One slightly magical weekend a couple of years out of the army, I’d been tracking a deer for hours, and I actually (for the first time on my own) not only saw the deer but got within a few feet of it. I was so ready to slap its ass, let me tell you, excited as all get out, which was my undoing. Now a deer can’t see too well, or it maybe can, but it doesn’t realize it’s seeing you until you move. I’d been learning to track them since late childhood, with my dad, but that’s another story. It was on a dirt road, the kind that doesn’t get used much that has grass growing in the center, grazing. I was upwind from it, and so it couldn’t smell me, the sense it relied on the most. I had to move ever so slowly and then stop, froze in whatever pose I was in when the deer had looked up. I was able to enter the road and begin creeping up on it, it looking up every couple of minutes and sniffing the air, looking straight at me like it knew danger was there but not able to ‘see’ it. The slow pace was too much for my patience. It would have taken hours to move the several feet to slap it. As it was, I did get pretty close, close enough for government work they say, close enough to show you my almost there wilderness skills at any rate. In short, the deer saw me move and bounded away, and I could’ve sworn it was laughing at me as it hopped off: “Silly human, slap my ass will you?” The wilderness does play tricks with your imagination.
The spot I found to spend the night was just off the road, and there were no buildings in sight, and so I felt no need to seek out the owner of the property and ask permission to sleep there. It was a side of the road thing, but some meters into the olive grove, far enough the road was no longer the major event. You cannot call an olive grove a forest, as it’s too kept for that, really orchard-like, except the trees are in uneven rows most of the time, but when the trees are very old, like these were, you don’t feel the keptness of an orchard; you feel the magic of the olive, a feeling of olden times that has some weird, gnarled, wellness in it. I cooked something vegetarian, cooked it on possibly the best piece of equipment I’ve ever had, a very small one burner stove that burned rubbing alcohol, the kind you could get at any medical shop. No prepping or pumping, just lighting the alcohol. It’d boil water within minutes, something of course subject to your distance from sea level, not super fast like a fancy backpacker stove, but who needed fast? I only needed to eat. I usually ate whatever vegetables I’d managed to buy or get given to me boiled with some noodle or rice, usually with some kind of bread, not much variety, but there again, the army had accustomed me to eat what I had and be glad I had it. I lay down in my army down sleeping bag, and I expected ghosts that night. After all, this was the old southern road to and from Rome, where all roads used to lead, and not for goodness sakes. But nothing came to visit me that night, and I was disappointed. Little did I know that a couple of nights from then, sleeping in the woods of the railroad tracks in the ferry town of Brindisi…
Do you remember what you thought on so and so day 20 years ago? You might if thinking were as big to you as doing. It started with me quite early, when I’d get up before the family did on Sundays before church and sit on the sofa in the living room and think to myself, starting when I was about four, not long after a horrible metaphysical experience I relate in other writings, which no doubt led to my preponderance for thought. Sorry to leave you hanging in the Void, but we got to get to those ghosts in Brindisi. Anyway, I’m a thinker, and on that day humping my butt off because I wasn’t getting any rides I picked up something I chewed on a lot: the representative nature of the world. That sounds so unlike it really is. What it is I can’t really say because we can only use known words to describe the unknown, can’t describe it as it is to itself; it is unknown after all. It’s not something you only think about; you can feel it too, and as my feet hit the pavement they were sounding the depth of that symbol we are, the world is, not too terribly deep, but deep enough I could almost see it in the sense-world of where my body was at that moment there on that old Roman Road.
My thoughts were on the larger, what the world’s a symbol of, and what it might be ‘thinking’ about the me there hitching. I did and do a yoga that aims to carry such thinking, on the part of us I’s, to a realization of the thought, something that comes in degrees, all the way to being that larger being, but here I’d been chewing on it only for about seven years or so, since I’d started the yoga after my first trip to India. It was getting riper, but it was still a long ways from a threshold moment like Neo has when he ‘realizes’ the matrix. Where am I at now? I can now see it, not as green computer scrip that Neo sees, but as a hue upon the world, not enough of one, though, to be anything more than a victim of the world’s meanness, what we all are.
