Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Texas is a widely diverse society. In fact the state leads all others in welcoming immigrants. Surprisingly this is not reported by the general media. Looking back I see that Texas has always been a diverse cultural melting pot. Many native American tribes resided here for tens of thousands of years beginning with the mass migrations of Clovis People after a succession of Ice Ages that swept people south. The Spanish were the first Europeans to discover the land, traveling north from Mexico.

A reverse migration of sorts brought a mixed population of Mexican, Indian, Spanish and Mestizo back to Texas in the early 1500’s. The first mass scale cattle ranching industry was established in Texas. The mixture of people clashing became Texano’s, and they came from everywhere. Small towns still carry the names of small Irish and Czech villages that hopscotched from Eastern US ports across Tennessee and Arkansas into what is today Texas. Lost in all this were the native Americans striving to maintain their dignity and identity after being rolled over by the modern world.

Yesterday Trish and I attended a Pow Wow, a meeting of people and tribes, in Grand Prairie Texas. It reminded me that Texas wasn’t always a maze of freeways and industry.

 

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Sometimes I get to act like a kid again and do something impractical. Getting out on the open road was a practice that formed the mindset I enjoy today more than any other influence. So…when I got the chance to put a cool car like a Camaro Convertible on the road and drive to San Antonio Texas I was thrilled at the prospect. Highway construction in Texas is like religion, zealous and never ending. Whatever your chosen destination or route there are plenty of alternatives, from super toll ways to busy highways , freeways laced together with turnpikes and farm roads that stitch the  hinterland together.

The amazing thing is that any road you choose will be in fantastic condition. The route I took was so smooth… it was like gliding on silk. We drove the always busy TX E 35S out of the massive Dallas Metroplex to the 130S that took us through Austin….and on the way back we drove the TX 281N to the HWY 67N and FM 1382 dotted with small town America and the history of the Old West. Many of the sparsely populated towns along the way …. like Hico…or Glen Rose…are like time capsules that stopped growing when cotton peaked and caused the entire area to fall into a long slumber. This separation cleaves two worlds neatly in two…. the old from the new.

Civilization along the sleepy HWY 281 N/S between Dallas and San Antonio is primarily centered around a bucolic ranch culture…tall signs pop out in the form of elaborate wrought iron gates above cattle barriers announcing a fanciful name …like Rancho del Blanco …or some such thing….but  indicate that nothing but more miles across  barren land through grazing herds of scattered cattle or goats might be at the end of the road.

San Antonio itself is a tourist machine for primarily American holiday makers from the South and South West…..and it is a fantastically well developed place for easy access… for example the River Walk is spectacular.  Although there are now thousands of restaurants, tours , an incredible range of accommodations, hotels and gee gaws designed for family fun…. San Antonio is primarily famous as  home of the Alamo…which sits like a queen amongst a palette of tourism jewels.

This was the location where tough minded Texans fought Mexican General Santa Anna and lost… but eventually declared  independence on March 2, 1836. Something that’s not as well advertised outside the region  is that this area had been occupied by  Spanish missionaries for hundreds of years prior to  American immigration. Before that  native Indians  occupied the land for thousands of years. Each left some fascinating reminders of what Texas looked like before the United States came to be.

A chain of religious missions and outposts …including aqueducts, built by the Franciscan order of Catholic missionaries now forms a series of National Parks called The Mission Trail. The trail is composed of four missions and other private settlements, set miles apart  connected by a narrow strip of asphalt that winds  through  broken desert and green arroyo’s . Although the fortified building complexes seem to be ruins at first glance, they are still being used as active churches for local people. The sense of 500 years of continuation, church bells, prayer ,  history and community is fascinating. Fortunately for us, none of these places are over run with tourists. The experience reminded me of visiting profound archeological sites somewhere in the third world…..not minutes from comfortable San Antonio.

