When we had to drag everything out of the crawl space above our garage, I found a 1970 photo that hadn't seen the light of day for quite a while.
I was struck by how I appeared so wise at 21, and, let's admit it, Christ like (leaving aside the minor detail that no one knows how Jesus looked).
Now, at 58, I don't know nothing about God and all that. I'm on a downward trajectory that has culminated in my Wu Project. But I'm confident there's further to fall.
This unposed photo was taken in my home town of Three Rivers, California. I'd returned there for a summer festival of something-or-other in an artistic neighbor's pasture. David Green, sculptor, artist, and spiritual seeker, snapped me in front of a tie-dyed banner that he'd made.
I'm holding some posters in the original. I cropped them out to place more focus on my serene yogic visage.
Back then I knew it all. Or at least a lot. That was before I became a spiritual doofus. I'd been studying hatha yoga and meditation pretty intensively for more than a year. I could chant mysterious mantras and stand on my head like you wouldn't believe.
I could give inspiring talks on Indian philosophy. I could say "Tat tvam asi" (That thou art) and actually believe that we all are God.
Now, I'm clueless. Yet this lack of clues about what It's All About doesn't dismay me. I've gotten comfortable with being spiritually lost.
Back in 1970 I thought I'd found That. Yet, looking back, what I'd found were ideas, concepts, imaginings, philosophies. I was good at talking the talk, but not walking the walk.
Not much may have changed in that regard. But at least now I'm more realistic about where I stand, even if I'm not moving in any discernible direction.
And heck, for all I know (which isn't much) where I am, and was, might be exactly where I'm meant to be. It just takes a lot of stepping to learn the value of staying still.
it is very interesting at the age of 28 being a christian man with three kids and a wife that i too realize that i do not have it all in check. i too question everything. i hold on to my faith and hope that one day i might completely understand this world in which we live. it is good yet sad to see that at your age of 58 we still struggle with our exsistance. i hope you find what you are looking for soon! life is right around the corner, dont stop looking. thank you for your post, i appreciate it!
Posted by: tim | March 08, 2007 at 06:36 AM
After a long absense, I've stumbled upon the Church of the Churchless once again. Glad I did......
Posted by: tim | March 08, 2007 at 03:26 PM
I had heard the rumor from time to time, but had pretty much dismissed it as one of those urban myths. Now seeing your picture from the 70's, I cannot deny the truth of it all...
There actually was a long, lost Doobie Brother!!!
Posted by: Marcel Cairo | March 08, 2007 at 10:51 PM
What would the long lost Doobie Brother have coming out of his head now to replace the shiny rays? An empty think cloud?!
Posted by: Catherine | March 08, 2007 at 11:34 PM
SPARROW FALL II
I can’t seem to put my talon on it:
The deep, darkroom depressions,
all seem to be part of an ascent.
Mosquitos could drain me for hours
and I would stand up and walk the blood
back into my legs. Maybe it was cold,
maybe summer, and the road dogs chased.
They will tell you I was morose in those
aeries, that I flitted fitfully in puddles:
Stories we can agree on, like we were walking
in a graveyard, or we were at the shore.
When I came crashing out of that heaven,
there were no clouds left, shredded stars
lit my aura, the world was in other peoples’ eyes.
I am no longer a gargoyle, and that
is what is startling. Not alone
in the low cielo. When I fell there was
a book to read, a chair, and my stars,
Posted by: Edward | March 09, 2007 at 05:41 AM
I think we need to hearken back to Plato’s apology where he finally decided he was the wisest man in Greece because, unlike everyone else, he at least was aware that he knew absolutely nothing. This is an honest place to be.
I identify with you feeling like you had all the answers. It was very comforting to have it all figured out, to know what happens when you die, and the meaning and purpose of life. The world is full of people who believe they have all the answers and the fact that they all seem to have different answers for reasons that are all equally valid does not seem to bother anyone.
I too come from a Sant Mat background and I still believe (stress is in on the word believe) most of it. Perhaps my indoctrination has been so complete I just can't shake it! One day the "absudity" of the Sant Mat belief system became apparent to me when a fellow believer said: “You know, only fools and little children would ever believe that if they repeat some strange unintelligible words over and over again for for hours each day, year after year, that one day a glowing man would appear in their forhead and take them on a fantastic journey anywhere in the universe. Not only that, this glowing man would introduce them to God! And incredibly, the glowing man looks just like a guy walking around in India!” That is what satsangis believe and it is absurd.