Not everyone, though, is or has been such a victim, at least not in those moments that matter most. I spent a couple of days in Rome roaming around the Forum, the famous ruins of the government of ancient Rome. Due to my rather ‘different’ appearance and the rather free-spirited manner in which I walked and viewed things, crossing lines, sitting on things, not because the girls were flirting with me, or so it seemed to me then and does now, two young women I met there, who gave tours of the ruins in English, gave me the works for free. Two things I most remember from their tour, other than the smiles they gave me, like they really liked what I must’ve represented to them, someone off the grid, was, one, the story of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, and, two, the punishment of the Vestal Virgins if they got caught having sex.
My thoughts on the road turned to ole Lawrence, how he was being cooked alive on a gridiron, and after sometime he says, or so history reports it anyway, “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”
If the story’s true, and whether it is or not doesn’t detract from my thesis regarding it, you might imagine that St. Lawrence had come to something of the realization I’ve somewhat described, where the ‘larger world’ is bigger than the one his senses are in, this present world before our eyes, to such an extent he can crack a joke like that on being burned alive. That he most likely didn’t see it as a larger reality that encompasses this one and is its origin, but as a heaven within the world of our universe, didn’t stop him from the experience of the larger being more real to him, since here it seems, and in other like-wise places we encounter in history, the strength of the thought has more bearing than its depth.
Now the Vestal Virgins who’d had sex, on the other hand, I thought about them too, how terrifying it must’ve been to be given only a bottle of wine and some bread and be entombed alive, although Wikipedia says it differently: that they were given enough food and water to last a few days. The two tour guides juiced the story up some it appears, and we can forgive them for that. Either way how horrible that must’ve been. I imagined the Vestal was the very opposite of the saint, and she only saw the world in front of her face, or more to the point, could not see past the tomb she was in, it being her whole world come crashing down on her, it being her whole world period, a lethal mouth of horror that swallowed her slowly, until the agony was too much, and she lost her mind to tooth and claw trying to get out. The things you think about hitching, and you’re really out there, with no world of friends or family you’re either going towards or leaving. I tell you. Sometimes it’s just too much.
I don’t how long I was on that old road, two days maybe, one night. Finally somebody stopped and picked me up. He said that no one would pick me up on that road, and I needed to go to the freeway, and he kindly took me there and dropped me off, saying to be careful because it was illegal to hitchhike. Imagine that, illegal. I put my thumb out and began making my way south, no problem at all. The freeway was the kind that was only that, like some gated community for cars and trucks only, had no mom and pop businesses on the side, or any shops or gas stations, except every few kilometers or so there was a very artificial corral of such you had no choice but to pull over and use if you needed some kind of fill up, which featured a shop, gas station, and restaurant. Once I got going on that manmade and only made for man river of cars, although birds did fly over, and animals did get run over, hapless me-people now an occasional pile of goo that had dared to venture across tomorrow, I understood, a little, why hitchhikers weren’t allowed; we stood out like a sore thumb.
I only had enough money for the ferry to Greece, but someone that had given me a ride had also given me five euro, and so I ate something at one of those generic restaurants. I should say here I seldom begged, but did a couple of times in a pinch, like once to get back to Safed, Israel from Jerusalem. I did ask for damaged or otherwise unsellable vegetables at markets and such, but that was different. People often gave me money and food without asking, usually only small change, sometimes more, but never big money, and they did so to support my lifestyle, or maybe they were just throwing money at the problem, their problem being they wanted to live such a lifestyle, and were too whatever to do it. I’d usually hear something like, “I’d glad to know people are still around doing what you’re doing.” I looked like a sore thumb from the 60’s, and 20 years ago the memory of those very different times from today were more alive in the collective psyche. You have been lied to people. The 60’s were not naïve; they were another planet.
I also had something else going for me, and there in Italy, it was like a ticket to ride. It wasn’t only the Pope that thought I looked like Jesus, all sore thumbs aside. Italy is a Catholic country, or at least I experienced it that way. At some point I don’t remember, probably near Brindisi, I either got off the freeway or it became more a highway, and I got on a bus, as someone had given me some change. I got on and told the bus driver I wanted to get to the ferry to Greece, and he didn’t say a word, probably because he couldn’t speak English, but he’d understood what I wanted it appears. He got up out of his driver’s seat and motioned me to come with him, left his bus full of people and led me down the street and around the corner onto another street and down it to a waiting bus, which he put me on, paying my fare. He waved goodbye and left back to his bus. It doesn’t take a genius to know why he did that. In his devotional heart, he was doing that for Jesus. I was just his representative image, and he was “letting a form come to see what the real eye images,” to quote my muse around then, which is about praying or singing to statues of Gods in temples, how that isn’t the worship of idols in other words, and not about my likeness to Jesus, about which it said, not on the same page however, “I doubt if the person I am really looks like Jesus right now.”
