the Wanderling

"Although most who know of or speak of Shambhala agree that to reach the mystic hermitage requires spiritual powers and not material means, the commonly regarded view of the need to 'fly' to do so, although it should not be discounted, is in contrast to many Tibeten legends and my own experience.

"I was left outside the ruins of a somewhat ancient dilapidated monastery perched precariously high up on the side of some steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. And there I sat. People from the village some distance below would come by to look at me or leave me water and food on occasion. Kids threw rocks at me, dogs pissed on me. After awhile someone gave me a blanket to wrap myself up with, but still I sat. Days, weeks went by.

"One day when some monks came out of the ruins I got up and followed them into the fields hoping to pull something, anything, out of the ground to eat. They didn't stop at any fields but continued on, I just didn't have the strength to keep up with them over any distance. However, when they returned a short time later, I returned, entering the monastery in a single file line right along with them. In doing so, as a double set of rough hewn wooden doors, which hadn't been there previously, closed behind me, I suddenly found myself inside of a fully functional Zen monastery."


Anyone who finds themselves pursuing a casual to serious interest in Buddhism and Zen, especially so those seeking insights into spiritual Enlightenment a la Buddha and any relationship that exists thereof, it isn't long before they come face-to-face with some of the more esoteric aspects found in both religions, such as, for example, the super-normal perceptual states known as Siddhis or the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la.

Even though Buddhism and Zen are found to be deeply seeped in both concepts, i.e., the mysterious hermitage beyond time and Siddhis, most people along the path, especially those with a strong western background, who encounter one or the other or both, although they may like the idea, are usually uncomfortable with a formal acceptance of any possibility of reality for either, and quickly relegate or disregard such ideas into areas of forced silence. Silence or no, because of that like, people still want to know does Shangri-la exist? Is Shangri-la real? Where is Shangri-la located? What of Shambhala and Gyanganj?

In breaking that silence, the following touches up against answers to all those questions, regarding both the mysterious hermitage and Siddhis:

From his Enlightenment forward, the Buddha, as part of his teaching method, presented his deeply held spiritual and philosophical concepts to those so interested through the use of comparisons, allegories, similes, and metaphors. The following is presented in the same comparison, allegory, simile, and metaphor fashion for the same reasons.

So said, to go beyond a mere semblance of a response to an answer deeply permeated in the core realities of Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la, we first have to slip back to a point in time when I was a young boy. Originally, I was not a man of the east, nor as a young boy was I seeped in things of the east. Although I was taken to India at an early age I was born in America and, even though I was in India long enough to miss many months of school, I was still otherwise, raised in America as an American boy pure and simple, hence my early childhood is tinged with reminisces and things from that background.

Somewhere in my writings I state that my Buck Rogers U-235 Atomic Pistol circa 1946, was one of the few things I still have from my childhood. Then, in comparison to having a toy ray gun as a kid, I go on to say that a mere ten years later, circa 1956, everything started to circulate around what I was able to squeeze out of the just published book ZEN BUDDHISM: Selected Writings of D.T Suzuki. That book, once so sacred and heralded by me, after languishing unread nor seeing the light of day for 20 years or more, was found in a taped up box with a ton of other books stashed away in a darkened cobweb infested corner of my younger brother's attic. My brother, after returning the book to me, reminded me how I used to carry it around like a bible my last year of high school and several years afterward. And it looked it too. Pages were faded and worn. Corner after corner folded down in little bookmarks. Pencil notes all over the margins and inside the covers. Sentences underlined in ink. Whole paragraphs were highlighted in yellow. My brother said anytime anybody said anything about anything out would come my book...always ready with a 'Zen answer.'(see)

Up until the START of high school the only real possessions I dragged about with me in a continuing fashion throughout my childhood and in good order, other than the U-235 Atomic Pistol, was a collection of Ovaltine jar-top offers called Captain Midnight decoders. Although I eventually collected all of them up through 1949, my favorite was the 1942-1944 Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph. As a promotional item Code-O-Graphs were designed to be replaced one after the other year after year to keep the user buying Ovaltine. However, during the war, because of the shortage of metal, after the initial release of the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, instead of being replaced by a new one within a year, their use was extended over the entire duration of the war, the only one of the Code-O-Graphs that was, and just at the time I was being impacted by them. Thus, for most of my childhood Code-O-Graph life, as fate or karma would have it, I just needed to own and learn the use of only one single type --- something I became very, very adept at.

Although most of the people are gone now from those early days who knew me when I was a young boy growing up, those who were close remembered well when I received my first Captain Midnight decoder badge. It was a Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph I sort of misappropriated from my older brother. I did so first without his knowledge, then without his approval, leaving him stuck with the old previous model, albeit the first in the series, a 1941 Mystery Dial Code-O-Graph. Once I got my hands on the Photo-Matic, not only would I not give it up, for years afterwards hardly anyone ever saw me without it. They say me listening to Captain Midnight and deciphering his Secret Squadron messages all the while coveting the decoder for myself raised a huge inter-sibling calamity and fuss in the family. But my mother, seeing that using the decoder required dealing with letters and numbers, and me willingly learning them at such an early age, bought a bunch of Ovaltine and sent for another decoder so both my brother and I would have one. The recognition of the importance and the learning aspect of it all is one of the few fond memories I have of my mother prior to her death a couple of years later --- and of which, along with the addition of the extended life of the Photo-Matic decoder through to the end of the war --- had a major impact on the importance of decoders on me starting so early in my life. As for the second decoder, the one ordered by my mother for my older brother, no sooner had he obtained it than he lost interest, eventually surgically disassembling it into as many pieces as he could. The last I saw anything of it, the main body of his decoder had been smashed totally flat after having been run over by my dad backing the car out of the driveway.

During those years from my early childhood up to high school, because of the death of my mother and the breakup of my family, I moved so much I was unable to haul a lot of stuff around with me from place to place, especially big stuff like bicycles, books, and desks.[1] With so much of my life in flux month to month, year to year, the regular listening to Captain Midnight on the radio and decoding secret messages, provided me with a strong, solid continuance and lifeline in an otherwise tumultuous world. People and families seemed to come and go, Captain Midnight seemed to stay. So said, my collection of decoders eventually floated to the top to be my number one possessions. To show how important it all was not only just to me, but to so many, the following is found at the source so cited:

"Secret codes were the hallmark of the radio show and with coded messages being worked into storylines that only members could figure out, decoders soon became all the rage.

"Kids would listen to the program for a Master Code Combination, set their dials accordingly, and then keep track of each code number given by the announcer. Then, they could find the code numbers on their badge, and write down the corresponding letters. Pretty soon, the message would be revealed."(source)

However, even though I coveted the decoders closely as being the most important things I owned, my favorite, the aforementioned Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, for reasons unknown to me at the time, ended up mysteriously missing from the rest of my collection by the time I reached high school --- the missing of which you will eventually come to find out ended up directly related to the mysterious hermitage of Shambhala. In the meantime in my life, with my uncle (see below) having since returned to Santa Fe by then, combined with the demise of respected adult supervision following his departure --- all the while lining up with the specter of girls and cars looming ever larger on the horizon, Captain Midnight and similar such things that had been on a downward trajectory anyway, faded readily away from my day-to-day priorities. But, not so codes.

Throughout a good portion of my early to mid childhood years I fell under the direct supervision of my Uncle. During that period the two of us had been overseen even higher up by the ever watchful eye of my Stepmother. It was she who picked up the tab on all of our expenses and adventures. It was she who gave the final yes or no to any wild scheme my uncle or I cooked up. And it was she who had the power and ability to pull the strings to get us out of anything of an undue nature we may have accidently got caught up in. All of which came crashing down when, for reasons unknown to me, my dad and she decided to call it quits and divorce.

Decision or no, I had not seen either of them since they returned from a two year sojourn to Mexico and South America and/or their divorce. Nor did I know where they were. Then one day, sometime late in the spring of 1952 and completely unannounced, my dad showed up to see my younger brother and me at the home of the foster couple where we were staying. The woman of the couple had at one time worked for my stepmother, or at least for a friend of my stepmother named Brenda Allen, and had also been at one time, I have been told, in love with my father. As I recall she and my dad seemed to have spent more time behind closed doors together that day than he did with either my brother or me. When my dad and I did talk and I asked him as to the whereabouts of my stepmother, or ex-stepmother as the case may be, he told me the last he heard she was in the desert trying to work out some business deal with an old associate of hers, the famed aviatrix and stunt pilot Pancho Barnes.

Even though I knew who Pancho Barnes was I had never met her personally, although a few years before I came really close. It was then my older brother and first cousin, barely into their teens, hopped a freight train on the Southern Pacific mainline that ran right by our ranch. They ended up 500 miles away in the middle of the night in the Sacramento switchyard in the clutches of a railroad bull. To get them home safely, which I outline more thoroughly in Riding the Cab Forwards, my stepmother recruited the help of Pancho Barnes who had a pilot fly my uncle to Sacramento out of one of three airstrips on her ranch to get them. In him doing so I tagged along.

Partly related to my stepmother's genuine concerns for my brothers and me, no sooner had my dad left than, seemingly driven by an overwhelming need, desire, or just plain want to see my stepmother, I started plotting on how to connect up with her. Because of the excursion with my uncle to Sacramento having left from the ranch of Pancho Barnes, I knew both of her and where she lived. All I had to do was get there. I started saving every cent I could get my hands on, both legally through working and my allowance, as well as what might be considered by some as being somewhat more iniquitous in fashion. About a month after school was out for the summer I had accumulated enough money for a Greyhound ticket to the then little desert town of Palmdale which I knew wasn't far from Pancho's. Without anybody's knowledge or approval I gathered up a few things and using the cover story of going to a friend's house for the day, I left.

However, when I got to Palmdale I discovered I was miles and miles from Pancho Barnes' ranch. On a map it all looked fairly straight forward but it wasn't like you could hop in a cab to get out there --- and even if you could it would have cost a small fortune, something I didn't have. Knowing better than to get caught I began keeping a low profile until I could figure something out. When my brothers and I lived on a ranch nearby a year or so before we went to school in town. One of my best friends at the time, although it wasn't as reciprocal at the level as I would have liked, was a girl named Ann Welch, who just happened to be not only the smartest kid, but the best looking girl in the whole school as well. Her father owned and ran the only drive-in restaurant in town, matter of fact, the only drive-in for miles around, Welch's Drive In. I thought I could go by his place, tell him my tale of woe and possibly bum a free meal. The only thing is, I wasn't sure if he would remember me or be willing to assist me in finding my stepmother, or if, because I was basically a runaway, turn me over to the authorities.

The same was true of the only other person I could think of that I knew in town, the owner of the drug store where I used to buy comic books. The reason I knew he would remember me is because one day, when nobody was looking and not having the money to pay for it, in a complete betrayal of all the precepts I learned and practiced relative to the Cowboy Code of the West, I stuffed a comic book I wanted under my shirt and walked out. My uncle, after learning what I did, made me go back, return the book, apologize, and work it off most of the day Saturday around the drug store cleaning up and doing odd jobs. At the end of the day, as I was leaving, all worn out and dirty, the owner thanked my uncle, then turning to me handed me the comic book. I clearly remember the events of that day and the comic book right up to this moment, the comic book being Captain Marvel Adventures, Number 97, June of 1949.(see) However, now that I was back a second time I wasn't sure what the drug store owner's response would be if he knew I was a run away.

Late in the afternoon and still thinking about what I should do next I began petting a horse sticking it's nose and a good part of it's head out of a small opening of an enclosed trailer parked in front of a café along the highway that formed the main drag through Palmdale. No sooner had I touched the horse's nose and reached down to scoop a handful of molasses and oats feed to eat than man in a cowboy hat came out of the café and told me to get away from his horses. Then he stopped and looked at me and said he knew me, that I used to live with a bunch of kids on a ranch not far away a few years ago. He said he remembered me specifically because he was at the ranch one day delivering some irrigation pipes or something and I had a pistol with me as long as my leg. When he asked one of the ranch hands helping to unload pipes about it he said it was a genuine 1847 Colt Walker. Even though I didn't recognize the man in the cowboy hat per se' I told him he was right, I did have the pistol with me once in awhile, albeit, in that it was a black powder revolver and since nobody knew how to load it, it was never loaded.[2] Wanting to know what I was doing up in the high desert by myself, as he knew the ranch was shut down or sold, I told him I was trying to get to my 'mother' who was supposed to be at Pancho Barnes' ranch and Palmdale was as far as I got. He asked if I had any money and I told him no, but I was sure either my 'mother' or Pancho Barnes would make it well worth his while if he took me there.

Knowing that both my stepmother and Pancho Barnes were 'rich,' seeing dollar signs and showing an excessive interest in the Colt, the man suddenly became my best friend. He told me he had to deliver the horses by sunrise the next morning to a place way out in the desert north of Adelanto near where Highway 395 and the 58 cross, but after that he could take me to Pancho's which was basically due west across the desert from there. With that I helped him get the horses out of the trailer and walk them around a little and give them fresh water. After loading them back up he got gas, a six pack of beer or two and about dusk we took off heading east across the desert all the while him continuing to swig beer. It was apparent he knew the roads because even in the dark he would drive east for awhile then turn north, then turn east. After a couple of times, all the while drinking one beer after the other since we left the gas station, than his driving began to get more and more erratic. The truck began to weave with the trailer exaggerating it even more. Eventually the front tire on the passenger side went up and over the graded gravel berm marking the edge of the road with the truck tipping heavily toward the right. With that the passenger side door swung open and I found myself clinging for my life onto the wide open door, with my upper half stretched out over the air and the bottom half still in the cab. Just as the driver began to swerve back over the berm and onto the road, with the truck precariously tipped on the two right side wheels, I tumbled to the ground. With the sudden swerve, the truck, being twisted level by the trailer, dropped down on both rear drive wheels across the berm and suddenly shot away from me going out of control and flipping over on the driver's side. The trailer, which had been twisting all over, came loose, albeit staying upright and missing me, while the truck continued to skid along seemingly in ultra slow motion creating an on and off stream of sparks over the rocks and small boulders until coming to a halt diagonally across the road against some Joshua tree. Then, with the dust settling through the light from the still on headlights the engine quit running, the tires stopped spinning and everything around me got engulfed in an oppressive quiet.

Next thing I knew I was in the glare of another set of headlights, this time head-on, with someone slightly shaking me, offering me water from a tin cup and asking me if I was all right. The man shaking me was a Native American and one of a group of three traveling in two vehicles that came upon the wreck and began lending assistance. The man shaking me said the driver was in pretty bad shape and one of his companions was taking him to the hospital and wanted to know, after stumbling across me laying face down in the dirt and seeing I was still alive, if I needed medical attention as well. I said I was OK so, after he checked me over himself and not finding any blood or broken bones, he waved the headlight glaring vehicle to take off leaving us in the stark darkness of the desert night. He told me the horses had freed themselves from the trailer and taken off but another friend was trying to catch them before they hurt themselves in the dark.

The truck had flipped over and skidded along it's side in the middle of the night on what was then a nothing but a desert dirt road about a half mile in an absolute direct line due west of a 3,163-foot-high rock outcropping rising up off the desert floor called Piute Butte. As I got up trying to walk off some of the aches and pains after being thrust from the truck someone on top of the butte began flashing a light in our direction. No sooner had the light hit us than the man with me, using a flashlight from his truck, signaled back. He told me it was most likely his friend and that he was going to drive as close as he could to the butte to see if he had the horses or needed any help. I got in on the passenger side and after some distance of travel over some rather rough terrain we stopped and got out circling around on foot in the dark to the top where his friend was. His friend said he had hobbled the horses the best he could a little way down on the other side but it was too dark to lead them back to the road. His suggestion was since it was so late at night we should just hole up and wait for sunrise. We sought shelter from the wind in the rocks and made a small fire. The Indians told me the butte was both a sacred place and haunted and we shouldn't be there, but both felt since we were only trying to help assist in the horses' overall well being and not violating the butte for personal gain or profit that the spirits would not be mad or upset.

I bundled up against the boulders out of the wind in the dark as best I could on what turned out to be the morning of the new moon day, Monday, July 21, 1952. Which wouldn't matter much except for the fact that at 4:52 AM in the twilight hours just before sunrise, as history would tell us later, several miles to the west of Piute Butte on what is called the White Wolf Fault and centered near the lower Sierra town of Tehachapi, which you could almost see on a clear day from the butte, the most powerful earthquake to hit Southern California in the 20th century and the largest in the nation since San Francisco's in 1906 hit. Just before the earthquake the two Native Americans had awakened after hearing the horses make a big fuss. When I got up the two Indians were standing high up on the butte facing west toward where the foothills of the Sierras should be in the darkness and I joined them. Seconds before the earthquake a dull low-lying flash of light emanated along the crest of the distant mountains outlining the top of their upper shape. Then a few moments later the earthquake hit, sounding all the same like a huge giant tree limb suddenly snapping or exploding with the ground rocking and shaking and knocking me off the boulder where I stood. Then quiet as the quake-waves rippled out across the Earth's crust beyond us eastward, gradually dissipating its power hundreds and hundreds of miles away after leaving the epicenter.

Eleven people were killed in and around the Tehachapi area as a result of the quake. One of those killed was a young girl my same age named Florence Ann Fillmore. At the time of the quake she was asleep in a guest house along with several others on an over 700 acre ranch 12 miles from Tehachapi owned by a man by the name of Paul H. Owsley. She was crushed to death when the roof fell on her. Florence Ann Fillmore's half-sister, by having the same mother albeit a different father, was a woman who before marrying Owsley was named Olga Greenlaw --- and of whom my stepmother knew.

Greenlaw, who was at the ranch that night, had written a book published in 1943 about the American Volunteer Group, better known as the A.V.G. or the Flying Tigers. She had been with the Tigers from day one and her book, The Lady and the Tigers, covered the Group's history from just before they were formed clear through to being disbanded and shortly thereafter. Mostly because of my stepmother along with the use by the Tigers of the venerable World War II fighting machine, the P-40 Tomahawk and any existence thereof, the book and the downstream outflow from it all, even to this day, continues to play a prominent roll in my life.

Not being able to settle in following the quake and with a thin glint of sunrise barely breaking far off along the eastern horizon, in the nip of the cold morning air we gathered everything together including the horses and trailer and headed out. The two Native Americans, after checking with their buddy about the man in the cowboy hat who wrecked the truck, was told he was pretty skinned up with possible broken bones and all. About the horses he said he was willing to split his fee if they dealt with them for him, which they agreed to do. So too, after asking around in a few select spots, they were eventually able to locate my stepmother. As it was, later in the day, after connecting up with her, she and I ended up not much than more ten miles if that from Piute Butte anyway, her having only just bought a whole new section of property near there she had big plans for. Although impressed that I ran away just to be with her she thought it best to get in touch with my dad and see what she should do next. Unwilling to talk with my grandmother she called the woman of the foster couple I ran away from, who she knew and was friends with, hoping to find out if I should be returned to them or to locate my father, telling the woman that I was in good care and everything was OK. The woman of the couple, Aunt Pauline, told my stepmother to "keep the fucking little asshole, I don't give a shit what happens to him." Then she added, "Don't forget his prick of a little brother, either." My stepmother, taking into consideration there were no subtle or hidden messages in her response, being quite clear as well as taking her at her word, contacted my uncle to see if he had any idea where my dad was. He didn't, but told my stepmother if she could find no other solution and she could get me to Santa Fe he would deal with situation until everything could be hammered out. With that, having no success locating my dad for whatever reason, rather than sticking me on some grungy multi-day cross desert bus ride to my uncle's and not knowing for sure if I wouldn't just get off somewhere on the way, she arranged for the same former World War II P-47 pilot that flew my uncle and me to Sacramento a few years before to fly me to Santa Fe, ensuring, she hoped, I would be less likely to get out mid-trip.

She talked to Pancho Barnes about the possibility of the pilot picking me up and, even though Pancho was knee-deep in problems from the commander of Edwards Air Force Base as well as dealing with damage to her place from the aforementioned Tehachapi earthquake, including the destruction of her swimming pool, she was happy to help. It just so happened the day my stepmother contacted her about me being flown to Santa Fe, Pancho told her the pilot in question had just been contracted to ferry a North American AT-6 out of Van Nuys to some rich guy in Texas. Pancho said if it could be arranged for me to be at her ranch to be picked up sometime before the pilot headed out toward Texas she was sure, since her place was only a few minutes north of Van Nuys by air, for a small fee, he would be willing to circle by and get me.

A few days later Leo, the ranch foreman, shook me awake early in the morning just before sunrise, throwing me and what few things I could gather together into the jeep and taking me west out across the desert. He told me that for reasons unknown, the pick up spot had been changed from Pancho's ranch to a basically abandoned old wartime double 'X' airstrip out in the middle of the desert about halfway between Willow Springs and Quartz Hill on the eastside of 90th Street West. We arrived about a half hour early giving me enough time to wander through and around a couple of dilapidated dome-like structures that were at onetime somehow related to the airstrip operations before it was abandoned. The plane set down, Leo handed the pilot what looked like a couple hundred bucks, and shortly after that I was on my way to Santa Fe in the back seat of a World War II era AT-6.(see)

Little did I know my uncle was scheming all along for the two of us to meet up somehow that summer anyway, it was just that before he could set it into motion formally, fate interceded on his behalf and in his favor. His big plan, which he had been working on for a couple of years, was for me to meet the smartest man in the world, the greatest artist in America, then the greatest artist in the world. In those days the three, at least as far a my uncle was concerned, were none other than Albert Einstein, Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso. My uncle knew the first two himself so he was able to set those meetings somewhat easily. Jackson Pollock coming down from his studio on Long Island to the city after a one man show in Paris and the finishing of his last action painting ever. The meeting with Albert Einstein took place near a dock that was close to what I was told was a boat house, along some lake near, I guess, Princeton, on the day of a new moon night of August, 1952, that day and date being Wednesday, August 20, 1952 --- one lunar month to the day and the VERY next new moon following the earthquake I experienced atop Piute Butte.

Although I met both Pollock and Einstein, the meeting with Picasso never happened, my dad ending the planned trip to France by contacting my uncle somehow before we got a chance to leave. My father, wanting to know what he hell I was doing with him in Santa Fe in the first place then going on to the east coast with plans for Europe, told my uncle in no uncertain terms he wanted me returned to California immediately --- if for no other reason just because I would be attending a new school in the fall and needed to register. I was also informed that I would no longer be staying with the foster family I had been living with, but instead, living with my grandmother.

As you can see, because of my dad's intervention I never made it to France that summer nor meet Picasso. My uncle and I did go through the whole process to do so, that is, get shots, passports, and visas. Some years later, needing a passport for my own trip abroad and intending to just renew my old passport, I wrote my uncle as to what happened to it and a few weeks later he sent it to me.

Eighteen years passed between the last time I saw my uncle that summer just before high school and we actually met again in the flesh. After that, up until his death, we met many times. One day in casual conversation the question of my passport came up. He told me how fortunate I was that he had done all the leg work to get me a passport because mistakenly as it turned out, when he decided to take me to France, since I had been out of the country he thought I already had one. Such was not the case. At least not a U.S. passport. He said to get out of the hole he dug himself into after telling the passport folk that I had been to India --- and still get me a passport --- he had to do what he called "an awful lot of fast talking and foot shuffling." See:


Except for the Einstein meeting the divorce between my father and stepmother brought my uncle and I being together to a screeching halt until I was an adult and able to seek him out on my own(see). It didn't, however, end me being with my stepmother. Even though she and my dad were no longer married I spent a good part of every summer while I was in high school on one property or the other she owned in the Mojave, most usually the one not far from Piute Butte. The short time I was there during the summer prior to high school, following the Tehachapi quake but before going to my uncle's in Santa Fe, she had only just bought the property or was in the process of buying it. At that time it was pretty much a run down, long shuttered former attempt at a dude ranch. One year later, during my first full summer there, what she called a 'ranch' --- even though as a ranch it was a little on the sparse side in what I would call standard ranch fare --- had been completely rebuilt and refurbished with a rather long fully stocked bar, food service facilities, swimming pool, dance hall, live entertainment, along with rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends. It also had at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, plus like I like to say, a flock of ever present hostesses --- several of whom took me under their wing and one or two that may have been slightly more friendly than they should have been considering my young age, the youngest at the time at the very least being six years older than me.

