PAEAN’S SONG, A DIAGNOSIS:
pages abridged from
Cycle One of
THE NEPSIS FOUNDATION,
a priest's response to the prayer, teaching and action of the Church and its spiritual heirs in Culture and Art.
a priest's response to the prayer, teaching and action of the Church and its spiritual heirs in Culture and Art.
At a contentious moment around 1990, this priest began a complete ‘apology’ or explanation of his art, experience and theories about religion, sex, commerce- everything.
At about 500 pages,
he titled it
LETTER TO A BISHOP,
Cycle One of
THE NEPSIS FOUNDATION AND THE ORACLE OF XIBALBA.
Cycle One of
THE NEPSIS FOUNDATION AND THE ORACLE OF XIBALBA.
PAEAN'S DIAGNOSIS is an abridged version of this composition in the form of a Letter: paintings, essays, poems and metaphysical narrative-
Here, 7 of the most important stories -19 paintings with captions from 200-
Here, 7 of the most important stories -19 paintings with captions from 200-
Plus, a current update of views.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTERS 1, 5, 7, 8, 9
BELOW- After the double Golden Flower
[Old] INTRODUCTION [Newly Edited]
Way Below- After the large black sculptural painting,
Ideas here should be considered in aesthetic counterpoint to the images to gain a fuller meaning.
The contents of this work and any of its references involve personal speculation and do not presume to amend the Dogmas or Magisterium of the Church. Rather, these present the intuitions of a spiritual seeker favoring the 'Critical Method,' the Really Real and who is also a deeply committed Priest.
For LETTER TO A BISHOP, see ‘Cycle One’ of
THE NEPSIS FOUNDATION AND THE ORACLE OF XIBALBA-
University of California, Berkeley Site:
Secret of the Golden Flower 3- 2012
Latter Day Review of Nepsis
*As a private organization in the contemporary American scheme, the Church has the right to organize itself as it likes- within such parameters as the evangelical counsels might evoke: kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice for the good- i.e. Charity, justice and the Love of God.
Beyond any fatuous semantic or practice- common in institutional self-development and promotion- there is a core of religious experience and theory universally necessary to human completion and the integration of knowledge. The Church is well within the humanist venture of the last 2500 years. My interest has been an older perspective, now including the Church, as human culture turns from religion as necessary, to technology and commerce- with an eye to the knowledge of and preservation of the whole environment of perception. This since we now have the ability to destroy at least the bioshere that sustains us. The greatest personal discovery in this happened as the 'psyche of nature' slowly revealed itself- its fond embrace. This, as I developed the sense organs to know the genius loci et mundi directly.
*There are few things more elusive than charting human states of consciousness. Amidst fantastic lies and self-delusion, here also are great, most satisfying treasures. Discerning and sharing these is the priestly task. Much of this task is to revive the perceptive organs, now nearly atrophied, for the inner spiritual accomplishments of cultures past. Thus, the studies in art, theology and the all-important metaphysical exercises described herein- the pilgrimages across land, water, fire and spirit.
*The great reforming armadas of the past have either foundered, or found safe anchor on certain organizational or theoretical structures in the Church’s make up. Art is at the heart of this in the efficacy of the symbol. Art is the ‘lie that tells the truth.’ I.e. it is made-up artifice that reveals goodness, truth and/or beauty. Art is the bridge that resolves the conflict of opposites, such as ‘this world and God,’ or the broken human heart. This definition of art is much older than Christianity. But in her sacraments, liturgy, organization and attitude- based on the spiritual fiat of a human being, a woman- the structure of the Church is ‘the great lie that tells the great truth.’ Many have foundered on the lie, the artifice of material structures, while not realizing the great truth within that is true of all true religion. This current and on-going publication is my response to the teaching, prayer and action of the Church in the world- and the challenge of the Holy in Being as it might be best perceived.
Stories- My investigations in the phenomena of religion cross a full spectrum, from compassionate theology and pastoral ministry, to the most esoteric sorceries of Animist Shamanism and Tantric Buddhism or Taoist martial arts and the Christian thaumaturge. I’ve been exposed widely! I’ve mastered a few central practices and theories and there’s been a number of paranormal experiences that color and break open one’s worldview. Here’s one of the more vigorous from a few years after LETTER..:
“We arrived at night. This place can be approached by car to within 500 yards- we call it ‘Eagle’s Rock’ because eagles hunt from there. I drove slowly, looking for a place off the dirt road to stop. In the summer, this place is all dust and scrubby sage. But, the twilight moments of dawn and dusk are precious and the place radiates a peculiarly pure, psychic energy. As I rolled to a stop, a bright light flashed from the outcrop of rocks that is the center of these energies. The brief flash of light in the night was as tall as a house. I stopped the car pointed towards the rocks. We were anxious about who might be at this forsaken place this time of night to make such a light. Local Indian shamans? There is a reservation nearby. Skin walkers? The Holy Ones?
As I considered this, my companion said, "The car is moving." "No, it's not," I replied. Moments passed. "The car is moving." "No, it's not," somewhat impatiently. Then, I noticed that the car was moving. Sliding back and forth. Front to back. Without the benefit of gravity! The overwhelming sensation was that of the other world. This was as clear as any other sensation might be; fear, love, joy, who can calculate its measure or prove the experience except by the consensus of witness. This time, someone was with me and shared a significant paranormal event. This had not been the case in the past. Though the sensation of the moment was powerful indeed, there was no sense of hostility. Just power and otherness. We decided that perhaps we should not be there. We were intruding somehow. So, we backed out and drove slowly away.
We became very anxious to be away from there. Very... Away from that power that seemed so strong and unfamiliar. About ten miles back on that dirt road, there is a farmstead. We both felt that if we could get past that point, back in human surroundings, we would be OK. But, then, as we drove toward the farm, I heard a strong hissing noise. It became louder and louder. I stopped the car to investigate. I had a flat. I had to stop to fix it. As I did so, it began to rain. We were in the Nevada desert in July. Rain is not impossible there, but not likely. Now it poured down. And at the anxious moment! The tire fixed, we continued our escape. We focused on looking for the farm, after which it is another ten miles to the paved road.
Then, all of a sudden, we were at the intersection with the paved highway. We did not pass the farm. We arrived at the pavement much too soon. And as soon as we got there, the rain stopped. Both of us had been looking for the farm. You can't miss it, since the road goes right through the barnyard. It has the only light in the area. Trans-temporal-spatial-relocation? Both of us would not have missed such an obvious landmark as the farmyard. Install one gate and it becomes an impassable obstacle. It seemed as if some local spirit, deity or angel laughed in the night...
Secret of the Golden Flower 5- 2012
I’ve tried to understand some basic issues of ancient, still extant cultures to help us survive our own. (See Rig Veda X- Nepsis Foundation Menu Page Abstract.) Though until a recent decade, I also had been up to date in theology, art, civic responsibilities, et al:
Secret of the Golden Flower 6- 2012
-I affirm and support a newly revived interest in the mysterious figure of the berdashe for what it says about capacities of human nature beyond biology. The Church might find it safer now to embrace this strain of humanity, perhaps salvific, in the Body of Christ.
-As we move more deeply into the occasion of the Holy, one senses the blasphemy of talking about it. It’s better to talk about becoming holy. So, I ask again, why does the Church spend so much of its resources on parroting public education and not oppose more forcefully an economy based on the business of war? Why is the semantic and organization of the Church still patriarchal and authoritarian- as if we were an empire and the Supreme Pontiff, emperor? (See Introduction to LETTER TO A BISHOP.) ...
-Flexible interpretation in Scriptural authority and the Latin approach to legislation are idealistic, reasonable, compassionate patterns in the Church’s self-expression. But these also lend themselves to abuse by the unenlightened. The positive critique of the Reformation and Vatican II tried to correct many such failings and abuses. Misunderstandings about the meaning of symbol (Gk- symbolon= bridging opposites), literal interpretation of the symbolic genius of the past, and superficiality, are modern diseases of epidemic proportions.
-The stretch of time in a linear fashion compared with the eternal moment of the divine bliss explains the various semantic constructions one finds in religious expression.
-Visionary consciousness is an essential state, a thing in itself, and some ancient sources claim, is the source of ideas and images. It is the capacity for advanced sentience- God or Matter- and is timeless.
-This publication radically abridges LETTER TO A BISHOP, but translates its spirit and that of the whole NEPSIS FOUNDATION project by creating this new entrance to its elusive mysteries.
Priest, Monk, Shaman, Berdashe, Thaumaturge, Artist, Pilgrim- these are natural identities/capacities necessary to the full function of culture- paramount in Mysticism. All have a capacity for the spiritual- some for the Holy. Their topics, their persons as individuals and groups are necessary to human completion. The art and texts of Nepsis Foundation are about the inner content of Mysticism- the ‘light that casts no shadow,’ ‘clear light’ is its foundation. Something called technocracy is the order of the day. Without the above figures we forget who we are amidst all the technical wonders and horrors in our brave new world.
(Also read: “Way of the Pilgrim,” Hoffman's “Search for the Real,” "Meetings with Remarkable men.”
Secret of the Golden Flower 4 & 7- 2012
1, 5, 7, 8, 9
-Complete Document: See LETTER TO A BISHOP, or
Letter to a Bishop
-Various aspects of the main character are described and the influences formative to his unusual personality are presented.
-The first pilgrimage, a quest, is described with the central problem of the story clearly suggested.
I am a priest according to the Order of Melquizedek. That is at the heart of what happens in this story. But for now it is not important. Only that what must happen actually takes place. For that, apparently, I had to be a priest.
Recently, my mother and I visited my great-grandfather's town in the foothills of the High Sierras in California. It's a snake place. By that I mean a dragon place, a power place but mean somehow. It is in an area of transition between the rolling grass hills and giant oaks below, snaking up to the magnificent Sierra crags above. I've always felt uncomfortable when we visited that middlin' place; though, I have to admit that my mother and grandmother tell charming stories about their childhood experiences in that gulch-sunk town. The place has significance to me because I began a cycle of pilgrimages there twenty years ago, ...that have either been the purpose of my life or the ruin of it.
Who can tell why these pilgrimages started in the first place; young man coming-of-age, independence, adventure carte blanche, destiny. There certainly were all the usual justifications. But I have had to make other justifications since; to secular, even ecclesial authorities. Many boundaries have been trespassed since that first naive journey. Then, twenty years ago, 1970, it was only a quest. It has since become a pilgrimage trespassing the boundaries between this world and the "other" one. Now at this conclusion, I am heartened to visit once again the old family plots in the cemetery and to find it handsome with poppies, roses, wild things. The rocky hills are green again with an infinity of green blades.
I came here to start that first pilgrimage by visiting the graves of my ancestors who first settled in California. My great-grandfather came here in 1850 during the gold rush. It was during this same period between 1850 and 1853 that half the population of the California Coastal Indians disappeared.1 Let's not euphemistic. They were exterminated. I'm not blaming my ancestor for that, but that conflict typifies the subject of this story. It is about a battle.