I got to Brindisi too late to take the ferry, and so I had to find a place to sleep. Out in the country it’s easy; you just sleep somewhere off the side of the road, but in a city that you didn’t know, you had to be careful. Walking back from the ferry landing, and I don’t remember how far that was, I saw a raised portion of land with a lot of trees on it. It was the railroad. I went up there and camped a few meters from the tracks, assured no one would be walking up on me in the night. Boy was I wrong, but it weren’t the living that showed up. I don’t know what time it was, 3ish maybe, but I woke up to a horror show. Every creature for miles around that’d been killed by the train since it’d been running, I imagine, came to see me, all lined up zombie-like to pass in review. One by one they came, some without heads, many crushed, missing limbs, all horribly disfigured. Now local features like this just aren’t in The Lonely Planet. What is a body to do? I just looked at them, gave them the attention they seemed to want. They meant me no harm, and I knew that. I wasn’t afraid, and why I wasn’t was because I was really out there, like I’ve said, and it wasn’t only friends and family I wasn’t hooked into; I didn’t do media either, except for books I carried by Sri Aurobindo, my spiritual teacher, read his epic poem Savitri daily—no movies, TV, newspapers, magazines, net suffering, just the occasional check of email. Nothing in this world, however, is only this and not also something of that. IfI found a book along the way, or someone gave me one, for example, I’d read it, as I found it was usually just what I needed to read, the same with the occasional magazine I’d find in an office or somewhere, and I’d read the headlines of newspapers I saw in the vending machines. I was wide open to the other, or the things we drown out by a continual barrage of social signals and hang-ups. And the other came to call.
While I’m not the purest I was then, I still spend most of my time in the sights and sounds of the reality in front of my face, not hooked into media for very long at any given time, except for the typing of stories and poetry I’m doing now, and the net time that takes, but I am into friends and family, dogs and a cat a big part of that, as they’re the people of my world, and I love my world and its people. The time I do spend on the net when I’m not writing, however, is a very concentrated hour or so to try and ride the reading wave of current world thought, an elusive wave that goes in every which direction and turns you every which way but loose, because you just can’t get over how, as much as it seems to be going nowhere, is actually, maddeningly, getting there afterall. Where is there? Can I show you?
Now were those dead creatures ghosts? They were probably just the life-body, the vital we call it in our yoga, of the humans and animals that had gotten killed by the train, not the souls of those people, which were probably long departed. Such parts of dead people often hang around the place they got killed, especially if it were a violent and sudden death, and they usually only do a certain routine, like the lady in black I saw walk up the stairs in a squat in Jaffa, Israel, the building hundreds of years old, the stairs crumbling, and she floated over the sections that were missing. That was her routine I gathered, going up and down those stairs. Since there is an ego in the vital, or was when the vital was part of a living body, the seeming ghosts do have some sort of will, rather mechanical though, as the dead creatures I saw at the railroad tracks did, wanting me to view them. I have seen actual ghosts however, the two most striking instances happening in Northern California in the early ‘90’s.
It was broad daylight, and I was sitting in the cemetery of Laytonville, California, having just spent some weeks up on nearby Spyrock Mountain with the pot growers. That’s a sad cemetery by the way, as there’s some graves of children who all died the same time, about a hundred years ago, and you can feel the loss reading the sentiments on their gravestones. Completely alone, or so I thought, I sat down near there and smoked a joint, and as the high settled in, pot being an aid for the seeing of hidden things, I looked out over the cemetery and saw a tall, thin, beam of light over a grave. I went over and looked at it more closely. It was about human height, but with no features at all, just a beam of light a few inches wide. It also had color to it, and the colors I saw were auric in quality, which meant they had hues to them that contained emotions, or the feelings of feelings, and here they were fear and sadness. I looked at the grave the light was ‘standing’ over, and it was a fresh grave, of an old woman who had just been buried the day before. I’m not making any of this up folks. I sat down and talked to her, so to perhaps make her feel better, less afraid. After a little while the beam vanished, slowly, like a wilting sun.
