|Subject: sevenhundred paces to a kilometer
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000 02:05:05 -0700 (PDT)
things are well, different. Its the most amazing thing about travel. One would suppose that oneself and the stars are all that is constant in one's travels. But then both change with latitude and altitude.
So when umm last we spoke I was ranting about some sort of childish nonesense(sic). Whilst I wont withdraw my coments, I do have to begin this with some qualifiers. Its only when cofronted with death that these things become so clear. That's why that letter from Varanasi is bound to be of a dissonant timbre to this one. From death to life, now in Rishikesh, half way through a month long course in Tantric yoga.
I feel like generations have come and gone and now I'm reincarnated in a new body. Let me put it this way. I can now, standing with legs straight, put my palms to the floor. While sitting, legs stretched in front, I can lock my hands around my feet and hold my head to my knees almost indefinately. I can twist and stretch in ways I haven't been able to match since infancy. Ohh ahh, great party tricks.
New body new mind. Everything is so flexible. I've met this girl (when do they become women?) name Anicca and we have this really intense commonality. For one thing, she's the first person I've met in India who I would consider to be of my own subculture within a subculture. We can discuss This Mortal Coil and Sonic Youth, squatting, and living without money, and community ideals and world politics. I've been lecturing on economics and alternative energy systems, not to mention the standard retoric of philosophy y'all must suffer from...
Latest revelation. If you divide the world in terms of Subjectivity and objectivity you can find some interesting quirks: Space: objectively considered, any object you look at or consider contains a center. That center is the center of space so long as it holds your attention. Shift to another object and that then becomes the center of an unbounded infinite space. However, subjective reality has as its center only the self and never anything else.
Time: Objective reality is necessarily always past or future, subjective time is necessarily always present tense, only an infinite NOW. The ramifications of all this are not so obvious. But I won't suffer you with that. Just keep in mind which you're dealing with at any moment or in any thought. Space and time are the two concepts without which no other concept can function. At least these negated.
Hey Mark Davidson, you'd love it here. There are more varieties of bugs here than I've ever seen anywhere in my life. Of course the obscene numbers of mosquitos and Flies and ants, but I've seen some exotics I've never before had the pleasure to study in the wild. I've seen a Praying Mantis, a scorpion, and when I moved in to the current ashram I'm living in, my room was already occupied by what could only be a Tarantula. Now I'm no entymologist, but what would you call a furry spider about the size of my palm that's black and white. Could be anything to be sure, but I did relocate him. Didn't want to, but it would be hard to sleep at night with the critter running around. But its led to the running joke within myself of always inspecting all the dark corners of my room when I come home for Tarantulas. heeheehee. There are also other indescribably beautiful creatures which I won't bother trying to.
So yah, nothing like tantric yoga. The very first class I experienced the unmistakable sensation of my first chakra, Muladhara chakra awakening causally and soberly for the first time in my life, from doing a stretch I've been doing since I was, what five? No explanation more need be given why I'm sticking out the full month here. All those spooky energy flows aluded to in all the spiritual texts are becoming activated in me. I can't tell you how surprising it all is after all these years of spiritual practice to finally get somewhere.
Well, to be honest it all started up at Gaumuk. this is where the Ganga emerges from under a glacier, already a very large river. And you don't know how cold cold is till you skinny dip away your sins while pebbles splash down from the receeding glacier all around you. Magical. And more babas then you can shake an arti lamp at. I set up what could be referred to as a tansient ashram on a sandy beach nearest to the source of the mighty river. For four days I hung out with a constant flow of pilgrims eastern and western. Russian, Greek, Korean, Italian, Spanish, Argentinian, Brazilian, Israeli, English, german. The first night I was there, we stayed up all night at 3800 meters (12,000 ft) holding an all night shiva puja with the Russian, Argentinian, and Spaniard about an impromtu shiva lingam and made authentic Chai masala on my campstove to keep us warm. A completely crazy night. Needless to say cold. That altitude for those who haven't spent any time up there is unforgiving. Especially in May. The days burn even the cautious to a lobster's hue while the nights freeze even the Russians. The next several days I spent making sand mandalas recieving instructions in some freeform of Korean yoga, and discussing the power of crystals with the Greek girl, Dimitria. Plus random instruction from passing Babas stopping to join in on an endless flow of chillums. Wow doesn't even begin to discribe the indescribable beauty of the endless moment now past. Snow peaks and a still pool of glacier water that was my private bathtub on my semi-public beach campsite. Did I mention that the sand glitters and the rocks are adorned with garnet? I transformed the beach into a new-age hindu Zen garden by the time I left. So much energy in me I was moving rocks of a quarter ton, transforming the landscape into parkbenches and windscreens, with conceptual development courtesy of Architectural Design theory.