Since this is a story without beginning or end, it is good to start where a beginning was an end.
Now, I can only remember a few clear images from that first pilgrimage. I left in the Spring and came home in the Fall. I didn't even call it a pilgrimage. It was a quest. I didn't know what a pilgrimage was technically, or in this case what I was questing. But I was young enough that it didn't matter. I had hitchhiked around the perimeter of the U.S. I ran out of money on the East Coast, 3000 miles from home...
I INTERRUPT HERE, SKIPPING FROM THIS FIRST AND THROUGH SEVERAL OTHER SUCH PICARESQUE NARRATIVES (travel stories) TO THE HEART OF WHAT I HOPE WILL DISPLAY A PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL ANIMATION IN ONE'S INNER WORLD, BUT ALSO IN THE FORM OF AESTHETIC OBJECTS- Allegories, Parables, IDEAS, PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES AND POEMS. Full texts of these stories are available at the University of California site above.
(Dragon Painting II)
Oil on Canvas 5' x 4' 1974
The ‘dragon’ theme in these works is a reference to nature and our metaphysical, technological relationships with nature. St. George (Gk.) of dragon slaying fame is anthropologically the agriculturist or farmer who tamed nature by developing agriculture. He/She represents a major technological step in the human project. My interest in Georg(ia), from the other end of a spectrum, is our understanding of our own powers and purpose in relationship to our natural and spiritual origin.
The title, "Strider", is from the ‘motion’ of this nature painting. It reminds me of the movement of a Water Strider, the long legged, lightweight insect that flickers across woodland ponds and streams. Yet, as well, the painting still suggests a more cosmic ambience and intention.
Here, two notes about monastery and seminary with several paintings describe the transition:
Around this time, 1973, I was infatuated with Stephanie and I was going with a girl named Jenny, a very pretty, intelligent, talented girl. Stephanie as already mentioned was in love with a bi-sexual John. He was very attractive and so hip. This was all too confusing. I withdrew altogether. Not long after that, I went to the monastery where eventually I was initiated into a 'way of light.' Was this move only the result of unrequited love or was there a different design. (See, Mantak Chia for esoteric sexual practices, or Yang Jwing-Ming or "Secret of the Golden Flower." (See ‘Dissertation Bibliography,’ Table of Contents, bottom of page- ECAI/UC, Berkeley Site Map)
11. 'Dragon Host'
Oil on Paper 40" x 30" 1975
Originally titled "Eucharist", or "Dragon Eucharist." This work continues the themes of the paintings above. But, when this painting was made, I had moved from a completely secular environment and lifestyle to the monastery. Catholic influences were beginning to enter my previously Surrealistic or Abstract Expressionist work.
Oil on Canvas 5.5' x 3' 1977
(Mother of God) After adjusting to the powerful impact that Christian Icons had on me in the monastery, after completing a sculpture commission for the monastery on this same theme, Theotokos, and after spending nine months in a Trappist monastery in preparation, I painted this painting. Because this process is similar to the process and intentions of icon makers, I considered this painting to be a 'modern icon.' However, by then I had already read that Egyptian Funerary Painting such as the mummy portraits from Fayum, Egypt, themselves influenced 2000 years ago by Greek and Roman painting, were at the root of the development of Christian Icons. I found these funerary portraits entrancing in their unencumbered liveliness, their frontal centrality and stillness. They gaze from the 'other world of peace' into our 'activity.' Even at that, this painting remains within range of Abstract Expressionist tenets as well as Catholic theology.
At that time, arrangements were made for me to visit St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California. That was the last place I thought I would ever end up. My parents drove me there. When we arrived, the only parking place was right in front of a large statue of St. John the Evangelist. ... It seemed fated at that moment that I follow this path. Though I continued to resist for many months, I did finally enter the seminary, Fall 1979.
Oil on Panal 3' x 5' 1977
-The "Grand Affair" of spiritual vocation kicks in.
-The savage, but handsome, young man.
-Pilgrimage to test the effects of pilgrimage.
-Shamanism, Buddhism, Panikkar and the Black Widow are introduced.
-A cocktail party.
-Preparation for India.
-The first Dragon.
However, I continued to work on pilgrimage. One such journey, the summer just before entering the seminary, was an event of frightening interest. I had been out for a couple of weeks of, up to that moment, beautiful experiences. I was in the back of a pick-up with several other hitchhikers, one remarkably crazy. At dusk we were all left at Pescadero Beach south of San Francisco. We split up. I walked up the beach to find a place to spend the night. Unlike the coast north of San Francisco, this place seemed angry. The waves moody and violent. As I lay on the beach, the water seemed higher than the beach- Threatening. I slept. I dreamed. In the dream, I am on the same beach. It is lit by a sourceless light. Very, very, clear. Crystalline. I am standing at the water's edge with my back to the sea. On the beach a friend of mine is being attacked by some kind of supernatural beast. I go to his defense. I hit the beast with a yew-wood club (which I did actually have in my pack). I wasn't able to hit it with enough force, except to draw its attention to me. As it turned on me I could see that it had the form of a savagely handsome young man. It came for me. I escaped by waking up. As I opened my eyes to the same but now foggy beach scene, suspended before me was a huge mask of the beast. I said, "you cannot hurt me because I am in Jesus Christ." I made an offensive, if immature, gesture towards the monster, turned over and went to sleep.What was this figure? Some frustrated aspect of my psyche, a wrathful deity ala Tibetan Buddhism? (Which I did not know anything about at the time.) Or something else?I woke the next morning. Continued my way south. However, I never saw the Yew-wood club again that I had been carving and carrying in my pack. A couple of years later, while on a vacation with a friend, I drove past that beach. There were a lot of surfers parked along the highway there. As we passed, two were dressing next to their car the way surfers do. Because of the traffic we were going slowly. As we passed these two, both looked at me, then dropped their towels and leered, completely naked. It seemed that they both looked just like the savage young man in the dream. I've returned to that place since at night and have done rituals of placation and liberation. ...My first year at the seminary went well enough. Four years of monastic studies had prepared me well for seminary. But by the following summer I was once again ready for pilgrimage. The seminary is an academic, affluent environment. It is a remarkable combination of university and monastery. There is much potential there. But I'm just not an academic and I was still very serious about asceticism. So I sought the purification of the road. This pilgrimage was specifically an experiment. I was carefully testing the effect of certain ascetical practices. I will not tell the whole of this adventure now, since all its details are included in the "fiction" section later in Part II of this Letter. Suffice it to say now in the process of testing these practices and because of an encounter with a beautiful young woman and her baby, I came to an expanded understanding of Eucharist. I came to an understanding of such spiritual largess that it reduced me to tears. After that, when I was worn out from the trip, tired of pilgrimage, asceticism and suffering, I had an experience of the "other world" that energized me in an amazing way, so that instead of being defeated by fatigue and disappointment, I ascended to a state that carried me buoyantly through the night to a fiery dragon dawn. That same evening I walked through a town and out into the countryside. No rides were offered. No food. Nowhere to rest since this part of the country was very wet. Around midnight, I’d had it. "Asceticism is fine, but I feel like shit." At that point of giving up, something in me opened, a curtain was pulled back, another world or dimension was revealed. This was for the briefest moment but it was enough. It was enough to continue through the night refreshed and re energized!One might say that this was the beginning of the "Yemen Experiment."That same summer I also made two backpacking trips into the High Sierras in California. 100 miles altogether. It was on this trip that I read for the first time, the infamous Carlos Casteneda. From Casteneda's perspective (Don Juan's apparently), 'Being' is likened to a rapacious black eagle, but there is a way, a path, to escape its otherwise inexorable appetite. [Is God non-being then?] To follow that "impeccable" path is the warrior's task and most beneficial to all concerned.1 I've included Casteneda's' explanation in this note. His shamanistic topic tolled in me with such deep resonance that huge inner doors slowly swung open with the invitation for the exploration, activation of sacred mysteries.
25. El Salvador, Central America 1980
Oil on Paper 42" x 22" 1983- The Passion of Christ resonates through history, still...
The Dragon Lord-- (The Holy Spirit of Creation.)
Oil on Panal 5.5' x 3' 1983-
The metaphysics of this painting is generated from a dramatic ideal represented by the circle of the bullring and its ritual as a cultural, even mythic encounter between temporal consciousness and the raging challenge of being.
Chapter 6 describes our first India experience with its profound Buddhist teachings and personalities and the Shiva-Lila women who would chase us across the face of the globe- how the pilgrimage was concluded on a glacier above Kashmir by an encounter with the same Presence as at Assisi. On the flight home, I had a waking vision of an opalescent grey cathedral in the sky over Greece where I would learn things I needed to know- fire: See LETTER TO A BISHOP, or ‘Cycle One’ of THE NEPSIS FOUNDATION AND THE ORACLE OF XIBALBA- ECAI/UC, Berkeley Site Map:
-Preparation is made for Pilgrimage to Greece.
-Altered states are described.
-Learn to fly.
-Death of the Sacred King
Oil on Panal 7' x 4', 1978
Homage to Rublev’s 15th Century Russian Icon, "Trinity." This painting attempts to deal with the influence and empowerment of spiritual presence(s) within the same format as discussed above(#1, 6, 7 and 11). It uses symbolic gestures of hands and figure, as well as the more abstract distribution of line, color, form, texture and space to represent its mood and intention. After adjusting to the powerful impact that Christian Icons had on me in the monastery and after performing various ascetical practices, I painted this painting. Because this process is similar to the process and intentions of icon makers, I considered this painting to be a ‘modern icon.’ However, by then I had already read that Egyptian Funerary Painting such as the mummy portraits from Fayum, Egypt, themselves influenced 2000 years ago by Greek and Roman painting, were at the root of the development of Christian Icons. I found these funerary portraits entrancing in their unencumbered liveliness, their frontal centrality and stillness. They gaze from the ‘other world of peace’ into our ‘activity.’ Even at that, this painting remains within range of Abstract Expressionist tenets as well as Catholic theology.
but I did this to mark the place of focus on the body for major healing energies. It was a gesture of purification and commitment to complete this "way" that I have chosen, this ritual pilgrimage.The third event that prepared for Greece happened as follows: I had been elected by the student body of the Seminary as the student representative on what was the faculty policy-making body for the seminary, the General Seminary Committee. We were having meetings just after the end of the semester. During a meeting in a very warm and drowsy room, I slipped spontaneously into an altered state of consciousness. I was in that circle of white light, seated in meditation. I did not call the light this time as in the past. It summoned itself. It carried me up in a hammock of white light, up, up, until there was nothing but light and infinity. However, the tower of light was capped somehow. It needed my permission to let go. I knew that this was about the trip to Greece and all the pilgrimages. I hesitated for I intuited what it meant. Total commitment. This occurred a couple of months after the "scarification" ritual. (Sometimes it takes months for these things to "kick in.") After a moment, I said "yes." The tower of light, released from any constraint, reached up to infinity. I had kept track of the meeting while this was going on. I returned my attention fully to the meeting energized, with clear, practical comments about the subject of discussion. For weeks after, whenever I told anyone about this experience, my hands would start to radiate a warm, strong energy that others could feel. I would fill with delight. Around this time, I did my first healing, it was only of a severe headache, but it was followed by the patient having a prescient dream in conjunction with some other paranormal phenomena described elsewhere. The two of us shared a powerful exchange of energy. This scenario also provides the "other world" location of salvific power for the conclusion of this story! I will describe that when the time comes. Thus began the first Greek pilgrimage.I hitch hiked across the country after attending an ordination in Tucson, Arizona of some school-mates. I flew from N.Y. to London. Crossing the Atlantic, I had a terrible migraine. (I kept thinking of Puck from "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" attending the flight.)I started hitch hiking on arrival at 7:00 A.M. and arrived at Stonehenge by twilight. It was the night after the solstice, after Midsummer's Night. I camped that night on some Celtic burial mounds down from the "Stones" so that lithic monument was arrayed across the horizon above me in that night when it never really got dark. I didn't sleep much. I did not bring a sleeping bag, only a small knap sack with a change of clothing and mostly ritual implements otherwise. I got up early and walked towards the highway. As I walked away from the mounds towards the "Stones," a clear communication came to me.