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Yikes…  a year and a half  being cloistered  writing 13 Angels.  I suddenly  resurface and join the mainstream….so weird. A lot of new social media sites have opened up. I ‘m  learning to relate ….. the majority on social media  are now very very very young.  I’ve  rarely spoken to anyone since beginning my last project. In all honesty, it’s strange….my social brain atrophied during a long hibernation. I think inwardly like a person locked in a coma. I have  rare verbal exchange with adults . It’s like being a parent with small children…you forget how to speak except in gibberish baby talk. I have  people mention that I  talk the way I write…in prose…..huh…..too funny.

I  hang out in the Dallas-Deep Ellum art scene , but my interactions are as weird as the LSD inspired bar scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Artists are a strange bunch collectively and should be taken in small doses. Worse, I live in a hotel and have nothing to do except write…. I don’t even pick up after myself…the maid vacuums around me as I work…..the staff is Spanish….. our communications are limited to new soap products and how freaking hot it is outside. …..I must seem  strange ..a foreigner gringo who sits inside and types all day…. with no visible means of support.  My wife arranges the furniture, only to have the staff put it back. It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I  give the girls popsicles so they don’t carry me out with the trash. So what to do? Of course I  begin a new novel…a  dark and twisted love story…..the antithesis of romantic expectations..  I am useless to the world. I hope 13 Angels sells…but at this point I don’t care …….writing takes precedent over  history. Goodbye …cruel world….

BTW….The chile sauce in the dish pictured below was concocted out of Habanero’s….the hottest chili’s on the planet…..a Scoville index in the range of 350,000….take that !!! I have an ice maker that  makes one ice cube every hour…. one cold drink a day….  like living on Devil’s Island. Is this the kind of annoyance that drove DH Lawrence around the bend?

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Gaia Uprising is a dystopian work where I pose the question “Is Earth a living entity?” I based the premise on a 1970’s theory developed by a Peruvian scientist. In the Gaia Uprising, Earth awakens to full consciousness when it finds itself under threat. Mankind is separated into two separate evolutionary paths and set against each other to fight for final dominance. Only Gaia knows the game is rigged. The plot revolves around the utopian/ dystopian elements of human evolution…who wins….you just have to read the book and the sequel…Fringelords. As always…..have a look on Amazon where you can peruse a few chapters and kindly leave a rating & comment.

 

Gaia Uprising

I am not a religious person. I have no fear of dying and have no expectations of an afterlife.  And as such I seek no guidance along the path I have chosen for myself. I am satisfied in my belief that we were all born out of chaos . As such I advise myself and anyone foolish enough to listen to this fool to live every moment of life as a precious and miraculous anomaly. I read a book a long time ago titled ‘Zen Flesh Zen Bones’. I remember nothing about the contents. But I do appreciate the concept of purity and Zen as an art form is well suited to my lifestyle.

There is no controlling dogma in my Zen world, I am a free spirit. My interpretation of ‘flesh and bones’ as a term is what  quantifies the  inside and the outside of my existence…..both the corporeal and the spiritual world I inhabit. And yes, one can enjoy a spiritual quality without the strict dogma of religious practice. Your spirit guide is within you, it is your natural wonder, an element of your instinct to survive and perpetuate the species.

It is my absolute belief that love is at the center of the universe.  Love evolved for obvious reasons. A forensic analysis and sociopolitical rationale is not necessary to enjoy what nature has given us freely. We should live in a state of wonder, but lets not take it for granted either . If there is a single uplifting miracle that everyone should experience it is the art of love. I count myself among the most fortunate of  men to have the love of a beautiful woman.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such a bounty, but her love is a blessing I cherish every day .

My love and I have been together for twenty five years and I wouldn’t exchange this for anything…. not for power, fame or gold.  Living every day in full appreciation of life  is not hard work. It’s not a matter of accepting one thing over another. Zen is an intellectual state of   demystifying the mysteries  we are born into.  How could anything be simpler than committing yourself to love the one you’re with?

 

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In the modern world we are constantly primping for perfection. Nothing can satisfy us for more than a few minutes. We are conditioned to better ourselves from a young and vulnerable age. Our physical appearance is never acceptable, we are either too fat, short, dark, light, coloured, thin, tall, short, poor, unsuccessful or possess some ghastly feature that has to be cut off . Not enough of us take the time to fully understand false advertising, false prophesy, false pretense or the magic of the airbrush artist.

