Harvest of Gems - Two

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I was under pressure. The deaths of my dad and grand-dad were violently pushing me towards total independence, but I felt I needed to catch my breath. I was a bit disorganized and in a new pressure-cooker with a really challenging, but very unsympathetic guy. Yeah, I was at a flying monastery and there were no walls here. A lot of emotional garbage was coming up. My fears were getting amplified. I needed a direction. This Zen pilot waste no time.

I mean he told me to take off all my clothes except for some shorts and walk in a straight line! It didn't matter where. He told me to leave all my belongings behind and forget who I was and who I thought I was. I mean all opinions and ideas had to go! I was really scared. I mean this guy really meant it! I started walking in circles and he just started laughing. I mean it was really brutal. I was being put through a hoop of fire.

But boy did I get clear really fast. I kind of went deep inside myself to the core of my fear and came out in a different place. I was a lot calmer now. I was doing tantra again and it was a strange Zen version of it. The chaos at the airport was well-suited for this. The Zen guy had a strong aura that disorganized you. I mean I thought it only happened at the movies. But it was happening to me now and I was having a weird kind of satori. I was experiencing a harsh environment and a harsh new vibration. I felt I was disintegrating and that my pieces were spilling all over the place. The Zen guy was pushing me to the brink. I could resist and struggle, or surrender and transform. I mean it was that intense.

My next lesson came pretty quick. We went up for a ride in the guy's ultra-light. I mean we went up in the air in a plane that really had no cock-pit. The flyers were totally exposed to the elements. We went up about five-hundred feet and the Zen guy went into free-fall, but I knew what he was up to and so didn't flinch. We saw some terrified cows run for cover before we turned up and the head-rush was truly incredible. Tantra said: whatever was happening, that's what was happening and so you had to play with it. I was now stuck in Lodi with yet another crazy.

The Zen guy hated to talk about dead-lines and schedules. I mean he just dealt with problems as they came. You could spend your entire life worrying about problems. As far as he was concerned, good and bad were irrelevant. Doing and not doing was the crux. This guy would ask me: " Michael. Do you have a focused mind or a scattered mind today? " I mean this guy really killed me. It's like he was Zorba the Greek with an airplane. It was refreshing and also downright scary. You never knew what this guy was going to do next! I mean he had a daily routine, but it was just that. A routine which he didn't really take seriously. I hated being in my tent, so the Zen guy let me sleep in the hanger. It was quieter. I could kind of doze off without having to hear the trucks on the freeway and the planes taking off at four in the morning. It was a tough existence for a while.

This guy had spent a little time with a very famous Zen master in northern California. He gave me a copy of the master's sayings. I was really impressed. I mean the master kind of echoed what the Zen pilot was saying. It was crucial not to scatter your energies. Put one-hundred percent into whatever you were doing. This was so important. A neurotic and indecisive mind was a scattered mind. I mean you were dead meat. So you really had to focus.

It was time to go deeper into the Theravadan texts. I think I mentioned earlier that there was a south American fellow who wanted to become a monk. Well, this guy had studied the texts for years with the Burmese monk who had often come to San Diego to give retreats. I was interested in this subject and asked him to teach me. I mean this guy was a true-believer. The only way out was NIBBANA. Period! I began to understand why virtue or SILA was so important. I mean if you kept the precepts and refrained from killing, stealing, lying, and having the wrong kind of sex. While also not getting too intoxicated with booze or drugs then you had less remorse in your mind and it was calmer. It was simple matematics. It was easier to concentrate this way. It was easier to get JHANA. And JHANA could be awesome.

I mean if you could absorb an object and expand on it in your mind, then when you removed it from your inner mind and focused on the emptiness left behind by the object. Well, you were on your way to obtaining super-normal powers. The bigger the object, the farther you could send the energy. The act of absorption was like switching off a light. All your senses would be turned off and you would kind of withdraw to this pure mind. This stuff was way out of my league. And I knew it!

The Burmese abbot was this master of the mind. So was his teacher who was now residing in the emptiness realms. They were great guides equal to the Tibetan masters I contacted in my nightly rituals. I mean they knew what I was up to. The vibe was the same. I had a long talk with the abbot. He was usually available on short notice. I mean he spent most of his time in his room. I would consult his attendant and we would then sit on the floor. The abbot's attendant did all the translating. The abbot would just look at me with this intense and penetrating look. I could almost feel his mind entering mine. I saw that it was useless to hide anything from him. I felt he really cared about me with no strings attached. This was pretty rare in my view. I didn't experience this often. There was no horse-trading in the abbot's world.

The abbot told me to keep practicing. My intellectual understanding of impermanence would one day turn into direct experience and then penetration would occur. Penetration was another word for panne. To then see how moment by moment all was fluxing by with no real continuity. It only seemed so and we kind of attached ourselves to this. I mean every moment was kind of individual. That's how you could switch from a negative thought to a positive one quickly. It was all really hairy stuff beyond anything in western psychology that I knew. I mean this was a direct path to purification. Total purification.

The abbot always reminded me not to have doubts about my practice. Not to worry whether my karma was ready to blossom or not. Just to practice. All my losses had been due to some karmic impurity. But deliverance to the monastery meant some nice supportive karma was working in my favor as well. The abbot told me to meditate on my book and to make sure I was transmitting the right view. He wanted my message to have depth and resonance with the truth.

The abbot also felt that constant repetition of the precepts would refrain me from breaking them. This would strengthen my concentration and purify my mind. It was really important not to be hard on myself. If unwholesome thoughts came up, I just had to see them and check them gently. It was important that my mind not get agitated. Well, there certainly was a lot of that! I mean there were a lot of things for my ego to get off on.

It was about this time that the Commies in Russia tried to boot Gorba out. And it was great theatre. I mean I just sat glued to the TV set in the old lady's house. CNN was again on a roll and so was history. The hungry ghosts in the USSR were about to be liberated. I mean they were scared about the future, but they were glad to be out of the hole they had been in for so long. The Lenin dolls were just falling like confetti all over the place. The Commies were on the run and it was great. They had no faith in being. I couldn't resist taping some of this on video.

The Vietnam guy was too busy boozing and the old lady was too busy getting on Jim's case. I mean every other day these guys were pissing each other off. The karmic sludge was being brought up to boil. Jim loved to mix milk and Coca Cola and down bucketfuls of this stuff. I tried some of this stuff and got sick. The Vietnam guy would then cook up one mean pesto. We were all dancing at the edge of he abyss, but we were having just too much fun to worry about it. I mean who really cared? I sure didn't.

The cops were coming with their eviction notices and the witch kept on calling and barfing on us. I mean I got a really nasty letter from her and I just flushed it down the toilet. I didn't really need this. Lotus pond was sinking. I was getting ready to chopper out and I felt really sad. I mean I really loved Jim. He had really made a mess of his life, but he sure knew his tantra and the dogs were now finally closing in.

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