"We also seek (need) completion."
Oil on Panal 5.5' x 3.5' 1987
This painting is from a pilgrimage to eastern Turkey to cure migraines.
-A plot thickens.
-Black Widow Spider
-A successful experiment.
My return from Greece met two challenges. One was that I had little understanding about what it all meant. Two, I was to be ordained a Catholic priest the following Spring. One month before that ordination was to take place, I was informed by the then current Vocation Director that he had recommended to the Bishop I not be ordained. I believed, he had attacked me, under other pretexts, for going to India in the first place. Now, I believe the Greece expedition completely colored his mind and heart against me. I have always had my supporters in the institution and those other "friends" whose task it was to challenge and toughen my resolve. He was one such. I do not believe that he was well intended.I had been friends with the former Vocation Director, but when the new one took over, the ‘bad chemistry’ between us was immediately evident. Because of the nature of institutional operations, such a recommendation from someone in his position had much effect, at least for a while. I'm not saying that I 'm perfect, but in that situation I was probably not any worse a candidate than most others who were being ordained without question. (Most, if not all, are excellent men.) I had an excellent record at the seminary. In fact, when the Vocation Director made his unfortunate recommendation the seminary faculty had just voted unanimously for my advancement to ordination. The bishop eventually ruled in my favor. But it was too late for me to be ordained with my class. (This is a point of small but poignant significance within the priest caste.) I was forced into aggressive psychoanalysis. But within six months of psychic probing, I was pronounced psychologically fit and recommended for ordination to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church by the UCLA psychiatrist (a Lutheran) that the V.D. recommended for me. I was ordained in 1984. The night before my ordination something happened that describes my call to the priesthood and a fundamental characteristic of the priesthood in general that is usually ignored by contemporary religious institutions. By such ignorance the mission of the church might be missed. I went out into the Mojave Desert to make a night-long vigil before the ordination. In the morning following, I built a little fire of sacred intention (connected with the Paschal mystery). The air was completely still. But a strong breeze came up and blew the fire to the west, the east, the north and the south. Then a little whirlwind came up out of the flames and danced around the opposite side of the fire from where I was seated. This, along with a wonderful sensation associated with that place, seemed to be an assent from the powers of the Earth to my ordination. Strange perhaps, but wonderful.The ordination ritual is a powerful, wonderful liturgy. However, unlike my Diaconate ordination which was light filled, this priestly ordination was characterized by a strong, dark sense of dying. It was beautiful, solemn. Indeed Christ seemed active in this initiation, full in the form of guide, mediation and consolation. My first parish assignment was in Santa Ana, California. Immediately, my new superior sent me to Mexico to study Spanish. When I went to Mexico I had every intention of learning Spanish. What happened in Mexico was this:Soon after I arrived in Cuernavaca, I discovered that handsome city and the nearby village of Tepozlan to be powerful in the ways of the "energies." Really powerful. Not long after arriving, I had a vision/realization, a "message," clearly from the Greek pilgrimage.This communication told me that if I stayed, I would be badly hurt or would die, that some great harm would come of it. I refused to believe it. I wanted only to fulfill my assignment and not cause any more trouble. I cannot emphasize this last point strongly enough. However, in my heart I knew the premonition was true.My first weeks there were of high energy, during which I had six instructive dreams in one week. The first three were powerful flying dreams, one that I controlled from a waking state. The fourth dream, plus some shamanizing, tried to resolve problems I had with my pastor, my current superior. The fifth dream two weeks into my stay, was about my home and family; my parents were represented as spirit animals, a great male ape and a mother bear. There were other such animals, but the dream concluded with a big deer-like creature coming over the hill. But the sensation was wild, really wild. Dangerous. With this I felt that the energies were out of control. I was nearly overcome. In the sixth dream I was a fledgling golden eagle. That seemed to complete a sequence of initiation symbolized by a topically related image at my entrance into the seminary: the eagle. My seminary training included not only theology and pastoral training, but studies in tantra and shamanism; the way of the warrior. The eagle has long been a symbol of the spiritual warrior even before St. John was gifted with this attribute. (See C.C. Chang's TIBETAN YOGA for Tibetan techniques of dream control in this reference. Also, Casteneda deals with this in JOURNEY TO IXTLAN.)During one exploration of downtown Cuernavaca, I ate some food that made me very ill. I seemed to sense that something psychic was happening, although I couldn't say at that moment that I knew this would eventually allow me to go home before real damage happened. The following Saturday, a week later, I was well enough to visit downtown again. I went into a little chapel that I had seen in passing at the end of a crowded alley, at the top of a flight of stairs. I was delayed from entering by a"sadhu" (or merely a crazy transient) and an immense, white dog, (Cerberus?) with pink eyes. The transient was dancing joyfully to rock music. He frightened me. He looked straight into my eyes, then went away. The dog was quiet until he saw me in the crowd and began to bark wildly. I finally got by and entered the chapel. I sat to pray and then noticed a statue. It was a special statue, subject of much adoration and petition from the faithful. It was a statue that I had seen in a dream, when I was in college, ten year before! (I had been having a series of dreams about Christ. That dream was of particular significance and eventually led me to the monastery. I had never been to Cuernavaca before this trip.) By now I was sick every day and had just enough energy for classes. I slept the rest of the time. I decided to take a few days off to go to Oaxaca because I sensed it was a place to rest and to wait. I went there and I waited. A priest I had met and with whom I was traveling at that time shouted several times in his sleep one night, "here it is!" in Spanish. I believed him and I continued to wait. The priest and I parted the next day. That afternoon I met a young man from the United States in the market place. He described himself as a yogi, a disciple of a guru of good reputation in the U.S. and I described myself as a priest. We hit it off and began a spiritual exchange that went on for several days. We did some energy exchange exercises involving the central nervous system that was accompanied by a sense of great liberation for me. It was cathartic-- a great exchange. I returned to Cuernavaca. I became very sick once again and finally had to return home. I knew/sensed the experience in Oaxaca was the completion of the reason for my being in Mexico. Being there had to do with developing my understanding of what I had inculcated at the foot of Mt. Olympus two years previous. That was quite clear just before I left Mexico. I now understood and could explain what I had only sensed before. But this will not be the last trip to Cuernavaca. Perhaps, unfortunately--as you will see.Over the following year, I had increasing trouble with migraines. In a migraine complex one's blood vessels dilate. That can cause debilitating anguish in one's brain and body. I have had migraines since I was 10 years old, but infrequently. They'd grown worse in recent years. I went through the various neurological and psychological therapies. In fact, I first went to the psychologist who introduced me to the study of the "energies" because of migraines. Now, perhaps the conflict between this natural spiritual vocation and an official, too narrowly proscribed role of a Catholic priest produced great stress. The migraines increased to three or four screaming episodes a week. Really deadly. But the medications were more dangerous than the migraines. During this time, in the midst of full-blown migraines I started to have certain realizations. I began to equate the agony of the migraine experience with suffering of the world, and then to the agony of creation's mysterious evolution. This seemed more than sympathy, but empathy. Associated often with the agony of the migraine's physical effects was a sense of clarity and beauty and insights about things. Perhaps this was caused by the blood flooding the brain as suggested in the Katerini episode. During this same time, I had two experiences that have characterized and helped form much of my attitude about religion and human identity. The first has to do with the cure of a man suffering from intense pain. (My second healing) During our healing session he described the "cure" with a mental image of a bubble of pain that passed out of him and up my arm, then disappeared. There were no drugs involved with this cure. I believe it was a kind of release of Kundalini1 pressure, rather than a "healing," though the man was relieved of his pain and related symptoms. The second experience involved a young girl who experienced what could be safely categorized as a spontaneous shamanic initiation.2 She had no religious background and was from a poorly educated, suburban family. It is unlikely that she could have known about such things as "shamanism." This reinforced my developing belief that shamanism is part of an atemporal, universal human inheritance and not solely the property of Stone Age tribal peoples, or of New Age dilettantes. It remains a vital active force in the modern world. At this time, I had the following dream about a Black Widow spider. I was in a room at some kind of party. A young man with blond hair was talking to me. We had some kind of teacher/student relationship. A Black Widow came out from under his collar, walked around his shoulder, across his chest to the open shirt neck. I moved to brush the beast off. (I felt a particular aversion to Black Widows) I brushed it down inside his shirt rather than off. Either I am dangerously clumsy or this was a necessary interiorization of whatever the spider and the boy represent for me.The scene of the dream shifts to another room where there is a large ark-like box about the size of a small car. It is a dusty, black, wooden box. On one side are various shelves, windows and doors. Out of one such portal four Black Widows walk onto one of the shelves adjacent. Three are very healthy. The fourth is somehow spasmotic. The three healthy spiders raise themselves up on their back legs and from a black telescope like appendage spray me with light. The dream ends. Late the next evening, I was telling a friend about this dream. While telling the tale I began to dream! I told my friend that I am dreaming while talking to him, rather shocked myself. Then, I continue the conversation by describing the continuation of the dream. The four Black widow Spiders turn to crystal and seem to be some kind of transmitter -- mystically -- to the contents of the box because the walls of the black box become transparent. In fact, they disappear and are replaced with not only a vision of the universe, but a sensation of heaven itself. Wonderful. I still did not suspect anything esoteric about black widows.The Migraines were terrible. I determined that this migraine problem must be resolved. Medical therapy hadn't worked very well, so I would try spiritual pilgrimage. Suggested during the Greek pilgrimage was an attraction to places further east. Over a period of months, in meditation, I located a place along the eastern border of Turkey that held promise. I would make a pilgrimage there. A group of friends would join me part of the way. We were to meet on the island of Corfu to commence a liturgy of healing for the world and empowerment to effect our gifts as ministers. We met on Corfu to construct a liturgy of healing in the "Game of Being."3 It is the game of