Nothing we do  is ever in vogue long enough to make us whole according to the social norms that guide us through our daily lives. Ours is a society one fad from guilt stricken self immolation. We exist day to day, running blind, but dressed and made up to perfection, without ever stopping to understand who we are as individuals. We are led to believe we were born wrong, strangely different , disfigured, disabled….broken. Our potential and personal perfection is lost in the noise. Aren’t you tired of running…hiding?

What we think about in our own time has come into question. Our minds have become sought after possessions to be fought over by political and mercantile institutions, as if our own thoughts are unimportant, not welcome in their perfect world. I am not advocating a rebuke or rebuttal of the greater planetary systems as described by the gods of the media, that would be a waste of time, they are too well defended and entrenched. Believe it or not I think that manna has it’s function in the world having replaced the hunt as a basic driver of the human instinct to survive. I am  going to do what I think is right for me, and step aside, while the freight train represented by society at large roars by without me onboard.

I’ve decided to like who I am, how I look, how I think and what I have done with my life and if anyone doesn’t like it they can ‘screw off’. I can live without negative people in my space. I find that by first making my own life interesting and jam packed with things that I enjoy, that this has been an effective  recipe to cure loneliness, heartache, depression and the holes in my psychological makeup of every description  that were left behind by the fact of my existence.

Having worked in advertising, I have a fundamental understanding that advertisements are like cartoons, meant for entertainment purposes, not thoughtful consideration. What other people want is not my concern. I have found that my needs of all kinds  have diminished as my sense of self worth and interest in raw life has grown. No type of automobile possession, whether by long term lease or cash payment will grow hair on a bald man or enlarge my penis. The type of persons who would be attracted to me solely on the basis of the number and model type of my possessions are of no interest to me.

The idea that drink, drugs, meditation, possessions, position, posturing, pretense, joining or cosmetic surgery will help you find fulfillment within yourself is a patent fallacy. All such avenues are thinly disguised escapism’s designed for the temporary abeyance of who you are from your current reality, into a void space of someone elses creation, where you have been relegated to unimportant monkey status. Remove yourself from the people and things you don’t like  before you try to deceive yourself with commercially available stop gap measures as being a panacea for what ails you. When you distance yourself from the things and people that make you unhappy, you’ll start feeling better as the negative influence of those persons or things subsides from your memory.

Does all this sound narcissistic and selfish? I am coming from the position that if you can’t make yourself happy and self satisfied, then you have precious little to offer anyone else in terms of the joy of your company and the enlightenment you have earned through your endeavors. A better, happier and more satisfactory life for yourself starts with you….and evolves. In this I think we can change the world one soul at a time, starting with us. This sounds simplistic, but self satisfaction has been undermined by the concept of politically correct guilt and is deeply ingrained, and as such it’s hard to shake the death grip societal ‘norms’ have on us, especially when you try to break free.

We have all be taught to consider everyone elses grief before our own. There are many religions and practices that promise to help ‘stop the internal dialogue’ by redirecting your energy elsewhere. I don’t accept that you should run from yourself, and therefore I suggest a sea-change in the way we relate to societal expectations. I’m saying “Go ahead, be happy with who you are”….”What are you saving your happiness for?”….”spend some of that joy on yourself”. I’m off to enjoy the last days of summer sunshine. What about you?

This is an insight to my perfectly satisfactory imperfect world.

I’m always looking for material metaphors. I’m a great believer in synchronicity. I have always found it wonderful when having realized that something I did, was doing,  or caused to be done in the moment or distant past has come around to lend a meaningful relevance in the here and now, or begins to affect someone whose life-force has enjoined the same sphere as my own. In my second novel ‘The Enablers’ I toyed with the theory of a 1950’s physicist who proved mathematically that we live in a multidimensional universe, with certain people uniquely tuned in on the altered states existing all around us. It is our personal  bio-electric signal vibrating, something  generated by each and every one of us, that holds the key to inter-dimensional travel and insight into the universal mystic.