Such things transpired because unlike all the years with my uncle which was basically one-on-one, at the ranch I was not under any regular actual adult supervision, my stepmother living elsewhere and visiting on a day or so basis to take care of business. Except for the ranch foreman or the bar manager checking in on me from time to time and having a number 'chores' my stepmother set aside for me to do, I was pretty much on my own. Although all of it is gone now, razed to the ground by bulldozers and fire, in those days, besides the bar and dancehall, the ranch had a number of identical fully semi-self-contained bungalows, half a dozen or so, of which one was set aside for me to live in --- all, or at least mine, with porches and shaded by cottonwood trees. As for grub, any time I was hungry and wanted to eat all I had to do was go to the kitchen that served the bar patrons, which, except on really slow nights, usually stayed open until two in the morning, and they would make me anything I requested, no questions asked.

My stepmother, always trying to keep me busy in an educational way, because of the ultra-clear nights the desert provided along with my strong personal interest and knowledge in astronomy having spent many a night camped along the rim of Meteor Crater and having met famed mathematician, meteorite hunter, and astronomer Dr. Lincoln La Paz during my travels in the desert southwest with my uncle, bought me a 300 power refractor telescope with a Barlow lens, followed shortly thereafter with an equally powerful reflector scope, both with equatorial mounts. I spent many a night on UFO watch (with no positive results), observing the moon, stars and planets and especially so the Andromeda Galaxy, M-31. I also discovered that during the day the refactor was perfect for viewing some of the hostesses who would sometime lounge around the pool sunbathing during mid-morning slow hours, some topless on occasion, and of which I'm sure, after discovering I was doing it, did it on purpose.

TV reception was piss-poor and after I complained to my stepmother there was only a couple of fuzzy channels and wasn't much to watch she bought me a Zenith Trans-Oceanic H500 shortwave radio, then brought in and set up on the property a single wide mobile home trailer like a construction office filled inside with a sort of work shop with long benches, overhead fluorescent lighting, all kinds of hand tools and air conditioning provided through what was called a swamp cooler. She also gave me a brand new build-it-yourself Heathkit shortwave radio in a box for me to put together, which over one summer I built totally by myself and that actually worked when I was done.

When I say I totally built the set by myself, I did have some on and off help on occasion. From time to time a certain particular hostess would drop by while I was working on the set and assist --- although I must say she spent more time exposing her rather bountiful cleavage and the rest of her breasts than soldering wires, with me burning my fingers with a soldering iron on more than one occasion trying to nonchalantly reposition myself as best as possible for the least restricted view of her nipples. There was as well a young girl that joined me on the ranch that summer, a year younger or so than me and the daughter of a woman my stepmother hired to entertain nightly in the bar. The two were there about eight of the twelve weeks that summer with the woman billing herself as Irene at the Organ. In that the girl's mother worked late into the night every night and slept most of the day, she left the girl just as unattended around the clock as me. In the process the two of us became nearly inseparable. Sort of cowgirl-like, looking all the same as Woody's friend Jessie in the animated Toy Story films, she had a haircut like a boy, dressed like a boy, and built like a boy, except for some noticeable differences that became quite evident between the two of us as the summer wore on.

Long before I turned to making Heathkit shortwave radios, I was always making crystal sets, having started even before that as a little kid building what is called a 'foxhole radio,' a kind of primitive or rudimentary device like a crystal set that just "runs on air."[3] Never satisfied with the one I just made I was always trying to make bigger and better ones to pull in farther and farther away stations. Because the signals of far away stations were always weak and the sound low I decided I needed the best pair of earphones I could get. So saying, my uncle took me to the giant Palley's Surplus Store off Alameda Street and Vernon in L. A. to pick out a pair of war surplus earphones with a full set of large foam rubber ear pads. Palley's had everything and we used to go there often with me always returning with a bunch of World War II army surplus stuff --- canteens, pistol belts, parkas, infantry backpacks, army M43 folding shovels, and two of my very favorites, an Army Signal Corps J-38 Handkey with a leg-band for sending Morse code and an ESM/1 Emergency Signaling Mirror.(see)

A few paragraphs back I mention even though my father and stepmother divorced I still spent every summer while in high school on one property or the other she owned in the Mojave. The rest of the year, the school portions, I lived with my grandmother and brothers in Redondo Beach. It was during at least three of my four high school years in Redondo, on the side, that I finessed my Morse code abilities to such a point it that would later influence the military making a decision as to where I would be most useful.

During my first two years in high school I worked part time a couple of days a week stacking books and running errands for a man who lived around the corner from my house I call in my writings my Merchant Marine Friend. Just five months into World War II the ship he was on was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Florida. Making his escape from the damaged ship he was badly burned and his lungs scorched after jumping overboard into the water and coming up for air through burning oil. So much so was his injuries that years later he could still barely move, spending most of his time in a room stacked shelf after shelf with books, sitting in a chair overlooking the street reading. One day he and an ex-Navy man he met in the Philippines before the war by the name of Guy Hague got into a huge debated discussion as to the international distress signal, SOS.

Hague insisted SOS meant Save Our Ship, the former merchant marine said it was selected because it was a fast and expedient way to send Morse code, three dots, three dashes, and three dots, in rapid sucession --- and other than that, the letters it represented, SOS, didn't mean anything. The merchant marine said since the dots and dashes are sent without breaks one after the other they could just as easily mean VTB, but the letters 'SOS' were chosen because together there was a certain memorable ring to it. From overhearing that discussion, especially the VTB-SOS part, I had to delve into Morse code in a more formal fashion.

There was a kid that lived directly across the street from me I used to run around with on a regular basis until my last year of high school when his parents sold the house and moved. Following the discussion at the merchant marine's house I bought what was called a Western Union Standard Radio Telegraph Signal Set,(see) which consisted of two identical battery operated devices that allowed the user to send and receive Morse code over a fairly reasonable distance via wire or using a light signal. My buddy and I strung a wire from our bedrooms up into the trees and across the street between our houses and over a period of a couple of years would send code back and forth to each other way into the night on a regular basis. Over time and without any formal training I got fairly good at both sending and receiving Morse code.(see)

As a draftee, no sooner had I finished basic than I was sent to weeks of intense training as a cryptographer, a MOS that required a top secret security clearance and a whole bunch of time learning to send and receive Morse code. That came about for two reasons: one, my interest in codes generally added to my ability and expertise with Morse code; and two, I already had a confidential clearance.

Typically, as a two-year draftee the Army wouldn't spend much time on me or anyone, but, because I was good at what I did code-wise and because I already had a confidential clearance with so much of the investigative leg work done, it became a major key in the Army's decision with what to do with me.[4] The clearance came about because during the few years that transpired between graduation from high school and being drafted I was able to land a fairly high paying job for a seemingly innocuous little aerospace firm with a huge reputation. I had been hired as a trainee technical illustrator for the firm but was quickly put into a skunk-works-like smaller offshoot of the company that helped design and build the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane.[5] To wit the following from the source so cited:

"(J)ust out of high school, I got a job with a company that designed and built the breathing equipment for the U-2, the then super-secret high altitude spy plane. Because of the nature of the secrecy surrounding the plane, working there required me to obtain a confidential clearance."(source)

As for me getting a confidential clearance in the first place, that was probably all done in a fairly routine fashion as I remember no problem with any of it. Obtaining my later top secret clearance for the military was another thing. Especially since I was only a two-year draftee. There is a good possibility someone higher up the food chain, in hindsight quite possibly a man named Richard M. Bissell, who at the same time I needed my top secret clearance was a special assistant to the CIA director. Bissell's CIA job was having full and unconditional oversight, top-to-bottom, for all aspects of the U-2 program. Somehow my name filtered through the flotsam just enough to be nudged into the spotlight and be noticed before it receded back into the shadows, most likely nudged there by someone who knew both me personally as well as Bissell in some capacity.(see)

At first working on U-2 related equipment was exciting, like getting to go out to Edwards Air Force Base and Area 51 at Groom Lake fine-tuning, installing, and testing equipment and such, but, after two years, for reasons beyond my control the whole thing started to get stale and I began sleepwalking through my job. When a long time friend of mine, a man who watched me grow up from a kid in high school named Joe Landaker, who was the chief mechanic for one of the top sports car racing teams in America and whose number one driver was Carroll Shelby (later of Cobra fame), asked me if I would like to ride across country in his transporter with him to Speed Week in Nassau, the Bahamas I jumped at the chance. Speed Week, as it always did in those days, butted right up against Thanksgiving weekend, so I requested a one week leave from work after the four day Thanksgiving holiday, a request that ran into two. At least a year of work went by half-heartedly after that, but slowly I pretty much began doing and showing up less and less, eventually not going back.

When the skipper of a marlin boat come yacht, which just happened to be owned by the multi-millionaire heir to the Halliburton oil fortune David J. Halliburton Sr., offered me a no-brainer job doing brightwork on his boat, after mulling it over a few days I took it. Even so, the draft was still looming over my head and the fact my longterm semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help. When a buddy of mine, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a leave of absence from my job on the boat and go for it. See:


Not long after my Mexico trip ended than I was back on the marlin boat. Shortly after that my draft notice showed up and I was on my way to the Army, bidding adieu to civilian life as I knew it. Gone was my immaculately restored early 40s Ford woodie wagon and up on blocks was my low-slung British sports car with two rows of louvers along the hood. Then, following an overnight train trip from the induction center in Los Angeles I was in Fort Ord, California, for basic training. After finishing eight weeks of basic without incident I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia, to attend the U.S. Army Signal Corps School. Almost the first day of my Morse code training I was sending and receiving 20 words a minute headed toward 90, and was noticed for doing so by the instructor. The instructor, who was a civilian, had worked for Western Union as a telegraph operator for thirty years or more and could himself easily send and receive upwards of 200 words a minute. When he asked if I was a Ham operator I told him no but had for years sent and received code using a Western Union Standard Radio Telegraph Signal Set. Rubbing his chin a little and looking up toward the ceiling, the civilian instructor, always looking for alternative ways for recruits training under him to learn Morse code, asked if it would be possible for him to see the signal set. Kissing ass as much as wanting to score points and most especially so, make my life easier while at Fort Gordon, I contacted my brother who had all my stuff in storage to locate the set and send it to me. Which he did.

I gave the set to the instructor and told him he was welcome to it, but if he ever tired of it or it didn't work out like he thought, send it back to my brother. The thing is, when my brother finally found the box the signal set was in, packed away in the bottom of the same box when I put it in storage, for reasons unknown, was my Captain Midnight Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph decoder badge. My brother, not sure why the decoder was in the box, after looking it over, just left it there along with the signal set when he mailed it to me.

Several paragraphs back I tell how my uncle, in his attempt to obtain a passport for me to go see Picasso, ran into trouble after telling the passport people that I had been to India. It all started when I was a very young boy and my mother's health began to deteriorate, eventually reaching a point she was no longer able to care for my two brothers and myself while my dad continued to work more and more hours to pay for ever increasing medical expenses. So said, prior to her death and without either of my brothers going along, I was placed with a foster couple who had no children and who, in turn took me immediately to India without tacit approval from my father. Now, while it is true I ended up at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi with some rather startling results, it wasn't a total piece of cake.

Before going to India it seemed that no matter what, the couple wanted me. After being there it was as if they could not get rid of me fast enough. For the most part, it seemed, as the very young boy that I was, I was fortunate they just didn't abandon me somewhere along the way. In the last of three letters from India written by the woman of the foster couple of which I call the Liverpool Letter, I mention it was mostly about bringing me home. But in the letter she also intimated, without trying to scare my dad, as if something was wrong with me, that something happened like I was sick. They wrote that I kept saying things like I could see but that there was no me, that it seemed like the whole back of my head was gone but I could still feel it with my hands, that I was both dirt (earth) and sky.

Then somehow, after returning to the States and being left with my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania, my uncle told me, and he didn't remember how or how long it took, I was returned to California to be with my grandmother on my mother's side --- but NOT by the couple. They basically disappeared after Pennsylvania and to my knowledge never heard from again.[6]

Interestingly enough, well after the need for my own passport (i.e., to see Picasso), when my uncle returned east following the death of his mother and he was going through her personal effects he came across a few things in a small box that related to me that I must have left behind and she inturn saved (I was the only grandkid of her three children she ever met). Included with the items were some travel papers, ticket stubs, a Captain Midnight decoder badge, and a passport. Prominently displayed on the photo page of the passport was a picture of me with the woman of the couple --- listed as her son. Here was my grandmother on my father's side, with me claiming to be her grandson and me being the ONLY grandchild-offspring from ANY of her three sons she ever met, ironically keeping all those years stored away amongst her treasures, a passport saying I was instead, the son of some man and woman she never heard of.

When my uncle returned to his home in New Mexico after dealing with the concerns of his mother's death in Pennsylvania, being my onetime guardian and knowing full well the importance that decoders held for me generally as a kid while we were together, one of the first things he did was pack it up and send it to me. The decoder was clearly the missing Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph from my collection and obviously so because it had a small photo of me as a young boy inserted in the square, solving the mystery of where or what happened to the decoder and why it had been missing for so many years. In that I carried it with me everywhere I went as a kid it was pretty much a given I had taken it with me when I left for India, but after that it disappeared. Somehow, even though the couple reported my 'condition' was such that I kept saying I could see but that there was no me, that it seemed like the whole back of my head was gone but I could still feel it with my hands, that I was both dirt and sky, the decoder made it back to the states with me. Then, related perhaps to the same 'condition' real or not, and without the couple to assist, when I left Pennsylvania for California I must have simply left it at my grandmother's.

As I have mentioned elsewhere I had a complete, albeit loose knit, collection of Captain Midnight decoders from the very first one starting in 1941 up through the last one in 1949. When I received my long lost Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph in the mail from my uncle, why I didn't put it in with the rest of the decoders in my collection I have no clue. I can only speculate that maybe by that stage of my life my once intense interest had waned. Because of same there is a good chance the rest of them were stored someplace not easily accessible. Most likely I just planned to put it with the others someday, but just never got around to it. A few years later it was that EXACT same decoder, the one with a picture of me in it as a young boy, that ended up in the box with the signal set my brother sent me while I was in the Army. So there I was, a fully ingrained member of the United States Army with my newly earned PFC stripes after having gone through both basic training and a good part of AIT as a private slick-sleeve, moving toward the year 1964 and my first big assignment, elaborated below, looming over my head --- and now, after my brother sent me the decoder, just like when I was a kid, running around all over the place carrying it with me everywhere I went.(see)


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"(T)he war cast a much different net than exclusively in-country fighting or anti-war demonstrations abroad. For years ALL the countries in Southeast Asia, large or small, mostly bordering along or near the Mekong River, were involved officially or unofficially in some manner or the other, especially so following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in March of 1954. After the French surrender and eventual pullout, in order to ensure western interests would continue to be maintained on some level in the general greater southeast Asian sphere, the U.S. and/or allies or closely allied mercenaries or surrogates continued to keep their hands in the pie at some level or the other."


One of the things the indigenous people of Southeast Asia learned from the Japanese occupation of their countries during World War II was that their onetime white overlords, i.e., the British, French, Dutch, et al, previously viewed as nearly invincible, were not as invincible as the face they put on --- and COULD not only be defeated, but, as the Japanese so clearly showed, defeated by those of Asian descent. That reasoning remained strong even after the war because the Japanese were seen to have withdrawn because of a much larger set of circumstances rather than having lost on the battlefield. With that in mind, a number of local and regional groups arose to ensure their onetime overlords were not successful in reestablishing themselves following the pullout of Japanese forces. One of those groups was the Viet Minh operating out of northern Vietnam with another being the Pathet Lao, created somewhat later and operating primarily within the sovereign country of Laos.(see)

Ten years after the French collapse at Dien Bien Phu by the hands of the north Vietnamese based Viet Minh, eight United States Air Force F-100D fighter-bombers of the 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron operating out of Da Nang Air Force Base in the Republic of Vietnam flew the first fully American combat air missions over Laos with strikes against Pathet Lao targets in the Plain of Jars.

A few months before those strikes could be fully implemented a number of cross-border forays from surrounding areas were put into place requiring the use of a number of covert ground teams inserted into rather remote and primitive conditions. Each team member and their equipment was sheep dipped and all teams embedded with specially trained communication personnel, each heavily blanketed with security clearances, versed in Morse code and the non-conventional expertise to build from scratch and use, if necessary, easily disposable spark-gap transmitters and QRP transmitters, along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers. Several select members of those ground teams, all who were taught to travel light, eat indigenous foods, and leave no tracks, were soon appropriated for other duties.(see)

The link so sourced at the end of the previous paragraph cites now declassified but one-time Top Secret documents speaking specifically to events in the country of Laos during the time period we are talking about here. The documents make testimony to an "ill-defined group of U.S. Army personnel who happened to be on the ground with radio contact" and because of which, following a series of extenuating circumstances, all or most of which are fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery and of which most if not all circulate around the above "ill-defined group" and the aforementioned "several select members of those ground teams" and "appropriation for other duties" scenario, with me having met all of the criteria big time, found me in the then drug infested wide-open railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand.

After meeting a Buddhist monk in the city from China and me needing, or at the very least, having a strong requirement to make myself as scarce as possible as quickly as possible, as well as shaking off those who were on my tail, in what actually became an overkill of departure, the two of us left on foot traveling north high into the mountains through Laos, Burma, and on into the mountainous regions nobody knows who they belong to, basically retracing the steps of the ancient Chamadao, the Tea Horse Road.

Days and days of walking later we ended up going our separate ways, he turning toward wherever he was going, me being left outside the ruins of a somewhat ancient dilapidated monastery perched precariously high up on the side of some steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. And there I sat. People from the village some distance below would come by to look at me or leave me water and food on occasion. Kids threw rocks at me, dogs pissed on me. After awhile someone gave me a blanket to wrap myself up with, but still I sat. Days, weeks went by.[7]- [8]

Although in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery I write that the monastery was dilapidated, I do not actually refer to it as being ruins as I have in Footnote [7] and the previous paragraph above. There is a big difference between a structure being merely dilapidated and one being fully embraced in ruins. For most readers of 'Doing Hard Time' the monastery comes across fairly recognizable as being, if not full on functional, at least operational in some fashion. And it was, with one slight caveat. At the very end of the 'Doing Hard Time' article, in a footnote subtitled The Second Part, I bring to the attention of the reader that there are, weaved throughout the contents, subtle aspects that may not have been fully grasped. I write:

"Because, as written by me, the above main text is highly cryptic within itself as well as the links, saving the larger story for another day (which I had been in the process of working on and have since completed), most people miss the boat on what is actually being presented. Beyond the blatantly obvious, once passage through the gates of the monastery occurs the story is seeped with with the warpage of time and inklings of the mysterious hermitage, Gyanganj (in the west Gyanganj is known as Shangri-la or Shambhala)."

In 'Doing Hard Time' I also write, without elaboration, about leaving the monastery for an unspecified amount of time on a round trip trek high into the mountains to visit an ancient man of Zen. That trek is delved into in more depth in a page I wrote about a woman named Hope Savage. For example, that going to and from the Zen-man's abode was a very arduous several day journey, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. Also that a good portion of the trail followed along side a series of streams that may or may not have been the same one, that was sometimes rushing and other times placid depending on the steepness or flatness of the terrain. I then mention I came across a woman scooping water from a stream and after a series of minor events, in conversation, the following came about:

"She (Hope Savage) also said she had stayed at a village for a few days months back many miles down the mountain trail but wasn't aware of any monastery. She had seen what looked like ruins of what may have been a monastery at one time but didn't seem habited from the distance she saw it. Wanting to stay away from any religious context or involvement she said she kept her distance. So too, she had not seen the Zen man, although she said she had been left stuff on occasion, but didn't know from who. Her not having made contact with the monastery meant she had not passed through the monastery portals to the outside we were in, so I wasn't sure if the two of us were operating on the same time reference. But for me at the moment it didn't matter because I found it exhilarating to talk with someone who knew English and having come from a similar enough background we could both share the conversation."

HOPE SAVAGE: The Beat Generation's Missing Woman

Therein lies the rub. To outside observers such as Hope Savage and initially myself, the monastery was as she saw it 'what looked like ruins of what may have been a monastery at one time.' Every once in awhile a small handful of monks would exit the ruins from what would have been where the main door to the monastery would have been at one time. If I came out of my Nirodha state long enough upon their return to see where they went in the ruins, it was always empty with no signs of monks anywhere.

One day when some monks came out of the ruins I got up and followed them into the fields hoping to pull something, anything, out of the ground to eat. They didn't stop at any fields but continued on, I just didn't have the strength to keep up with them over any distance. However, when they returned a short time later, like Dopey stomping along behind the other six dwarfs, I returned, entering the monastery in a single file line right along with them. In doing so, as a double set of rough hewn wooden doors, which hadn't been there previously, closed behind me, I suddenly found myself inside of a fully functional Zen monastery.

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It is after passing through the forward walls of the ruins and finding a fully functional monastery on the other side of the doors that people start getting befuddled. If they don't totally dismiss what is being said, they lose the ability to grasp the concept. Once through the main portal the time associated within the walls of the monastery and the land beyond flowed like the surface of a Mobius Strip, non-orientable.(see)

In a tantalizing view similar to what happens in the Twin Paradox as interpreted by Paul Langevin in 1911 from Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, a person doesn't age at the same rate as they would on the other side of the doors. Fifteen years could elapse outside and they wouldn't have aged hardly at all on the inside. However, once they stepped through to the other side, all the years that had passed outside the monastery while inside would suddenly catch up with them. That's why some monks and myself for instance could pass back and forth without hindrance IF a lot of time within the monastery and monastery proper relative to the outside had not passed. No significant aging would transpire. But, lets say one was within the confines of the monastery having passed through the portals and never left for a 100 years of outside time. If they went through the doors to the other side, and even though they remained virtually ageless within the monastery, once outside most likely they would turn to dust.

Inside the monastery years could go by, like say for me for example. Months and months passed as recorded by the passing seasons, but when I went through the doors to the outside to work in the fields or into the village only a few days or weeks had passed. Although I use the description of the time as being non-orientable and have linked extensively to explanations of that description, the aging rate inside the monastery relatively speaking, seemed to pass at a normal rate. However, when I stepped back into the outside world I would age the amount of time I was gone relative to the outside world, and it seems the cause and effect of that phenomenon did so in some increasing exponential fashion for those who did, albeit faster or slower I'm not sure, the longer a person resided within the walls and surrounding environment without leaving.[9]

There was a huge language barrier between me and my peers. In a broad, general sort of way, day-to-day, things worked out OK. However, when it came to detailed specifics, it was another matter. The monastery Zen master knew, because of the medallion around my neck, that I was 'under the protection of the Lord Buddha.' He also knew, which I wouldn't find out until years later, that even though I had the medallion with me when I arrived from the outside world, he could tell it emanated originally from his side of time.(see) So too, he was able to discern in some fashion that somewhere along the way that my "mental barriers had been reduced to nothingness," but had somehow slipped into the background only to become deeply veiled --- referring to of course, what happened following my experience as a young boy sitting in the presence of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi at his ashram in India as found in The Last American Darshan. What was of interest to the Zen master were the specifics that led up to and followed the events. Under much inner concertation his solution, without revealing it, as he saw it and as I have extrapolated it in hindsight, was me becoming cognizant of those events as well as bypassing any potentially powerful Mara induced impediments by coming in on the side of time in front of them, that is before they happened. Thus in a sense, after which returning into the present time forward, maintaining in place any "mental barriers that had been reduced to nothingness" before the impediments were set into motion.

Following the Zen master's directions, without knowing of or even being vaguely aware of any underlying intent except for me being fully dressed in more-or-less the old civilian clothes and boots I arrived in, two monks and myself embarked on what turned out to be a three day journey well into the hinterlands beyond the monastery. Around noon of the third day we came upon a small farm and a lone woman working in the surrounding fields. When the woman saw us she came forward, but as she was crossing the field the two monks turned and left. Thinking I should do the same I too turned to leave but was stopped by the monks using hand gestures indicating I should remain. When I turned back the woman had entered the one-room farm house leaving the door open. As I stepped into the room she was already sitting in one of two straight backed wooden chairs at a small table in the center of a room otherwise devoid of furniture. The woman looked to be quite possibly around age 40 and surprisingly to me, a westerner, most likely British or commonwealth with impeccable English and only a slight hint of an accent. No sooner had I sat down at her request than an elderly white-haired Asian woman who had been standing facing a two burner wood stove that was part of a fireplace along the back wall came to the table and poured two hot teas. Setting the pot back on the stove she then exited to the outside, but to where I have no idea.

The woman sitting with me put her left elbow on the table lowering her forearm to the surface with the palm of her hand facing up. With her right hand she pointed to her palm as though she wanted me put something in it. After some back and forth banter as though she was searching my thoughts it came out what was of interest to her was apparently in my shoulder bag. I dumped the contents on the table and she shuffled through my meager belongings until she came across the decoder badge I had been carrying around with me since my brother sent it to me while I was attending the Signal Corps school.