Love. The divine play of creation; the game of life and death and life. We did it near a place that one among us has described as "vile" with energies. I don't think it was evil, but a too powerful place, not pleasant or easily approached. This is the third dragon. (PLACE OF STRONG NATURAL ‘ENERGIES.’)Bishop, please remember that the dragon motif represents not only the general reference to "Nature" but a localization of "Grace," the "Divine Energies." It is also a "spirit animal" familiar for me. Thus it represents the comparison of motifs of divine or spiritual intervention.4I parted with the last of the "Corfu Company." I stood alone outside Le Vadia at a country railway station in Greece, and was impressed with a sense of kind simplicity that is the ambiance of all our endeavors. I was on my way to Thessalonika, then Turkey via Pythia as it will say on my ticket. I've just left the Pythian oracle at Delphi where visions and dream were kind to me. The journey continued in kindness across Turkey -- kindness in the people I met, kindness of the God who provided the way, and at the last moment in the mountains east of Kars, the kindness of a fellow traveler, a guide who for the moment was obsessed to show me the "Akchekale" -- the "White Castle." I knew that it was the place. It was a long way from civilization on a promontory above a deep river canyon... Behind these ancient ruins of a castle, I sat alone in my ritual before the gathered flowers that sang their pure violet to the sacred fire and the devil-chasing bell that sang to silence, taking my song along with it. In that deserted, white castle, outside its dark tower, between an abandoned well and razed church, in that place unvisited much, even by Turks much less tourists, a wind blew up the river-cut chasm thousands of feet down, then everything fell away,fell away--- The Word, Christ, whispered across perception... (not the name but the substance of the name) and it seemed at that moment that I had died, for how could human biology contain such love. It would have been the same for Buddhist, Christian, Moslem, shaman or priest, I believe, for it was the heart of creation whispering. There, in that place of an ancient wound, the sacred fire was invoked and some creature roared its cry. A terrible sound tore through the canyon. This was the fourth dragon.This travel joined my need for healing and the healing that I believe is inherent in creation.I could not look back at the castle when I left, for fear, for respect. I seldom think about it now because when I do my eyes tear fully remembering such fullness. At that moment though it was smooth and easy in its blessing; pale green, brown rose, yellow -- the light set the land dancing.Now that some time has passed I still have a deep sense of satisfaction about this pilgrimage, unlike any of the other. It is as if the pilgrimage finished something successfully. This is an important juncture. It is true that since then my migraines have stopped almost completely. But there is more. Perhaps the satisfaction lies in the fact that, somehow, the whole approach works. It can resolve personal problems of significance and there is indication that it is a viable means, an empowerment, to address and resolve some problems of the world community, that is by this working with the gods, the psychic structures of creation. Bishop, if that is the case as now I clearly believe it to be, I anticipate the next event in this evolution with both fear and delight.
53. Pure Fall: Crucifix
Oil on Hung Canvas 8' x 4' 1982
“...inspired by waterfalls in the High Sierras that I had recently seen on a backpacking trip as I was also working on other cruciform paintings at the same time, this unconscious cruciform appearance is not so much of a surprise. Certain of my paintings contain specific images of which I was unconscious at the time of their creation. Two examples of this are #60 and #58. This is directly related, of course, to the Abstract Expressionist methodology that sees its art making as a vehicle specifically modulated so that the unconscious may express itself.
61. The Spell
Oil on Panal 5.5 x 3 1985
The ovoid shape here references Christian Icons, many of which place the Christos in such a portal. Also referenced here are Tantric and Sex Magic usages of similar shapes, especially when they operate beneath a valence of salvific intention in the artist/practitioners.
23. 'Crucifix with Antlers'
Oil on Panal 5.5' x 3' 1977-1987
...Shamanistic themes involving earth powers and metaphysical energies in relationship with the Passion of Christ, expressed here with an ancient symbol for the divine hunt--antlers, and the crucifix--display an underlying unity in a variety of spiritual traditions and experience. In this work, the practical influence of shamanistic elements is beginning to be apparent. Christianity and Tantra live in Trust off their inheritance from the Shamanistic intuition.
-The "problem" of this story is stated (again) and a solution to be tried.
-2nd Cuernavaca and the Mexican earthquake, the body-earth connection.
-Child molestation and Good Friday child.
-Disasters, disasters, disasters
-Poison and Vision
-The Black Widow, my familiar
-Prescience of Egypt and the Golden Light
-The mural engages its magic
Drawing from just before Mexican Earthquake, 1985.
Oil on Canvas 5.5' x 3' 1987
Having once been freed from conservative restrictions of parochial ministry, I came to feel even more repressed by the liberal attitudes of subsequent supporters.
Letter to a Bishop- Ch. 1, 5,7,8,9
(Part of the 'humor' of this LETTER makes the notes as important as the texts. This is why I include paintings here to complete the counterpoint composition.)
(Part of the 'humor' of this LETTER makes the notes as important as the texts. This is why I include paintings here to complete the counterpoint composition.)
1. D'Arcy, McNickle, THE INDIAN TRIBES OF THE UNITED STATES. Oxford University Press. Institute for race relations. Pg. 75.
2. About that place: Around the same time a famous Tibetan Lama was building a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in the form of a mandala very near that place in the wild countryside. He belonged to the same sect, the Nyingma, with which I was to study when I went to India ten years later and ten years after that, he was once again present at important moments of a return visit to India. That place in the coastal mountains of northern California is potent with herbs and energies at that time....
1. Castaneda, Carlos. EAGLE'S GIFT. Pg. 176ff. supplies the abstract of Don Juan's scheme for salvation. In brief, Being is a rapacious eagle devouring awareness. Only the impeccable warrior-shaman can/will follow the terrifying path to freedom, knowledge and individual immortality.
Don Juan did exactly the same thing with me, and with La Gorda; he made us shift levels of awareness and told us the rule of the Nagual in the following way:
The power that governs the destiny of all living beings is called the Eagle, not because it is an eagle or has anything to do with an eagle, but because it appears to the seer as an immeasurable jet-black eagle, standing erect as an eagle stands, its height reaching to infinity.
As the seer gazes on the blackness that Eagle is, four blazes of light reveal what the Eagle is like. The first blaze, which is like a bolt of lightning, helps the seer make out the contours of the Eagle's body. There are patches of whiteness that look like an eagle's feathers and talons. A second blaze of lightning reveals the flapping, wind-creating blackness that looks like an eagle's wings. With the third blaze of lightning the seer beholds a piercing, inhuman eye. And the fourth and last blaze discloses what the Eagle is doing.
The Eagle is devouring the awareness of all creatures that, alive on earth a moment before and now dead, have floated to the Eagle’s beak, like a ceaseless swarm of fireflies, to meet their owner, their reason for having had life. The Eagle disentangles these tiny flames, lays them flat, as a tanner stretches out a hide, and then consumes them; for awareness is the Eagle's food.
The Eagle, that power that governs the destinies of all living things, reflects equally and at once all those living things. There is no way, therefore, for man to pray to the Eagle, to ask favors, to hope for grace. The human part of the Eagle is too insignificant to move the whole.
It is only from the Eagle's actions that a seer can tell what it wants. The Eagle, although it is not moved by the circumstances of any living thing, has granted a gift to each of those beings. In its own way and right, any one of them, if it so desires, has the power to keep the flame of awareness, the power to disobey the summons to die and be consumed. Every living thing has been granted the power, if it so desires, to seek an opening to freedom and to go through it. It is evident to the seer who sees the opening, and to the creatures that go through it, that the Eagle has granted that gift in order to perpetuate awareness.
For the purpose of guiding living things to that opening, the Eagle created the Nagual. The Nagual is a double being to whom the rule has been revealed. Whether it be in the form of a human being, an animal, a plant, or anything else that lives, the Nagual by virtue of its doubleness is drawn to seek the hidden passageway.
The Nagual comes in pairs, male and female. A double man and a double woman become the Nagual only after the rule has been told to each of them, and each of them has understood it and accepted it in full.
To the eye of the seer, a Nagual man or Nagual woman appears as a luminous egg with four compartments. Unlike the average human being who has two sides only, a left and a right, the Nagual has a left side divided into two long sections and a right side equally divided into two.
The Eagle created the first Nagual man and Nagual woman as seers and immediately put them in the world to see. It provided them with four female warriors who were stalkers, three male warriors, and one male courier, whom they were to nourish, enhance, and lead to freedom.
The female warriors are called the four directions, the four corners of a square, the four moods, the four winds, the four different female personalities that exist in the human race.
The first is east. She is called order. She is optimistic, light-hearted, smooth, persistent like a steady breeze.
The second is north. She is called strength. She is resourceful, blunt, direct, tenacious like a hard wind.
The Third is west. She is called feeling. She is introspective, remorseful, cunning, sly, like a cold gust of wind.
The fourth is the south. She is called growth. She is nurturing, loud, shy, warm, like a hot wind.
The three male warriors and the courier are representative of the four types of male activity and temperament.
The first type is the knowledgeable man, the scholar; a noble, dependable, serene man, fully dedicated to accomplishing his task, whatever it may be.
The second type is the man of action, highly volatile, a great humorous, fickle companion.
The third type is the organizer behind the scenes, the mysterious, unknowable man. Nothing can be said about him because he allows nothing about himself to slip out.
The courier is the fourth type. He is the assistant, a taciturn, somber man who does very well if properly directed but who cannot stand on his own.
In order to make things easier, the Eagle showed the Nagual man and Nagual woman that each of these types among men and women of earth has specific features in its luminous body.
The scholar has a sort of shallow dent, a bright depression at his solar plexus. In some men it appears as a pool of intense luminosity, sometimes smooth and shiny like a mirror without a reflection.
The man of action has some fibers emanating from the area of the will. The number of fibers varies from one to five, their size ranging from a mere string to a thick, whiplike tentacle up to eight feet long. Some have as many as three of these fibers developed into tentacles.
The man behind the scenes is recognized not by a feature but by his ability to create, quite involuntarily, a burst of power that effectively blocks the attention of seers. When in the presence of this type of man, seers find themselves immersed in extraneous detail rather than seeing.
The assistant has no obvious configuration. To seers he appears as a clear glow in a flawless shell of luminosity.
In the female realm, the east is recognized by the almost imperceptible blotches in her luminosity, something like small areas of discoloration.