I don’t wonder that cross-boundary travelers have  influenced my decisions from time to time. I have met beings who physically resembled humans but had no absolute hold on this reality. They appear with a single purpose and act in simple and childlike ways as undeveloped characters who don’t reflect the complexity around them, as if they dropped as innocents from the sky. I now recognize that several of the spirits I have encountered were manifestations brought about by specific energy signals that were emanating from me and the place I was in at the time of their appearance.

There are geographic places of great energy, this has always been known, and these special places shift continuously. When a ‘sensitive’ human accidentally aligns himself/herself with one of these shifting energy vortice’s or gateway’s, where the energy separation is compatible with the persons own energy signal and thin enough to penetrate, then communication with other dimensions is not only possible, it is highly probable. I know  I have crossed over many times and have experienced shifts of time and space. And as I have explained I have encountered many beings who have ‘visited’ our world.

These beings had always appeared and disappeared at very specific moments in time, at times of high energy, as if they had known my life was in flux, at a crossroads where either direction was possible but only one was preferable, and I needed a nudge to put me back on the wavy lines of some nebulous master plan that has never been clear to me. When I was young I explained this knowledge of inter-dimensional phenomena away with the practical explanations of an inexperienced mind as being borne out of psychological drama or the intruding element of past mistakes in a ragged confluence of random events. I’m not so sure anymore.

Far from being a frightened child I now willingly engage any mystic event I might encounter. I welcome coincidence and crazy fortune. The beings I meet might appear on park benches and lonely bus stops, might speak in strange languages, I listen with my heart. I have my function keys engaged at all times. I have no idea what life will bring. My universe is  a raging river that has flooded the broad plains of contemporary civilization. I never know where I’ll wake up. As they say in Spanish “Estoy Listo”…I am ready.

 

 

The past year has been one of the most enjoyable times of my life. A lot of good things have come my way, I’ve had a lot of fun being me and doing what I do. There are plenty of different reasons for the past years successes, some of which are downright spooky, but I deny nothing a place in my life that results in a positive outcome. The people closest to me know that I have the most unusual luck. I occupy a space in the universe where there is no middle ground. Most of what is happening today is the result of years of positive and precise personal planning, but there are some things that are entirely inexplicable and I don’t have a problem with that.

I am not a religious person in the traditional sense, I never was. I do not  however deny that I live in a world occupied by many diverse forces of spirit and nature that I have never taken for granted. Things have happened along the timeline of my lifetime that I can’t explain.  I accept that there may be many alternative explanations and I have learned to open my heart and my mind to all of them. People talk of the spirit world from the perspective of their cultural heritage, since I have none I have developed a religion of my own and it is quite lively with intangible things and those that go bump in the night.

The baseline of my personal philosophy is in line with that of Buddhist doctrine in that I believe in doing no harm. I do not worship  gods and I do not covet the possessions of others.  Most of the what makes up ‘The Eight Fold Path’ makes perfect sense to me. I don’t misrepresent my own beliefs to others as part of any organized dogma. I do believe in history and the human experience through time. What was inexplicable to ancient men is not quite as in-understandable today. Now that we understand the science of  lightning and fire, the universe has become a lot more comprehensible and less of a spiritual miasma to me.

But I can’t attribute everything that takes place in my life as ‘luck’ or ‘coincidence’. I have always lived with one foot in the spirit world. I may have opened that door accidentally, as I explained in my novel, ‘The Revenant’. In that novel I explained how I accidentally learned to fly as a spirit being during astro-travel after coming into contact with certain objects of power that had appeared during my time of need. There is a passage in the Bible explaining how one ‘takes possession’ of things through prayer. This phenomena of crossing over was obviously well known to the ancient Western Semites who wrote the Old Testament.

I  attribute much of my good fortune of late to the act of living joyously and setting myself up for good things to happen. This can be interpreted as ‘positive thinking’ or by some  religious parable, spirit guides , whatever, it is what it is, and from my point of view……I’ll take it. Being happy is not all that complicated.