The decoder, again a Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, was different than other Captain Midnight decoders in that it was designed to allow the owner to insert a photo of themself in a small open square at the top of the badge, replacing the photo of Captain Midnight that came with it. The idea for doing so was to create a personalized identification badge like those used in defense plants of the era. Once the picture of Captain Midnight was removed and the owner substituted it with a picture of their own, they were supposed to push down the four metal tabs at each of the corners so it could not be removed. As well, although NOT all Captain Midnight decoders were badges, the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph was because it had a pin that went through a little hook on the back so it could be pinned on and worn like a badge. So said, the badge from my childhood I had been carrying with me for so many months in the Army had in the square a picture of me as a young boy for as long back as I could remember.

The woman, while picking up the decoder and holding it close to her face, and, except for not having a jewelers loupe or monocular eye-magnifier, carefully looked at it similar to how a diamond merchant might examine a fine diamond. Then scrutinizing the decoder further in small sweeps front and back almost as if it were a cookie she was about to eat, used her other arm to brush aside the remaining articles on the table, with some even falling to the floor. Without changing her head position or hand position after steadying her arm, she shifted her eyes from the photo in the decoder to my eyes and back several times. She then placed the decoder in the center of the table face up. While I was putting my belongings back in the bag she pointed to the photo, lightly tapping it a couple of times with the index finger of her curiously enough, non-farmer-like soft hands, asking me to tell her about the connection between the boy and the decoder and myself. I pretty much reiterated what I have presented above that the decoder at first belonged to my older brother and I appropriated it without approval --- causing so much trouble that my mother sent for a second one. I went on to say my uncle found it in a box belonging to his mother upon her death and recognizing the photo as being me as a young boy, sent the decoder to me. It was between those two times, when I first took it from my older brother until it showed up at my grandmother's and my uncle sent it to me, that the woman was most interested --- and what she wanted to know about --- curiously enough, as though an emissary, the exact same period of time and information that the Zen master back at the monastery wanted to know about. I responded that I was unable to tell her, explaining that even though the decoder must have been with me during that period otherwise it would never have ended up at my grandmother's, my mind regarding that time of my life was blank. Standing up while sliding the decoder badge across the table toward me she suggested we go outside for a walk saying, "We shall see."

By the time I picked up the decoder and put it in my front pocket she was out the door. Crossing the field from the sunshine side of the house we soon came across a small lake whose far border edged up against the lower foothills that led to higher hills that eventually gave way over a far distance, mountains, the peaks of which were shrouded with either snow, clouds, or both.

When we got to the lake she removed a bota bag from around her shoulder and offered me a drink, which I took. Putting her hand on my shoulder she removed first one of her calf-high foot coverings then the other. After gesturing for the return of the bota bag she turned and began walking out into the lake. My initial impression was she intended to refill the bota bag, but instead she continued walking. First to her waist, then to her neck, then her head underwater. I waited a few minutes and all I could see where she disappeared was the bota bag floating on the surface. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. At first I ran out into the lake a little ways and threw my arms up turning around. Then I went out to where the bota bag was floating and dove under. I could just barely see her underwater some distance ahead of me, her long hair, that before had been wrapped close to her head, flowing backwards as she slowly kicked her feet and moved away. Almost in a gesture for me to catch her, bending in the middle she reached her arm back toward me, the bare white skin of her arm and hand picking up the light of the sun as the rays filtered downward losing their strength through the wave distorted, coke bottle colored green-blue water only to be lost in the ink-black depths below.

Fighting to get close and running out of air I reached out and barely touched her fingers, unable to clasp her hand. The very next thing I remember, all the while coughing and spitting and gasping for air, several men were pulling me out of the water by my armpits, placing me onto a series of long stone stairways. Of the several men, all of who were clearly east-Indian, one spoke up telling me they had seen me 'pop-up' floating face down in the water but none of them had seen me fall in or knew how I got there.


Moments before I had been in a lake in the high altitude cold chill of the Himalayas where the surrounding mountains were shrouded with snow, but now somehow, out of nowhere I found myself being pulled out of a pool in the oppressive humidity and hot sun of the tropics. As the men helped me to stand, seeing I was dazed as to where I was, told me I was at the Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai, south India. They had just dragged me from out of the Brahma Theertham tank located in the Fourth Prakaram of the temple. The men, looking at each other when I questioned them, almost in unison assured me they saw no sign of a woman or a bota bag or anything else in the water but me. As I stood up, my sopping wet heavy mountain jacket and soaking wet sweater dripping with water, I practically fell over with my legs collapsing under me almost feeling as though I had been drugged --- and very well may have been with whatever I drank from the bota bag given me back at the lake. One of the men suggested because of my teetering nature I should go with him to his home, dry my clothes, have some food and possibly get some rest.

I didn't wake up until the sun was fairly high the next morning, and only then when the noise of a bunch of kids running all over the house woke me. The family was able to dry my shirt, pants and socks overnight in front of an open fire with the woman of the family smoothing out my pants and shirt as she rotated them. My jacket and sweater along with my boots were drying in the sun on a corrugated tin sheet that served as the roof of a house one story below and next to us. How I got to where I was I didn't know. I did know the Ramana ashram was in Tiruvannamalai and began thinking if I could get to the ashram there might be someone there who could help. The man who took me in agreed and walked with me to where a bullock cart could be hired to take me to the ashram, of which he most generously paid for --- in that I had no money. Just as I was getting into the cart a young boy from the household, apparently one of the man's sons, came running up handing me, of all things, my decoder badge, telling me it had fallen from my pants while drying and they forgot to put it back. I thanked the boy just as the cart was beginning to move, arriving at the ashram sometime thereafter.

In relation to that arrival at the ashram, at the bottom of The Last American Darshan, previously cited, I write:

"The question is often asked, since my original visit as a young boy have I returned to the ashram? The answer is yes, twice. On my first return the visit was recorded and as such can be found in at least one authorized ashram related publication."

As I entered the ashram on this my first return visit, that I have now given title to as my second visit, I remembered nothing of my first visit as a young boy. Nor did I recall any of the ashram grounds or its surrounding environment, mostly because of, as I have presented elsewhere and in footnotes below, mitigating circumstances. However, that is not to say throughout the years I had not kept up with knowing about the ashram in an intellectual learning sense. Changes that I had read about, seen photographs of, or been told about that occurred, mysteriously hadn't seemed to have been put into place. The New Hall for example. Ground work for the foundation of what has since come to be known as the New Hall had been started within a year or so of my first departure and since that time had been completed enough for Ramana to participate in an opening ceremony. As I was crossing the compound not one thing of a New Hall could be seen.

In the book Ramana Periya Puranam (Inner Journey of 77 Old Devotees) by Sri V. Ganesan, page 304, Ganesan, said to be both sometimes Ramana's grand nephew as well as the Maharshi's younger brother Chinnaswami's second son, quoting major devotee and oft time Ramana attendant and lawyer T. P. Ramachandra Iyer, also known as TPR, writes the following regarding an unidentified American who came to the ashram whose name they did not know:

"(T)he American entered without announcing his name. From the moment he entered, Bhagavan's gaze was on him. He sat before Bhagavan for three hours. Some kind of communication was going on between them during this time. There was such deep silence; no words were exchanged. The American got up and left. He never came back."

Continuing in the exact same quote the Bhagavan was then asked:

"'How is it that this man came and was here only for three hours?' Bhagavan replied, 'He got what he wanted. His mission is over. Where is the need to stay on further? Everything ends in the now.'"(source)

T.P. Ramachandra Iyer, besides being a lawyer and personal attendant to Ramana, was also an interpreter in the Maharshi's hall. As it appears from the quote above, he himself was in the hall and an actual eyewitness to the events between the American and the Bhagavan --- but not so Sri V. Ganesan who just reported TPR's observations at an unknown time after the fact.(see)

Leaving the Old Hall after having sat before the Maharshi in silence for close to three hours as so alluded to in the quote, I slowly made my way across the compound toward the main gate and in the process of my walk contemplating my next move having received in essence what the scribe said was 'some kind of communication going on between them,' and of which the Bhagavan so eloquently verbalized to others a short time later:

"He got what he wanted. His mission is over. Where is the need to stay on further? Everything ends in the now."

As I strolled along I was fiddling with the decoder badge that ended up in my front pocket after it was returned to me as I was getting into the bullock cart. My thoughts telegraphed from a three hour darshan with the Maharshi a few minutes before to the much larger picture of me being in a foreign land in an unknown time and of all things, the Captain Midnight decoder that had followed me throughout my childhood clear up until adulthood ending up being the only 'anything of anything' I had except for the clothes on my back and possibly, if not long confiscated by some needy individual, an old sweater, jacket, and pair of boots drying on top of some tin roof lost in the maze of Tiruvannamalai some place. Still the unknown was how it was going to play out with the Maharshi's 'everything ends in the now' and 'where is the need to stay on further?'

While deep in those thoughts, part way to the gate I took glance of a dusty little boy, quite obviously white, barefoot and with curly hair, sitting alone in the shade along a low wall. As suddenly as the glance occurred my thoughts evaporated, being drawn instead to the boy for reasons now unrecalled. I moved to sit next to him saying "Hi," but he just sat there looking toward the ground making a series of markings in the dirt with a stick as though lost in a meditative state. Without knowing it, apparently as I fiddled with the decoder while walking, the pin became unhooked. In the bending down motion to position myself on the low wall next to the boy the sharp point of the pin went right through the thin material of my pocket and directly into my leg just as I was finishing sitting down, jabbing me with a sharp jolt of pain through the upper front of my thigh. I pulled the decoder from my pocket rehooking the pin and in the process the boy, probably jarred from his gaze because of my sudden, seemingly inexplicable jump that accidently messed up a good portion of his dirt sketch, turned his gaze from the ground to making eye contact with me then to the decoder, which by then, seeing his interest, I began holding toward him almost instinctively like a police detective does when flashing their badge.

(for larger size please click)

No sooner had he seen my decoder than, without a word, he took off running across the compound scaring the peacocks out of his path and disappearing between the buildings beyond. I got up to continue on my way, but before making it very far the boy had returned and was tugging at my pants showing me he too had a decoder --- indicating that we were both members of the Secret Squadron. The only difference between the two was that the one in his hand still had a picture of Captain Midnight in the square just like when they send it to you new and the surface of the metal appeared much more shiny and untarnished, while the one I held had a black-and-white photograph of a boy and the badge itself was, but only slightly so, more worn.

The boy, taking my decoder and along with his, holding one in each hand side by side, seemed suddenly set aback when he recognized the picture in my badge was in fact, clearly, a photo of himself, and, except for his current full set of hair, looking all the same as having been taken only the day before. As disarming as it was for the boy, for me it was beginning to be just another event in a long string of events. The boy, seemingly intrigued and perplexed that my badge would have a picture of him in it, waffled when I told him I was sure it would be Captain Midnight's intention for my photo badge to be his and that we should trade. I could tell that he, in a young boy's own way, was considering my suggestion as having some merit, but in the end he was steadfast in not wanting to trade HIS decoder for mine or anything else for that matter, especially since his had more of a brand new sheen about it while mine seemed somewhat dull and worn. For some reason bigger than me, I was being compelled, almost driven, to persuade him to do otherwise. After a short discussion and with his permission, I carefully removed the photo out of the decoder I had and put it in the boy's, then put the picture of Captain Midnight into mine. With that, all excited and seemingly pleased with the results, he ran off across the compound as if to show somebody. Within minutes he was returning, not leading but instead being pulled by his wrist by a nearly wild-eyed white woman who was basically running in my direction, all the while pointing toward me and turning back to look at a white man some distance behind hurriedly trying to catch up --- two individuals I was sure of at the time I didn't want to meet or talk to. Acting as though I didn't see them I scooted as quickly as I could across what was left of the ashram grounds between me and the gate and out onto the street, melding into the small milieu of what counted as crowds in those days, disappearing.[10]- [11]

Years passed and one day a friend of mine helping me go through a few things ran across my rather loose knit so-called collection of decoders that were sort of doing not much more than just floating around in an unconnected fashion in a drawer. She gathered them all up and unbeknownst to me, as a gift, had them all mounted in sequential order in a beautiful wooden display box with a hinged glass door. One day my younger brother was visiting and saw all of the decoders beautifully mounted and, at the time, other than being surprised I still had them after so many years, really didn't say much. However, a few years later I was visiting him in Oregon and the two of us had gone into town for breakfast just for the heck of it. Over coffee he brought up the fact that he had a bunch of golden and silver age comic books he had been hauling around since we were kids stashed away in a bunch of boxes, telling me that a substantial number of them had at one time been mine. Amongst the comics was what amounted to a nearly complete if not complete set of Scrooge McDuck comics all in fairly good condition. He wanted to know how I felt if he sold the comics, albeit culling out all the Scrooge McDucks first to keep for himself. In the process of the discussion my decoders came up and I told him although they may not mean much to anybody else, they still had a certain meaning to me and I didn't think I would part with them for money. I told him if the Scrooge McDuck's carried any sort of personal weight I would most certainly cull them out and keep them. With that we let it drop and moved on to other things.

A couple of days later as I was leaving he brought up the decoders and wanted to know about the so-called special meaning they were supposed to have for me. He said, unlike the Scrooge McDuck comics of which he bought and saved every single one from his childhood, the decoders I had were not all originals from my childhood. Intrinsically, he wanted to know, how was it I imparted any 'special meaning' to them other than as simply a collection. I asked him why he would think they were not all originals from my childhood. He said for one thing the decoder with the photo in it he knew for sure, 'without a shadow of a doubt,' had a black and white picture of me as a young boy in the square when he found it in the box in the early 1960s just before packing it up and sending it to me in the Army.

"Now," he said, "when I saw your collection so beautifully displayed,
the Code-O-Graph in the case that had at one time a photograph of
you as a young boy, had instead a picture of Captain Midnight."


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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

Footnote [1]

Except for comic books, which don't count, the only real, real book I kept, starting as far back as a nine year old boy up through high school and for many years afterwards --- until it eventually just simply disappeared --- was a hardcover book my uncle bought and gave me as a gift. We were in the process of designing and building a workable glider-like flying machine and in the beginning, researched designs by Leonardo Da Vinci. So said, somehow my uncle was able to put his hands on a hardback copy of The Mechanical Investigations of Leonardo da Vinci written by Ivor B. Hart and published in 1925. In those days the book had almost anything anybody would ever like to know about Leonardo Da Vinci and His Flying Machines.

Now, even though I say unlike hardcover books comic books don't count being hauled around and saved, what is being said is, unlike hardcover books whose inherent design --- after being read and the information garnered --- is to be kept and stored on shelves and such. Comic books, on the other hand, even though they are collected and saved in droves, are somewhat more transitional or disposable by nature.

For me, as a kid, comic books were big in my life and although I saved and collected a number of them on and off over the years, only for most of them to eventually disappear and be forgotten, several impacted me in major ways. One such major impactor was True Comics, No. 58 with a cover date of March, 1947. Inside was a story titled '500 Years Too Soon' the title referring to the famous Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci and his attempt to build and fly an air-worthy craft back in 1490 AD. Although I may have heard of Da Vinci in some fashion or manner prior to reading the comic book, as I am able to recall, it was my first major introduction to Da Vinci and flying machines. See:


A year or so after True Comics, No. 58 was published the exact same Da Vinci story was published a second time, albeit in black and white rather than color, in a fairly thick, more-or-less pocketsized 4X5 inch handbook put out by the Daisy Air Rifle folk. I had copies of both but since I was only around ten years old or so in those days and that was a long time ago I am not sure what happened to either of them. While it could be argued the Daisy version was not a book in the classical sense such as The Mechanical Investigations of Leonardo da Vinci, it was more book-like than comic like and since it was sort of pocketsize, I hauled it around with me for several years.

Although Da Vinci was our major inspiration in our original quest, the final craft, the workable one that actually flew with me being the pilot was based almost exclusively on a pre-Wright brothers Otto Lilienthal 1895 design. However, without Ivor Hart's book we would have never got off the ground so to speak. See:


The idea of manned-flight didn't end for me as a 10 year old either. Matter of fact, as a grown man, after hearing of a powerful 'devil wind' that blows downslope in the High Sierras given the name 'Washoe Zephyr' by Mark Twain and others, wherein the wind was able to lift a full grown mule off of 7900 foot high Mount Davidson --- up and behind Virginia City, Nevada --- and carry it 5 miles across the valley setting it down unhurt, I had to see it. Experiencing the might of the 'devil wind' at it's full force was the inspiration my second attempt at manned-flight. See:


Footnote [2]

In my writings I mention as a young boy, the suburban, city, or beach town boy that I was, that at least a part of my childhood was spent living on-and-off on a ranch located in the far reaches of the Mojave Desert. Actually, there were two different ranch 'situations' that have a tendency to run together making it a little confusing sometimes for those who read my works. The ranch the man in the cowboy hat in the main text above was talking about wherein he recognized me as living with a bunch of kids on a ranch not far away a few years back, was my first ranch situation. I was in about the 5th grade or so, several years after my mother died and not long after my dad married my stepmother, in turn setting into motion the following scenario to come about:

"In the process of her newly found motherhood she noticed my younger brother and myself, along with a bunch of other neighborhood kids, spent an inordinate amount of time 'playing cowboys' --- with cowboy hats, capguns, holsters, boots, etc., and in doing so we often ended up in the street. Using her logic, she thought, what could be better than having their own real ranch to play on, especially so, not in the street.

"So that's what she did, she bought a ranch. A full section of land, i.e., one square mile --- with twenty acres in one corner that was set aside that had a ranch house, barn and horse corral among other things. Then off we went to ride real horses and shoot real guns --- albeit not so much at each other, however."(source)

That's how I ended up with the Colt. The ranch house had a number of guns on the wall and above the doors such as a 30-30, a shotgun or two, a couple of 22s, and the Colt. Every once in awhile, but not often, I would take the Colt, which was kept in a case, out of the case and run around with it. It must have been on one of those rare days I had the Colt with me that the man in the truck showed up at the ranch.

While on the ranch, as had been in the city and elsewhere, my uncle along with my godfather, who had been banned but reinstated, was brought in to oversee all of us kids, which by then had grown to included a bunch of strays my stepmother picked up along the way somehow to take care of --- the bunch of kids the cowboy remembered. Usually there were six or seven of us, with the core being my older and younger brother and our first cousin, a boy around my age somehow related to my stepmother by the name of Richard, and a real young kid we called Bub President Hudson. The kid was supposedly the son of some movie actress my uncle knew who went on-and-on continuously all day and night telling us that his mom was a spy and that she went to school with Tarzan. See:


The second ranch situation transpired several years later after my dad and stepmother returned from their two year sojourn to South America and divorced. She bought what was left of a failed attempt of a dude ranch and within one year, as I mention further on in the main text above, she had it completely rebuilt and refurbished with a rather long fully stocked bar, food service facilities, swimming pool, dance hall, live entertainment, along with rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends. It also had at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room and a flock of ever present hostesses. That was the 'ranch' I spent most of my time on during the summers I was in high school. So too, at the same time, my stepmother also owned several other properties in the desert including one rather significant ranch property on the opposite side of the valley that I stayed at on occasion. Eventually buildings and structures on both places mysteriously burned to the ground or were destroyed in some fashion, in the end, over time, leaving my stepmother virtually destitute in her later years.

In recent years I have driven by as well as Google Earthed and walked both locations and without intensive investigation and previous knowledge no one would ever be able to tell either site was ever there, the desert having reclaimed it's land and rightful place in it's thousands of years quest of ownership.


Footnote [3]

As a young boy growing up it seems like a large portion of almost everything I learned came from reading comic books. Over and over, even today in the stuff I write I often refer back to something I read at one time or the other in a comic book. One example circulates around my uncle and I on a road trip across the desert and coming to the Colorado River. No sooner had we reached the river than I started telling him about a Gene Autry comic book and an Uncle Scrooge comic wherein both had stories of Spanish Galleons that had been discovered stranded in the middle of the desert hundreds of miles inland from any ocean, both related to the the Colorado River overflowing its banks.(see) In a matter of minutes we were off on a new adventure in search of lost ships in the desert.(see) Another example relates directly back to Pancho Barnes and the trip I alluded to in the main text above when my uncle and I flew to Sacramento from her ranch to 'save' my older brother and cousin.

On that trip, after a slight detour leaving Sacramento or our way home, we flew over the High Sierras to a remote dirt airstrip on the east side of the mountains to pick up a mysterious woman that had to be transported covertly and without fanfare under the cover of darkness from Reno to Las Vegas.

Around 9 or 10 o'clock we could see headlights coming across the dirt road toward us. A Chevy panel truck pulled up and a woman got out of the back climbing right away into the co-pilot side without saying a word while my uncle squeezed into the back with me. The woman had a long black full-length coat on, white scarf wrapped completely around her head without revealing the length or color of her hair and showing very little face. She was very pale, had big round sunglasses on and no make up. She also wore gloves and carried no luggage. To me, although I was personally never able to see her clearly she carried a certain ambience about her that reeked of being a movie star. My uncle, who had seen the woman up close, when asked told the pilot, that to him the woman looked a lot like June Lang, a known movie star of the era. The following appears at the June Lang link:

"In those days, since I was still a kid, except for possibly western movie star Dale Evens --- and maybe Veronica Lake for reasons unknown --- my knowledge of female movie stars ran kind of thin. However, while I may not have known female movie stars per se' I did know comic book characters, and one of the ones I remembered was Lana Lang, the female lead in Superboy comics and the protagonist to Lois Lane in Superman comics."(see)

And there it was, Superboy and comic books. Which brings us back to 'foxhole radios' or as they are sometimes called POW radios or 'razor blade' radios.

The time period we are talking about me staying at my ex-stepmother's ranch during the summer months while I was in high school started circa 1953. Now, I do not recall specifically when I made my first foxhole radio or crystal set, but I know it was well before I started high school, maybe even before I reached age 10. However, between those years, and I am sure it was an influence in continuing or advancing my interest, in Superboy issue Number 6 with a cover date February 1, 1950 and an in-store on-sale date of November 09, 1949, the following appeared:



Richard M. Bissell, Jr., although Washington D.C. based, was the CIA go-to-guy when it came to the beginning grounding stages of the super-secret U-2 spy plane through to its actual implementation and use. All early aspects of the U-2 program fell directly under his auspices, albeit deeply coordinated with a very small group of primarily west coast based designers, builders, and hands-on operation personnel. All along the way, except for Bissell and the west coast group, a whole lot of people didn't like the U-2 concept, most notedly, the Air Force and their minions. They didn't like the glider-like design. They didn't like the fact the CIA and not them was running it. They didn't even like the engine the designers were going to use. Didn't matter, Bissell and those around him got it going and off the ground so to speak.

How is it that I could seriously speculate a person of Richard M. Bissell's stature would take notice of ME --- and of whom, a man I never personally met or knew --- especially so me being just one in a potential crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands he had to deal with on a regular basis? Most likely he didn't. More than anything it probably had to do with Bissell being in the loop, the nature of security clearances generally, and what they are specifically intended for. In my case it was for the U-2. The U-2 was a small program, not some bulky, hunkering-along bogged down tractor in the mud military machine. Nor was it a huge lost between the marble columns of some bloated government bureaucracy.

Most people involved either knew each other or worked together for years on some project or the other. When it came to security, the people who ran the U-2 program were interested in only one thing. Trust. That is, just because you had a security clearance, could they trust you like they trusted themselves and their tiny inner circle? The best way for that to be determined is to be what is called a known quantity. That comes about by someone they know and trust, knows you to such a point that they can vouch for your ability to be trusted at the level expected.

In my case there were a number of people in my background that would, by association, cast me in the right light. My uncle, who raised me during a good portion of my childhood was friends with a number of high ranking people such as Albert Einstein, Dr. Lincoln La Paz of the Los Alamos Labs, and, as it applied to me specifically in relation to the U-2, William Randolph 'Randy' Lovelace II. Since I was young and had only one semi-background 'glitch' to speak of and the list of known quantities just mentioned was of such quality, the rest was easy. The person associated with the U-2 who wanted me specifically was known as Harry the Man, the top rated high altitude breathing person in the world at the time, of whom both he and Lovelace I cover quite thoroughly in Area 51 at Groom Lake. It just so happened Harry the Man knew both Lovelace and Bissell. My uncle knew Lovelace. Circle complete. The slight background glitch? Bigtime mob heavyweight Johnny Roselli.