Some weeks later I was working washing dishes at a restaurant in Garberville, California, a town in the redwoods not far from Laytonville, and I got off work around midnight. I was sleeping in the town cemetery, as they are quiet places to sleep where people don’t usually go at night, and so no one will bother you. There’s a road that rounds the place, and I was winding down from work walking on it smoking some good grass. As I came to a place where there was an old tree with a large hole in it near the ground, one that went plum through, I saw what looked like a large silver sheet waving not far from it, waving like it was angry. It was several feet across and several feet high. Saying it was a sheet is the only way I can describe it, and you get the picture of what it looked like. It wasn’t, obviously, a sheet. Not realizing what the ghost was trying to tell me, which was, “Get out of my cemetery!”, I just went to where I slept, in a shallow, partly dug grave some distance from the tree I’ve mentioned, on the other side of the road, not in cemetery center, and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and went into town and heard about the vandals that’d knocked down a gravestone in the night, throwing it a few feet, not far from where I saw the ghost.
Now, I tell you: there were no vandals in that cemetery that night, only an angry ghost. It’s interesting, though, it had the power to move something very physical and very heavy several feet, and it must’ve been an old ghost to be able to do that, but it didn’t have the power to harm me, and it was me it was mad at, why it threw the gravestone to begin with. I think that should tell you a lot about ghosts. I do imagine that they can harm us, even kill us, but only in very exceptional and extraordinary circumstances. For the most part we are protected, by the laws of metaphysics, from ghosts.
Back in Brindisi, I just went back to sleep after the last dead creature had passed and reviewed before me, woke up the next morning and got on the ferry, to Igoumenitsa, Greece. The feeling of freedom was exhilarating, and I did a Titanic stance and stood at the frontof the ferry facing the wind and water, or as close to the front as passengers could get, not the king of the world, nor even its minister, but a penniless nobody the world had taken by the hand, to the open road, to the paths of my destiny. Now to Greece, to Greece.
This has been
an enormous supply chain
of the ideas we find ourselves in.
It goes further than this.
Can we see about tomorrow?
I can’t see about tomorrow in my hands.
It’s not narrative yet.
It’s not written down in the book,
but we’ve walked every inch of that trail
in the timeworn fonts
of the story yet to be told.
Hear me people,
The world is at your feet.
Go get it.
The shock of silverware,
that’s bad business,
the hidden wellsprings of our founts of evil.
It’s horribly noticeable
in mirrors and things.
I looked into a glass,
behind my reflection a fiend.[i]
Here it’s on the ground
something wicked this way comes,
a ghost gone mad in demon likes.
We round about it sepulcher.
The world of the ghoul,
do you understand?
You’re too small people to face reality
The Atlantic Monthly is that you?
What an Eye you have on your page;
I’ve submitted to you an epic poem.
Did you turn me in to the Man,
or are you just ignoring me for keep’s sakes?
You are the forefront of reality?
Let me show you my titties.
Do you hear me world?
that’s what does it with animals.
We give them company,
more than just a little,
a whole day’s worth,
what I done
writing down all this for you.
A little puppy
I took good care of.
Science would make reason kneel in surprises,
in all its wares.
Can we call this a surprise?
The Church did the same thing.
it took reality in pictures
reality didn’t make.
We laugh at its process.
A story of make believe
conformed reality to its picture.
Now cities giant in surprise,
the Earth springs forth beneath us,
and science can only say one word:
as if we did not dream in our beds at night
of worlds we make inside our heads.
Where is that engine room?
As if consciousness were not a thing in a plant
as it speeds towards recovery.
Can we say it smiles?
As if the world were not larger than we see
springing forth from founts infinitesimal
to ever larger pictures of reality make.
Like reality stops here.
Science where is the spirit world?
Why do you populate dimensions with other universes?
Your choice that.
It’s not graven in reality,
as if what the mystics have taught since time immemorial
were the babblings of idiots.
Can we gauge science?
It’s too small for the reality we experience,
yet it’s been made the default view
of the control center of human progress
without our knowledge or consent.
Oh science study thee well.
Reality’s comin’ for yah.
I give you a calculator.
I will give the opportunity
to see if science works in magic.
I’ll show you magic.
Science will secure its field;
you’re an agent of destruction;
Open out on the unknown,
the best writing opens out on the unknown,
Not present with me yet.
I’m relating my own personal experience,
The hood comes up.
I’ve got my hood.
We’re mountain together.
A puppy dog belly
in our put
just to keep it warm.
The story continues in Donny’s personal blog, follow him or click here for more!