that Life is Spiritual while you have material rose-colored glasses on.
Does a cup already full receive anything more?
Does the same fountain give forth dirty and pure water?
And we are taught the materialist's conception of life from the minute we walk into school.
Or, even worse, an orthodox religious point of view, badly concessionary to the materialists, but claiming to be pure and pious.
The belief that you were hatched from an egg in your mother's womb, that you are, consequently, an animal, just like the 250 million sperm who didnt make it would have been if yours hadn't been the lucky number in your father's sperm, these are the beliefs that lead, directly or indirectly, to people ending up in the loony bin.
These are the beliefs, or the ramifications of the beliefs, that you are taught there once you enter.
No matter how awful or hideous or nightmarish you may feel when you come into a loony bin, or a psychiatrist's office, or a "psychologists," or a "counselors," he or she will find a way to make it real for you. That is, he or she will find a way of explaining why that condition of life is a reality in your life.
That is their business.
Beginning with Freuds seminal work on dreams and their relation to the Unconscious.
Which is exactly as preposterous as it sounds.
Trying to understand dreams.
Make a theory and find law-like regularities that explain and analyze the essential reasons for why you have the dreams you do.
Have you ever done that?
Tried to "explain" or "understand" your dreams?
No you haven't.
No matter how much you may have tried, or think you have, you haven't.
Because dreams are exactly what they say they are: dreams.
They are not reality.
And people who say they are, and are engaged in professions that are devoted to proving they are, and "healing" on the basis that they are, are quacks.
Dreams are dreams.
They are not reality.
And when you take them as real you get into "trouble," i.e., you get deeper into the dream for having taken it as reality.
Until you get so tired of it that you throw it away as unreal.
I used to teach guards at the Walla Walla State Penitentiary in night school. In a Community College.
I would ask them what they thought it took to rehabilitate hardened convicts and criminals.
They all said the same thing.
The guy has to get tired of the rut he's in.
Then he quits being a criminal.
And turns around and walks away from it.
Some guys never get tired of it. Some do.
Whatever you do, one thing you don't do is encourage them to stay in the rut.
I liked the guards. They were some of the best students I ever had. They were honest and to the point. I like that.
Well, what happens from the minute you walk into a Psychiatric Ward, or any lesser modification of it that society offers today, like the Community Mental Health Vending Service, is that the dream that got you there in the first place is immediately made into a reality.
So that those people have something to do.
So that they can have some business.
To keep themselves occupied.
Listening to all the sordid soap opera pus that frightened people like to wallow and roll in before they go up higher to a higher understanding of life.
And let go of the last few scraps of fears and doubts, and compulsive attachments, and self-delightful, self-inflicted tortures that they are accustomed to stuffing themselves with as they leave their last level of understanding.
It is beyond me why we institutionalize the business of making nightmares reality.
Unless there is an underlying compelling point, that is much more powerful, an infinitely deeper source of infection and disease in the human mind, where the mental health institutions generally are just the boils in the surface that reflect the deeper nature of the disease.
It is what Jesus saw.
And set the example for the rest of us to follow.
And do even better than he did. As he himself said.
"And greater works than these shall ye do...."
It is the belief of Life in matter.
I don't care how many times you say bullshit, or hem and haw, or squirm, or try to get away.
That is it.
That is the answer.
The way that that belief operates, the way it exists in our culture, is the source of every major discord we have.
It violates the First Commandment--thou shalt have no other Gods before me: it makes a God out of matter.
It violates the First Chapter of Genesis, which outlines the real nature of the spiritual creation, as opposed to the supposed nature of the material creation, which begins in the second chapter, "And then a mist went up....."
And it violates the central commandment of Jesus, who said that we were to love the Lord with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul.
You do not love God if you believe Him capable of letting in things like disease, sin, death, hate, evil, war, and mental illness.
These are all dreams.
They have to be recognized as dreams.
Then the hypnotism is broken.
And the dream is broken.
And they cease to exist as physical "fact." (Or appearance.)
The belief in matter is a direct violation of all the spiritual law in the Bible: because matter, and its so-called laws are responsible for every evil, everything opposed to God, that we face in our human experience.
Therefore, God did not make matter.
Matter is a dream.
Indeed, what we call this "human experience" is a dream state, which, as we pass through it, and learn what it is we are supposed to understand, we will recognize in retrospect.