The north has an overall radiation; she exudes a reddish glow, almost like heat.
The west has a tenuous film enveloping her, a film which makes her appear darker than the others.
The south has an intermittent glow; she shines for a moment and then gets dull, only to shine again.
The Nagual man and the Nagual woman have two different movements in their luminous bodies. Their right sides wave, while their left sides whirl.
In terms of personality, the Nagual man is supportive, steady, unchangeable. The Nagual woman is a being at war and yet relaxed, ever aware but without strain. Both of them reflect the four types of their sex, as four ways of behaving.
The first command that the Eagle gave the Nagual man and Nagual woman was to find, on their own, another set of four female warriors, four directions, who were the exact replicas of the stalkers but who were dreamers.
Dreamers appear to a seer as having an apron of hairlike fibers at their midsections. Stalkers have a similar apronlike feature, but instead of fibers the apron consists of countless small, round protuberances.
The eight female warriors are divided into two bands, which are called the right and left planets. The right planet is made up of four stalkers, and the left of four dreamers. The warriors of each planet were taught by the Eagle the rule of their specific task: Stalkers were taught stalking; dreamers were taught dreaming.
The two female warriors of each direction live together. They are so alike that they mirror each other, and only through impeccability can they find solace and challenge in each other's reflection.
The only time when the four dreamers or four stalkers get together is when they have to accomplish a strenuous task; but only under special circumstances should the four of them join hands, for their touch fuses them into one being and should be used only in cases of dire need, or at the moment of leaving this world.
The two female warriors of each direction are attached to one of the males, any combination that is necessary. Thus they make a set of our households, which are capable of incorporating as many warriors as needed.
The male warriors and the courier can also form an independent unit of four men, or each can function as a solitary being, as dictated by necessity.
Next the Nagual and his party are commanded to find three more couriers. These could be all males or all females or a mixed set, but the male couriers had to be of the fourth type of man, the assistant, and the females had to be from the south.
In order to make sure that the first Nagual man would lead his party to freedom and not deviate from that path or become corrupted, the Eagle took the Nagual woman to the other world to serve as a beacon, guiding the party to the opening.
The Nagual and his warriors were then commanded to forget. They were plunged into darkness and were given new tasks: the task of remembering themselves, and the task of remembering the Eagle.
The command to forget was so great that everyone was separated. They did not remember who they were. The Eagle intended that if they were capable of remembering themselves again, they would find the totality of themselves. Only then would thy have the strength and forebearance necessary to seek and face their definitive journey.
Their last task, after they had regained the totality of themselves, was to get a new pair of double beings and transform them into a new Nagual man and a new Nagual woman by virtue of revealing the rule to them. And just as the first Nagual man and Nagual woman had been provided with a minimal party, they had to supply the new pair of Nagual with four female warriors who were stalkers, three male warriors, and one male courier.
When the first Nagual and his party were ready to go through the passageway, the first Nagual woman was waiting to guide them. They were ordered then to take the new Nagual woman with them in the other world to serve as a beacon for her people, leaving the new Nagual man in the world to repeat the cycle.
While in the world, the minimal number under a Nagual's leadership is sixteen" eight female warriors, four male warriors, counting the Nagual, and four couriers. At the moment of leaving the world, when the new Nagual woman is with them, the Nagual's number is seventeen. If his personal power permits him to have more warriors, then more must be added in multiples of four.
I had confronted don Juan with the question of how the rule became known to man. He explained that the rule was endless and covered every facet of a warrior's behavior. The interpretation and the accumulation of the rule is the work of seers whose only task through ages has been to ‘see’ the Eagle, to observe its ceaseless flux. From their observations, the seers have concluded that, providing the luminous shell that comprises one's humanness has been broken, it is possible to find in the Eagle the faint reflection of man. The Eagle's irrevocable dictums can then be apprehended by seers, properly interpreted by them and accumulated in the form of a governing body.
One should also review pertinent sections of books like THE WIZARD OF THE FOUR WINDS, by Douglas Sharon, for a wider anthropology.2. Wicca: See note #1d, Introduction.3. Other places of such power: Assisi, Kasmir, Dakotas, Olympus/Cuernavaca, Corfu, E. Turkey, Montana, Yemen, Geyserville, Tarahumara, Himachel Pradesh. I never wanted to slay the dragon, as happens in the fairy tales. But in the myth of St. George and the Dragon, the Dragon is nature tamed by George whose name in Greek means "farmer," or "earth-worker," the first great technological revolutionaries. Is technology part of Nature, since we are part of Nature? Then what is the source of our current dilemma? I seek to raise the dragons of Being to aid in the defense of Creation, body and spirit, against the evil effects of ...... human technological genius? Something worse? ...CHAPTER 71. Krk and a dream of the Goddess and the Sacred King:
After Venice, I went to an island, Krk, off Yugoslavia. I take time and trouble here to tell this episode, only because of a powerful dream associated with this island. In the dream are delineated much of the sexual dynamic at the heart of the "problem." I had this dream my last semester in college ten years earlier in 1973. In it I am a king in a palace on this island. I am married to a goddess. We worship her image in the form of a raised cobra in a shrine in the palace. We are attacked by a huge Navy of oar driven war galleys. The Goddess disappears. I, along with citizens, am taken prisoner. Then, there is a desire to escape to distant mountains as I am prodded in the back by the blunt end of a spear. The scene changes to Greece. War. Absurdity of Hollywood war movie mentality, vaudeville influence in media.
The final scenes involve art and a person I knew in my Art Department. The person is a friend, Russell, who lived mostly in the "other world" in real life, certainly was deeply influenced by his dreams. He was a body-builder, long-distance swimmer, artist of considerable talent. People thought that he was crazy. He wasn't. There are so many stories about him. He drowned in the ocean a couple years after college. He is for me a call from the "other world," the world of archetypes. The dream is really rather simple. The masculine, feminine dynamic is very strongly indicative of a spiritual initiation, to the service of the earthly divine powers. In the dream, spiritual values are over-run by the militant aggression of "world." General popular values become misplaced and pathetic. Art is academic and elitist; becomes anemic, decadent and disregarded by any serious consideration. Russell is like a call from the other world.
It is now ten years after this dream. I had felt drawn to this island where I was provided a place to meditate and then given an understanding of the dream. This will be reinforced and interpreted later, so let’s move on. Suffice it to say now, that the interior structure of the "problem" and how to meet it is becoming clear bit by bit over a long, long period of time. The archetypal power in the dream of the Goddess and the Sacred King foreshadows the central dynamic of the "problem" to be faced in this story. Take Note. The island itself seemed to provide a place of clarity for this understanding.
There was something about the mountainous plateau of the island that made me want to go to sleep there. It was a bit of an adventure. But the Great Old Man appeared briefly, urgently urged me on.
1. White, KUNDALINI. Introduction.
2. Eliade, SHAMANISM. Foreword.
3. Lila: Game of Being. A board game from India that charts the Vedic cosmology in the form of a dice game that leads one through all stages of Being. The title of a prayer experiment among several priests and lay people meant originally to address world peace. It started by a small gathering that met on the island of Corfu off the coast of Greece. This perhaps was the first step in a journey that led to the disasters associated with that first trip to Yemen.
4. Grace: The Spirit's operation in the world. Divine Energies: The theology of Grace in the Byzantine Hesychasm.
5. Spirit Animal: ...use made by the Spirit of creatures in the biosphere to communicate power. Perhaps these "familiars" are the Deity. Perhaps something else. Perhaps both.
1. "Letter to the Bishop" See note #4, Introduction.
2. Master Lin, my first Tai Chi teacher, at the perfect moment advised me to be "soft" and not to seek after power. He didn't know at the time that I was a priest and that I was just about to have a meeting with you, Bishop. So, inspired by this fine man, I was "soft" when I met with you, Bishop. It was a most successful meeting that gave me this unusual freedom to work Nepsis. For "soft" martial arts also see Ralston, EFFORTLESS POWER. Or, YANG FAMILY SECRET TRANSMISSIONS: "Tai-chi Ch'uan is the art of concealing hardness within softness, like a needle in cotton."(!!!)
3. Now my vision is this. On my left is a realm of darkness associated with the Black Widow. This is a realm of wild power, very great, dangerous. This is the fundamental structure of creation. In the center is the sunlit land and distant mountain with family helping spirits; bear, ape, wild oats and eagle. On the right, is unknowable and amazing opalescent power.
4. Panikkar, R. THE SILENCE OF GOD. "The Buddha's contribution to the intense religious dialogue of his time was Silence."
(See #37, Mother/Son)
Mixed Media 12' x 5' 1988
"Dark Lady" is an image of "chilling" presence, according to some. This work simply presents an essential, though dark element of mystical consciousness. This is a sculptural painting in a series of large partitions, at least two sided, meant to operate on two levels: 1. It represents a means of passage between two ‘worlds.’ 2. It is a spiritually or psychically catalytic object aiding in that passage. It helps effect that shift of consciousness to a specific category of ‘other’ states. See also #37, #70 and #80.
LETTER TO A BISHOP
University of California, Berkeley
Black Horse Arts and Books
COPYRIGHTStephen Frost 2010
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Oil on Canvas 5' x 3' 1987
One who creates and recreates... the one who searches between worlds... Such a shaman/artist/priest/poet/(warrior) explored here is a primordial figure whose personality and cultural function attempts mediation of the affairs of this world with the intentions of the divine spirit or non-temporal world. This figure fights the battle for sentient being.
"...Yoga teaching rejects all fantasy contents and we do the same, but the East does it on quite different grounds. In the East, conceptions and teaching prevail which express the creative fantasy in richest measure; in fact, protection is required against the excess of fantasy. We, on the other hand, look upon fantasy as valueless, subjective day-dreaming. Naturally the figures of the unconscious do not appear as abstractions stripped of all imaginative trappings; on the contrary, they are embedded and interwoven in a web of fantasies of extraordinary variety and bewildering abundance. The East can reject these fantasies because long ago it extracted their essence and condensed it in profound teachings."
THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
"...it takes a priest to see the problem, it takes a sorcerer to solve it."
I CHING #57
I CHING #57
is a 21th Century guide to consciousness. It is a personal encounter with: Shamanism, Buddhism (Yoga), the Hesychasm (Christianity), Contemporary Critical Thought-- (Ph. D. dissertation, Berkeley)... ...and with interstate Hitchhikers in an age of Free Agent, Business Warriors riding their steeds along the precipice of eternity. Rock shards fly, also free, as the war party passes--sparked blithely, we slip clueless into the Abyss.
records the original and spontaneous, sometimes paranormal, pacific rim experiences that set this project in motion. Here flows the kindness of god and the adventure of the road. This record is in the form of a letter from a priest to his bishop, explaining why the bishop should not suspend him.
records a series of intellectual experiments trying to communicate more widely the surprising contents of Part I.
of NEPSIS: LETTER TO A BISHOP continues the account of the original experiences referred to in Part I. Though the experience itself continues in violence and darkness- working its way"to a light that casts no shadow"--The WAYS of Light, so modestly, authentically, and honestly have somehow failed to save us from our arrival at this viciously dangerous, historical moment!