Johnny Roselli was a major mob heavyweight. Smooth, dapper, and impeccably well dressed at all times, and above all, a made-man in their parlance. Although west coast based, he was originally from the east coast and Chicago, maintaining strong upper echelon east coast ties throughout his career. Roselli was mostly known, mob-wise, as being the man responsible for overseeing the smooth running of the mob's vast Las Vegas holdings and Hollywood connections during the early 1950s into the mid to late 1960s. He was also a long time friend of my stepmother, the two of them having known each other from well before World War II. It was through their connection that I met Roselli several times. For more click HERE as well as:


-----------Footnote [4]

The following comments regarding security clearances is found at the source so cited. I completed AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at the U.S. Army Signal Corps School in Fort Gordon, Georgia after going through basic at Fort Ord, California. The author writes he attended the Signal Corps School as well. Same place, same experience, seemingly the same MOS, albeit a year or two after I did. Even so, reading his piece, for me it seemed as though nothing had changed --- again same place, same experience. What the author says about security clearances, below, pretty much sums up the issue, at least as it was during the days I was dealing with it. However, again, in that I already had a confidential clearance, meaning a substantial portion of the investigative leg work was done, the Army did, in my case, rethink options:

"Of those who found the training a breeze only a few were able to go on for more complex training in other areas. A variety of reasons prevented those who didn't, or couldn't, continue.

"One reason was time. The Army required that a GI have at least 2 years service remaining after completing extensive and expensive training. Most draftees were adamantly opposed to adding more time to their '2-year sentences.'

"Another reason was security. Top Secret clearances were not as 'generally defined' as Secret clearances. Not being approved for one meant being restricted to your present level of training. Anyone holding a Secret clearance could view anything stamped 'Secret.' However, Top Secret clearances were amended with the sub-classification 'Need To Know.' Meaning, having a Top Secret clearance did not entitle the holder to view all Top Secret information. He was only allowed to view material he had a 'need to know' about. Even a General holding a Top Secret clearance was sometimes not allowed the privilege of knowing all matters under his own command, even though a lower ranking communications or intelligence officer was allowed to. The reason for limiting access was not to restrict individuals as much as it was to restrict numbers. The more people knowing about a secret, the greater the chances it might be leaked."(source)

Although not specifically applicable to security clearances per se' the following from the same source, shows how the training at Fort Gordon was applicable to the mission I was eventually assigned to. Most people have a tendency to place military communication training into Army Lite, when in reality being school trained is not necessarily a free ride:

"To graduate, a student had to fulfill several prerequisites. He had to be able to send and receive 90 Morse code characters words per minute. He had to be able to fire up a radio ensemble, send and receive 3 messages within 5 minutes, pass Phase 2, and be able to handle the control of a self-contained RTT rig, all on his own.

"We were told that some secret operations might require a rig be set up on top of a mountain, hidden in the middle of a village, or buried underground. Although 90 characters per minute was considered extremely fast, some veteran RTT jocks could handle 200 while drinking coffee.

"While the communications specialists of other MOS's were trained to work in large, fixed, multi-personnel stations well away from combat lines, the RTT graduate was trained to operate solely on his own as a primary or backup source of communications support for any level of command operations.

"Because of the occasional tactical necessity to 'bury a rig in the boonies,' far from technical support or spare parts, the single-most important factor emphasized in RTT training was that each student develop an instinctive ability to get his rig back up to full operation if anything went wrong. and being alone in a rig surrounded by fragile technology, anything and everything was expected to go wrong, most of the time.

"Personal resourcefulness and improvisation were stressed as the 2 qualities absolutely necessary to make it as a successful RTT man. The unofficial RTT motto was, 'Improvise, or Die.'"



Footnote [5]

The aerospace firm that hired me as a trainee technical illustrator basically out of high school did so with me having only two years of high school drafting experience. Even so, it basically meant in an off-hand way if you skewed it enough, I was being paid for my drawing abilities. Soon after I was hired I met a few other employees in the same department doing technical drawings who, like me, fancied themselves as 'real' artists. Soon some of us began hanging out on Friday nights after work, usually at some little out of the way place talking way late into the night. In general, at work, it seemed all we ever talked about was girls, cars, and sports. As artists of course, even though most of us didn't know what we were talking about, in either case, our conversations always seemed to lean toward the heavier side of things. Philosophy, religion, existentialism.

A couple of miles from my job was the Mattel Toy Company. Some of the people in the group knew some people at Mattel who also fancied themselves as artists and some of them joined us as well. One of the people that used to show up at those get togethers was Carlos Castaneda, who just happened to be working at Mattel at the time. Now, most people, especially those who know little or nothing about Castaneda's pre-Don Juan background, find themselves at a total loss as to why Castaneda would even bother to show up at our small, unprestigious, under-the-radar, and unheralded group of so-called artists. Over and over it comes up: Why would a person in their right mind, of such stature as Castaneda, entertain the possibility of participating in such a group of nobodies? The answer is quite simple. First, at the time of the meetings Carlos Castaneda was NOT the Carlos Castaneda he came to be AFTER he met the mysterious and powerful Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer he came to call Don Juan Matus. Secondly and most importantly, in those pre-Don Juan days, Castaneda likened himself as an artist --- and truth be told, our group was openly receptive to artists that had not made it simply because none of us had.

As for Castaneda being an artist, it is weaved throughout his early personal history and background. According to his own words, on Monday, July 24, 1961 in a conversation with Don Juan and published in Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Don Juan admonishes him for never assuming responsibility for his acts and Castaneda writes:

"He (Don Juan) dared me to name an issue, an item in my life that had engaged all my thoughts. I said art. I had always wanted to be an artist and for years I had tried my hand at that. I still had the painful memory of my failure."


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Footnote [6]

It was during my return trip to my grandmother's in California that another interesting aspect to my young life unfolded. When my uncle was verbally addressing my return to California from Pennsylvania, saying he "didn't remember how long it took," he was referring to the stretch of time that elapsed between my actual arrival in Pennsylvania and when I left, my uncle not knowing when or how I really ended up there. Afterwards, because of a known event, one could have easily been able to extrapolate almost down to the exact minute, day, date, and time I left, thus then, approximating a near exact time I showed up to stay with my grandmother on my mother's side, except for one thing, the specifics of all of that got smeared too.

The event? Sometime near the very last day of June or so 1944, I was put on a passenger train somewhere in Pennsylvania headed toward Chicago, traveling with who I do not know. If it was or was not the couple who took me to India has never been confirmed. In Chicago I boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief westbound to Los Angeles. Toward midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, bearing the Santa Fe road number #3774, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over 500 feet before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.

(photo courtesy Arizona Republic)

(to see a larger map size please click graphic, then click again for even larger)

Although I was unhurt, the person or people I was traveling with was among the injured and taken, with me along with them, to either Williams or Flagstaff. Because of the nature of their injuries, whoever I was traveling with was held-up under doctors care for several days, leaving me without direct adult supervision. My grandmother, who had been contacted by the railroad, called my uncle in Santa Fe. He inturn contacted a nearby tribal spiritual elder to oversee me until he was able to get me to my grandmother's.


Three years later, within a day or two of the third year anniversary of the train wreck, July 3, 1947, found me with my uncle traveling in the desert southwest having passed through Williams, Arizona on our way to Fort Sumner, New Mexico to visit the gravesite of Billy the Kid. We stopped at the crash site to pay reverence to those that died and my survival. While my uncle sat in the truck I walked the tracks where the wreck occurred. In the three short years since the derailment barely a sign of anything having happened remained, the wind along with the heavy downfall of summer monsoons nearly erasing the 500 foot groove and other marks caused by the huge Baldwin locomotive and passenger cars. If a person was unfamiliar with what happened it would have been unobservable.

Just as my visit at the train wreck site ended and my uncle and I headed toward Fort Sumner the Fourth of July weekend of 1947 was upon us. Any deep reverence or importance by me being at the train site was quickly overshadowed by a much larger event of earthshaking and monumental proportions when in the middle of the night of that weekend an unidentified airborne object of unknown origin began disintegrating, spreading debris and foil in a long swath out over the New Mexico flatlands only to eventually slam into the northern face boulders and rocks of the lower upslope of the Capitan Mountains --- an event that soon became known worldwide as the Roswell UFO.





The paragraph this footnote is referenced against has been sourced almost verbatim from a page titled Sheep Dipped. Although the wider contents of the quote are tied heavily to the then embryo but expanding umbrella of ongoing events in the greater Southeast Asia area and the Vietnam War, they refer most specifically to events in the country of Laos circa 1960 through to the early 1970s and the secret war there. The contents thereof, as found on the Sheep Dipped page, have been fully substantiated and linked to from one-time secret classified government documents as well as the Pentagon Papers.


The paragraph so mentioned, which is found in the greater portion of this paper under the sub-section titled From the Mekong to Shambhala, quickly leads from sheep-dipping into the broader discussion of the sub-title, that is Shambhala, finding, going, and being there. In so saying, people who are familiar with the fact that the Mekong River flows out into what is generally considered the South China Sea from the far southern reaches of Vietnam --- thousands of miles from the supposed area of the mysterious hermitage in the Himalayas --- question the connection, or at least my connection of a connection related to the broader discussion.

Actually, the headwaters of the Mekong River, before the long journey to the South China Sea, spring up right in the same larger general geographical neighborhood as Shambhala is said to be located as well as my soon to be mentioned ancient dilapidated monastery perched precariously high up on the side of some steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.



Footnote [7]

During the first few days after leaving Chiang Mai on foot, the monk and I pretty much stuck to the Chamadao. Several days into our trek the monk began carefully watching the position of the sun as compared to the angle of the shadows much more closely as well as seemingly seeking out markings or landmarks only he seemed to be able to discern. Eventually we came across what appeared to be a seldom used nearly unmarked trail leading off the main trail that led much higher into the mountains. After climbing a couple of days up a rather steep, often escarpment-like rocky and zig-zag trail we finally crested the ridgeline.

Then, dropping down a short distance, the trail intersected a more-or-less well defined flat almost road-like-path paralleling the center of a narrow pasture-like high floor valley. At the far end of the valley, after a pretty-much leisurely stroll compared to what we had been doing, we came upon a small village. Continuing on after a short break, sometime later we came to what appeared to be the remains of an ancient onetime monastery perched high up on the side of a steep Chinese mountain situated somewhere along the mountainous edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. It is there the monk and I parted company --- with him returning back down the trail and leaving me either unknowingly to what he perceived to be my own vices and/or knowing exactly what he was doing. And there I sat.

As briefly mentioned in the main text above, but more fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, the monk I ended up traveling with along the Tea Horse Road found me in the then wide-open railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand, albeit not mentioned in the main text, in the following condition:

"(T)he KMT searching the city came across me, finding me with bloodshot eyes, drooling at the mouth, unbathed, dirty, unshaven, no clothes, sitting in my own urine and defecation, rocking back and forth, and highly unusual for me, robotically repeating over-and-over a mantra from my childhood Om Mani Padme Hum and so mind-numb that I was worthless to their or anybody else's cause."

The KMT were searching for a white American, so when they heard there was a white man, possibly American, in one of the dens, upon entering they were led straight to me. The Buddhist amongst the KMT was attracted to my constant repetition of the mantra, then seeing the tiny medallion around my neck knew I was under the protection of the Lord Buddha and could not be left behind --- no matter if I was or wasn't the one they were looking for.(see)


When I was a young boy in the fourth or fifth grade or so two of my grade-school buddies and I used to pull a Radio Flyer through the alleys around the neighborhood collecting pop and beer bottles for the deposit. After we collected a wagon load we would turn them in various places around of which one was a bar. In the process of pounding on the back door I got to know the dishwasher there, an elderly (to me) Chinese man.

As a young boy without a lot of experience in the matter --- and never with my buddies --- I used to go by the bar and meditate in the alley with the old man even without the necessity of turning in soda or beer bottles for the deposit. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan, China by the United States during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

The mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, came up because of a 1940s comic book superhero called The Green Lama that used the mantra much like Billy Batson used Shazam to become Captain Marvel --- to invoke superpowers --- and, in the Green Lama's case, like Captain Marvel, gaining super strength, invulnerability, the ability to fly, and even being impervious to bullets to the point of being bulletproof. The old dishwasher had six or eight copies of the Green Lama, all in like-new mint condition, of which, for whatever reason, he gave to me.

During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering.




Call it fate, karma, destiny, predestination --- or none of those things ---because having a name or not, in the end results were still the same. Days, possibly weeks went by with me just sitting there outside the ancient monastery in a Nirodha-like state, having ended up as I did, as you may recall from the main text above, through a series of events linked together by the following:

"A few months before those strikes could be fully implemented a number of cross-border forays from surrounding areas were put into place requiring the use of a number of covert ground teams inserted into rather remote and primitive conditions. Each team member and their equipment was sheep dipped and all teams embedded with specially trained communication personnel, each heavily blanketed with security clearances, versed in Morse code and the non-conventional expertise to build from scratch and use, if necessary, easily disposable spark-gap transmitters and QRP transmitters, along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers. Several select members of those ground teams, all who were taught to travel light, eat indigenous foods, and leave no tracks, were soon appropriated for other duties."

In the quote it is stated that a number of covert ground teams were inserted into rather remote and primitive conditions with each team and their equipment sheep dipped, all teams with specially trained communication personnel, each heavily blanketed with security clearances, versed in Morse code and non-conventional expertise.

Each of the team's communication personnel, besides having non-conventional expertise and being trained in Morse code were 'blanketed with security clearances.' Regardless of the training or expertise, without the required level of security clearances a person would not qualify nor be selected as a team member, nor then would they have been in line later to be appropriated for other duties, duties that set the scene for what happened to happen. So said, in my case specifically, appropriated for other duties is the key to everything. And that's what happened. Powers that be --- whoever they were --- secretly and off the books, appropriated a very low number of hand-picked individuals, chosen from the ranks of those that already had been sheep-dipped and specially selected --- to instead participate in --- well, something else.

It was in doing that specifically appropriated for other duties line of duty of something else that I found myself first in Chiang Mai, THEN in a position well outside the confines of that line of duty, into instead, a situation where I ended up sitting weeks in a near Nirodha state outside the onetime entrance of the dilapidated ruins of an ancient Zen monastery.

(please click)

Now, while it is well documented and well laid out in what I have written here --- as well as elsewhere --- that I ended up in Chiang Mai, then on into China and the edges of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the question is, of all those that could have been chosen, why was I one of the ones that WAS chosen? Not only was I selected in the first place I was then in turn, reselected from that first group for the second group.

I am almost 100% certain the answer leads back to the big-time mob heavyweight Johnny Roselli. People parse every word I say. They finesse, dissect, and question everything, not so much to learn but to discredit. Such is the case with security clearances. As I have said, without clearances what happened would not have happened. Thus enters Johnny Roselli. When I first wrote Code Maker, Zen Maker and put it online Roselli was never thought of, mentioned, or brought up. Then some smart ass that turned into a chorus started harping on the fact that I knew Roselli and because of that connection and the level of that connection I could never have obtained a security clearance, in turn none of what I have written could have unfolded as it had.

The thing is, it just so happened that relative to what unfolded, Roselli was the most different Mafia figure in existence. Just like in the opening paragraph of this footnote, call it karma or fate or give it no name at all, it still remains Roselli and I along with everybody else in the mix were thrown together in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. No coincidence could have been greater, especially when you consider the first of the puzzle pieces were being pulled out of the pile and put together when I was less than 10 years old and first met Roselli.

As written in the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, Guideline E, Personal Conduct: Subsection (g) Association with persons involved in criminal activity:

Close and continuing contact with anyone involved in criminal activity is a potentially disqualifying condition.

Typically, having an association with a known major gangland member, especially a member at the level of Johnny Roselli and then in my case, voluntarily continuing in place that association for over at least a 15 year lifespan, including within months of initiating the clearance, would stop most forward momentum in obtaining a security clearance, especially one falling into a top secret category.

The above sections and subsections of the official Guidelines notwithstanding, even though I say 'knowing him,' i.e., Roselli, was a glitch that could have possibly derailed me from obtaining a security clearance, thus then denying me the possibility of being selected and participating in the variety of actions I did, actually the totally opposite happened. My chances seemed to have been enhanced multi-fold by the association and had a tendency for those in power to steer me toward areas I might not have otherwise been considered for. It is my belief that, because of now-known and since declassified actions initiated between Richard M. Bissell and Johnny Roselli, it all just flowed together carrying me with it. The following is as found in The Johnny Roselli Dossier. Notice the connection between Richard M.. Bissell and Roselli, especially date-wise, falling almost halfway between the time I first received my confidential clearance working for Harry the Man and being issued a top secret clearance in the military and how much had changed --- all leaning in MY direction --- between the two dates:

1. In August 1960, Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards to determine if the Office of Security had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro.

2. Because of its extreme sensitivity, only a small group was made privy to the project. The DCI was briefed and gave his approval. Colonel J. C. King, Chief, WH Division, was briefed, but all details were deliberately concealed from any of the JMWAVE officials. Certain TSD and Communications personnel participated in the initial planning stages, but were not witting of the purpose of the mission.

3. Robert A. Maheu, a cleared source of the Office of Security, was contacted, briefed generally on the project, and requested to ascertain if he could develop an entree into the gangster elements as the first step toward accomplishing the desired goal.

4. Mr. Maheu advised that he had met one Johnny Roselli on several,occasions while visiting Las Vegas. He only knew him casually through clients, but was given to understand that he was a high-ranking member of the "syndicate."


I had known Johnny Roselli since before I was ten years old, meeting him on and off a number of times over the years, usually in conjunction with something to do with my stepmother. In July of 1961, a little over a year before I was drafted, I entered into the last of any meetings with Roselli. The meetings were a series of three for my stepmother, basically acting on her behalf as a go-between, coordinating a business transaction between the two --- my stepmother not traveling much in those days nor wanting Roselli to see how far she had fallen. The thing is, unbeknownst to me, during those months before I was drafted, in Roselli's life, it was the exact sametime the feds put into place the most serious and intensive non-stop around-the-clock surveillance on him. In the process of that surveillance I got caught up in it to such a point that at least two of our three meetings were documented.(see)

As well, there is a good chance Roselli and I may have been photographed together sub rosa. In trying to identify who I was my connection through to the U-2 project most likely was determined and brought to the attention of upper echelon personnel. Instead of impacting me adversely it granted me a certain beyond the norm status.(see)

See also HOW I GOT THERE (Part II) as found in Footnote [8].

Also mentioned in the main quote opening this footnote and truly NOT Johnny Roselli related as well as being perhaps a little way-out for most people, is the mention of spark-gap transmitters and QRP transmitters, neither of which I am sure mean anything to anybody. However for those who may be so interested a more indepth look into the construction and use of spark-gap transmitters and QRP transmitters, along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers as mentioned and any potential application for clandestine purposes under extreme and primitive conditions, please see:



Footnote [8]

Following completion of Advanced Individual Training (AIT), except for a short detour to Fort Benning, Georgia, I was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas. From Riley, on TDY, I continued participating in an never ending series of so-called covert related training activities. During Christmas of 1963 I was enjoying two weeks of well earned leave thru to New Years and beyond at my grandmother's in Redondo Beach, California, when my First Sergeant called and told me go get my ass back to base. I told the top that I had a roundtrip ticket and it would be days before I could use it. He said, "Fuck the ticket, there will be a guy at the door any minute with a new one." After my return to base and basically being kept in isolation for four to six weeks, sometime into the second month of 1964, traveling light and wearing my Class A uniform per verbal orders, I boarded a train to Needles, California, with the luxury of my own sleeping compartment and eating in the dining car before the hoi polloi. From Needles, in the dark of the early morning hours, after dumping my uniform, I was taken by civilians as a civilian to Norton AFB near San Bernardino and from there flew to Travis AFB. A short time later, after rout-stepping around Tan Son Nhut Air Base for several weeks and visiting Saigon a bunch of times, nearly always by myself and never having been officially assigned to a unit, found me in Long Tieng, Laos, thanks to my puppet master Richard M. Bissell, Jr., with nobody knowing I was there and having bypassed basically all military paperwork and protocol --- albeit at first in the early days at least, sometimes, depending on the situation, in fully sheep-dipped fatigues with no patches, names or identifying marks.(see)

Then, having fallen off the grid soon after arriving in Chiang Mai as described in Footnote [7], relative to the big-time behind-the-scene progenitors and heavyweight hot dogs that headed up what or who I refer to as the powers that be, that is, my bosses or brass up and down my chain of command --- most if not all that I never met or saw --- in their eyes or if they even knew, if I wasn't dead I must have went missing, or possibly disappeared by straying off the reservation in their vernacular.

In that everything was eyes only and off the books, and because of such I didn't in fact exist in any paperwork lineage or to anybody above the person above me, there wasn't anything anybody could do about it on an official level anyway. Even if I had 'strayed off the reservation,' and located in some fashion, since I was officially a civilian what laws were compromised or events promoted or participated in that anybody could or would come forward and either admit to or point out? Theoretically, on the official level no punishment or reprimand could be metered out. However, in that I no longer existed, it wouldn't matter what was done one way or the other because nobody would ever know about it. Besides, even as a civilian I wasn't who I was anyway. Without personally going into it any further, in a semi-cryptic clarification, the following is found at the Sheep Dipped site, linked previously elsewhere. You can take it for what it is worth:

"Then, rather than actually being released, records are pulled from the Army personnel files and transferred to a special Army intelligence file. Substitute but nonetheless real-appearing records are then processed, and the man 'leaves' the service. He is encouraged to write to friends and give a cover reason why he got out. He goes to his bank and charge card services and changes his status to civilian, and does the hundreds of other official and personal things that any man would do if he really had gotten out of the service."

One of the things a large number of people don't seem to realize is that when traveling abroad, and sometimes even in your own home country, you are only what or who your paperwork says you are. Take away your identification --- drivers license, passport, etc. --- especially if done so by authorities, legally or otherwise, suddenly you are no longer who you say you are. That is, if your passport has been confiscated while traveling in a foreign country and you end up free enough to be asked to show it or attempting to leave, believe me, it can escalate into becoming a rather dicey situation quickly.

When I was in the Peace Corps they issued a new passport that related back in some fashion to me being in the Peace Corps. In that I already had a regularly issued passport, knowing what I know relative to the above, I took that regular passport along with me as well --- in case some kind of in-country authority-or-the-other demanded and kept my passport, I still had one to get out of the country with, or at least to identify myself at the U.S. Embassy, that is, if I was able to get to it. The following, written by me is found at the source so cited:

"One of the things I learned in the Peace Corps and the military is that just about everything in the tropics disintegrates rather quickly if left unattended, especially paper. Even though the reasons for my being in Jamaica were considered to be highly humanitarian in nature, humanitarian or not, when you travel, you are still only who your paperwork says you are. Because I was planning on living in Jamaica a couple of years some people concerned with my overall well being insisted I take my old military dog tags with me. That way, since I always seem to find myself in places I shouldn't be, if I ended up rotting away someplace, so their theory went, at least my metal dog tags might survive long enough to identify me."(source)

As far as sheep-dipping is concerned sometimes you would travel without one single piece of identification that could tie you back to anything. You could have been issued a passport with your new civilian identification, but that passport was typically if not always held in abeyance somewhere beyond or outside the loop unless situations dictated otherwise. Personally, however, I did learn from a kicker working out of the cargo hold of a C-123 to always carry something of tradable value hidden someplace. After that, without anybody's knowledge I almost always had one or two one-ounce 999.9 pure Credit Suisse gold chips with me somewhere or the other.

Footnote [9]

"Once through the main portal the time associated within the walls of the monastery and the land beyond flowed like the surface of a Mobius Strip, non-orientable."

"That's why some monks and myself for instance could pass back and forth without hindrance IF a lot of time within the monastery and monastery proper relative to the outside had not passed. No significant aging would transpire. But, lets say one was within the confines of the monastery having passed through the portals and never left for a 100 years of outside time. If they went through the doors to the other side, and even though they remained virtually ageless within the monastery, once outside most likely they would turn to dust."