As the real man, the spiritual man, that is composed of Love and the desire for Truth, emerges ever more clearly in our experience.
The things we took for reality yesterday and yesteryear are no longer "real," as we progress, and find our footing, and begin to realize that there really is a spiritual path underneath all this seeming reality of a "material" life.
The Mind/Body problem is the most important problem of the twentieth century.
It is the most important problem in the History of Philosophy, and is given to us as a legacy of the work of Plato and Aristotle.
It is a reflection of the belief of life in matter.
A belief in the existence of matter as substance, for that matter.
I will attempt to characterize the problem for you, again, in the most mundane concrete terms that I can find, terms that anybody could not fail to appreciate.
Let's look at drugs.
How about booze.
From the first moment that first sip hits your thought, and the relief rushes in, and smashes your mind so that you don't have to think anymore, what happens?
How about smokes.
What happens when you take a drag on a cigarette and you can feel that nicotine smash your brain, and you experience it as a relief from stress?
What is consciousness?
In relation to the body?
They seem to be two separate entities, don't they?
Think how much time we devote in the service of the mind to the body.
And, vice versa, the body running around doing things in service to the mind.
When you look at a physical object out in what we call "space," it looks like something "out there," a physical object, getting reported to your brain, in terms of a lot of complicated relationships between bits and pieces of matter, doesn't it.
But, nevertheless, the whole visual experience is mental, isn't it?
What you see is a mental image. Isn't it?
Similarly with hearing.
What you hear is supposed to be an event "out there" that is supposed to be physical. Isn't it?
Like the music in a stereo.
Is not just physical sounds.
It is mental.
The whole experience.
A sound "out there" sort of becomes a sound "in here."
A sound, by its very nature, is a mental event, when you think about it.
It is not physical.
All that is physical, or so it is said by physicists who don't know what they are talking about, is energy. But "energy" is a weasel word, to indicate something, the existence of something none of us has ever seen or heard, or could even imagine, really.
All there is, really, is the mental event.
So it is, too, with taste, smell, and touch, our other contacts with the so-called outside world of space and "physical" substance.
What all this does is to leave us with the feeling that there is a "me," a lonely point of isolated consciousness, in here, experiencing things subjectively, that are really objective in nature.
It makes me feel like a lonely, isolated subject, alienated from the world I try to experience in my lonely, isolated little way.
Consciousness is something I experience as only my consciousness, tasting, touching, seeing, feeling, and smelling all these different "things" around me that "I" come in contact with in my daily life.
I am sort of "cut off" from the rest of the world.
My experience is sort of intrinsically mine, and I cannot experience another's; nor can mine be experienced by another.
(Which reminds me of a big black stud I used to counsel in my office about impotence. He related to me with determination and feeling that he could not be responsible for the chicks he laid because, after all, he could not have their orgasms.)
It's a little bit like that.
Each of us running around in search of our own orgasm, using our bodies as the tool of our happiness, or union with the physical world.
Well, all of this is a psychotic hallucination, that we are all victimized by. Left to us as the legacy of Plato's work, then Aristotle's, then Thomas Aquinas's, then Descartes', and finally, the Existentialists'.
Each of these Philosophers, of course, is just reflecting the thought, mood, and ideas of his time. He is, as they say of the President of the United States, but the fly on the head of an elephant.
Nevertheless, the problem is with us, or seems to be, and it is the problem that each of us is trying to work out in our own lives, whether we know it or acknowledge it or not.
What is the relationship between our mind and our bodies?
How do I find peace?
How do I find happiness?
How can I find promise and dominion over death?
Each of us is continuously bombarded by the Scientific Community, the New Roman Empire, to find physical answers to what are construed by them as physical problems, (unavoidably so, since their whole methodology makes it necessary that the mental is derivative from the physical).
But, and this is the key that a lot of people say they have found (and have not): the whole thing is mental. Not in solution, merely, but in the manner of conceptualization. That is, what they call a problem, the way they phrase what it is that seems to be wrong, is itself wrong.
In fact, it is the cause of the problem in the first place.
I will try to be a little more obscure....
Suppose that the real cause of the problem, what looks like a physical problem, were not something "physical" at all. But rather our way of looking at it.