 

 

 

The muse of the media is powerful, educational, biased, destructive and informative. Every country has it’s message of nationalistic intent, a tribal psychology. Individuals fall prey to false messaging and the words of false prophets when the media is either limited by political voice or the intentional malice of a cabal or leadership clique. Good intentions can be muddied by the avarice of sabotage by those whose self- interests are at risk should the population move away from the status quo.

I hear from a lot of people who have regionally, nationally and geographically developed points of view. This was the way the world used to be, the way the leadership of dictators and the greedy fear might change with the oncoming world of free information over the internet and the medium of mass communication and social media. When I hear people speaking  the diatribe of a a particular leadership of religion or political ideology I know that theirs is a small world where spirit, worship, freedom and knowledge has been tightly regulated. I do not really like speaking to conformists, in this I am fortunate to live as a citizen of a civilization that worships freedom above all other ideologies.

When I travel I meet people of every race, colour and creed…of every ideology and religion. What I found extremely interesting when I first began to travel was how simple aspects of the geography had such an effect on the mindsets, cultures and principles of those people who lived there. A religion, race or creed could change by the simple act of trespassing over a mountain range or crossing a river valley. I was amazed that many of these people would harbor such deep traditional resentments against the people who lived ‘on the other side’.

I have lived for a short time with a tribe of Dyak who would hunt other tribes heads but had never seen a white man before. They knew all the power, witchcraft and evil of the tribe five miles downriver but showed an intense interest in my distant culture. On my first evening in the longhouse, they danced for me and sang their songs, the songs of their history and the forest life. They asked me to show them my dances, of course I had none to offer, they were amazed that white men don’t dance with the spirits.

But this is the modern age, the age of the internet and air travel. The world has gotten smaller. No thanks to guide books and easy credit.  I have been particularily sensitive to the messages bandied about by governments that are designed to separate people, as opposed to bringing us closer together. There are political movements and religious doctrines specifically designed to create hatred and animosity. I abhor nationalism, I have seen the results of fanaticism produced by national leaders.

I have a dear friend who is convinced that America and American’s are evil. I have heard the same stereotyping of races and nationals by people around the world, ‘what nonsense’. In some religions it is mandatory to hate the ‘outsider’, they have names for those who are not of their sect. Two of the world’s largest religions have at the heart of their ideology the specter of an end time where everyone currently living  has to die before any lasting peace can be achieved. I just don’t see how mutual mass destruction can be the solution to anything. A person would have to harbor a deep hatred for life in order to believe that.

Isolation, whether geographic, religious, social, fundamental, cultural, ideological, familial or tribal has bred ignorance and intolerance. In the past these evils were isolated by distance and geography. In the modern era these sects have escaped from their isolation to wreak havoc on the world, but this access cuts both ways. The message of freedoms enjoyed by the outside world will eventually have the effect of enlightening those ignorant and impoverished villagers and tribesmen who have been brainwashed by their tribal elders and religious leaders to think that the outside world is evil and profane . The violence of an ugly leadership and the tyranny of a sick and ignorant ideology has historically never been perpetuated when the isolation is exposed by the modern world. What we in the west think of as sending a ray of sunshine into the dark corners of isolation and ignorance, the religious and social leaders of those same centers of intellectual deprivation view as a rifle shot through the heart of the dominion over the hearts and minds of their populations and as such they fear and fight against any change that would supplant their self centered influence.

I want to think that the advent of tourism has been a positive outcome for the world at large. As we get to know each other personally we realize that people everywhere have similar wants, needs and desires. I am very hopeful for the people of ‘The Islamic Middle East’ as they have incrementally shed decades of spiritual isolation and dictatorship and that those countries open their doors wider to people from other parts of the world so that they may learn that great progress has taken place while they were suffering under the delusions of their leaders. It is my desire that those countries, so oppressed by a variety of dictatorships of the mind , spirit and body, will now develop into places where people no longer have to flee from in order to  live a decent peaceful life.

Someone said to me once, “When you’re as lazy as I am, you have to be very organized”. This came from a man who lived moment to moment, without a thought for tomorrow. In fact, as my life progressed along the same track, I realized that the actions taken to achieve simplicity were in fact quite complicated and multifaceted by nature and circumstance.