In addition to the above two quotes as found in the main text and footnotes, there are a couple of other interesting facets to this non-orientable time situation relative to my own experience that might possibly throw some light on the subject, especially if taken in conjunction with some aspects of the Twin Paradox and the myriad of non-orientable links I've provided elsewhere.(see)

First, and probably the most straight forward example is found in a couple of places in my writings. It circulates around an event wherein I left the monastery on foot for a several day arduous trek high into the mountains to meet up with an ancient man of Zen. Even though there was a huge gap between the two of us knowing or understanding each others verbal or spoken languages, one evening we entered into a thought process of understanding with the following results:

"In the thoughts he was willing to share he revealed he had spent many, many years as a young man on the other side of time in Gyanganj, but one day he passed through the monastery portals to the outside world and when he did, he became an old man. Before the full abilities of the thought exchange phenomenon faded into oblivion I brought up, considering his age, about the arduous trip back and forth through the mountains to and from the monastery for example, and how, even for me in my somewhat comparable youth and the physical condition that accompanies it, how difficult it was. What I garnered as a response was that I travel my way and he travels his way."(see)

Second is an example that might be a little more difficult to fathom. In the summer of 1960, somewhat more than half-way between the time I graduated from high school and was drafted, a buddy of mine and I went of an extended all summer long road-trip through Mexico. After driving as far south as the Yucatan and the Chicxulub crater on the way to Chichen Itza, the following, from the source so cited, is found:

"In the meantime, not being able to sleep myself, with no real artifical light nearby or any being produced around the horizon polluting the night sky, I pulled my telescope out of its box and, turning on the headlights for a few minutes so I could see, proceeded to set it up. Then, before shutting off the lights, looked at my circular sky chart I invariably carried with me in those days to find the best time to view M31, otherwise known as the Andromeda Galaxy.(source)

What is relevant here is my mention of the 'circular sky chart I invariably carried with me.' The sky chart was a flat paper card-stock device about 8 or 10 inches square with a circular wheel that could be turned and in the process, show the position of the stars and constellations at any given time. I still have the same chart and even though it remains a faithful standby I no longer carry it with me on my travels having been semi-superseded by a Night Sky i-Pad app, albeit in those days, I always had it amongst my stuff. While I have gone on-and-on about the Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph decoder badge I have not mentioned the sky chart and have done so purposely to spring it on you now.

Except possibly for what is found in Footnote [10] under the sub-heading And Now This, and although everybody reading this might not agree, the paragraphs in the rest of this footnote presents probably the most important thing ever written about the existence of Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La in modern times. In Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery the following is found:

"(B)ut on nights between the clouds or without clouds, so many stars seemed to blank out the night sky you could hardly make out any constellations."

While at the monastery I spent many a cold night meditating outside and on occasion pondering the stars. One night, having a familiarity and strong working knowledge of astronomy it dawned on me because whatever the time difference that occurred or didn't occur inside the walls where I was and that of the outside world --- unless it was a mind game --- there would have to be a difference in star position, if by nothing else the 26,000 year precession of the poles or precession of the equinox, however slight or minor, between the two. From that difference, if there was one, one's place in time could then possibly be determined.

After passing through the doors into the monastery I went around to the outside front of the monastery and measured off a respectful distance and spent several nights observing the stars and taking note of their positions. After so many days I exited through the monastery doors to the outside world and measured off the exact same distance, sitting in what would duplicate the same spot, again spending several nights observing the stars and taking note of their position. When someone took notice I was doing 'something' I was strongly and harshly reprimanded by the Master and in so many non-understandable words told to cease and desist.

I never did a formal follow up. However, unscientific as what I did was, using my sky chart, fixed mountain peaks relative to the rising and setting of stars, position of the circumpolar constellations, etc., I did observe quite dramatically so, a parallax --- a parallax position-movement similar to what occurs when looking at a close object and blink one eye as opposed to the other and the difference of apparent movement because of bifocal vision --- the implication being an actual physical time-frame reference difference between the two realms. To my knowledge, relative to the existence of Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La, in the history of the world, I am the only person to have ever done such a thing.



Footnote [10]

Crossing the ashram grounds after sitting with the boy, all the while carefully repositioning the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph in my front pocket ensuring the pin was facing away from my leg, the pin having stuck my thigh somewhat earlier, thus setting into motion, almost as though by destiny, the photo being replaced by me some moments afterwards. By doing so my decoder no longer carried a picture of me as a young boy, but instead that of Captain Midnight for reasons, other than the boy and I just exchanging them for the heck of it, unknown. Within minutes of the exchange, as I was about to exit the gate, I saw a man and a woman, both white, dashing across the compound towards me in a seeming frenzy, especially so the woman of the couple.

Other than them being with the boy thus giving me a semi-possible insight, I really didn't recognize either of them, nor in my day-to-day surface thoughts did I have any reason to. Just as the actions of the woman on the farm seem to convey her trust in me, as did the Zen master at the monastery regarding my situation, AND, even though the woman at the farm seemed convinced at another level of understanding saying quite emphatically in discussion of the matter, "We shall see," I carried no real memory at the depth required to flesh out me having stayed with or being involved with any couple in relation to India. And I'm talking starting from the very moment I was selected to live with a couple prior to my mother's death clear through to going to India then only to be dropped off unannounced at my grandmother's on my father's side months and months later. However, from just before my teenage years onward, a steadying stream of bubbles, some small, some large, regarding my trip to India along with inklings regarding the couple, had begun to surface. Thus said, by this time in my life, the age of being drafted into the military and all, I had accumulated a sufficient amount of information --- bubbles notwithstanding, none at that moment being known or recognizable gurgling up from any past memory level, but only from the learned-since mental construct level --- that my first knee-jerk reaction and thus then, acted on reaction, although now in hindsight I wish I hadn't, was to avoid the couple at all costs --- which is what I did.(see)


During my first visit to the ashram, at least how it has come down to me, is that the couple I traveled to India with, initially went to attend the Theosophists Society's 67th International Convention held December 26-31, 1943, taking me with them. Their destination was the Society's international headquarters in Adyar, India, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean near Madras, some 95 miles northeast of Tiruvannamalai. Apparently, sometime in January 1944 after the various convention activities reached their conclusion, the couple decided to travel to Tiruvannamalai and the ashram of Sri Ramana, an excursion that grew, planned or unplanned, into an extended several month stay.(see)

The couple's attendance at the ashram with me in tow, although not pinpointed to a specific arrival of or departure day and date, was duly noted by the foremost chronicler of their visit to India, Ramana adherent C.R. Rajamani. Rajamani, while also speaking of a white-skinned boy he saw in the ashram with the couple, goes on to tell of his own visit to the ashram, of which can be seen, clearly overlapped the same time period the couple was there:

"(I)t may have been December or January. I remember the season was quite cool. The summit of the holy mountain Arunachala was shrouded in dense mist and clouds. The morning air was crisp and pleasant."

The most specific date I have for me being at the ashram comes from a childhood friend of mine by the name of Adam Osborne, the son of Arthur Osborne, a well known and well received author of a number of excellent books on Sri Ramana. To me, Adam Osborne recounted the following, as found in the Osborne link so cited:

"(He) said he remembered me quite well because I was the only anglo boy his age he ever really met in his early years. He said he could not remember if our time together was long or short, if it lasted just days or stretched into weeks, but he did remember, even though he was not doing meditation specifically like I was, the two of us still found time to run all over the place getting in trouble --- even to the point of being admonished by the Maharshi."

Osborne and I crossed paths as adults one day after the two of us had not seen each other since we were both kids. In those days, when he was a kid, he was basically growing up at the ashram and it is there where the two of us met. In reminiscing about our childhood he brought up the fact that the two of us had circumabulated the holy hill of Arunachala together. He said some years before our current meeting he had been contacted by a man of deep spiritual attainment by the name of William Samuel, Samuel having attainted that exalted state during the throes of war as so described by him personally in A Soldier's Story. Samuel recalled the two of us along with himself and Osborne's mother and a few others had performed Giri Valam, circumambulation of Arunachala. That circumambulation occurred on the night of the full moon, April 1944. In April 1944 the moon was full on Saturday April 8th.

That put me at the ashram proper from sometime in January to early April 1944, but on my way home onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean, by all indications, as figured out in MV Tulagi, toward the end of May, 1944 and most likely back in the states sometime in June, 1944. The June, 1944 date is fairly solid assumption in that I was on my way to California as a passenger on the Santa Fe Chief that wrecked outside Williams, Arizona on the night of July 3, 1944 as presented in Footnote [6] and elsewhere.

Adam Osborne also remembered quite well that I had a decoder badge with me while at the ashram. The following is in regards to the decoder, Osborne, and myself as found in the same source as previously cited:

"(B)ecause for both of us our situations for being in India was such that it was not specifically within our control, neither of us really had anything like toys or anything similar typical kids our age might have so to speak. The Code-O-Graph was a huge exception to that aspect of our lives. He said he remembered it fondly because the badge sort of connected him back to a normal childhood in a sense. Apparently I would write a code using the badge, give it him, he would decipher it then write one and give to me to decipher. When I told him after all the years I still had the same decoder he could hardly believe it. The next time we met I brought the decoder with me and it was easy to see when he held the badge it sent him back to another time, his eyes even filling with tears."

In a quick synopsis of Adam's childhood during the time period we are talking about here --- and the "really not having anything like toys or anything similar typical kids our age might have so to speak," aspect of it all --- had really come about for a number of reasons, with the war being one of them.

Osborne's father was a British subject and worked in Thailand. He and his family just happened to be on vacation in India when the war broke out. His father returned to his job in Thailand, but, because of how unsettled everything was, he had Adam and his mother and two sisters go to the south of India to stay with friends. Shortly after returning to Thailand his father was placed into an internment camp by the Japanese and not released until the war ended. In the meantime Adam grew up in Tiruvannamalai and the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi starting around age 2 until he left for England sometime around age 11. So said, initially, at least in the early years, Adam had no more than any kid might have with them on what was originally intended as a vacation.(see)


A paragraph in the main text regarding my second visit to the ashram, referring to my observations of the ashram grounds and facilities while crossing the compound only to end up, surprisingly enough, in the presence of the Maharshi himself in the Old Hall, and for three hours at that, contains the following sentences:

"Changes that I had read about, seen photographs of, or been told about that occurred, mysteriously hadn't seemed to have been put into place. The New Hall for example. Ground work for the foundation of what has since come to be known as the New Hall had been started within a year or so of my first departure and since that time had been completed enough for Ramana to participate in an opening ceremony. As I was crossing the compound not one thing of a New Hall could be seen"

Construction on the somewhat more conservative built Old Hall, pictured on the left below, was started in 1922 and completed in 1928. The foundation for the much larger and more ornate New Hall, shown on the right, began January 25, 1945 with the cornerstone laid in presence of Bhagavan on June 25th. By February 1949, most of the construction was completed and consecration was set for March 17, 1949. By March 17th, because of his continuing illness, Ramana was too weak to turn the lock, requiring assistance to do so.



You may also recall from the main text, Sri V. Ganesan writes, in reference to the second visit, that the 'American' entered the ashram and sat before the Bhagavan for three hours and that some kind of communication was going on between them during this time. There was a deep silence and no words were exchanged. When questioned about it afterwards Ramana replied:

"He got what he wanted. His mission is over. Where is the need to stay on further? Everything ends in the now."

As to the timing of the second visit, in Hope Savage I write that the day before Allen Ginsberg left Calcutta and the two of them said their goodbyes, Indian authorities had handed Savage an expulsion notice, giving her just ten days to leave the country. Then I write somewhat short of two years (actually, slightly less than a year and a half later) after those same Indian authorities attempted to expel Savage from their country, found me in the then wide-open drug infested railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand. It wasn't long after that I ended up inside the monastery. Then, following a visit by an ancient man of Zen who lived even higher in an even more remote area of the Himalayas, as soon as I could and weather permitted, I returned the visit. It was on the long trek back from the Zen man's abode that I met Hope Savage. Taken together, it was during that same passage of time that I met the woman at the farm house, followed her out into the lake only to end up in Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana ashram, embedded it seems, in an undisclosed period of time. However, at least as it appears on the surface literally and if one disregards from my own observation the fact that the 1945 New Hall wasn't even remotely started or put into place at the ashram for some reason, nor did anybody I meet at the ashram have a remote clue as to Arthur Osborne was, everything from Chiang Mai forward to my eventual return to Rangoon and beyond as outlined in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, including the events at the ashram, once added up, continued, or at least how time is presently constituted in the Samsara world, to move on enveloped by the year 1964.(see)


During my second visit, after leaving the young boy at the ashram and successfully ditching the couple in the crowds, I began wending my way through the streets of Tiruvannamalai hoping to locate the house of the man who assisted me getting to the ashram so I could retrieve my boots and stuff that had been left in the sun to dry on the roof of the house next to his. In the heat of the day I stopped at the stand of a street vendor looking at the cool drinks he had to offer when a well dressed anglo man in a suit stepped up beside me looking at my bare feet and asking if I was British. I told him no, I was an American. After a smart quip saying, "Yanks!," he said I shouldn't really be drinking or eating anything from a street vendor. I told him it didn't matter much in that I didn't have any money anyway. After a quick explanation of my plight he motioned for me to follow him ending up with just me sitting at a two-place table along the railing of a raised head-high shaded veranda of a very nice establishment overlooking the street. Rather than sit he remained standing and motioned the server over telling him to bring me a nice, big cold drink and anything else I wanted. Then he placed several bills of an undisclosed amount on a plate sitting on the table, gave me a head nod, turned and went down the stairs into the crowd. That was the last I saw of him.

When I finished my drink and a filling meal the server picked up the money the man left on the plate, returning with change. Leaving some on the table I put the rest in my pocket and of which one was a brand new shiny 1943 1/4 rupee coin.

After finally locating the house and finding no one home but getting an OK from the next door neighbors to retrieve my stuff off the roof I then sat on the bottom of the stairs leading to the upper house from the central courtyard, drinking masala chai offered me by the neighbor. Unbeknownst to anyone, using a small knife given me by the neighbors to spread or cut a hard little jam biscuit that came along with the tea I scraped a small slot-like notch between the tiles and blocks of a planter-like wall leading away from the stairs, then wedged the brand new 1943 1/4 rupee coin I had with me into the slot, smearing the opening over the best I could with the scrapings.

The idea for doing such a thing came about from something I remembered my father told me he had done when he was a young man bumming around the country in the early 1920s to the early 30s. Barely escaping out of Oklahoma after the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 --- where he said he observed troops of the National Guard positioned high in a church steeple manning a water-cooled machine gun strafing masses of Blacks in the street --- he made his way north, ending up in Columbus, Ohio. There he went to the top of the observation deck of what has since come to be known as the LeVeque Tower. Taking a brand new penny with the same year on it he was there he pushed the penny down into a small slot between a couple of the blocks or bricks that made up part of the observation deck wall. The idea was that he would return one day and retrieve it. Although he never returned and as far as I know the penny is still there, I always liked the idea.


Years later, when I went back to the ashram for my third visit, I went out into Tiruvannamalai's narrow streets and closely spaced cluster of structures and houses to seek out the man who assisted me. His son, who appeared to be around 50 years of age, was then living in the house with his family, his father having passed away some years before. He told me he remembered when he was about ten years old a white man had stayed at his house and did have, after I explained to him what I was talking about, a decoder badge that the man had almost left there. I asked if would be OK for me to search for a coin I thought was wedged between the tiles of the wall. Although not totally understanding, he saw no problem with it. After a few minutes I was able to pull out the 1943 1/4 rupee coin. Handing him the coin I thanked him and left.

The Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi died April 14, 1950.(see)




Footnote [11]

During World War II, because of my dad's age combined with the fact he had three young kids, he ended up being draft exempt. He wanted to join the Navy construction battalion called the SeaBees and, although my mother and other close family members were reluctant to support him in his efforts, he did try diligently over-and-over to join. He was somewhat older than the average age for SeaBees during WWII, which was 37, but even as others his age or older were accepted, for whatever reason he was turned down each time, something he rued to his last days because some of his friends made it and some of those same friends never made it back. He did however, as part of the war effort, work almost the full length of the war constructing the much needed Liberty Ships at Terminal Island and was as well, an Air Raid Warden.(see)

Terminal Island, where my dad worked in some fashion on the construction of Liberty ships for the California Shipbuilding Corporation, is a small water surrounded plot of land wedged between San Pedro on the west and the city of Long Beach on the east. Although nowdays Terminal Island is more or less a smooth running part of the bigger Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach complex, during the war years, not just Terminal Island but the whole area from one end to the other was a smoky, oily, hodge-podge of overlapping docks, piers, barges, wharfs, and buildings, covered from one end to the other with cranes, railroad tracks and ships --- some of them even floating or seaworthy. So too, the cities of San Pedro on the west and Long Beach on the east that bordered up against the ports and shipyards were wide open Navy towns with an almost anything goes attitude.

One day on a rare day off my dad had some job related business he had to attend too that required a special trip to Terminal Island to deal with it. In those days gas rationing was nationwide and you just didn't go driving around for the heck of it. As a treat to my brothers and me my dad tied his work related trip into taking the three of us kids to spend the remaining part of the day and into the night at a huge waterfront amusement park not much farther away in Long Beach called The Pike.

The Pike, was, for sure, during World War II a wide open place, crawling with sailors and those that preyed on them. I absolutely loved the place. It was wild, colorful, exciting and reeked with a certain sense of Terry and the Pirates danger. As we were inching our way through the crowded thoroughfare taking in all the sights and sounds, as funny as it seemed, a number of people running some of the booths knew my dad. Seems when he was on the road in his youth he worked as a "carny" or barker for a traveling carnival and in the process learned all the secret signs and inside dope.(see) The old timers could easily tell he wasn't a rube or mark. Soon we were in the back in a hang out come eating area set aside for workers, with my dad and a bunch of his new found or long lost cronies going over the old times --- something I never knew about my dad until then --- especially the part when one of the men began to razz him about when he was a barker and had, so he said people said, fallen in love with a star attraction in one of the shows, a woman that was only 21 inches tall. My dad said she was so small that she could stand in the palm of his hand.

(please click)

Having been pulled from the glitz and milieu of the midway and plunked down out of the loop in the satrapy of a bunch of "Ten-in-One" sideshow inhabitants I pretty quickly found myself a little on the bored side. All of maybe five years old at the most, and without permission or my dad noticing, I slipped out, wending my way through the maze of narrow passageways and garbage strewn back alleys I hoped led toward the glowing actions of the rides, games, and booths. Once on the midway it wasn't long before I passed a heavily made-up yet strikingly beautiful woman sitting on a stool who looked all the same as being a Hollywood version of a gypsy. She was basically staring straight ahead not really focusing on any of the goings on. After I passed I turned back to look at her over my shoulder and without moving her head I could see she had followed me with her eyes. As soon as we made eye contact she redirected her gaze. Then a man in well worn oversize brown suit with a vest and the jacket unbuttoned put his hand on my shoulder bending over to my height looking straight into my eyes. I tried to break loose from his grip but he just held tighter. "Like your fortune told, boy," he asked, adding that it would cost twenty five cents. Just then my dad stepped up with a couple of his new found friends and the man let loose, backing away saying he was just trying to make a living. The woman who was dressed like a gypsy said to wait. The man looked at my dad to see if was OK to proceed, receiving a nod of approval. The man turned and asked if I had anything of value and I did, at least to me I did, my Captain Midnight decoder. With his back to the woman he took the decoder into his hand and put it to his forehead and asked a couple of simple questions then turned and handed the decoder to the woman. Before she could answer, as soon as her fingers touched the badge she slumped over and fell off the stool to the ground, the decoder falling to the ground as well, just beyond the reach of her outstretched arm.

The man assured my dad it wasn't part of the act as they tried to revive her. With the assist of a man who stepped forward from the crowd the woman was back on her stool albeit somewhat disheveled. During the assist the man from the crowd had also picked up the decoder. She motioned to the man, who by now was talking to my dad as they seemed to know each other from the shipyards, to hand her the decoder. Holding the hand of the man who assisted, using her other hand she placed the decoder in the palm of my hand and while slightly touching her lips to my forehead, she gently folded my fingers closed over the top of the decoder and said, "Your future and past is already marked by what is held in all of our hands." The assisting man from the crowd that my dad knew from the Terminal Island shipyards and now holding hands with the gypsy through to me was a man named Guy Hague, who, as it came out later, known for having studied under the Bhagavan Sri Ramana in the late 1930s. Several years after the Pike incident, when I was a young teenager with only a few years of high school under my belt, Hague and I were to cross paths again, a number of times actually.(see)

Footnote [12]

When my younger brother mentioned he was sure he remembered the decoder as having a photo of me as a boy, but now instead had a picture of Captain Midnight in the square, and with me not pursuing or expanding the conversation beyond a mere silent lack of agreement face gesture and shrugging of the shoulders, he moved on brushing it off as not much more than a faulty memory on his part. However, he wasn't the only one from my childhood to take notice. Adam Osborne, in one of our meetings as adults, after I showed him the decoder badge from my childhood as mentioned in Footnote [10], the following happened:

"In silence Osborne toyed with the dial for the longest time, turning it back and forth and spinning it around as though he was making or deciphering a code saying, 'This was the first computer I ever held.'

"Handing the Code-O-Graph back he interjected as well that he was certain he remembered the badge as having instead of a photograph of Captain Midnight, a photograph of me, looking all the same as he did when we were both kids --- in essence, regarding the photograph, repeating almost the exact same thing my younger brother alluded to when he saw the decoder after many, many years."(source)

Some years ago my first cousin (the daughter of my mother's sister), as an adult, was involved in a very serious vehicular accident, and of which the results of eventually took her husband's life. She herself was in and out of consciousness for weeks at a time as well as being in traction for some 18 months following the accident. When she was finally able to get up and around, in what she thought would be, considering the circumstances, a resumption to a normal life, it was discovered she had a significant memory loss, unable to recall large portions of her life.

As a part of a healing regimen one of her doctors suggested she return to what would be familiar areas of her childhood or view objects or photos from the same time in her life and talk about them with somebody who knew about them in an offhand effort to reignite some of her early memories. So said, her niece, knowing that some portion of her childhood was spent with my family prior to my mother's death, contacted me wanting to know if I had any old photos or mementos from those days that might be of use solving my cousin's dilemma.

Actually, it had been from at least my cousin's late teens to early twenties since there had been any sort of contact between the two of us, and then, out of nowhere, her niece telling me the depth of the situation sort of set me aback. I told the niece, who I had never met or didn't even know existed, that I really didn't have much if anything per se' but my younger brother, upon the death of our father had 'inherited' several boxes full of miscellaneous items of which I was sure might contain any amount of potentially relevant stuff.

I contacted my brother, who also had not seen or talked to our first cousin in years and years, and who, after telling him her story, felt anything he could do to help he would. He did say however, before taking the boxes left by our dad he only went through them briefly, and then only a few, because the woman my dad was married to at the time, at first, made him open them one by one watching every move he made and making sure nothing was in any of them that was of concern to her. Instead, my brother balking at her nastiness, just took them and simply stored them away in a conex container with tons of other stuff thinking he would go through them another day.(see) He did know there was a lot of old photos of our family and mother that our father had, upon her death, practically sealed up and secreted away for years. To my brother's knowledge they hadn't really been gone through by anybody since. He felt there could be something in there that might be of some help to our cousin, although he said, it would take a week or two to dig out all the boxes and go through them.

A few weeks later when my brother was ready and gave the go-ahead I met with my first cousin for the first time in years and she, her niece, and I went on a road trip to my brother's. While it is true a whole lot of photos and mementos, many of which I had never seen or knew existed, such as among the mementos a lock of my mother's hair or dancing shoes she had worn when she was a dancer, had fallen into my brother's hands and going through it all was highly enlightening regarding even portions of my own childhood, none of our efforts seemed to make a dent or help our cousin in reopening any pathway into her loss of memory.

The piles of various black and white photos of every size and shape of my family were taken during the period of time when my brothers and I were kids, all the photos except possibly a minor few were taken prior to my mother's death, and for sure none of us three kids together after her death.

However, and this is one of the biggest howevers ever, and why all of the above is relevant: In what appeared to be a series of consecutively taken photographs, all seemingly done at the same time and at the same location, there were four that clearly showed the three of us kids standing behind a dark colored 1939 Plymouth four door sedan, with my older brother standing on the ground and my younger brother and I on the rear bumper.

The photos were taken at what looked to be a railroad yard of a train station or possibly a dock or pier of some sort. The car in the photos was identified as having belonged to my grandmother from before the war years up to at least 1950, something both my younger brother and I clearly remembered. Among that series of four photographs was one that was a head-and-shoulder close-up of just my younger brother and myself, of which where the picture of my face should have been, was instead a hole. Actually a carefully cut away square hole, as if done so by an extremely steady hand using an ultra sharp razor blade or an x-acto knife.