And, all that needed to be changed, in order for the whole "problem" to completely go away, was for us to change our way of thinking about it.
And then, when we did change our thoughts about the matter, and the problem did go away, evaporate, as if it had never been there in the first place, we would know that we had found the right way of thinking, or dealing with problems, or what looks like evil in our experience.
This would be proof--real proof--that we had found the way.
Well, exactly that has been found.
The whole ball game really is a mental excursion, and what look like disastrous problems in your life are really ways that you are being shaken up, jolted out of a hypnotic state, because you are ready to see a new layer of reality, but you are afraid to let go of the old.
All of these things that look like physical disasters in your life really have to do with your relation to yourself.
When the first chapter of Genesis says that man is made in the image of God, or that we are the children of God, what do you think that means?
It means that we are the heirs, the inheritors of all of that that we are as the reflection of, namely God Himself.
That means, my dear little children, that we have untapped resources, visions of life, experiences of joy and emancipation that are simply uncomprehendable to us, waiting in our future, as soon as we learn the road and get used to walking on it.
Our capacities are infinite.
We have all the power of the Universe at our fingertips.
Limitations, like the speed of light, are a joke.
We have only to tune in with the Source, a relationship, by the way, that is not too unlike the one portrayed in Star Wars. At the end. Where the guy is trying to get the torpedoes into that (seemingly) impossibly small target. And he has to let go of all the computerized and human methods for coping.
It is exactly like that.
When you get the feel of this weird relationship with Your Creator.
(I say "weird" because it is nothing like what we are taught to expect it to be like by the orthodox material institutional religions we have grown to know and love.)
Every second, every moment, every breath, He is right there, aware of your every thought, impulse, desire. Indeed they have all, one and all been prepared for You by Your Creator, so that you may come to see and appreciate the glorious path He has really set before you.
Once you develop the humility, and love, and courage, and trust, that are currently being cultivated in your experience today.
Well the Mind/Body problem is there as an hallucinatory nightmare to drive us into a recognition and acceptance of our real state of being.
As long as the nightmare, the dualism of the mind and body are there, we know that there is work to do on our heads to get us out of that way of viewing things, and into an appreciation of that fact that all is One, and I and You are One with the Father.
But what do you think that Jesus was referring to when he told Nicodemus that "except ye be born again ye cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven?"
Unless it was to point out that a rebirth into the understanding that all is spiritual and nothing is material was what the man required.
What do you suppose he meant when he said that we should "call no man on earth our father," but that we have only one "Father" and He is in Heaven. That is, we can see Him only when we have acquired this spiritual understanding.
The appearance that we are the children of our mothers and fathers on "earth" (in the "flesh") is a wholly deceptive phenomenon.
Invented by human beings.
For the entertainment of human beings.
Who would perish without that sort of analysis of Life.
Based on matter.
What do you suppose the so-called "miracles" of Jesus were about? If not to prove the absolute supremacy of spiritual law over so-called material law?
A miracle happens when there is a yielding happening in the human mind, and it lets go of its material preconceptions about the necessity of human or material law (force), and it yields to the divine, which is our real nature. That we are working toward. And progressively expressing more and more in human experience.
As the insight gets deeper.
And the problems get bigger.
Wherever the insight or understanding is, the problems are always there too, to challenge it. (Make it stronger.)
So it looks like we are sometimes scaling cliffs.
People that are suffering severe problems are in a deep hypnotic state. And need to be shaken up.
Sometimes it looks like they need to be "killed," at least to limited, finite human perception, to wake them out of it.
But they are always in the hands of God's Love.
God is Love, remember, from the first letter of John.
Who are we to judge the manner He uses to bring ourselves or our brethren out of their slumber?
But I say to you again: it is a hell of a lot better to know what is going on, and to save one's self and one's brethren a lot of pain and suffering, than to blindly stumble through what looks like--what you are determined to have it be--a nightmarish swamp of quicksand and snakes.
What you experience is a direct expression of what you believe.
I cannot emphasize that too strongly.
What you experience is a direct expression of what you believe.
And you are being led out of false belief by the suffering in your life.
What is suffering, in fact, is not even you. You are safe, protected, secure in the Kingdom of Heaven already. You are just waking up to that fact.
What is suffering is the false belief. False belief is its own destroyer.
False belief is the sin and the sinner.
