Questions from Stacie: Part 2

1.) Do you think all children should be exposed to some sort of organized religion to help form their moral compass?

I don’t know much about child-rearing, so I really can’t say. Religions in general can  be a mixed bag of nuts when it comes to imposing their particular “moral compass” on others. Though generally I think it’s good to expose children to religion. At some point later in life most of us start asking the religious questions: “Why are we here? What is this life all about?” And religion is a good starting point for investigating into these questions.

2.) What effect does religion have on your daily life today?

Not much, I consider myself as a spiritual person, more so than a member of any particular religion.

3.) Are there any negative aspects of religion that have affected you in the past or that affect you now?

When I was in college, my roommate — who was a pot-smoking, guitarist in a KISS cover-band — suddenly became a Born Again Christian, cut off his hair, and spent the next semester tormenting me that I was going to Hell if I didn’t renounce Satan and give my life to Jesus.  So that was annoying.  Other than that, I can’t think of religion impacting on my life one way or another.

Questions from Stacie

1) Do you consider yourself religious, spiritual, or any other creative source?

I’ve always considered my life a spiritual quest. I’m a seeker by nature. At times I’ve felt like I was gaining hard-fought spiritual wisdom. While at other times I’ve felt like a spiritual cripple.  I’ve checked out most of the world’s religions. But don’t belong to any of them. Practiced yoga and meditation for many years. But I suppose those would be considered more as a form of spiritual science than as a religion. I’ve probably most been influenced by Vedanta and Hinduism.

2) Have you ever had a religious or spiritual experience so intense it changed the way you feel about the universe that you’d like to share?

When I was 19 I was heavily into LSD and Alan Watts and books about Zen. And at one point, peaking on acid, I had what I considered to be a pretty intense mystical experience. Experiencing God, experiencing myself as a manifestation of God, experiencing Oneness with God, Oneness with the Universe. I transcended my individual identity and experienced my Universal identity. Though later I came to question the authenticity of the experience. And to question the validity of psychedelics as a spiritual tool . . . .  My spiritual life sort of hit a dead-end after awhile, and was dormant for many years. Until I was 40 and a friend of mine gave me for a Christmas present a copy of this book by Swami Muktananda — an Indian guru — titled “Where Are You Going?” (good question) And I had an instantaneous “Shakti” experience just from looking at the photo of Muktananda in the book. “Shakti” is the experience when an enlightened spiritual master directly transmits his divine spiritual energy into a devotee. It’s like the ultimate “contact high.”  Where the guru gives you a taste of his Divine state. That experience kick-started a renewed interest in my spiritual development. And I would spend the next 7 years reading all of Muktananda’s books and practicing daily kundalini yoga meditation and mantra repetition. And I had many spiritual experiences from those practices.

3) What do you think happens when you die? If you believe in heaven do you think there are certain criteria that must be met to be worthy? Do you believe in redemption?

I believe in reincarnation. That we all go through many lifetimes — as a process of purifying ourselves. Until we ultimately reach the highest state and merge with God. Though the mystics regularly point out that in fact we’re already one with God, even though most of us haven’t realized that fact yet.

4) Do you believe that objects like crystals, symbols like tarot or ouija, have any power?

I believe that different objects, and places, can be blessed as well as haunted or cursed. There is spiritual power emanating from all the points of this universe of ours. Personally, I’m not very familiar with crystals, tarot or ouija, so can’t really comment about that.

5) Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

One of the unusual — and dangerous — side effects of practicing kundalini yoga is that as you get more advanced into it, you start to gain these occult powers. The powers are along the lines of “whatever you think will manifest.” The more purified and powerful your mind gets from the yoga, the more you’re able to make things happen simply by willing them to be. Which can get you into all sorts of trouble if you start using these powers. Especially in the early stages. Because you’re like a baby who has been given this extremely powerful (and volatile) toy to play around with. And I severely retarded my spiritual development because I couldn’t resist indulging on the occult level.

6) How do you think all this was created? Big bang, evolution, a higher power?Does your personal belief system help you act with higher standards of morals and behaviors? Was your first exposure to religion a positive one, or was it used as a judgment with unreachable standards or harsh punishment?

I believe God created this entire Universe in a blink of an eye, primarily for sport, for His own amusement and cosmic kicks. And one day God will blink his eye again and dissolve this entire Universe back to nothingness. And that the entire Universe is nothing less than the body of God Himself.

7) Do you think there’s only one “Right and true religion?” Can an atheist have a conscience and similar high moral integrity without religious rules or the punishment of purgatory, or hell?If you do believe in an afterlife or higher power, when did you first find your faith? Have you had more than one religion that you Identified with? Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

I think most of the world religions have something of value to offer. Different people feel comfortable with different religions depending on their temperament and cultural background. But there’s a common mystical thread that runs through most of them. And that’s the primary facet of religion that has always interested me. I started out primarily interested in Zen Buddhism (the satori experience) and Taoism. But was later drawn primarily to Vedanta.

I appreciate your questions. Spirituality isn’t something I talk about very much. It’s a personal thing with me. And not always easy to communicate with others about. And like I said, I primarily consider myself a spiritual seeker. So it’s not really my place to be a spiritual talker or teacher.