All the time I was at my brother's that photo kept gnawing away at me. What would be the use of a picture of my face being cut out, especially so no matter how neat it was done, would still ruin the rest of the photo. Then it dinged. I went back through the photos until I found it, then using the inside edges of the cut out opening as a template drew the square on a piece of paper. When I returned home I matched the square I drew with the size required to fit snugly into the opening of my Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph. The size matched perfectly. Although I left the photo that had my face cut out at my brother's with the rest of the photos, on the back of one of the series of four, in cursive writing, most likely in my mother's or grandmother's hand and using fountain pen ink, was the first names of my two brothers and myself along with the words 'Union Station' and the date 1942-43.(see)


My cousin, after having lost a good portion of her memory because of a deep trauma, as part of her healing regimen, was recommended by one of her doctors to return to what would be familiar areas of her childhood or view objects or photos from the same period of time in her life in an offhand effort to reignite some of her early memories. Although implemented in two dramatically different fashions, the stories of my cousin and I parallel in a near mirror image and the solution decided upon by the Zen master high in the mountains of the Himalayas in relation to me reflects that. It should be noted the cousin so mentioned was not that many steps behind me the night I stumbled upon her father within minutes of his suicide, the START of the mitigating circumstances I write about so often and presented briefly below:


Upon my return from India, with my mother dead, my two brothers dispersed across the country living with separate families and my father long gone, my grandmother, before the chance arose for me to be placed into a foster home, took me. I was with her but a few months when we went to see her only remaining child, a daughter, my mother's younger sister. Her husband, unrelated to any of the events surrounding the death of my mother or the falling apart of my side of the family, had swirled, somewhat quickly, into a relentless state of deep depression. My grandmother went to lend support to her daughter, taking me with her. One day, after going shopping all day long in town with my grandmother and her daughter and her two children, we returned and pulled up in front of the garage. I got out of the car and opened the two side-by-side wooden garage doors. There right in front of me on the floor of the garage only a few feet away in the glare of the headlights, in a slowly expanding pool of blood, was what was left of the husband of my mother's sister. The whole back of his head blown out from the blast of a double barrel shotgun he stuck in his mouth. His body laying there apparently falling off a still upright straight-back wooden chair with his once onetime skull full of brain now empty. Gone were all the synapses and neurons and everything that went with them, turned now into nothing but bloody silver-gray yellowish meat splattered all over the upper reaches of the nearby open-studded walls and exposed rafters.

There I was, a little kid barely even closing down on six or seven years of age, not long returned from India, without a mother, having missed both her final days and her funeral as well, standing with my mouth open, staring down on what only minutes before was someone else dear to me, not just gone, but excruciatingly gone. My aunt, stunned into disbelief at what she saw, with the car still in gear and engine running let her foot slip from the clutch as she apparently tried to step out of the car and run toward her husband. The vehicle lurched forward in one huge leap, crashing into the swung open garage door knocking it and me down and rendering me unconscious. It took months and months and reasons unknown before I suddenly came out of a nearly amnesia-like walking coma --- and even then, not fully so until years later. Everything that I knew and should have remembered about my mother's sickness, India, the time leading up to that moment in the garage, and being with my grandmother, either evaporated or was deeply covered over. Days, weeks, months, all gone. In closing that gap I remembered only up to one side, a side well before my mother ever got sick. A happy loving childhood with a mother and father and playing with my brothers and kids in the neighborhood. A house full of toys and my older brother learning to ride a bicycle. Then suddenly out of nowhere finding myself months later on the other side, getting out of a car clutching a tiny suitcase with nothing but a handful of crummy belongings and sack full of dirty underwear and not knowing how I got there. Standing on the sidewalk not much more than a simple beleaguered young boy with no mother and a father long gone, being taken by a stranger to live with a couple that owned a flower shop, a couple I was sure I had never seen or heard of in my life --- followed by a period of time which encompassed the failure of me to stay with the flower shop people for very long before running away --- on more than one occasion --- and because of same, ending up with living with my grandmother and uncle, with everything else in-between those two moments of my short childhood gone.




A few years after the death of my mother, followed then by my return from India and a short stint living with my grandmother with some assist from my uncle, my dad, the father of three young boys and the widower that he was, remarried.

Not long after that, while living under the auspices of my dad and new stepmother but overseen by my uncle, one day I noticed the boy that delivered the afternoon newspaper was hand-pushing his heavily laden bike back in the opposite direction he usually went. Seems he had been several blocks into the route when he ran over some object that punctured the rear tire. Since he had something like a 100 papers in dual bags over the handlebars and rear wheel, plus the bike was a motorized Whizzer, he was reluctant to just leave it sitting, so he was pushing it home to repair the puncture. I told him I could wait with the bike if he liked and he could just run home and get the repair stuff. Thinking it wasn't a bad idea he did just that. After that, every afternoon that my uncle allowed it I would go to the boy's house and help fold papers and just hang out until he left on his route.

During the summer of that year the newspaper publishing company he worked for had a contest that offered a free one week trip to Catalina Island, all expenses paid, for selling the most subscriptions. The boy won and during the last part of August and the first part of September 1946, a few weeks before school started, he went, taking me along with him after convincing his boss how much work I had done.

The delivery boy and I left for Catalina on Friday August 30, 1946. The next day, Saturday the 31st, we went on the inland motor tour only to get stuck at the stage stop overnight when we missed the bus back to Avalon.(see) The best I can figure, the Ramana related Siddhi event as laid out in the quote below and experienced by me, occurred sometime after midnight into the early morning hours of Sunday, September 1st, coinciding with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Maharshi's arrival at Arunachala.

In that daylight savings time was not in place in California during the year 1946 there existed an approximately 13 and 1/2 hour difference in time between the Ramana ashram in Tiruvannamalai and the island of Santa Catalina in California, making say a 2:00 AM Sunday time in Catalina around a 3:30 PM Sunday time, September 1st at the Ashram. The following refers to the aforementioned Siddhi event as found in The Last American Darshan previously cited:

"Even though the stage stop was thousands upon thousands of miles away from India, Ramana was there. What he was doing was replicating what happened considerably less than a few years before at the ashram, only now a super-concentrated effort on his part to bring about or re-insitgate the Experience. On my own accord, in the darkness, I sought out and found the matches and struck the flame. The "spark that ignited my spiritual fire" is mirrored in the spark of the match held to the light-generating properties innate to reasons of the lantern. I was holding the lantern high above my head, the lantern emitting a dim light --- or more accurately the room was so big and filled with darkness relative to that first small flame that the darkness simply absorbed the light --- giving the impression of a dimly lit room. The dimly lit room was me, the lantern and the light were one, the light intended to illuminate the room (me). With a turning sweep of dim light, at the top of the arc the light flickered and went out. I clearly saw the dark-skinned man standing in the open doorway and then, in that waffer-thin edge-on membrane of darkness he was gone. That membrane of darkness was when I entered the blackout period, and the man, Ramana, was gone --- gone from any memory. The light rekindled itself. That is, Ramana returned through the use of Siddhis to the stage stop to rekindle the lost light. Next to him was the man who was to become my Mentor, there to ensure Ramana's efforts were not lost."

Throughout the entire day Sunday, September 1, 1946, from 7:00 AM until 7:15 PM, there was at the Ramana ashram a huge celebration recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Maharshi's arrival at Arunachala. During Ramana's typical or usual schedule he would have taken rest from the meditation hall starting around 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM. However, on September 1st things were different. For one thing, to accommodate the crowds there had been constructed a large thatched roof space beyond the meditation hall given the name Jubilee Hall. Because of the numbers in attendance, Ramana, not wanting to disappoint anyone desiring Darshan, especially so those who may have traveled great distances, took a leave of only one hour, between 11:00 AM and noon. Other than that one hour departure Ramana was not observed physically leaving his sofa except for about 15 minutes around 5:00 PM, although on-and-off throughout the afternoon, even with his good intentions, he had been seen either in deep Samadhi or dozing on occasion.

Regarding the Maharshi at the ashram that day, the following personal observations by devotee Suri Nagamma, referring to the same September 1st 50th anniversary, are found in Letter 75, THE GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS, written eight days after the event on September 9, 1946, as found in the book compilation titled Letters From and Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam. Of Ramana, Suri Nagamma writes:

"He is there as an observer, seeing everything but unaffected, without any gunas (attributes) and as the embodiment of pranava. In the same manner, he was there without any movement, absorbed in his own Self, seeing and hearing everything but silent all through."(see)

Ramana adherent Framji Dorabji speaking of one of the foremost disciples, devotees, followers or advocates of Sri Ramana Maharshi and his principles, Sri H. W. L. Poonja (1910-1997), AKA Poonjaji or Papaji, recounted the story of a Siddhi related translocation of the Bhagavan circa 1944 wherein he visited Poonja in his home in the Punjab prior to Poonja becoming a follower.

At the time Poonja did not know of the Maharshi, but was told by the sadhu during the visit about him and that he should go see him. Following the instructions he went to the ashram only to discover the sadhu who visited him and the holy man he traveled to see was the same person. Thinking the whole thing was a sham or he was being deceived Poonja was about to leave when Dorabji, who knew that the Bhagavan had not left Tiruvannamalai, at least in the traditional way, in forty-eight years, convinced him otherwise, telling Poonja:

"(S)omehow, through his power, he managed to manifest himself in the Punjab while his physical body was still here."

The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi, page 677

A few paragraphs back in the quote referencing Ramana's Siddhi-related event where he "replicated what happened considerably less than a few years before at the ashram" refers to the Awakening incident in the ashram roughly two years before that was duly reported by Ramana adherent C.R. Rajamani. Rajamani writes:

"Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness."(source)

The seeming disappearance or evaporation of that SPECIFIC Enlightenment experience, the hole filled over or heavily veiled via the aforementioned mitigating circumstances, induced the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to implement the seldom used by him super normal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. Ramana was not about to let any spiritual traveler, little boy or otherwise, slip back into the day-to-day quagmire of the Samsara world. Especially so after, through his own grace, from a mere spark, had ignited a spiritual fire --- and in that same young spiritual traveler, have had all his mental barriers reduced to nothingness. As written by author David Godman in the preamble to the "The Guru," speaking of the words of Sri Ramana, Godman says:

"Just as the prey that has fallen into the jaws of a tiger cannot escape, so those who have come under the glance of the Guru’s grace will surely be saved and will never be forsaken."

The question is, how did Ramana know? When the boy left the ashram with the couple to return to America everything was OK. Two years later, all of the results of the Bhagavan's endeavors were gone --- or, seemed to be --- that is, if not fully dissipated, so deeply covered over the results were the same.

Even IF all of the events discussed to this point were encompassed overall by something higher up spiritually, it was NOT just through some high level connection of Ramana's spiritual being, but also because of an earlier event that Ramana himself actually witnessed first hand. With thanks to the downstream outflow from the efforts of a Zen master high in the Himalayas along the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Ramana saw before his eyes the withering away of the totality of his endeavors --- he saw in the flesh, the boy as a man.

In the book Ramana Periya Puranam (Inner Journey of 77 Old Devotees) by Sri V. Ganesan, page 304, Ganesan, said to be both sometimes Ramana's grand nephew as well as the Maharshi's younger brother Chinnaswami's second son, quoting major devotee and oft time Ramana attendant and lawyer T. P. Ramachandra Iyer, also known as TPR, writes the following regarding an unidentified American who came to the ashram whose name they did not know:

"(T)he American entered without announcing his name. From the moment he entered, Bhagavan's gaze was on him. He sat before Bhagavan for three hours. Some kind of communication was going on between them during this time. There was such deep silence; no words were exchanged. The American got up and left. He never came back."(see)


In regards to my second visit, when all was said and done, in relation to my return trip from the monastery as found in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, I mention Rangoon. Rangoon came into the picture because after having been what could be called nothing less than being kidnapped against my will one morning at gunpoint outside the monastery walls, I was transported forcibly and under guard back towards known civilization. Before reaching any planned final destination an unnamed second group interceded taking me as far as the Mahasi Meditation Center located in what was once called Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar. The meditation center was founded in 1949 by a group of highly involved Buddhist adepts whose sole interest was in expanding the knowledge and use of the same meditation method developed, used, and taught by the Buddha.

The center is a massive twenty acre compound exclusively for the participating in and the learning of that method, Vipassana Meditation. Those who seek admission to the center undergo full-time meditation regimen for six to twelve weeks which is considered an appropriate period of retreat for one to gain a basic knowledge and experience into Vipassana meditation.

Amazingly enough, still to this day, right up to the present, for those who may be so interested, for foreign meditators, the entire period of their stay for study-practice at the center --- six to twelve weeks --- is FREE, including both full boarding and lodging.(see)


Below are two sentences just as they appear in the closing paragraphs of the main text.

"I scooted as quickly as I could across what was left of the ashram grounds between me and the gate and out onto the street, melding into the small milieu of what counted as crowds in those days, disappearing.

"Years passed and one day a friend of mine helping me go through a few things ran across my rather loose knit so-called collection of decoders that were sort of doing not much more than just floating around in an unconnected fashion in a drawer."

Although the physical visual-space between the two sentences that separates them is small, the gap between the two related to the passage of time within the context of the sentences is huge. One moment, when all the trials and tribulations that have been laid out from childhood through to the Army, the monastery, the Himalayas, et al have ended, I walk away from the ashram, suddenly jumping to many years later, apparently comfortably safe back at home in the United States as though nothing ever happened --- simply hanging with a friend sorting through a bunch of decades-old Captain Midnight decoders.

Most people who have read through all that I have presented, with the thousands of interlinking footnotes and all, have had enough. However, every once in awhile there are those who come forward interested in the jump between the two paragraphs and how it was closed. Let me just say, in more ways than one, it involved war torn Burma, the Japanese invasion of India, William Samuel, and his visit to the Ramana ashram at the same time I was there as found in Footnote [10] and his A Soldier's Story linked therein. See also the sub-section from Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery which deals almost interwovenly with the same subject matter:




"(T)he American entered without announcing his name. From the moment he entered, Bhagavan's gaze was on him. He sat before Bhagavan for three hours. Some kind of communication was going on between them during this time. There was such deep silence; no words were exchanged. The American got up and left. He never came back."

The above quote is attributed to the observations of T.P. Ramachandra Iyer as recorded by ashram documentarian Sri V. Ganesan. Most background information regarding Ramachandra Iyer, or TPR as he was known in Ramana circles, is fairly slim and mostly not much more than a rehash of the same limited resources over-and-over. No clear-cut birth or death dates are readily available, although through photographs and his background-legacy he is presumed to have been born sometime around 1910 or so. It is known he was a native of Tiruvannamalai. His interest in religion and philosophy led him to Sri Ramana in the 1920s. As a lawyer in Madras, he handled much of the Ashram’s legal work. He also served as an interpreter and as an attendant in the Maharshi’s hall. The following is from a reprint of an article published in the July 1966 issue of the Ramana ashram house organ The Mountain Path, found at the source so cited:

"It was during the period 1935 to 1945 that TPR had the best of his life at the Ashram, constantly benefiting from Sri Bhagavan's uplifting influence. Indeed, he felt by then that there could be nothing more important or useful for his future than to serve Sri Bhagavan till the end. When Sri Bhagavan's fatal physical affliction appeared for the first time, ending in an operation, and then recurred, TPR made up his mind and wound up his practice and interests in Madras. Thereafter he was fortunate enough to join the small band of attendants who looked after Sri Bhagavan's personal comforts and needs. During the whole two years the illness lasted, he stayed permanently with him and the opportunities of service he had are treasured by him. He was helpfully assisting the doctors in attendance during the anxious months preceding the 14th April 1950 by his instructive guidance and meticulous attention to prescribed routines."(source)

Please note that it was during the period 1935 to 1945 TPR had his best life at the ashram. It is between the time period of roughly early January 1944 to mid-May 1944 that the American TPR speaks of is considered to have visited the ashram. After the year 1945 is not thought of as part of TPR's "best life at the ashram" because, as the paragraph indicates, Ramana's health began to deteriorate not long afterwards and as one of Ramana's close personal attendants his own life was impacted adversely as well.

As for TPR sitting in the ashram, he, a man of Indian descent born in Tiruvannamalai and looking all the same as a local, which he was, there would have been no reason during my short visit for him to have stood out amongst other devotees. So said, there is no specific recollection of TPR or a TPR-like person, vaguely or otherwise in the hall during the three hour darshan before the Bhagavan. In that "no words were exchanged" in the physical or traditional sense between myself and the Maharshi, there was no need or call in that particular instance for an interpreter.

There are actually two sources for the quote, both by V. Ganesan and, although separate books under separate titles, both are very similar in the amount of shared content. Each as linked below are free unabridged online PDF versions:

  1. Ramana Periya Puranam (Inner Journey of 77 Old Devotees) (page 304)

  2. The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi As Shared by V. Ganesan (page 546)

NOTE: For clarification and editorial purposes here, in the above main text I have split the quote as found at the original source into two parts. The full quote so alluded to at the source opens by saying "An American came to the ashram," then goes on to say "He sat before the Bhagavan," etc., etc. It is fairly understandable when it is stated the "American" came to the ashram that it is not simply the ashram grounds being referred to, because it is followed up by "he sat before the Bhagavan."

The implication is the American sat before the Bhagavan not on the ashram grounds out in the dirt, which was seldom if ever done, at least as far as formal Darshan is concerned, but inside the meditation hall where, except on rare occasions, it was always done, taking at face value "the moment he entered" meaning after already having entered the ashram grounds what he "entered" was the meditation hall.

However, what is important to us here is that there is no mention by the author of which hall or any hall, be it the Old Hall or the New Hall the sitting before the Bhagavan occurred. Why? Because before there ever was a New Hall there was only what has come to be called the Old Hall, which before there ever was a New Hall, just was. In so saying, there was no need for the author to designate it as anything special one way or the other because there was no other hall to compare it with, New or otherwise. The implication is that the American was at the Ramana ashram before the New Hall was built.

Construction of what has come to be called the Old Hall was started in 1922 and done by 1928 and still exists right up to this day. The foundation for the much larger and more ornate New Hall began January 25, 1945 with the cornerstone laid in presence of the Bhagavan on June 25th. By February 1949, most of the construction was completed and consecration was set for March 17, 1949. By March 17th, because of his continuing illness, Ramana was too weak to turn the lock, requiring assistance to do so.



My father died in 1972 and my younger brother, going through our father's effects found a few things he felt should be passed on to our ex-stepmother. Since I was the only one who continued to maintain any sort of a standing relationship with her he gave the relevant items to me.

Among the effects my brother passed on was an elaborate jewel encrusted brooch. When he found it in with our dad's stuff he asked the woman he had been married to at the time of his death if it was hers. She grabbed it out of my brother's hand and threw it across the room saying, "That ugly piece of shit belonged to his ex-wife!" My brother dutifully retrieved the brooch and put it in with the other items I eventually took to my ex-stepmother. My ex-stepmother recognized it right away. The brooch belonged to a woman by the name of Brenda Allen. Allen, who, even to this day was Hollywood’s most prosperous madam, had loaned the brooch to my stepmother for some social event or the other and she simply forgot to return it.

Someone brought to my attention Bhagavan Das asking does he not fill the bill not only in books and on the internet, but what I myself have written about him (i.e., itinerant 'hippie-type')? I have to admit there are many aspects of Bhagavan Das that does seem to fall into being an exception to my general rule category. However, to his credit, although Bhagavan Das may have had all the outward appearance of a hippie-type he was far from itinerant having been in India at least six years and had an uncanny ability to assimilate into his surroundings.

The following is what Dr. Richard Alpert wrote about Bhagavan Das in his book 'Be Here Now' after having traveled throughout India with him for months and months:

"I didn't know anything about his life. He didn't know anything about my life. He wasn't the least bit interested in all of the extraordinary dramas that I had collected ... He was the first person I couldn't seduce into being interested in all this. He just didn't care.

"And yet, I never felt so profound an intimacy with another being. It was as if he were inside of my heart. And what started to blow my mind was that everywhere we went, he was at home.

"If we went to a Thereavaden Buddhist monastery, he would be welcomed and suddenly he would be called Dharma Sara, a Southern Buddhist name, and some piece of clothing he wore, I suddenly saw was also worn by all the other monks and I realized that he was an initiate in that scene and they'd welcome him and he'd be in the inner temple and he knew all the chants and he was doing them.

"We'd come across some Shavites, followers of Shiva, or some of the Swamis, and I suddenly realized that he was one of them. On his forehead would be the appropriate tilik, or mark, and he would be doing their chanting.

"We'd meet Kargyupa lamas from Tibet and they would all welcome him as a brother, and he knew all their stuff. He had been in India for five years, and he was so high that everybody just welcomed him, feeling 'he's obviously one of us'."


I have not been able to locate an online version of the bibliography of all the sources used in Bernbaum's book. If you are interested in further research and do not have a copy of Bernbaum's book at your disposal which has within its contents, as he calls it, a selective bibliography, as an option, a fairly comprehensive list of relevant sources can be found by going to either the Victoria Dmitrieva link in this paragraph or the link following this paragraph for a PDF version of THE LEGEND OF SHAMBHALA IN EASTERN AND WESTERN INTERPRETATIONS, the thesis written by Victoria Dmitrieva as a partial fulfillment for her Masters Degree in Religious Studies from McGill University (1997). At the very end of her thesis there is a bibliography of the research sources she used five pages long with over 70 listings, all in reference to Shambhala, Shangri-la, and/or Gyanganj.




The quintessential book on Shambhala/Shangri-la, although fiction, is Lost Horizon. Most people who know anything about Shambhala/Shangri-la have garnered it in some way through or from Lost Horizon. Written by James Hilton and published in 1933, albeit mythical in context as Hilton writes it, for a person that had not been to Tibet, describes, through the novel's main character Hugh Conway, the hidden Himalayan valley he calls 'Valley of the Blue Moon' wherein Shangri-la is located thus:

"Conway was glad to find that the valley was not to be "out of bounds," though the difficulties of the descent made unescorted visits impossible. In company with Chang they all spent a whole day inspecting the green floor that was so pleasantly visible from the cliff edge, and to Conway, at any rate, the trip was of absorbing interest. They traveled in bamboo sedan chairs, swinging perilously over precipices while their bearers in front and to the rear picked a way nonchalantly down the steep track. It was not a route for the squeamish, but when at last they reached the lower levels of forest and foothill the supreme good fortune of the lamasery was everywhere to be realized. For the valley was nothing less than an enclosed paradise of amazing fertility, in which the vertical difference of a few thousand feet spanned the whole gulf between temperate and tropical. Crops of unusual diversity grew in profusion and contiguity, with not an inch of ground untended. The whole cultivated area stretched for perhaps a dozen miles, varying in width from one to five, and though narrow, it had the luck to take sunlight at the hottest part of the day. The atmosphere, indeed, was pleasantly warm even out of the sun, though the little rivulets that watered the soil were ice-cold from the snows. Conway felt again, as he gazed up at the stupendous mountain wall, that there was a superb and exquisite peril in the scene; but for some chance-placed barrier, the whole valley would clearly have been a lake, nourished continually from the glacial heights around it. Instead of which, a few streams dribbled through to fill reservoirs and irrigate fields and plantations with a disciplined conscientiousness worthy of a sanitary engineer. The whole design was almost uncannily fortunate, so long as the structure of the frame remained unmoved by earthquake or landslide."(source)

Now read what the deeply spiritual holy man, Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985), who lived and traveled extensively in India and Tibet most of his adult life has to say. In his book The Way of the White Clouds (1966), Part 4, Return to Western Tibet, Chapter 45, speaking from his own personal experiences of the many unknown, hidden and mysterious places and canyons of Tibet, Govinda writes:

"When James Hilton in his famous novel, The Lost Horizon described the `Valley of the Blue Moon,' he was not so far from reality as he himself or his readers might have thought. There was a time when in the far-off canyons of Western Tibet there was many a hidden `Valley of the Blue Moon' where thousands of feet below the surface of the surrounding highlands, accessible only through some narrow rock-clefts and gorges, known only to the local inhabitants, there were flower-bedecked gardens, surrounded by trees and fields of golden wheat and fertile pastures, through which, like silver veins, flowed the water of crystal-clear mountain streams. There were lofty temples, monasteries and castles, rising from the surrounding rock-pinnacles, and thousands of neatly carved cave-dwellings, in which people lived comfortably, without encroaching on the valuable, fertile soil. They lived in a climate of eternal sunshine, protected from the cold winds of the highlands and from the ambitions and the restlessness of the outer world."(source)

If you set aside James Hilton's aforementioned fiction book Lost Horizon and Govindia's more general Tibetan book, then Edwin Bernbaum, PhD, by virtue of his most well-received and influential non-fiction book, THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas (1980) rises to the top. Although Bernbaum is highly recognized in any number of areas, he is considered in most circles as the avowed expert and go to guy on Shambhala, AKA Gyanganj or Shangri-la. Bernbaum's book is pretty much de rigueur on the subject in the English speaking world. Any serious internet search using one, two, or all three of the names the mysterious hermitage is generally known by, Bernbaum's name invariably comes up, usually in relation to his book. So too, no respected work on Shambhala, and some even not so respected, that doesn't include mention of Bernbaum's either in the main body of their text or footnoted usually can't be taken seriously.(see)


Interestingly enough, as widely known and as widely quoted Bernbaum is in relation to the subject, he himself, since the early years of the publication of his Shambhala tome, personally seems to have had a tendency to shy away from the subject, putting more and more distance between himself and Shambhala as he can.