Yet, perhaps there is still a way between...
1. Distant Horizon/Distant Vision I
Oil on Canvas 38" x 28" 1973
This caption about my first cycle of formally successful paintings (#'s1-5) takes its inspiration from the formal set of Tai Chi wherein the martial artist begins in the "void", Wu Chi, moves through a prescribed sequence of precise movements, then returns to the "void" at the end. Each position and movement engages an 'energy', Chi, generated from "nothingness" or Spirit, Shin. This first series of paintings represents a cycle of artistic abstraction, a distillation or coalescence of elements; a model, if you like, that breaks through to new realizations or a new form of being. These paintings suggest 'young, curious, activity gazing at its destiny on the distant empty horizon' and begin a cycle of thematic considerations that 'circles back' many years later in a series of paintings stylistically reminiscent of these earlier works. These paintings lead to other works of mandalic consequence. The material covered inbetween remarks upon a relationship with Surrealist Abstract Expressionism, Christian Icon, Shamanistic Fetish, Tibetan Buddhist Mandalas and the practical worldviews associated with these. These begin the cycle continued by paintings #s 6, 7, 14-22, 84-88, 93-96 in the NEPSIS Master List of Paintings.
The art reproductions included in NEPSIS Letter to a Bishop, treat the same themes as these stories and follow a similar, erring, path of discovery. Along with the NEPSIS Poems and metaphysical practices, these works combine to describe a gestalt worldview.
LETTER TO A BISHOP
-Central topics are introduced and addressed in a letter to a certain Roman Catholic Bishop because providentially, he acted when others were only in a daze.
-A personal and Artistic history of Homo Sapiens Sapiens is begun.
-Art is described as the "lie that tells the truth."
-The method2 is indicated.
-Spheres of influence are defined in a list of technical definitions.
-The author's intentions are declared.
Issues of magic, sex, poison, and violence are topics here only inso far as they can be seen as catalytic agents to the progress of this history. Addressing the "dark" side of personality is fundamental to a healthy psyche. The sexual reference is important to me only as it is able to turn biological cycles and psychology towards a larger vision of Being. The violence and poison themes are useful as they are used to transform leaden religious and secular formulations about the world into the white gold of human realization.
Admittedly, the events recorded in this story are interpreted in an unusual manner. But that yields some high, at times disastrous, as well as colorful, potentially salvific results. It is an interpretation that seems to be the reasonable product of what happened.
Much of this introduction is apologetic and analytical, so a general reader might want to skip to the actual story and then refer back to the definitions and information here, as needed. However, for theological, doctrinal, disciplinary consideration, or just a deep understanding, it is important to read the whole work, including notes and appendices.
When I was in the seminary, Bishop, one of the instructions given us about weddings was that the homily should be delivered specifically to the couple getting married, but delivered so that the congregation will overhear what the priest has to say.3 I bring this up now because it is similar to what I am about to do in telling you this story. I am writing to you, but I want others to "overhear." ...[I've sensed a deep resistance to my perspective that I have tried to explain]4 I continue that explanation here, in much greater detail.
The following reference will introduce the topic:
In the May '87 issue of Smithsonian Magazine an article credits the Biblical account of the Garden of Eden with historical veracity in the sense that it depicts poetically an anthropological reality, a human shift from the relatively natural innocence of "hunters and gatherers" to the "technological" development of agricultural methods and other "civilized" crafts. If we entertain this scenario for a moment we can extrapolate by noting that we are at the other end of the spectrum of human history. If the Fall in Genesis described the human urge to power, to be in control of environment (agriculture), of good and evil (moral order), of life itself; if the Fall described the human urge to reject, or rather to claim the efficacy of the divine power, then we are at the other end of the spectrum of human history, since, now, with the advent of science, we have the powers not only to improve the world materially but to destroy it.(7)
To illustrate how this is effecting the local church, let me give you four examples, two personal and two public. (Also see attached article from the California Catholic Conference publication "Commentary" and end notes for related references.)
1. Last summer I wrote to Bishop … (your predecessor) regarding my grave concern about the issue of child molestation charges brought against one of our priests, Fr. Chris …, especially in light of the hysterical response of the media and some people, how the Church hierarchy handles such situations and how many of us priests know, like, and respect Fr. Chris. My concern for this issue was then and is now ecclesial and twofold:
A) What happens when the human institutions of the Body of Christ make accommodations to reactionary values in our culture rather than reforming those values with salvific courage and insight? Though there are local examples of this (Fr. Chris' case was never presented truthfully in court or press), one significant national illustration is that the National Catholic Conference of Bishops threatens to laisize priests found guilty of such charges. This response not only misses the deeper issue but it sets the tone of accommodation to public hysteria and illogical reaction more in tune with an opportunist press than the healing power of Jesus Christ or the eternal nature of the Catholic priesthood. To threaten a person trapped in such pathology with punishment is similar to telling masochists that you will hurt them if they misbehave. It is counterproductive. It does not address an issue that might have a mostly cultural and psychological root as well as a moral context. I believe this situation results from a soul-sick culture (world-wide) consumed by its own pathology of appetites. This is a contagious disease of material, psychological, and spiritual imbalance that produces a variety of related diseases. Molestation is only one. If we do not act boldly and well in this, there will be more than one bankrupt diocese in this country because the real issue remains unopposed. If we are unable to focus such fundamental issues, then the spiritual bankruptcy in the Church is staggering. I have seen little or no adequate leadership as to the cultural and spiritual roots of this issue or other related issues of sexuality and therefore human identity. Just saying "no" is not enough. There are alternatives.
B) Is Fr. Chris in reality now dismissed? Should not he be here where he may be embraced by the Body of Christ that raised him? Where is he that we may help heal him? Are we a church of sinners inclusive of such or will Fr. Chris in effect be cut off? Is this not a rejection of the Spirit?...
...I understand the difficulty of this situation and sympathize with those who must deal with it officially. But the issues are greater than personalities. Our culture does not allow us to be Christian without the threat of great material loss. The deeper loss is greater without such sacrifice. (But there are very good elements in our culture that would sympathize and support us if we took a more Christian approach. I intend to present such an alternative before the end.)
I did not leave your diocese merely to pursue an academic degree, but I am in this degree program because it allows some greater freedom. Amidst difficult academic demands, the struggle to survive financially, as well as growing pastoral involvement, this program allows flexibility to do what is so apparently God's will in my life.
I have constructed this long letter in order to try to convince you of that necessity and to effect that mission, as you shall see.
Bishop, I realize that my experiential studies of world religions are not the usual interests of a diocesan priest. But in this age of religious dialogue, these interests are pertinent to the mission of religion in the world.5 In fact, there is reason to suspect that information revealed in this study is vital to the success of that mission that I will soon describe.
... I believe in the Sacraments and the priestly capacity for mediation between God and the world.6 This capacity rests waiting for some salvific action to awaken its destiny. This might be the mutation of some protein in an ancient genetic pattern, producing an evolutionary advance or it might be institutional or personal reform.
After/during my training and experience in monasteries and seminary, I conducted several "experiments" that I will describe later at length. But, for now let me mention that one was to test the practical effect of certain devotional and ascetical practices. That "test" brought me into contact with unimaginable darkness as well as light. Another such test was to use abilities and insights thus developed to cure myself of a disease. After that, I tried to extend the healing beyond myself. The experiments were at once universal in their dependence on classical mystical traditions and creatively personal in how they finally worked themselves out. The method of this research is to use one's ‘self’ as the ever present field for investigation of ‘Self’, the universe and God. --------- You will see how that expands to a cosmology as well as expanding global disasters.
I have written up this account as truly as I can, Bishop. Most of it is actual history with reference to pertinent works of my art and poetry since those best describe this developing theory about human personality and the personality of the world. It is a Personal Artistic History of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (...as a Young Man). It is written to display the "Way of the Warrior" as a fundamental definition of the human character and why as a result, the Lord Christ (and the Lord Buddha) is a major step forward in human evolution. It is an "apology" to you because of regret about the troubles it involves and (an explanation) to the world because the world should know these things about itself.
Any history is fiction, because we include what we want to include or what we happen to remember to present the picture we prefer. What I am presenting to you here is not so much an historical account of my activities as it is an explanation of the world-view that has resulted in my actions. This is completely a fiction because "Art is a lie," but it is the kind of fiction that tells the truth better than any history. I, in imitation of a Tai Chi master, go to the "place of the void" and let the "no-thingness" that is there create the resolution of our personality and our "problem." (See note #2.) I use poetry, art, Christian practice, Tantra, Shamanism, and Martial Arts to illustrate the point. The point is about human personality and the "personality" of Being. Therefore, it is religious.8 (One section is a consciously fictionalized rewrite of these same elements, included in the overall framework for purposes inherent and necessary in the history itself. In doing this, I am trying to engage more of the perceptive capacity than just the intellective process which is not sufficient alone to grasp the meaning of this story.)
A friend has noted that "many events in this account can be mis-interpreted, since you do not offer much interpretation... You could be interpreted as a New-age spiritual shopper, a repressed bisexual, an aging Jack Kerouac-style hippie, a would-be magician, a rainmaker kook, a megalomaniac, and God knows what else...."
Bishop, however wrong I might be, such an evaluation as my friend (rightly) thinks possible does not describe what happens in "Nepsis." In order to help you follow more easily the course of this investigation, I supply below some definitions of central words and concepts as I use them in this story. Thus, I will hopefully avoid being dismissed immediately as a "bi-sexual-aging-hippie-kook."
Religion: This story concentrates on two elements in the genesis of religion; [1.] Death and suffering.9 [2.] The mystical intuition of the intimate connection of all things.
This story does not deal critically with religious institutions, traditions, except when unavoidable. Though it does dwell on the basic human curiosity about the nature of things--a religious propensity I believe.
Religion, through history, "bonds" together the sometimes schizophrenically divergent aspects of our experience, especially those vast generalities, the "divine" and the "mundane." It tries to communicate the meaning and value of that experience. To date, this seems to me to be an ironically fragmented effort. Though the religious mission varies in emphasis from tradition to tradition, I believe it to be based on an intuitive sense of the intimate relationship between all things and is a salvific configuration of Being itself. Religion usually tries to overcome the finality of death and suffering. Thus, the nearly universal significance of compassion as a primary spiritual value; the Body of Christ as the model of the Church and the world, the Eucharist; the Buddha Body as the model of ultimate existence [or non-existence].) However, "I am not making propaganda for religions, this is playing with fire."10 I am not dealing with religion as "religions," i.e., institutions, organizations with the usual accouterments of material resources and involvement in the affairs of the world except when religion is a critique of human foibles and formulations, or the traditions of religious practice have informed my story.