It is all that gets destroyed in the flames of life we call "hell."
You, the child of God that lives forever, are never ever touched by the flames of hell.
So the solution to the Mind/Body problem, that Philosophers have been looking for for 2,500 years is just this: there is spiritual perception and material perception. Material perception is a dream that passes out of life as the human experience understands itself and yields to the divine.
The spiritual, or what I have been calling fourth-dimensional consciousness, never passes out of existence, but is existence itself. Immortal, pure, true.
Corporeal sense is a liar and a fraud. A self-delusive state that can only fade and destroy itself for the dream it is, as the true is discerned and accepted by the human heart.
Conclusion: there is no body; there is only Mind.
What looks like our body is something that is given to us to aid us in the recognition of that fact.
It actually improves as our beliefs improve (get closer to the Truth), until it disappears entirely, as Jesus' did.
Well, about drugs then.
I have not taken acid, but I have tried most of the other little delights on the market.
I drew the line at acid.
I still have a hit of 4-way windowpane acid that one of my students gave me. As a souvenir. Of those days.
The desire to take drugs, misguided though it seems to be, is a desire for Truth, a search for Reality.
Something to counteract the horseshit that young people are taught while they are growing up in this culture.
And taught that the American Dream--the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave--that this is a material dream.
Which is a lie.
And they know it.
So they look for the truth in the only place available to them that seems to contradict the lie.
What dope does for you is open up doors to whole new worlds of experience for you, so that you see that the limitations imposed by Mom and Dad and School are false. That is what hooks you on it.
Unfortunately, you cannot get those experiences again except for a dependence on the material drug.
And, after a little while, you can't get the experience again with the material drug.
After you are mentally habituated to depending on it. You think.
And, after it has destroyed what promise you might have had for doing something constructive and worthwhile in your culture.
The destruction of our youth by dope is probably the most acute statement to our culture yet that there is something wrong with the American Dream.
At least as it is visualized today.
The real American Dream, the one that made the United States the great and incredible miracle it was in the first place, has yet to be re-discovered.
It is a Mental Dream.
Since all experience is mental and all of your experience is the direct mental offshoot of the way you think about things, you have complete control over your experience.
The New Frontiers are discoveries to be made in the Mind, the One Mind we are all reflections of.
When we are not in darkness.
The New Dimension of experience that is about to open up for us is simply incredible!
When we learn that the New Frontier is Mind, that we have no limitations but those of the claims that would bind us to our material beliefs, when we recognize, accept, and acknowledge that we are the children of God, the One Mind that is All to everything, we are set free from our material shackles to conquer the Infinite Idea.
The Land of the Free is Freedom of Thought; the Home of the Brave is the bravery, the courage, the wisdom to challenge and destroy those limitations that would contain and destroy you.
In your own mind.
That is the only place the battle is waged.
That is where you will win or lose in your battle with "the evil one" as Jesus called our tendency to believe in the power of matter (the world and the flesh), coupled with our corresponding disbelief in our own adequacy to find the courage to grasp that the Universe really is spiritual, and take the first step.
Out of the boat.
And walk on the water.
I did have one experience, back in my dope smoking days, when I thought that drugs had an effect on consciousness, and I was curious about the relationship between them.
I took my father on a mushroom trip.
The Old Man, and me.
And my wife and his wife, my stepmother.
All four of us.
On the farm out in the Valley in Walla Walla.
I had gotten some grade-A, superfine, guaranteed mushrooms from the Olympic Peninsula off Puget Sound in the State of Washington.
I sat there in the kitchen of this creaky old farmhouse, on a stool across from my old man.
I was handing them to him--breaking off frozen pieces and chunks--the first mushrooms either he or I had ever had.
I wasn't quite sure how much to give him, so I made sure we had plenty.
But not too much.
Our wives had plenty too.
And then it began.
The first thing you begin to think about when you feel that stuff start to grip your mind is....when is this going to be over?
The Old Man got up, after about forty-five minutes, and walked outside into the middle of the pasture to be alone for a few minutes.
We could all see him.
He just stood there with his hands in his back pockets looking at the sky.
Talking to God.
He was about sixty.
He knew what he had done when he began to feel the effects of that drug.
He knew that he had entrusted his life and his sanity to my good judgment.
He loved me very much.
I was never more proud of him than I was that day.