The strength of Bernbaum's Shambhala related expertise however, stems from the enthusiasm promulgated from and during those early learning stages, that is, his years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps serving in Nepal. Although as near as I can tell, in that he and I were both in the Peace Corps and we seemed to have served within a few years of each other, our experiences were worlds apart, yet still similar in some areas. I served in the sultry sea level tropics of the Caribbean --- wherein I ended up apprenticed under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah --- while Bernbaum served under almost totally opposite climatic and cultural conditions found in the high altitude and mountains of Nepal. From my own experience unfolding as it did between the Obeahman and myself while I was a volunteer, I can vouch that any number of doors or opportunities could have easily opened or been made available to Bernbaum during his service, adding, at least for me, a depth of credence to what he has to say that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.(see)

Where a few years and thousands of miles may have separated Bernbaum and me as volunteers in the Peace Corps and his experience in Nepal, my own experience described as having transpired at the monastery high along the Qinghai-Tibet plateau did however, happen long before either of us joined the Peace Corps and well before Bernbaum ever went to Nepal. Nowadays however, tied to Shambhala as Bernbaum is, it is not unusual to find the following legend, although not by him, associated fully hand-in-hand with what he has to say. The written English version of the legend as it appears in the west and presented below, is attributed (here) to anthropologist and former college professor Helen Valborg from a chapter of her book titled Symbols of the Eternal Doctrine: From Shamballa to Paradise (2006):

"Wandering in a hidden valley beneath the snow-wrapped shoulders of the Dhaulagiri massif, a lone hunter from the region of Dolpo hearkened to the echo of lamas chanting and the beating of drums. Tibetans tell the story of how this simple transient followed the sound of the music towards its source, which brought him to a doorway in a great cliff. Passing through it, he found himself in a beautiful valley adorned with verdant rice fields, villages and a gracious monastery. The people who lived in this valley were peaceful and happy, and they extended to the hunter a warm welcome, urging him to stay. He was delighted with their blissful existence but soon became anxious to go back to his own family and bring them to enjoy the beautiful valley. The residents there warned him that he would not be able to find the way back, but he was determined to leave. As he made his way out through the cliff door, he took the precaution of hanging his gun and his shoes beside the entrance to mark it. Confidently he went to fetch his wife and children, but when he returned to the hidden valley, he found the gun and shoes hanging in the middle of a blank rock wall."(source)

If you clicked the image of Bernbaum's book, above, it would have linked you through to a very well written and informative review of his book that appeared in The Daily Lama. In the review the following is found:

"Although there are differing opinions as to where Shambhala actually is, the lamas all agree that it is a place of majestic beauty. They are more specific about the kingdom itself and give a remarkably clear and detailed picture of it. According to their descriptions, a great ring of snow mountains glistening with ice completely surrounds Shambhala and keeps out all those not fit to enter. The texts imply that one can cross the snow mountains only by flying over them, but the lamas point out that this must be done through spiritual powers and not by material means."

Most who know of or speak of Shambhala agree that to reach the mystic hermitage requires spiritual powers and not material means. Notice how the reviewer writes of the commonly regarded view of the need to 'fly' to do so --- which is in contrast to the Tibetan legend cited above and my own experience. However, the flying aspect or the need to do so is not to be discounted. See The Zen-man Flies. See also:










As for Peace Corps volunteers, of which I was one, while it is true most of the weight falls on the individual, that is, their personality, demeanor, and approach, et al, once trust is established, generally speaking, even though they are 'outsiders' there is usually greater acceptance and have better access to the locals and surrounding communities than the typical passing through trekker, tourist, or itinerant 'hippie-type' hanger-on.(see) Although nowhere does Bernbaum intimate he ever actually stepped foot in, went to, visited, or saw Shambhala, the overall thesis of his book seems to indicate he forged a strong reciprocal mutual trust between himself and those he interacted with, some of who may have done just that (i.e., visited Shambhala). Why in Bernbaum's case that veil wasn't pierced affords an answer I am not privy to, but there are reasons. In either case he seems to have avoided, clouded, or circumnavigated around the issue in his book. Personally, without putting words into his mouth, I think there is more to his story than he has been willing to present.

As for establishing trust, as with Peace Corps volunteers and locals, it is built in many ways. For example, in my case, one day while I was in the Peace Corps, a young girl living in the small village close to where I lived was hit by a car on the mountain road. The vehicle took off leaving her injured and unconscious laying facedown in the dirt. The girl's parents, like most of the locals, were poor. Being poor they were not able to afford a regular doctor, so instead they opted for a less expensive, local solution. That solution included me, because I knew the parents, and another village member making a sling hammock suspended between two poles placed on our shoulders and carrying her slung front-to-back between us on what turned out to be an all day rugged journey high into the mountains of Jamaica. Our goal, to find a nearly hermit man of spells called an Obeah.

Because of those endeavors, that is, assisting an injured young villager and her family, who otherwise would have been unable to return her to health, there was established a different sort of relationship between the Obeah and I that otherwise may have not transpired.

Many months later I contracted Dengue Fever from some errant mosquito. I was laying in bed in pools of sweat, delirious with a high fever, not eating, and basically unable to move. A villager happened by and reported how sick I was to a village elder. He inturn passed word to the Obeah. Under NO circumstances had the Obeah ever been known to leave his mountain lair, everyone in need of his services ALWAYS had to go to him no matter how serious the situation. However, much to the suprise of everyone in the village and others for miles and miles around, within a few hours of hearing of my condition the Obeahman showed up on the veranda. He would not enter my house for a number of reasons, some having spiritual meaning to the Obeah, some otherwise, such as me being a white man. He did, however, remove a variety of items and herbs from his medicine bag and perform a set of rituals that included spreading sand and ashes in a circle, casting bones into the circle, sitting Buddha-like doing some chanting and using smoke that waifted throughout the house.

The day after the Obeah departed and following a night of heavy wind and rain, I was conscious but racked with pain. For the first time in days I was able to move and hobbled out onto the veranda. Barely able to stay upright I stood before the shaman's circle, and despite the severity of the storm of the night before, the circle was still in place just as it had been left by the man of spells. An ever so slight breeze came up and spread across the veranda floor twisting itself into a small dust-devil-like vortex encompassing my bare feet and legs with the ash and sand of the circle. As the twisting breeze climbed my body the pain dissipated eventually disappearing altogether along with the wind.(source)





Taken together then, the following from the footnote:

  1. Traveling to India with the couple during the declining health of my mother but before her death put me as a young boy arriving at the ashram proper sometime in early January 1944 and staying to sometime after April of 1944. By all indications, as figured out in MV Tulagi, I was on my way home onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean toward the end of May, 1944 and most likely back in the states sometime in June, 1944. The June, 1944 date is fairly solid assumption in that I was on my way to California as a passenger on the Santa Fe Chief that wrecked outside Williams, Arizona on the night of July 3, 1944.

  2. In the bookstore on the ashram grounds there was not one single book by Arthur Osborne anywhere to be found. Osborne had arrived at the ashram in 1945 and by 1951 had started the first of a highly successful series of publications and books on Ramana. Not only wasn't there anything by him available, no one in the bookstore seemed to know who he was or ever hear of him. It was as though he either never existed or it was somehow before he ever arrived.

  3. Crossing the Ramana ashram there was no sign of the New Hall anywhere to be seen. Construction of what has come to be called the Old Hall was started in 1922 and completed by 1928 and exists right up to this day. The foundation for the much larger and more ornate New Hall did not begin until January 25, 1945 with the cornerstone laid in presence of the Bhagavan on June 25th. By February 1949, most of the construction was completed and consecration was set for March 17, 1949. By March 17th, because of his continuing illness, Ramana was too weak to turn the lock, requiring assistance to do so.

  4. Everything from before entering Laos to Chiang Mai to my eventual return to Rangoon and beyond, time-wise, overlaid and bracketed my stay at the monastery as outlined in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery. Within that bracketed period of time at the monastery I came in contact with the woman at the farm house, ending up in Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana ashram. It was embedded inside that same period of time in Tiruvannamalai that the three hours sitting before the Maharshi in the ashram transpired. Added together, the whole of the whole episode that unfolded, at least outside of the monastery walls it would seem, and how time is typically constituted consensually by those in the Samsara world, was enveloped in the broader sense by the calendar year 1964.

  5. The Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi died April 14, 1950.

As outlined in Footnote [10] above, in the early to mid 1940s, when Arthur Osborne's son Adam was a kid and so was I, he and I met at the Ramana ashram. Then, about two years short of forty years later, in the spring of 1982, as grown adults the two of us crossed paths at some function or the other one evening in Silicon Valley, he having morphed by then into one of Silicon Valley's first major computer tycoons.

After making arrangements to see each other and later actually following through by doing so, Osborne made a rather odd comment about when he first saw me that night in Silicon Valley and how he was struck so strongly by the fact that he thought he knew me. He said his interest peaked regarding who I was initially because he had the strangest feeling he had seen me at the Ramana ashram alright, although not as a young boy as I implied, but instead, a full grown adult --- looking all the same as I still did, except maybe twenty or so years younger. The following is found on the Adam Osborne site, so sourced:

"Reshuffling through the photographs of me in my youth I handed him earlier, he knew for sure I was the one he knew as a kid in India. At the same time, seemingly incongruently perplexed and shaking his head in an attempt to disregard any further thoughts he may have had as being wrong regarding me being an adult, he telegraphed his thoughts a thousand miles an hour in another direction, substantiating only what could have meant that the two of us WERE kids together. In doing so he brought up the most obscure fact I could ever think of, that at the ashram as a young boy, amongst the few things I had with me was what he called a code maker thing that looked all the same as a badge. What he was referring to was the Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph that at the time I carried around with me everywhere I went."(source)

It is a fairly straightforward fact throughout my works above and elsewhere that Arthur Osborne's son Adam and I met and ran around together at the Ramana ashram while we were just kids, circa early to mid 1940s. However, as stated, when Osborne first saw me close to forty years later he said although he was sure he knew me and had seen me at the Ramana ashram, he had the strangest feeling it was not necessarily me as a young boy that he remembered, but instead, me as a full grown adult.

Adam arrived at the ashram with his mother and two sisters sometime in or around 1941 just at the outbreak of World War II. His father remained in Thailand and was soon interned by the Japanese invasion forces, not showing up at the ashram until he was liberated at the end of the war four or so years later. In the meantime and shortly afterwards Adam Osborne grew up at the ashram, aging from a mere just-starting-to-walk toddler to around age 11 when his parents sent him off to England for more formal schooling.

Nowhere in any of the main text above nor elsewhere else do I make mention of or bring up the possibility of seeing Osborne at the ashram at anytime other than when we were both kids. In that the two of us were nearly the same age being born not even one year apart, our growing up lives would have paralleled each other age-wise, reaching adulthood at the same time. In the fact that he left the ashram at around age 11 or so it would be a highly controversial event in the normal flow of the time-stream for him to have seen me at the ashram being a grown adult.

See also A SYNOPSIS, Summing It All Up.

It took awhile, but eventually Guy Hague and I recalled where we had seen each other. It had to do with my father and Hague both working at the shipyards and Hague knowing in a roundabout way from my father the color of my mother's hair.

The seeds were first planted several years after the Pike incident when I was living on a ranch for a few years while in the fifth grade or so. At the time there was a much older boy that lived down the road on the next closest ranch. He collected every cowboy western comic book he could get his hands on and had hundreds of them neatly stacked in brand new turned-up orange crates made into shelves in his room. All the comics were in pristine condition and always kept in chronological order by month, date, and number. I used to go to his place whenever I got a chance sitting around all day hanging out and reading them.

During that period, one of the comic books he collected centered around a female western hero who, according to the storyline, had been found near death and saved by Native Americans. She was then adopted into the Dakota Tribe who gave her the name Firehair because of her red hair.

Both my mother and her sister had beautiful long red hair. In that they were so close together age-wise and looked so much alike almost everybody mistook them for twins. Although I do not remember much about my mother I remember my aunt very well, and because of their look alikeness I always felt I had a good idea of what my mother looked like. As a young boy I always held a certain affinity towards the Firehair character because I liked to believe my mother, with her red hair and all, would have been like her, maybe even, since I never went to her funeral, found by Indians and saved.

A couple of years later I was living in the home of a foster couple that I ended up running away from on more than one occasion. One day I traded two or three comics for a copy of Rangers Comics #63 dated February 1952, a comic I wanted for two reasons. One, the lead off story was about Firehair, who I had not seen anything on since leaving the ranch. And secondly, it had a section on Billy the Kid whose gravesite I had gone to with my uncle on one of our travels. As I was reading the comic for the 100th time the woman of the foster couple, seeing the story I was reading was about a redheaded woman, grabbed it out of my hands and threw it across the room telling me to get over it, my mother was dead and long gone, and she was my mother now. As soon as I saved a few bucks I packed up some things including the comic book and ran away.

I ended up at my stepmother's then my uncle's for the summer before going to my grandmother's and starting high school in the fall. It was then I met my merchant marine friend and it was he who brought up the lost continent of Atlantis. Interestingly enough the same copy of Rangers Comics #63 that I had been hauling around with me since running away from the foster couple had a three page story on Atlantis. I took it by to show him and it just so happened on the day I did Guy Hague was there. Hague, learning why I had the comic in the first place, that is, because of my mother's red hair, and he already knowing my father having worked at the shipyards in Terminal Island put two-and-two together and asked if my dad had been a circus carny at one time. When I answered yes, we both knew we knew each other and that I had been the boy at the Pike with the Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph.


I have always carried a certain special fondness toward traveling shows, their people, and the like, and have over the years had need to seek refuge within their ranks on occasion, most oft citing my dad as having been a barker. Those making the decisions to let me stay took it as though I had as a young boy, traveled with my father, and thus then knew the inside workings of their world --- although in the end it was patently not so --- with most of my expertise garnered from, what else, comic books. Starting in the fall of 1946 through to the end of 1949 fifteen issues of The Barker was published and I read everyone of them, over and over (all of the issues can be accessed them through the link above). After the first time hired, a quick learner and willing to do as I was asked no matter how minor or untasteful the task, in each case, it wasn't long before I was taken into the fold and looked upon as one of their own, albeit, never at the level of acceptance as my father.

In FACE TO FACE WITH SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: Enchanting and Uplifting Reminiscences of 202 Persons, C.R. Rajamani, albeit mistakenly taking the couple I was traveling with as my parents (i.e., meaning to me, my biological parents) writes that the couple attended the Theosophical Society’s convention at Adyar, Madras December 26-31, 1943, and from which through Rajamani's words, their being in attendance at the convention derives most of its strength:

"I learned that the boy had come along with his parents, who had come to attend the Theosophical Society’s convention at Adyar, Madras. The boy’s parents arranged a trip to Tiruvannamalai, but he stoutly refused. However, he changed his mind at the last moment and did make the trip."

How Rajamani became privy to the fact that the couple attended the convention, if through hearsay or having heard it himself personally from the couple is not known, as he does not say. However, I take what he has to say as accurate and present it as such because amongst the last of three letters sent to my father from the woman of the couple was, as shown below from the source so cited, written on the letterhead of an India-based American religious sect --- that sect being the Theosophical Society:

"The earliest dated letter was written on a letterhead from a steamship line. The second dated letter was on a letterhead from a hotel in India, and the third on a letterhead from an India-based American religious sect." (source)


Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA
(please click)

In the above main text I make reference to a person I call my merchant marine friend, stating that during my first two years in high school I worked part time a couple of days a week for him stacking books and running errands.

One day he told me a story about being found floating in the middle of the ocean on a piece of debris following his ship being torpedoed by German U-boats. The same day he told the story he showed me a delicate gold necklace that had what looked like a small Chinese character dangling from it. He said one day after being picked up out of the Atlantic and plunked down in a hospital, while being given a sponge bath he was looking in a hand mirror at his burn marks he received from the submarine attack when he noticed he had the necklace around his neck. He never had a gold necklace in his life. When he asked the nurse where it came from she said as far as she knew he came in with it as it was found amongst the few personal effects he had with him. She said typically they would not put any jewelry on a patient but some of the staff thought that since he was so scared by the burns that he might like a little beauty in his life so someone put it around his neck. He told me he had no clue where it came from or how it came into his possession, but for sure he didn't have it on before he was torpedoed. He said everybody always admired it and it appeared to be very ancient.

Several years after I saw the necklace for the very first time found me in the Cholon district of Saigon gulping down a large amount of a seemingly never ending supply of of alcoholic beverages. From out of the smoky milieu of mostly horny and inebriated GIs, unsolicited, what was affectionately tagged in those days as a Saigon tea girl, attempted to sit on my lap and tried to put something around my neck. Pushing back I could see she held what appeared to be a gold necklace stretched between her hands. Hanging midway along the necklace was a small Chinese character. Basically grabbing the necklace from her hands I asked where it came from and how she got it. She turned facing a general group of barely discernible figures sitting and drinking toward the back of the barroom in the shadows along the darkened wall, telling me that one of the men, a burnt man, had paid her to put it on me. When I asked what she meant by a burnt man, using her hands in a swirling motion in front of her face combined with a sneering facial expression to indicate scars while gasping for air as if the man had a tough time breathing, said in broken English, "burnt man, burnt man." In just the few seconds it took me to work my way through the crowd to the back wall pulling the tea girl with me the burnt man, if there ever was a burnt man, was gone. Nor could anybody at any of the tables remember seeing or talking to a heavily scared man, burnt or otherwise, sitting at any of the tables --- although some of the GIs were fully able to recall the girl.

The necklace, which I still have and continue to wear to this day, from what I could remember, looked exactly like the one my merchant marine friend showed me and said to be mysteriously wearing out of nowhere the day he was found floating in the sea after his ship was torpedoed. The only problem is, by the time the incident in the Saigon bar occurred my friend had already been dead some ten years, having passed away during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. At his memorial service I was told by family members, following a death bed request on his part, that in an effort to rejoin his fellow seamen he wanted to be cremated and his ashes tossed at sea near where his ship was torpedoed and, along with the ashes, the necklace returned to the sea as well. As far as I know those wishes had been complied with.

In Doing Hard Time in a Zen Monastery, oft cited, I write that part way into my return trip from the isolated monastery to civilization, the small group I was traveling with took refuge in the camp of an Asian warlord for a night. Shortly after arrival in his compound than the warlord requested to see "the man under the protection of the Lord Buddha."

Our group was brought forth and after a brief introduction I was told I was under HIS protection now. Everybody laughed. Then he motioned me to come closer, almost immediately dropping his eye contact from my eyes to that of the the small gold Chinese character dangling around my neck. Then I write:

"Reaching forward he softly took the tiny medallion between his thumb and index finger, looking at it very carefully and rubbing it for what seemed the longest time. The background noise and the overall din of the soldiers in the camp became quiet and the air stilled. As a man who could have and take anything he wanted I thought he was going to yank the chain from my neck. Instead he allowed it to gently fall against my skin and stepped back and the sound returned to normal. Basically a tribal person seeped in superstition, and no doubt along with a good part of his camp as well, knew that for the necklace to have the intended power vested in it, it had to either be given freely and without malice or found after having genuinely been lost. Otherwise, if taken or stolen, its intent would be reversed and what would befall the person so involved would be quite the opposite of the protection it provided."

As to the necklace itself and where it came from, the merchant marine told me when he was around my age he had become driven, actually obsessed with the lost continents of Atlantis and Mu. He began traveling the world to find or substantiate both places. But, the more and more ancient places he visited and more and more educated he became the more and more he became convinced neither place ever existed. In his quest, both pro and con, besides all the Atlantis and Mu books in his library, he had collected reams and reams of books, material, research and explanations that debunked nearly every single aspect of either continent or their civilizations that anybody could ever pose.

So said, even though I heard him say many times that he had long since lost faith in the existence of either of the lost continents, through inference he often related the origin of the necklace back to one or the other or both. However, the grounding source for the origin of the necklace usually falls back to Gyanganj, AKA Shambhala or Shangri-La.

How the necklace itself fell into his hands in the first place is still not known with any amount of certainty, although there are those who seemed to think he got it after being picked up by a German U-boat. He attributes it more to what is found in the story High Barbaree and The Shipwrecked Sailor.(see)

"As I entered the ashram on this I now give title to as my second visit, I remembered nothing of my first visit as a young boy nor did I recall any of the ashram grounds or its surrounding environment, mostly because of, as I have presented elsewhere and in footnotes below, mitigating circumstances. However, that is not to say throughout the years I had not kept up with knowing about the ashram in an intellectual learning sense. Changes that I had read about, seen photographs of, or been told about that occurred, mysteriously hadn't seemed to have been put into place. The New Hall for example. Ground work for the foundation of what has since come to be known as the New Hall had been started within a year or so of my first departure and since that time had been completed enough for Ramana to participate in an opening ceremony. As I was crossing the compound not one thing of a New Hall could be seen."


Falling within the purview of the above parameters of knowledge understood by me as being such regarding the ashram, I knew the Ashram office and book depot had been completed in May 1937. In the present day era in the bookstore it is not unusual to find amongst the myriad of Ramana themed books works by Arthur Osborne. One of the books, titled The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words, with a first edition publishing date of 1959 --- a book I was familiar with --- carries a promotional review of the author that usually accompanies the book in some fashion that goes like:

"Arthur Osborne (1906-70) was an ardent devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi and particularly well known as the founder-editor of The Mountain Path, the spiritual journal of Sri Ramanasramam. An Oxford scholar, he was on the faculty of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, before he came to India in 1945 and had his darshan of Maharshi."

Following three and a half years of internment under the auspices of the Japanese that ended after their ultimate defeat, Osborne returned to India. Hirohito, the emperor of Japan, gave a recorded radio message across the Empire on August 15, 1945 informing his people of the Japanese surrender with the formal signing of the surrender occurring on September 2nd. It was somewhere within that 1945 end-of-the-war timeframe that Osborne showed up at the Ramana ashram and rejoined his family.

Knowing Osborne lived in Tiruvannamalai and/or at the very least most likely a regular at the ashram (he died in 1970), before I did anything I went to the bookstore thinking someone there could direct me to him, in turn he might being able to offer some assistance or insight into what was going on. Oddly enough there were no books by Osborne in the bookstore nor did anyone there seem to know who he was or who I was talking about, although someone did mention there was a western woman by the name of Osborne at the ashram and that she had three young children with her.

For more regarding Arthur Osborne's life and background please see:



As to any possibility for a genuine underlying cause for the aforementioned knee-jerk reaction, taken as or being valid or not, in The Last American Darshan, linked elsewhere, I make reference to the apprehensions I held regarding the couple and, although relating it back to the same specific place in time as we were talking about above, the implication is that even though the apprehension may have been there in some form, it really didn't surface into a comprehensive fashion until much later. So said, about the couple, or at least the woman of the couple, in Darshan I write:

"As I look back, I have this innate feeling there was something that just touches on being semi-off about the woman of the couple, at least relative to me. I have no proof, but in the depth of my stomach I have this feeling the woman held it in her heart I was really her birth child --- to such a point she was nearly fanatical about it --- that I had actually been born of her womb. Then, for some reason out of nowhere she suddenly snapped out of it and couldn't get rid of me fast enough."