I'm beginning to realize the complex beauty of my own head. If only I could learn to shut up, well, that would be really beautiful.
So in order to heal from Gaumuk and dissolve my peeling skin I stopped of at Ganganani, which is a not-quite-villiage surrounding a swimming pool style hotspring. Every day for six days I woke up walked out my door and straight into the hot tub. Ahhhh. I actually had the closest and most direct access to the pool, except, of course for the Baba who slept outside my window. Another great smoke fest. Mom, I'm sorry you have to read this, but the audience must know that the hill sides surrounding the pseudo-villiage were garnished with pot plants, and there was scarcely a moment that went by when there wasn't a chillum being smoked somewhere. What could I do? I am a prisoner of fate. Oh yah and I rode on top of the bus for the 60 kilometers and five hours from Gangotri to Ganganani. Excellent views and exciting ride, ducking tree limbs and staring in ever dwindling amazement at the physics of two vehicles passing on a one lane rode atop sheer cliffs. Even after all this time it still amazes one that its even possible, but the shock value is long sense amortized to a pittance.
So here I am back in Rishikesh, back at the foot of the himalayas, at the home of Maharish Mahesh Yogi; who for those who don't know was the Beatles' Guru. Strangely, no Beatles references in town. The yoga class I'm in should be titled Hippism 1001. The teacher is Romanian and your archetypical New-ager. He phrases everything in terms of Cosmic and Telluric energies, and talks of pyramid power, drinking your own urine, lots of talk about sex, misunderstood geniuses like Wilhelm Reich and Tesla, Gurdjieff, and Iridology, the full gamut. All with that annoying certainty and confidence that made us hippies a laughing stock in the first place. He approaches arogance and often transcends it. But whatever; I am a living testimonial of the efficacy of the system he teaches, and that's based on dozens of teachers and hundreds of books with which I can cross reference. Nevertheless, his self-assurance about his own system which he's integrated from numerous sources is a painful reflection of myself. Indeed moreso than normal he is a reflection of my ownmost innermost bullshit. Which undoubtedly is necessary at this time for me to see. Oh well, we can't always choose. In fact, my latest theory is that Free Will most closely resembles a toy we've been given to play with, sort of like you give a baby a pacifier or a child a squirt gun, or a little girl a barbie doll. Here, play with this kid and shut up. When you really learn to analyse your situation, you'll be amazed at the determinism inherent in the system. "Help, Help. I'm being Repressed!" and all that.
so anyway, I don't know nothing. Even though I just gave a two hour lecture this morning on international politic, economic theory, and its application in the emancipation of activists and protesters from their biases, I still must conclude that I am blind and dumb and really incapable of any free, deliberate action. But that's as it should be I suppose. THe closer I get to my dreams, the more distant they seem as sources of happiness (another illusion) or satisfaction (a mental state unto death. But that's okay too. Only a fool seeks happiness.
But what does this have to do with anything. Only that I've been a social Butterfly (oops,I mean Blueberry) in utter contrast to the first seven months of solitude over here. And would you believe it? Also in contrast, I've been really happy and content. Guess Sartre was wrong in "No Exit" Hell is in fact not other people. Quite the contrary. Hell is solitude. But then I knew that going into it. And I really can't wait to dwell in that hell again. With that hell comes a clarity and direction and intentionality that is completely lacking in one who lives the social life. Oh yes, I am a homeless hermit aspiring to be a architect of community. The deliberately lived life cannot help but to be a paradox.
I love you all.