Mission: The mission of religion is to gather together the various aspects of our experience into an integrated context of existence, promoting cohesion, salvation, realization, enlightenment, completion. The mission of the Church specifically, I believe, is to deal with the problem of human genius and power as result of the Fall.11 This ancient mythology describes succinctly the central "problem" of our existence. The current, dangerous manifestation of this "problem" in this story is militant, commercial, technology, a cancer in the body and spirit of the world.
Priesthood: The seminal concept of priesthood is a mediatory capacity inherent in creation, in human personality, that facilitates between this world and the world of "divine energies."12 As a symbolic function of personality, priesthood solves the "problem of existence" by connecting absolute meaning with individual life or action. The result is mystical union. As in Tantra, the human personality and body is the locus of divine-mundane integration. The mission of the Catholic priesthood is to focus this mediation on the "problem" of human power and the effects of human genius described in the story of the Fall.13 (See ‘Problem’ below.)
Shamanism focuses the primordial religious matrix to shift into an ecstatic consciousness that appeared in the Stone Age and is still operative in the modern world. It pervades to some degree all religious experience, though the classically "pure" examples of its practice are characterized by: abilities to alter states of consciousness for contemplative, therapeutic, or magical purposes, ecstasy; manipulate heat and cold, that is, the "energies" (Prana and kundalini yoga in India); spiritual guidance (psychopomps), often healers, teachers; and finally, to have mastery over life and death, (resurrection motifs and other-world travel).14 Transsexual experience, psychic or actual, is often part of the Shamanistic quest to transcend dualism in search of the unitary vision and power.15 (See Appendices re: "Shamanism" and "Fire/Energy" metaphor.)
Tantra is the religious phenomenon in both Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism that combines philosophy with esoteric mystical practice.16 Two concepts of major importance to me in Tantric practice are "visualization" and the analogous comparison of the "microcosm" with the "macrocosm." That is, the human body and the Universe.
Visualization, at the heart of Tantric techniques, refers to absolute identification of one's person with the "deity." One visualizes, then becomes the deity. (See Panikkar's definition of deity, note #21, Chapter Five). This is for purposes of worship, empowerment and self-transcendence. If such is possible then anything is possible. It might be interesting for you to compare this with the Church's third century dogma about the "deification" of the believer. The comparison of this state of being and that of the resurrected Christ, body, soul and, spirit in so far as this identifies human potential, is important to this work. The analogy between one's own body, the "microcosm," and the body of the universe, the "macrocosm," carries a similar importance in my eventual practice as you will see. The fundamental techniques particular to Tantric Buddhist practice are: mantra yoga, visualizations, prostrations, mandala offerings, and guru/deity yoga.
Tantra is also known for its interesting, esoteric sexual doctrine. Since according to Buddhist Tantric teaching, if the world is originally pure (void, immaculate), then anything in it might be used as a vehicle by an advanced, altruistically motivated adept as a means to full divine realization, including sexual intercourse. However, tantric sexuality can only be practiced for the union of God and the world. It must be practiced with the celibate's highest intention of contemplation--the great epithalamian gesture, a sacramental marriage of opposite things. If properly practiced, one might regard it in a scientific way wherein the phenomena studied has no more moral content that the probings of a gynecologist. In this process male and female duality is transcended and Godhead is realized. In this process, the male should not ejaculate. But rather use the energies aroused to realize a carefully defined spiritual Bliss and Wisdom that leads to full Enlightenment. I can imagine the potential abuse inherent in such an approach, but the abuses of prudery or clerical legalism about chastity and puritanical tyranny in religious practice also miss the mark and are just as damaging to the salvation of individual and culture.
Daoist Warrior: I am using this rather romantic title to refer to the practitioner of certain Chinese martial arts; Tai Chi, Xing I, Pau Qua. There are venerable traditions of the spiritual warrior in Shamanism, Buddhism, Tantra, and Christianity, but I have chosen to study this specific tradition that specializes in the characteristics of this path. I have chosen the "Way of the Warrior" to be the persona whose development in this work supplies the connective thread throughout because the main action in my story is of battle.
The battle is the battle of "self." As the monk/priest, Fr. Yang, who baptized me said, "the monk goes into the desert to fight demons. That is, the self." Or the aberrations of self. The Dalai Lama expressed a similar wisdom in an interview I had with him fifteen years later. "The real battle is always with the self." The Chinese martial arts have taught me a lot about how to fight. You, Bishop, and others like you, have helped teach me how to fight. I am about to describe what the fight is about.
The Fall from the Garden of Eden depicts poetically an anthropological reality, a human shift from the relatively natural innocence of more primordial "hunters and gatherers" to the technological development of agricultural methods and other civilized crafts.17 To extrapolate from that, if the Fall describes the human urge to self-determination and power, (The snake said to Adam and Eve "you can be gods yourselves if..."); to be in control of environment, of good and evil (morals), genetics, of life itself; if the Fall described the human urge to reject, or rather to claim the power of the divine, then we are at the other end of the spectrum of human history. Since now, with the advent of science and technology, we have the power not only to improve the world materially but to destroy it. The warning in Genesis is for human genius. The answer is the identity of the resurrected human nature, the human being, the living image of the resurrected Christ, the Body of Christ, the Church. Or, from a different vocabulary, ‘the emptiness of inherent existence’ and enlightenment, the Buddha. That is an option to self-destruction. Or...?
TECHNIQUES OF RESOLUTION
Pilgrimage is probably the major "technique" for spiritual transformation and empowerment used in this story. It is discussed later in the text. (pg. 168) Suffice it to say here that pilgrimage is an exterior manifestation of the interior spiritual process. It involves travel, physical activity, mental, visionary, psychic, and devotional aptitudes to effect its intent.
Ritual is probably the other main "technique" described in this work. "Ritual" is a sub-category of liturgy. Liturgy refers to the basic elements of life symbolically18 understood, represented and artfully organized in a formal, public context to effect communion in all things with the "Tremendum," the divine. Other than my celebration of the Mass as a Catholic priest, my rituals are generally private, mostly solitary and sometimes have stretched over months with results that are likewise long term. Often they have taken place in wilderness waste places. Some amazing meteorological and geological disturbances have happened in coincidence to these rituals that seemed to justify, indeed require further investigations as to the nature of such coincidence, as you shall see, Bishop. Once, a shaman told me that the ritual for casting a spell is the same general and classical "ritual" pattern as the structure of the Mass. (Do not be offended, Bishop. What we are dealing with are concepts and patterns. These, sometimes, are profound insights into the fundamental structures of human consciousness, if not the structures of the universe as well.)
Art is the systematic and gifted use of symbols inspired to communicate about the "most real"19 (or anything else for that matter). In traditional art forms such as the Tibetan Mandala, the Byzantine Icon and the Shamanistic fetish, art is metaphor with a specific reference and power that both artist and audience understand. In "Modern" art works, such as those of the Abstract Expressionists, art can be metaphor without reference.20 In other words, experience of such art, is of an immediate and absolute nature, so one need not refer to something further along a chain of understood ideas and metaphors to assign meaning to the experience of the art, but is direct experience of non-time, eternity if you like. Nature does not require an intermediary agent to touch the absolute. "I am nature," said Jackson Pollack21
I have chosen these examples among artistic categories, i.e., Abstract Expressionism, fetish and icon, Bishop, because they have been the catalytic agents in my own artistic development. I have come to regard art production as a process of creating occasions as well as objects of "power" wherein resides a transformative spirit. The connection will be clarified further along in our story. However, this example might be helpful. Among the ancient Celts, to become an artist, (i.e., poet, bard), was the preliminary training before advancing to training as a Druid, wielder of myth and paranormal power and spirit.
I chose to explore religion as an artist, because, among other reasons, so many (not all) of my Art heroes of the modern age ended badly; suicides, alcoholism, insanity, or they were seduced by materialistic values of their patrons in the upper middle class.22 I did not want to end up like that. I thought that these unfortunate "endings" happened because they tried to handle sacred things without the preparation and protection that the ancient wisdoms in some religious traditions provide and because their only support community really preferred middle class values for the most part. In other words, they gazed upon the face of God and died as the result.
Hero: The archetypal figure of the "hero" is one that may be called upon to when needed by persons or cultures to perform paranormal feats in this world and the "other" one. Often, they arise on their own. In this sense, the "hero," or the calling up of an archetype like the "hero," is a technique. In Robert Graves' Greek Myths, a Sacred King/Hero figure is described who at the end of a set period of adulation, was tortured, sacrificed, and thought somehow to have become immortal or divine after that. Sometimes his flesh was eaten and his blood drunk. This complex is the heart of mythic structures in many, even most parts of the world, according to Graves. The figure of such heroes as Herakles ("glory of Hera") is one such sacred king and is characterized by his, sometimes transsexual, relationship in worship of the principal deity, the Goddess. You will see the significance of such a figure as this story unfolds.
The part that dysfunction plays in religious vocation in general is very interesting.23 The hero is usually tragically flawed or fated. In this following story, sexual confusion and migraines supply the grain of sand that produce the pearl.
(List of other archetypal figures referenced: Puer (youth), Old Man, Goddess (light and dark), creative Muse, Hierophant (i.e. shaman, monk, priest, pilgrim, yogi). See story in Chapter Seven of Frost Ph.D. dissertation for Young man and Old Man.)
Bishop, I am exploring some of the main threads of what is available, potent in, 40,000 years evolution in universal human consciousness. Homo Sapiens Sapiens. To do that or to really understand any of this, one cannot just study it or have "an experience" of it. It must be lived. One's personal life must become the laboratory, one's experience of Being the field of investigation. In the process, I have become a Catholic priest and explored employments with a related job description; the Shaman, Hesychast, and Tantrika. I am now studying the ways of the Daoist warrior.24
Needless to say, these are not the memoirs of a saint, pure and unassuming. Rather this story is a "grimoire" of a psychic explorer, in love with the Church and Creation, exploring along the boundaries of what is possible for ordinary human beings.
Bishop, as the Church teaches, I was ordained a priest by the Holy Spirit. According to that teaching I was ontologically changed to effect Christ's mission as a priest. I intend to complete what has been begun in me.
Christ as the Messiah fulfills the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament. Christ as the Lord of all reality, fulfills/completes the yogic and the Tantric intention. Christ as Master of the "energies," life and death, spiritual guide, as ecstasy itself, fulfills the Animist and Shamanistic intuition. (See Eliade) As the Sacred King sacrificed to become immortal not only that earth should be fertile and prosper, but that we all may be saved, Christ fulfills and completes the intuition of the agriculture, fertility cycle religions and breaks through biological cycles to... what? (The practice of Buddhists, yogis, shamans would all be valid and applicable in this discovery, this "Grand Affair.") The Christ is then, from my perspective, the last great step in anthropological evolution,... But that was 2000 years ago.....