In the above main text I make mention almost briefly in passing that when I was a very young boy my mother's health began to deteriorate, eventually reaching a point she was no longer able to care for my two brothers and myself while at the same time my dad continued to work more and more hours to pay for ever increasing medical expenses. So said, as my mother's condition continued to go downhill, almost under pure necessity my father began placing my brothers and me more and more under the care of others. First as needed using day-by-day babysitters, then overnight with grandparents or neighbors, then for whole weekends, ending for me in due time with the following results:

"One day a childless husband and wife couple who were really good friends with the neighbors next door suggested to my father having one of us boys come live with them until things improved. After thinking it over my father agreed and for whatever reason the couple selected me. No sooner had I moved in with them and started a new school than the two-week Christmas vacation, or winter recess as they call it now, rolled around and the couple took me, without my father's consent, to India, not returning until sometime around the start of summer, in the interim missing the whole last half of the school year.(source)

Eight years prior to the above incident, American birth control activist Margaret Sanger was invited to speak before an international woman's group in India. Accepting the offer, a few days before her departure she crossed paths with one of Sri Ramana Maharshi's major adherents, author Paul Brunton, who wrote A Search in Secret India (1934). Brunton maintained a small hut southwest of Madras and invited Sanger to visit him and in turn, he would introduce her to the Bhagavan. Sanger accepted the invitation, but before going to Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana ashram she went to the Theosophist headquarters in Adyar. It seems her hero, big time birth control activist Annie Besant, had set the scene for the organization's birth control policy and had done so mostly operating out of the Adyar headquarters. Sanger, in her autobiography, writes the following as to what she found out:

"Annie Besant, as soon as she had become a Theosophist, had withdrawn her books on population. I was interested to find out the attitude of present Theosophists towards birth control, and discovered that those at Adyar were persuaded of its importance. Among their beliefs was that great souls did not reincarnate unless the bodies of parents, their vehicles for birth, were perfect. If they were to perform their missions, they must wait for purity in their physical vestures."(source)

It is my belief the childless couple I was fostered to, being surrounded by or immersed in the above atmosphere, is not only what sent them to the ashram of Sri Ramana but also what forged their attitude toward having or not having children and how I fit into the picture as well. While in America and during our early travels together, at least as the couple viewed it, everything must have worked out favorably, with nary a ripple. But, whatever happened to me under the auspices of the Maharshi in India I think scared or adversely impacted the woman of the couple profusely.

It apparently came to her, even under the umbrella of the auspicious spiritual power of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, that neither she nor her husband, both fully indoctrinated active participants in The Theosophical Society, were going to match or reach the level of Attainment advocated by the Society --- that is purity in their physical vestures --- and, IF following those dictates as set forth by the Society, rightly or wrongly, could never have children of their own. Rather than me helping the situation arriving at the level of Experience that came about by me sitting before the Bhagavan in Darshan, and with nothing remotely close for them, she was sick with the idea of no child of her own with me in reality being a non-birthed by her child originally passed off as hers --- a constant reminder or hindrance to her or their plight.



Lost Horizon and/or The Way To Shambhala notwithstanding, there is supposedly another publication out there that is said over-and-over to be the MOST comprehensive account of Gyanganj ever written.

That book was said to have been composed by a venerated Indian holy man by the name of Gopinath Kaviraj (d. 1976). Somewhat before 2002 and several years afterwards I had a website on the net that presented a brief but thorough background summery on Kaviraj. That website, like many I had on free servers, vanished into cyber space a long time ago. So said, I never got around to bringing the page back to life under a new banner. However, on-and-off over the years I have found several replicated pages of the same summery around the net, albeit without any credit back to me regarding authorship.(see)

Not to play down Kaviraj's stature or accomplishments as a revered holy man on a larger scale, for me the only real interest I had about him personally, and the reason I created my own bio page on him, stemmed from his supposedly first hand, or more clearly, near first hand knowledge of Gyanganj. Over-and-over it had been reported --- and still is --- that at one time he wrote a book titled Siddhabhoomi Gyanganj, which was supposedly translated from the original Bengali into Hindi and published through the auspices of Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. It has been reported that Kaviraj's main source of information was his own guru, Swami Vishudhananda, a contemporary of fellow Benares Siddhi master Trailanga Swami, both said to have had lifespans of several hundred years or more, with Vishudhananda himself having had personal experiences in Gyanganj. Through that specific direct connection Kaviraj's book is said to have been written.

For years I have been trying to get a copy of Kaviraj's book in order to personally get first hand information on what he actually wrote rather than through third party thrice removed sources. I am yet to even see a first edition or any edition, let alone read one. A search of Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan's official published offerings, although it lists many books attributed to Kaviraj's authorship, none of them carry the title Siddhabhoomi Gyanganj specifically. The closest is titled Siddhbhumigyanganj by the same publisher, and, in that it is written by Kaviraj in Hindi it may well be the same book (notice the Hindi or possible phonetic spelling "bhoomi" in the original title compared to the Sanskrit word "bhumi" in second title). It does, however, carry a publishing date of 2010, making it late into the game and making it, if it is the same book, a reprint.

There is another book by Kaviraj, that has been translated into English --- although not as comprehensive as the above mentioned book, but covering much of the same subject matter and material --- readily available, titled JNANAGANJA: A Space For Timeless Divinity.

It just seems odd when it is all said and done someone who's work is as well respected, for example, as Victoria Dmitrieva, as found in her partial fulfillment for her Masters Degree in Religious Studies from McGill University (1997) --- that circulates exclusively around Shambhala --- in her bibliography, the translator that she is, doesn't cite Kaviraj's book (i.e., the original Bengali version). Her bibliography is five pages long with over 70 listings, all in reference to Shambhala, Shangri-la, and/or Gyanganj and, even though she cites Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his book SHAMBHALA: The Sacred Path of the Warrior which is rather weak as far as Shambhala is concerned, as one of her references, not a word on Kaviraj --- whose book is supposedly the most comprehensive account of Gyanganj ever written.



(please click)

Once through the main portal the time associated within the walls of the monastery and the land beyond flowed like the surface of a Mobius Strip, non-orientable.

"It is widely believed that spacetime must be both orientable and time-orientable. Arguments are that there is no evidence of a lack of orientability and that a nonorientable spacetime would be incompatible with the observed violations of P (parity) and T (time reversal invariance)."

The above quote, written by Mark J. Hadley, is found in The Orientability of Spacetime, linked below. What is not shown is the sentence that immediately follows the aforementioned quote which reads: "These arguments are shown to be false," setting the scene for the rest of the contents of Hadley's paper. So said, not everyone would agree with Hadley and scientists of a similar vein. The first two links below, which includes Hadley's paper, have a favorable tendency toward support of the potential possibility of non-orientability if not an explanation of what it is. I did have an active PDF link to a rather extensive work by Stephen Hawking with a more traditional view. In the Hawking book there is a segment on Orientability on page 181 Section 6, 6.1, however the accessibility to the full book disappeared into cyber space. The third link, below, should take you to Section 6, 6.1.




In the main body of the text above I write, referring to a period of time before my uncle found the decoder at his mother's and sent it to me that I coveted the decoders closely as being the most important things I owned in my life and that my favorite, the aforementioned Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph ended up, for reasons unknown to me at the time, mysteriously missing from the rest of my collection by the time I reached high school. I then go on to say that between the loss of the decoder and the time my uncle found it and sent it to me the specter of girls and cars had began looming ever larger on the horizon and that Captain Midnight and similar such things that had been on a downward trajectory anyway steadily began to fade readily away from my day-to-day priorities.

Regardless of the above, intimating the possibility of something askew in a somewhat conspiratorial sort of way on my part, readers of my works come forward on a semi-regular basis making hay over the fact that as important a role as the Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph seems to have played in the overall scheme of things relative to me as presented in Code Maker, Zen Maker, even if they are willing to give quarter to the decoder's disappearance because of mitigating circumstances as found in Footnote [12] and the link below, they still turn their angst toward what they say appears to be a wide plus-or-minus ambiguity surrounding the actual specific date and time the decoder showed up back in my hands after it's disappearance --- hinting in a side-glance sort of way that it never did get returned --- or, at least the original if there ever was one, didn't.

The most said about the timing of the decoder's return, which I always felt was sufficient, but apparently thought otherwise by others, is generally found in the following:

"When my uncle returned to his home in New Mexico after dealing with the concerns of his mother's death in Pennsylvania, being my onetime guardian and knowing full well the importance that decoders held for me generally as a kid while we were together, one of the first things he did was pack it up and send it to me. The decoder was clearly the missing Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph from my collection and obviously so because it had a small photo of me as a young boy inserted in the square, solving the mystery of where or what happened to the decoder and why it had been missing for so many years."

What I don't know is how close on the heels of his mother's death my uncle acted on sending me the decoder. I am just not privy to most of the information surrounding her demise. That is to say, was she ill for a period of time prior to her death when my uncle went back, was it within hours of her passing or was it days before he was on the scene, and if so, how soon afterwards did he get around to actually putting the decoder in a box and mailing it to me? Was it days, weeks, months or even years? I have answers to none of those things.

There are some things I do know that might narrow it down it bit. On September 4, 1954 the first episode of a weekly TV series based around the onetime 1940s radio character Captain Midnight debuted. The series, starring Richard Webb as Captain Midnight, was contemporarily placed in the then modern, early-1950s post World War II setting, running for two seasons with the last episode being aired January 21, 1956. After that, the series went into syndication, running for two more years.

During the first two years the program was on I was in high school and, even though I had always been a fan of Captain Midnight, I never really liked the TV version nor did I ever watch it on any sort of a regular basis. It was sometime during that same period of my life that my uncle sent me the decoder he found in a box at his mother's. I can safely allude to such a fact regarding the timing of the event because he enclosed a short handwritten note in the package along with the decoder wherein he mentioned three things: his two phone calls he made to me in 1953, one related to the 1953 Kingston UFO crash in Arizona and the other discussing the Santa Fe #3774 Locomotive that pulled a train-load of boy scouts to their jamboree through the Cajon Pass in 1953 (Footnote [1]). Then in the note, regarding the decoder itself and the reason for the package being sent to me in the first place, my uncle made reference to Captain Midnight, or more specifically the TV program, citing briefly something he saw in one of the episodes. That episode dealt with the Superstition Mountains. Later research would reveal the precise episode he was referring to was from Season 2, Episode 7, titled Secret of Superstition Mountain, shown for the first time on TV prior to any syndication or re-runs on December 10, 1955.

While in his late teens to his early 20s my dad spent a lot of time prospecting in and around a variety of gold fields throughout the western U.S., and continued to do so on-and-off even after meeting my mother. Although he had any number of gold related experiences and adventures he used to talk about when I was a kid, the one that intrigued me the most was about the Lost Dutchman Mine located somewhere in the far reaches of the mysterious Superstition Mountains of Arizona --- always saying he was going to search for it one day. I remember he even had a book, Thunder Gods Gold (1945), that devoted several chapters giving all the clues and directions on how to find it, but, to my knowledge, he never went looking for it. A few years after the book came out a movie based on the chapters in the book related to the Lost Dutchman Mine was released titled The Lust For Gold (1949) going over the same basic clues albeit in a narrative or story-like style. I must have seen the movie a 100 times, or at least more than once, and have to admit the mine and the treasure of gold it is said to hold has a certain inexplicable draw to it.

The reason my uncle brought the Captain Midnight TV episode to my attention was because of how surprised he was to see that within the plot line of the otherwise dumb story was the accurate mention of a clue to locating the lost Peralta mine, the mine that by all later accounts, morphed into being one and the same as the Lost Dutchman mine. That clue, about a saguaro cactus that had two rocks embedded in it at a certain level in a certain direction thought to be pointers as mentioned in the story figured quite prominently in the book Thunder Gods Gold and of which he knew I was quite familiar with (Part III, 3. Clues To Fortune, page 131. The cactus scene in the Captain Midnight video, linked below, shows up at the 15 minute 43 second mark. Almost the exact same scene, filmed five years before, shows up in the Lust For Gold movie at 9 minutes 52 seconds).

Even though my uncle brings up in his note two phone calls he made to me in 1953, it is an easily confirmed fact that the Captain Midnight episode he mentions in the same note did not air for the first time until December 10, 1955. So said then, it had to be after that date, most likely sometime in 1956, that my uncle mailed me the decoder. However, what followed, when I was getting ready to go off to the Army and all that, rather than me having put it with the rest of my decoders, wherever they were, it somehow ended up stored away in the same box as the Western Union Standard Radio Telegraph Signal Set.

If you remember from the above main text, the kid across the street and I used to run around with other until my last year of high school when his parents sold the house and moved. It was he and I that used to send code back and forth to each other using the signal set. His moving away during my last year of high school required us to dismantle our rig between our houses, ending any real use of the set. That, coupled with me receiving the Code-O-Graph from my uncle at almost the exact same time, fit perfectly for both the decoder and the signal set to end up somehow stored away together.

And that is one of the things people come forward about, my seemingly lackadaisical later-childhood come adolescent outlook, not only brushing aside the loss of the onetime inseparable from me Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph in the first place, but especially so after it's return doing the same as well. I can only postulate that any upward creeping demise in interest actually swirled outside my control into a confluence of events much larger than me, the happenstance of which all fell together by themselves into the same place at the same time.

Compounding earlier events that transpired during my childhood stay in India was my so-called blackout period, immediately set into motion on my return by what I refer to as mitigating circumstances. Added to that, right after the war a whole new series of Code-O-Graphs came into production, relegating the years-long use of the Photo-Matic into a no longer needed status, followed too then, by the new ones themselves being pushed to the wayside one-by-one. Finally, the last Captain Midnight radio show, and the why Code-O-Graphs were viable in the first place, was aired on December 15, 1949 ending the actual physical need of a decoder. That, coupled in my life with my father and stepmother going to South America for two years at about the same time, effectively set into motion the breakdown of what remained of any sort of cohesiveness in my life. Mixed into the flux of it all, as I have reported previously, with the rising specter of girls and cars looming ever larger on the horizon, Captain Midnight and similar such things that had been on a downward trajectory anyway, faded readily away from my day-to-day priorities. Stephen A. Kallis Jr. says it best in Code-O-Graphs of the Secret Squadron as found in the link so sourced:

"The 1949 model was the last of the radio-program Code-O-Graphs, and the reason for this is that the program changed format. After the spring-summer segment of the 1949 season, the program went from a 15 minute nightly adventure serial to a program that was a half-hour in length, with a complete story per episode. This was done in part because competing shows such as Sky King had changed to the format successfully. With all the loose ends tied up by the end of the show, however, there was no reason to send secret messages, or so the show's producers thought.

"And without secret messages, there was no need to issue a new Code-O-Graph. So, the era of cryptography on commercial radio effectively came to an end."(source)


There is one major set-aside or overlooked caveat to the whole Japanese not being defeated in World War II philosophy that arose because of the Japanese ability to conquer and hold so much territory previously governed by white overlords --- overlooked that is, by those who were staunch supporters or believed in the philosophy. That caveat surrounds the Japanese command decision to continue on into India militarily following their successes in Indo-China. Re the following from the source so cited:

"Fifteen hundred miles east across the sub-continent edging up along the Burmese border the Japanese launched a three division invasion into India. Quickly outstretching their supply lines and hoping to replenish their local needs by overtaking British, American and Indian garrisons, etc. while their lifelines caught up, didn't happen. For the most part, three months later, met by stronger than expected Allied response and caught in the monsoons, the Japanese were forced into retreat dying of malaria and starving to death --- in the end losing over 80,000 men."


When the offensive began, the Japanese Fifteenth Army had approximately 100,000 front-line soldiers, of whom 53,000 became casualties. The official figures show that 30,000 were killed in battle, while hundreds more died after the defeat became a rout, victims of sickness, malnutrition and exposure. Every tank and gun of Mutaguchi's invading force was lost. A staggering 17,000 mules and pack ponies perished during the operation. As the Japanese feared, the Imphal Plain became the fountainhead of the successful British effort to retake Burma.(source)

As previously mentioned, not long after my father died than his then wife, who disliked both my older brother and me with a certain amount of way over-the-top high passion intensity, called my younger brother and told him she had a whole bunch of boxes containing belongings of our father related to his early years that she found stored away, and if my brother was interested, to come by and pick them up before she had them all carted off to the dump or tossed into the trash.

Before moving the boxes out of the storage unit they were located my brother started going through some of them, but stopped after only a few because the woman my dad was married to at the time, at first, made him open them one by one watching every move he made and making sure nothing was in any of them that was of her concern. Instead, my brother balking at her nasty demeanor, just took all the boxes and stored them away in a conex container on his property with tons of other stuff thinking he would go through them some day. He did know that in at least one of the boxes he unsealed there was a lot of old photos of our family and mother that our father had, upon her death back in the mid 1940s, simply taped up and secreted away. To my brother's knowledge the inside content of the boxes hadn't been seen or gone through by anybody since, and for sure, until we saw them, neither my brother nor I knew they existed. It was within that same box of photos that I found the one with the square cut out with the date 1942-43.


In one of the opening paragraphs in the main text above I bring up the fact that originally I was not a man of the east, nor as a young boy was I seeped in things of the east. Although I was taken to India at an early age I was born in America and, even though I was in India long enough to miss many months of school, I was still otherwise, raised in America as an American boy pure and simple, hence my early childhood is tinged with reminisces and things from that background. From that, throughout the text and associated footnotes and links I bring up and present constant references to any number of comic books, comic book super heroes, cowboy-western movie stars, Tarzan, ray guns, and other memorabilia and stories from the era --- and I have done so primarily because of the almost multi-tentacle-like outreach and connections to all those areas associated by me through an almost fanatical childhood fascination with the Captain Midnight Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph that figured so prominently throughout my life --- that inturn, as an adult, led directly to the ancient hidden hermitage of Shambala.

Because of same, in my mind's eye, going into the monastery I've always pictured myself looking all the same as Dopey following along in his own almost tripping, stumbling-like inimitable way at the end of a long-trail line trying to keep up with the other six dwarfs. As might be expected, for those who may be so interested, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as the Wizard of Oz, both make a mark along the way in my life. The movies and their impact are elaborated on a page about a childhood friend of mine named Adam Osborne who I met at the ashram when we were both kids and who figures prominently on this page in Footnote [10] and beyond.

Taking you back and waxing poetically for a moment, after all these years I can still see perfectly in my mind's eye the gray overcast morning I left Ft. Riley, riding along in the bus just outside base looking out the window and seeing all the trees, plants, and bushes along the river appearing all the same as being dead, nothing but bare scraggly sticks reaching toward the sky, having lost all their leaves and growth for the winter. Then, in what seemed almost like and instant flash in the passage of time, returning along the same route to base in the summer into the fall-like heat and humidity of Kansas, and where before I could easily catch glimpses of the river through the bare limbs, seeing the same plants now lush and green, thick with an impenetrable jungle-like growth rich with leaves and foliage.


The bitchers, naysayers, and chronic complainers aren't interested in me waxing poetically, always looking for contradictions or weak links in what I write, intimating it never happened without outright saying it. They want specifics --- days, dates, times and places --- always asking such questions as after I arrived in-county, in that I keep saying I was basically non-existent relative to any chain of command or powers that be, how did the logistics ever get figured out or put into place to get me from Tan Son Nhut in the Saigon area to Lima Site 20 Alternate in Laos?

Because everything was on a "need to know" basis I was never privileged to the how or who put into place the routes, times, and places I was supposed to be or end up. Usually who picked me up or flew me to anyplace only knew the portion or section they were actually doing at the time --- that is, they didn't know where I came from nor did they know where I was going. Even though I was sort of a non-descript nobody type of a person, sometimes traveling by myself or getting into planes with others who just happened to be traveling in my same direction, most knew I was military of some type, albeit with nothing indicating if I was an officer or an enlisted man. They were also aware that in some manner or fashion I was considered some sort of special cargo that required special handling --- but most of all they just didn't give a shit one way or the other. It was just another day in the office for them. They did their jobs, they figured my job was to do mine.

As far as how I made it from Tan Son Nhut to LS-20A in Laos is concerned, 40 years ago or so, or about 10 years after the fact, I sat down over a roughly two year period and wrote down everything I could think of regarding my adventures in the military, thinking I might write a book someday. I never wrote a book, but I still have a whole bunch of the notes and the part about getting to Laos kind of breaks down into the following:

Because of how known events unfolded outside my personal domain I can state that sometime toward the end of March of 1964 I boarded a USAF mule-train C-123 to Pleiku. There I transferred to a U.S. Army C-7 Caribou, flying some two hundred miles further north along the western edge of Vietnam. The Caribou sat down at a tiny rain soaked jungle-like airstrip wedged between Colonial Route 9 and the Xe Pone River near the Laotian border some distance south of the DMZ. Members from Special Forces Detachment A-728 out of Khe Sanh were to pick me up, but nobody was around when we landed. The crew and I kicked back and waited.

The area was absolutely beautiful. Everything was fresh and damp, the trees and the foliage a deep green, dripping wet, surrounded in the distance by fog enshrouded hills. The air was cool-cold, and there was an incredible stillness. A hour or so passed when suddenly I was startled out of my thoughts by the sudden sound of the Caribou's twin open port exhausts. The air crew was getting edgy. The place was sort of spooky, they said anybody could be out there, plus, instead of lifting, the ceiling was closing in. The crew had no orders to wait and no orders to take me back. The pilot figured the Special Forces camp was less than five miles to the east down Route 9. In training I had ran that far in quite a bit less than an hour with full combat gear, so I figured how long would it take me to walk? The crew could give a shit if I stayed or left, it was my ass. Once in the air they agreed to raise the SF camp by radio and let them know I was on my way. They didn't.

It was an easy walk, although it was a heck of a lot further than five miles, more than twice that I guessed, taking around four hours or so to complete the distance. As I moved along, the road left the thicker foliage of the river bottom to move due east flat and smooth along the top of a sparsely vegetated rolling hill that sloped off steeper to the south than the north. Soon I was coming across structures, places that seemed like western style dwellings that had fallen into disrepair, their toll taken by time and weather. Further on I passed planted trees set into neat rows paralleling the road on the north, coming into a regular town, the village or hamlet of Khe Sanh. I was directed to to the Huong Hoa District Headquarters where Army advisors arranged a ride to the Special Forces camp. Needless to say Army personnel were surprised to see a lone G.I. walking in from Lao Bao, and the advisors that they were, advised against me doing it again.

The Special Forces were holed up just east of Khe Sanh village. The XO pointed out two men that had arrived earlier in the day by helicopter who were looking for me. One was a company spook, the other a nom-com with the Army Security Agency. Both were out of an I Corps communication intelligence facility in Phu Bai. I joined the group of SF soldiers they were swapping lies with, telling the ASA non-com I had just been brought in from Bien Hoa. The spook butted in and asked if I was the G.I. that had walked in from Lao Bao. I nodded yes. He pulled me aside putting his arm around my shoulder saying it could be a day or two before we pulled out, depending on the weather at this end and the other end. I asked if we going into North Vietnam. He answered, close.

I was told a few days before I arrived, and probably the reason I wasn't picked up, the A-728s CO went missing during a routine observation flight in an O-1 Bird Dog. The camp was in sort of disarray because of it and up to my time of arrival they still had been unable to locate him. Me being there relative to their own problems just didn't seem that important. Two days later the spook, non-com and I were taken to a small roughly hewn dirt air strip just over the hill from the SF camp in Khe Sanh Valley. Sometime later a rather odd looking square tail airplane that turned out to be a Swiss made STOL called a Pilatus Porter, owned and operated by an American firm operating in Laos called Bird & Sons, sat down and picked up the three of us, arriving in Long Tieng, Laos shortly thereafter.

When people read or hear what I have presented above, they, including a veteran every now and then who claim they served in the area, say there is no way I could have walked from Lao Bao to Khe Sanh village unarmed and by myself, not because of the distance, but because of the war-like atmosphere that seethed just below the surface throughout the area. When most think of Khe Sanh they think of how it was during the siege of 1968, surrounded with NVA Regulars with the Marines having the living shit pounded out of them by mortars and long range artillery. The siege occurred at the Khe Sanh combat base several miles northeast over the hills from the village. The combat base didn't even exist in 1964, although a short airstrip in the valley did. True, there was a smattering of incidents all over the area on an on-going basis and I am not trying to insinuate for those who were there at the time it was a simple walk in the park, but people have a tendency to forget what it was like during the period I'm talking about, especially that far north. Tranquil most of the time. Matter of fact, as late as April 1966, under the banner of Operation Virginia, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines was flown in and swept an area six miles in radius around the air strip for ten days, then marched out thirty or forty miles to the east along Route 9 to their base on the coast without coming into contact with one hostile or firing a single shot.

On March 26, 1964, an O-1B "Bird Dog" on a routine recon photo intelligence mission around the Khe Sanh area was brought out of the sky by small arms fire. Captain Richard Whitesides, pilot, died in the crash becoming the first American casualty killed in action at Khe Sanh.

The observer, Captain Floyd James Thompson, the CO of the Special Forces unit A-728, Khe Sanh, who survived the crash, suffered multiple injuries including a gunshot wound and a broken back, was captured by the NVA and taken to Hanoi where he became the longest held POW of the Vietnam conflict.