On turning 58

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Alan Watts, possibly considering publishing a new book, “The Drunken Cosmology.”

This might sound stupid (I thought I’d give that stupidity thing a whirl and see if it works for me).  But one of my last remaining goals in life was to make it to 58.   Two of the acid heroes of my youth — Alan Watts and George Harrison —  both kicked the bucket at 58.  Both of whom I would later come to have decidedly mixed feelings about.  So it was important to me (for some stupid reason) to out-live both of them.

Alan Watts was pretty much a wasted-away, old man alcoholic by age 58.  In between writing all those books about how we could attain the higher states of consciousness, ole’ Al failed to mention that one of his favorite techniques, personally, was to pound endless fifths of straight vodka.

The famous Indian philosopher Krishnamurti used to go on tirades about Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley back in the ’60s.  He blamed them, rightly or wrongly, for helping to lead an entire generation astray with their books that linked psychedelic drugs to spiritual wisdom.  And he held them partially accountable for the Drug Epidemic that swept across America in the wake of the ’60s.

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The Beatles, grooving at one of those famous ’60s LSD parties.

George Harrison, along with them other Beatles, was another one who greatly popularized the notion of LSD to a generation of youth.  People forget, in 1965 and 1966, the Beatles had an audience primarily of millions of prepubescent little kids.  Then, just a year later, they’re singing songs exstoling  the magical (as well as mystical and mysterious) virtues of LSD.  I remember as a 10 year old boy watching the Beatles Saturday Morning Cartoon Show,  and there were the cartoon Lads, singing “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  The lyrics taken practically word-for-word from Dr. Timothy Leary’s “The Psychedelic Experience”  — which he wrote as a How-To-Take-An-LSD-Trip guide.  Which is exactly how John Lennon intended the song . . . .   Nowadays, we’ve banned the Joe Camel cartoon character out of concern that it might influence children to smoke Camel cigarettes.  And yet, very little consideration was given to the potentially tragic aspects of the Beatles singing their LSD hymns to an audience of millions of kiddies.

After John Lennon’s murder in 1980 (by a guy my age who went nuts partially from gobbling down LSD by the handful back when he was a budding 14-year–old Beatlemaniac grooving to the Magical Mystery trip) George Harrison famously opined:  “This would have never happened if John had stayed in England.”  Shortly after, another Beatles-obsessed nut came within inches of murdering George in his English mansion.  Which no doubt contributed to George’s premature demise at age 58.

And me?  Somehow I’ve bucked the odds just to still be walking on two legs on God’s green earth at age 58.  Considering some of the demographics I’ve been in over the years — smoker, drinker, druggie, starving artist, long-time homeless — my life expectancy probably should have been around 40.

And if anybody just wants to write this rant off as, Sour Turd Blames Famous Celebrities For His Own Degenerate Drug Use, there’s probably more than an element of truth in that, too.

 

The Secret Life of Carlos Castaneda

Coyote with rodent meal

Because she was one of them, a lot of the information about the women in Castaneda’s life (and bed) comes from Amy Wallace’s book, Sorcerer’s Apprentice. More comes from an enormously comprehensive website, Sustained Action,  created by Richard Jennings (aka Corey Donovan), who attended quite a few of the classes given by Carlos Castaneda. In a piece called “Sex, Lies and Guru Ploys,” he says,

It was also suggested… that this teacher’s “special powers” included the ability to accelerate the development of similar abilities in his “students,” and that he could even “fix” various “energetic” problems, holes and obstacles, especially in women, through what would be described in other contexts as casual sex.

Daniel Lawton, who attended classes in Los Angeles, noted that Castaneda was homophobic, which was obvious when he talked about such other teachers as Baba Ram Dass. Lawton gave it the standard interpretation: a man fighting his own latent homoerotic tendency, and said,

He required the women in his life to transform themselves into little boys. Their hair had to be short, their breasts hidden, and he didn’t like make-up.

Wallace offers this detail:

Carlos led a vast number of readers to follow his first dreaming exercise, to search for their hands in their sleep. (“It was really my penis don Juan told me to find,” he explained, “But my publisher wouldn’t let me say that.”)

Castaneda’s claim of being celibate for 20 years or whatever, forget it. He was always on the prowl. He surrounded himself with a cadre of women who taught his classes, handled his business affairs, disciplined the lesser disciples, managed his household, and considered it an honor to bonk him. One of his inner circle had been in the harem of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. They enabled his dictatorial ways and suffered enormous stress loads that often morphed into physical illnesses.

Theories

According to Castaneda, there are two kinds of people. A “bored fuck” is someone whose mother was not orgasmic, in association with that particular act. The consequence to the child: When he or she grows up, he or she must be celibate in order to follow the warrior/shaman path. On the other hand, a “non-bored fuck” is, obviously, someone whose mother was sexually satisfied on the occasion of conception. Anyone who started out as a “non-bored fuck” is born with plenty of energy. So when they grow up, they can have all the sex they want.