This is not a sectarian issue though. It is the issue of human identity and power; it is the religious question.
"Who is it that climbs up on the Cross?"25 Why? Or who is the Buddha, for that matter; (Who is it that can help themselves or anyone)? What is a Shaman? Saint? Sorcerer? Poet? Artist? Scientist? What spell is cast to fulfill the human capacity? And who casts it?26 God? Ourselves? To what end? What is the Warrior (the Artist?) and what does he do? This, Bishop, is what I intend to discover and display for you.
"Who is it that climbs up on the Cross?"25 Why? Or who is the Buddha, for that matter; (Who is it that can help themselves or anyone)? What is a Shaman? Saint? Sorcerer? Poet? Artist? Scientist? What spell is cast to fulfill the human capacity? And who casts it?26 God? Ourselves? To what end? What is the Warrior (the Artist?) and what does he do? This, Bishop, is what I intend to discover and display for you.
4. Distant Horizon/Distant Vision IV
Oil on Canvas 36" x 30" 1973
See caption for "Distant Horizon/Distant Vision I" at the beginning of this Introduction
1. NEPSIS a practice to examine one inner world and thus the whole of creation: a. Nepsis: (From a May 1977 lecture at Immaculate Heart Camaldolese Hermitage, Big Sur, Ca. by Orthodox Bishop Timothy Kallistos Ware, Oxford scholar of Byzantine Christianity.) "To be watchful: 'Nepsis is a New Testament Greek word that indicates both a spiritual state to be obtained and a progress of spiritual discipline to reach that state.'" Fr. Ware referred to the Gospel parable of the maidens, some of whom were prepared with oil in their lamps, waiting for the Lord's arrival and the maidens who were careless, without oil. Those who had prepared the right "attitude" of watchfulness were included in the great festival when the Lord arrived. Those who had to leave the "place of waiting" to obtain oil for their lamps were absent when the Lord arrived and so were left out in the cold. They were left out of the Lord's salvation.
This concept of Nepsis is a good ground for dialogue with other religions, especially contemplative, mystical religions. In Buddhism for instance, the awakening experience is primary progress towards Nirvana. To be watchful in the Christian sense implies that one must first be awake and sober.
Over the years, the concept of Nepsis has become for me the symbol for personal and universal religious evolution. It is for me the warrior's path of awakening to the fundamental issue for sentient beings, the battle for the sentience of Being. Gaining the power, "weapons," and knowledge to fight this battle is the substance of this story.
b. Warrior: My study of warriors started with Casteneda's books about the American Indian Way of Knowledge, in particular, the way of aYaqui shaman warrior, the Nagual Don Juan Matus. See, The Eagle's Gift, note #1, Chapter Five, "Nepsis, Letter to a Bishop " for an abstract of Don Juan's whole schema. My study of similar concepts continued with the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingmapa, a particularly esoteric sect famous in Buddhism. Also, the idea of the Great Monk or Thaumaturge in Byzantine Christian Hesychast practice converses with Shamanistic practice, Yogic categories, and the underlying principles of the internal martial arts of China, which become my final focus for the Way of the Warrior.
Such passive warriors as Jesus or Gautama *(Masters of Chi, by the way, if they truly fulfill the sacred scriptures of the world, broadly the full human inheritance of sacred knowledge,) by fulfilling their Shamanistic roots as Masters of the heat and cold (chi), of ecstasy, of life and death, guide of souls, etc.); such passive warriors suggested a different arsenal for fighting the unavoidable violence of creation: The Peace of Christ, the Silence of the Buddha; Stillness, then perfect, necessary action that wells up spontaneously from the "void" of the Holy. Such action might be best exemplified by the sacred drama of Holy Week, or the Dharma that flows from practice of the Raj Yogas (Buddhist Meditation).
The connecting vocabulary contains such words as: kenosis in Christian circles 'to be empty of self'; Sunyatta in Sanskrit, 'self-abandonment'; Wu Chi in Chinese Internal Martial Arts, the first and last position in the Tai Chi set, the "void."
c. Left Brain-Right Brain: The notion that the left hemisphere of the brain concentrates on logical, informational, analytical data and processes; whereas the right hemisphere experiences the relational, contextual, spiritual, non-rational perception of being, is a convenient, once popular means of talking, not only about how human perception functions within a physiological framework, but the conflict fundamental to human salvation and perhaps survival as becomes evident in this story's progress.
I had the good fortune to converse often and deeply about these topics with Dr. Klaus Hoppe, a psychiatrist at the Hacker Psychiatric Clinic in Los Angeles, and a professor at U.C.L.A. who did some of the early surgical research in this area of left brain-right brain function and communication. See bibliography for some of his publications.
d. Grimore, grimoire, grim: Usually this word refers to a witch's journal of esoteric experiments. The identity of the "witch" is important here, since common reference generally associates witchcraft with satanic worship and evil. The word comes from Old English Wicca which has other derivations such as "wit," "wisdom," "knowledge." The knowledge of the Wicca might be black, white, or various other colors of magic. The Wicca would not be confined to the practice of magic, it would reference a culture's whole cosmology.
2. The Method of this work is lyrical fiction inspired by many scriptures and authors like Casteneda who presents anthropological concepts of the ineffable within a framework freed from mere analytical bias (though not one's own necessarily). This does not imply that I agree or disagree with Casteneda's positions, only that I was impressed with some of what he accomplished in science and literature. Hopefully, I retain accuracy of perception by manipulating the expression of data with the "higher" intention of uncovering "deeper" truths about the integrity of Being and beings. Basically, I present gleanings from other "warrior" traditions in the context of my own psychological, spiritual, and physical experience of the artist, monk, pilgrim, warrior's way. For example, in order as an artist to make art, or a pilgrim to reach God, i.e., the Holy Land, or of the warrior to fight, according to Tai Chi one begins in Wu Chi, or the "void." This "no-thingness" is the beginning and end of all things.
3. Marriage: Epithalamia: A concept that was influential in the Renaissance. It refers to the marriage of opposites, i.e., philosophy and theology back then. For me, it refers to "actual" spirituality of religious dialogue, "mutual fecundation," in particular, the conversation between "natural religions" (Shamanism, Buddhism, etc.) and "revealed religions" (Christianity, Islam, etc.) Finally, for me this epithalamian gesture is the great religious intention of bonding everything together in love, that is recognizing the mystical, and intimate relationship between all things.
4. [Two] letters to the Bishop:
5. I include with that the beliefs of our secular culture and scientific philosophy. Panikkar is a great bridge spanning these vast differences.
6. Catholic priesthood has its roots not only in the Christ, but in the pre-Judaic priesthood of Melquisedek. The implication might be that priesthood is rooted in mythic antiquity, that is, in the evolution of the human quest for meaning.
7. "All About Eve: Biologists Offer a Variation on the Theory of Evolution" Los Angeles Times. December 14, 1987/Part V, pg. 9. "About 200,000 years ago there lived one woman who was a maternal ancestor of every human being living today, a team of biologists has concluded after analyzing special genes in the cells of people from the world's major racial and ethnic groups..." "If you believe in evolution, it's not remarkable to say that we are all descended from a common ancestor. What we've done is find a way to estimate when the most recent common maternal ancestor lived."
8. Being= Everything there is. Panikkar, Gifford Lectures 1989. Religion deals with the bond or relationships within this Body of Being.
9. Death and Suffering- Panikkar once mentioned that funerary rituals are the first evidence there is of religion.
10. From a series of video taped conversations with Panikkar in the spring of 1988: "I am not making propaganda for religion, it's like playing with fire..." "Religion is the best, and religion is the worse; the worse wars, the worse (crimes) are religious."
11. The "Fall" in Genesis in relationship with our own situation. See note #4, paragraph 2, of second letter, pg. 135.
12. Energies. The "Divine Energies" see Meyendorff or Maloney. Compare with Sanskrit Tapas, Prana, and Kundalini; Celtic Sidh; the heat of warrior heroes such as Cuculain and shamans (Eliade); Tibetan Tum-mo; Chinese chi.
13. "Fall", see note #4, paragraph 2 of second letter, pg. 135.
14. Eliade, M. SHAMANISM.
15. Androgen: In the history of religion, with a roughly equal degree of both male and female gender identity, the androgen seems to transcend both and become the spiritual guide between the dualities of the world to a deeper realization and experience. See Zolla's book, ANDROGEN, also, Eliade, Halifax and Long.
16. Tantra: See Appendices from "Interstates, a Dissertation", Nepsis Foundation Table of Contents, Section II.
17. See note #4, paragraph 2 of second letter, pg. 135.
18. Symbol: from the Greek, a bridge that draws together different, even opposing things.
19. Hoffman, Hans. In his essay, "Search for the Real," this artist uses Platonic categories to help describe his intentions about art.
20. "Metaphor Without Reference": Dr. Louis Lancaster, former chair of Oriental Languages, UCB. Modern Art, perhaps Modern ontological thinking as well, is characterized by this aesthetic condition.
21. Pollack: "I am Nature." Jackson's famous response to the Aristotelian notion that "Art reflects Nature." See Landau.
22. Abstract Expressionist artists who ended badly: Pollack (intentional accident?), Gorky, Rothko, others. I believed that these highly influential artists made major breakthroughs in human perception of the "real" and died badly. One cannot stare nakedly at God and survive the view without the filters provided by some traditional value systems. True or not, such has been my intuitive superstition significant here because it was one of my early justifications going to the monastery. (Hoffman survived, perhaps because he was strongly rooted in European tradition and philosophies.)
23. Dysfunction: Some dysfunctions (homoeroticism, migraines, schizophrenia, crucifixion, in this work) as possibly necessary agents for evolution and salvation... in certain circumstances.
24. Taoism: According to Panikkar, Taoism is one of the ‘most profound encounters with the Holy Spirit in the history of religion.’
25. Spell: From archaic English, Spell = word, as in Gospel, God's Word, or the Good Word. A spell in magic and poetry is a "word of power" to effect something; change or Being.
6. 'Dragon Womb'
(Dragon Painting I)
Oil on Canvas 6' x 2.5' 1974- This painting represents a series of many works that stretches over several years. The main formal elements here are the amorphic color and space in counterpoint relationship with hard-edge, linear and geometric embellishments. It is about the relationship between the general context of being and specific experience as open and luminous. This subject might also be likened to the (Hopi) Sipahpuni , the point of emergence from mythic underworlds as well as the physical and psychic wombs, to levels of increasing realization. Thus, this painting indicates secondly, a poignant moment of transition in physical and personal evolution guided by the Dragon Lord, i.e., a salvific, catalytic function of Spirit in Nature; God, if you like, or Grace. (I skirt here the word, "destiny", purposely because of its static, fatalistic qualities.)