The possibility of Jesus coming back to this world floating on a white cloud, that the world is only 6000 years old and was created in 7 days, that Jesus died for the sins of billions of people, and in spite of all the plagues, wars, and natural disaster the creator loves human beings with special tenderness, now seems just as plausible if not more so.
I am no longer a Sant Mat fundamentalist. I too used to have all the answers. It was great knowing what was going to happen to everyone after death, what God wanted from me and how I was supposed to live. It was great to feel like one of the elite chosen childred of God and feel sorry for all the poor slobs who were going to have to be reincarnated because they did not know the truth. Now I see I was actually completely ignorant and arrogant and that I was just parroting holy books because I really had no first hand experience of what I was talking about. I was close minded and intolerant. I am now much more open and tolerant, not just to other people, but also to other beliefs, and I believe these are basic spiritual qualities. Tao is the only one on your blog who sometimes stretches my abilities to be tolerant, but he performs a much needed service. There is an old story about Gurdjieff (probably misspelled his name) where one of the members of his ashram was constantly in conflict with the other members. They finally drove the guy out. Gurdjieff followed him across Europe and begged him to return because the ashram needed him there. Gurdjief said the ashram needed him to be aggressive, annoying, petulant, mean-spirited, and otherwise intolerable so that the other members could learn and practice the opposite qualities. It is easy to be “spiritual” with people that are kind and agreeable. So I think all of us should be thankful for our troll Tao.
I think your honesty is a great thing, and the only place you as a spiritual aspirant can be. If you are sincere in what you have said, you are now equal to Socrates, and that certainly is a great achievement. I don’t think you can spiritually decline any further. I don’t think you can go any further than rock bottom. But I have often noticed that in the spiritual world up is down, right is left, poor is rich, and ignorance is knowledge, etc. Maybe you are now exactly where you always wanted to be.
Posted by: Howard | March 09, 2007 at 07:25 AM
Brian, that photo is final evidence that it's now time for you to write your comic memoir.
Posted by: R Blog | March 09, 2007 at 09:27 AM
At the start of your third paragraph above you say "...I still believe...most of it.", but at the end you say, "...it is absurd."
Why do you still believe, or as you say, can't shake it?
Posted by: Tucson Bob | March 09, 2007 at 12:17 PM
"Only fools and little children would ever believe that if they repeat some strange unintelligible words over and over again for for hours each day, year after year, that one day a glowing man would appear in their forhead and take them on a fantastic journey anywhere in the universe. Not only that, this glowing man would introduce them to God! And incredibly, the glowing man looks just like a guy walking around in India!"
And yes, that IS what satsangis believe, and it IS totally absurd.
Posted by: tao | March 09, 2007 at 12:58 PM
This is, without any doubt, your best ever posting.
Welcome home to Da "Divine Ignorance".
Posted by: tao | March 09, 2007 at 01:02 PM
As an ex-Sant Mat fundamentalist who still believes (well, some of it) as well, I loved this post. I recognised myself in your photo; I actually have one similar where I am trying to look spiritual. Now, age 47, who knows? But I don't regret the journey so far. It has all been an incredible adventure.
Posted by: Jeremy | March 11, 2007 at 10:12 PM
A long time ago, in one of my anthropology classes, cultural, to be exact, the professor was talking about how history repeats itself, and that the spirituality of the 60's would come back during the 90's (this was during the late 80's), and he mentioned something that I had percieved already, at least to some extent, that Jesus was a hippie. So, Brian, you may be the next messiah! Good photo.
Posted by: Eric | March 12, 2007 at 04:13 PM
This perishable plane of existance is making itself known as we dissolve into our old age... We reincarnated with a fresh understanding and the immortal feeling of youth... You are not your body. You are not a collection of mind vibes that make up a belief system. Let go of all the rituals that bind you to a situational prison. Let go of the broken thought forms!
Clear the windows of preception so that "God" may experiance life as it is for this moment of being you! Life is because "God" loves to live! It is the primal desire.
Old age and death are just part of deal that the EVER PRESENT made within itself to experience the cylce of life within the countless forms.
Posted by: M. Lemmon | March 22, 2007 at 12:24 AM