Any time he met someone, Castaneda had the power to suss out whether that person was a bored fuck or a non-bored fuck. By a strange happenstance, only the nagual himself and very, very few other people were entitled to have sex. He was openly judgmental of a woman guru who admitted to having an erotic life.

If a woman had sex with the nagual (Castaneda), his sperm would reach her brain, and alter it into something superior to human. Also, any other man she had sex with in the future would receive magical benefits of unimaginable quality. But – none of these women were expected to be having sex with other men in the future. On the contrary: the boss wanted them all to be eternally faithful to him. So, in practical terms, no one should have a chance to test out whether, like the flu, those magical benefits could be passed around.

There are creatures who have evil intentions toward us. They are known as fliers. A human baby girl is born with a horizontal bar of energy, which the fliers immediately take a big bite from. This wound could only be repaired by – you guessed it – having sex with Carlos Castaneda. Amy Wallace wrote,

More often than not, Carlos and I made love with such ardor that we wore one another out. These were the happiest moments in my nine years in the sorcerers’ world.

His euphemisms for sex included “shamanic penetration,” “implanting the nagual,” or “repairing the energy bar.” It would all be kind of cute, if not for the fact that Castaneda publicly proclaimed his own renunciation of sex. He demanded celibacy of his followers, unless of course it was the nagual they were being uncelibate with. He didn’t think much of stoned sex, either. At one of the “Cleargreen Night Sessions” where Corey Donovan took notes, Castaneda told the class,

People who smoke a lot of marijuana don’t make good lovers. The father of a friend of mine in school did a study on it and concluded that because it makes their knees and elbows weak, they just lie flat on top of the woman and smother her.

Sexbots

One of Castaneda’s control methods was to personally give the haircuts. If someone was out of favor, he would refuse to cut her hair, nor was anyone else allowed to cut it. So, among the harem, a shaggy head of hair was a badge of shame. But brownie points could be earned by bringing in fresh women, a disturbingly recurring item in the agendas of quite a few professional holy men. When the nagual eventually tired of a bedmate, she’d be assigned to find somebody new for him. Amy Wallace uses the word pimping, and she’s not talking about a fancy background for her MySpace page.

Castaneda had a great pickup line. “You’re the Electric Warrior,” he told Wallace and, as she later learned, others. Just put yourself in their place for a minute. The great man transforms your meeting into an event of cosmic significance. He reveals your true essence. You are a mythical, messianic entity, the one who will complete the magic circle, the team of otherworldly superheroes. The great man says, “You’re the being we’ve been waiting for – the creature to guide us to Infinity.” Who could resist?

In a Sustained Action discussion group, a woman described how she was approached. First, at a class, Castaneda whispered in her ear, “You have very good energy.” Then, one of his staff called her with an invitation to secret, private classes, where she was placed in the front row directly facing Castaneda. She was called again, by one of the inner circle women, with a request from Castaneda – may he call her at home? She was asked for the day and time of her birth, so the witches could cast her astrological chart. Castaneda himself told her that, through astrology, he had discovered that she was significant to his group and his cause.

Castaneda’s objectification of women was dictatorial. Amy Wallace wrote,

Taisha had spent years with Carlos’ favorite electrolysist, removing all body hair…..He dispatched me to Faye to create a perfect bikini line…. He insisted it was magically critical that I shave my pubic hair in certain ways – his directions altered over time. Carlos insisted, “This is of the utmost sorceric importance – you must shave the lower half of your conchita; it will allow the energy to flow smoothly, and make you less human.”

Wallace was given the unusual privilege of wearing shorter skirts and higher heels than the others, and Castaneda gave her the additional nicknames of Piernitas (little legs) and Piernudas (little nude legs).

Carlos Castaneda and Alan Watts

The sorcerer spoke bitterly of the traumatic occasion when he met Alan Watts, who got “stinking drunk,” and whose impiety so horrified Castaneda that he told Wallace,

He was crude, cynical about spirituality, even sneering at his own books, books I had practically memorized!

Disillusionment with his hero’s ugly attitude was only the beginning, to be followed by undignified ass-grabbing. When the two men were climbing a staircase, Castaneda said, “he made a pass at my culo!”

Did Castaneda ever apply that lesson to his own doings? When he worked his mojo to bring various women under his erotic thralldom, did he ever recall his own horrified reaction to a sexual advance? Did it ever occur to him that a young woman might find him just as unappealing as he had found Watts?

Carlos Castaneda and Alan Watts

Amy Wallace’s book Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Between those covers lie many interesting tales. She relates the generally homophobic Castaneda’s disgust at learning that Alan Watts was gay. Watts had been his hero, and Castaneda was just crushed to learn the truth. Even worse, when the two men were climbing a staircase, Castaneda said, “he made a pass at my culo!”

And playing grabass wasn’t the worst of it. Watts got “stinking drunk” and horrified Castaneda with his impiety. These are Castaneda’s words about Watts, as reported by Wallace:

He was crude, cynical about spirituality, even sneering at his own books, books I had practically memorized! But worst of all was hearing Watts, my hero, declare “Of course we can never live up to the behavior we admire – that’s the beauty of it!”

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What movies and music did Carlos Castaneda like?