I have taken great care and attention in building a  superstructure which stands against the weather without walls so that the storms and tempests of life blow through without leaving behind any permanent damage and myself the  better person for the observation. My colloquial term for what I have done is to call what I have designed as a life plan a ‘fuck you resume’. It is the ability to walk away from any bother no matter what the origin.

This is the way I live. I make  no apologies. ‘Lose a job….no problem…go somewhere nice instead’……’market down……screw it…go somewhere nice until it picks up’……’life getting altogether too boring……take off and get some new perspective’. This is what I call the ‘fuck you resume’…I never let things get me down and always have a plan for the times when ‘shit happens’….it always does…..best deal with it in advance.

I’m reminded of a fellow traveler that I met at a desolate crossroads in high rural Peru , a place called the Alta Plano. I’d got off a ‘chicken bus’ after already having my bones shaken for 22 hours and decided to deplane while I could still walk. The man I met was already there, where he’d come from I had no idea, he was sitting on a crude bench outside the rough stone shack  serving as a way station and bus stop, sitting literally, in the middle of nowhere.

I got off the bus in this no mans land without a second thought because in my own estimation I was ready for anything. In my backpack I carried extra clothing for three climates, waterproof and otherwise, including footwear. I also carried cooking gear and a small gas stove, two sleeping bags, one sub zero rated and another tropical. In those days I never went anywhere without my US Army jungle surplus hammock with double bottom , mosquito netting and fourty feet of extra rope. BTW, it takes 45 minutes to boil water at 13,000 feet.

Leather jackets and boots would mildew at sea level and the arctic sleeping bags and cooking equipment were useless in the city, but I was ready…organized. The fact that I was weighed down by eighty pounds of gear and  a walking nightmare on the urban sidewalks,were not the things I  considered at the time.

So, as I stood there  considering the open landscape and getting my land legs back. I couldn’t help noticing that my fellow traveler was my antipodal opposite. He had on only a light cotton shirt and pants, sandals with socks and a single toothbrush jutting out of his breast pocket. I was impressed, I had planned for months to be where I was, he looked as if he had dropped out of the sky. The air was thin and the vagrant wind blew incessantly.

We spent the coming twilight talking about nothing in particular and sharing cigarettes to stay warm as the night shadows rose around us and the temperature fell like a stone. Inside the stone cottage our Andean hosts had built a central fire and offered a bland potato soup but otherwise left us entirely alone. Thick blankets were laid atop bundles of produce waiting to be be stowed on the next bus to the coast , the warm smoke kept the frost from forming. The several visiting Inca’s broke out a bundle of cocoa leaves and lime paste to share, the act of chewing kept my face from going numb.

My new friend told me that he had shed his possessions and had set out to wander wherever the daylight took him. I respected his philosophy and explained that I was long  lost to the world I had known and was comfortable with the careless path I had lain out for myself. He and I became kindred spirits and spent the night talking about life on the road. I concluded that we had arrived in the same place via different paths, both seeking freedom and simplicity.

In the morning my friend boarded the first bus bound for the lowlands while I waited until afternoon for my ride further into the interior. Later in life I reflected back to that chance meeting and wondered if I could go through my life without any encumbrance or possessions to tie me down or hold me back. I began to emulate that lonely traveler, his one tooth brush and single set of clothes.  I never did get a name or an address nor did I offer my own,  I slowly rid myself my the travelers ‘conveniences’ I had once found so necessary.  I travel today with only a single carry on bag of disposables.

I have begun to wonder if perhaps my friend was a spirit, a brujo of the Alta-Plano who came to meet a kindred wanderer and acolyte of the aimless world. It wouldn’t be the first time I had been visited by one of the other side. My Thai friends have fashioned an amulet for me, blessed by the powerful monk Luang Poh Too At,  to guard against the entrance of spirits into my world, because they say I am like an open door to the next world and that this openness I allow is not entirely safe. I don’t agree. I travel light as I pass through this world,  my spirit weighs nothing, nor does my tooth brush. And now that I think of it, my traveler friend did look a bit like Jesus. I can only wonder.