THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER



SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN


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."

THE WANDERLING, BELOW, IN THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER


Anyone who finds themselves pursuing a casual to serious interest in Buddhism and Zen, especially so those seeking insights into Enlightenment 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 know 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:


For the most part 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 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 cereal box-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. People who knew me as a young boy recount that after I got my first decoder badge, a Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, which I sort of misappropriated from my older brother without his approval or knowledge and after which not only I wouldn't give up, but for years, once getting my hands on it, they seldom saw me without. 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 --- one of the few fond memories I have of my mother prior to her death a couple of years later, and why I think, a major reason for the importance of the decoder throughout my life.

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, especially big stuff like bicycles, books, and desks from place to place.[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. 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, for reasons unknown to me at the time, my favorite, the aforementioned Photo-Matic Code-O-Graph, 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 it 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, 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 I, seemingly driven by an overwhelming need, desire, or just plain want to see my stepmother, 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 in town, 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, 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.[2] I didn't recognize him per se' but told him he was right, I did. 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, 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 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.

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 more that ten miles from the 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 said he wanted me to return to California immediately 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:


SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI


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. 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. 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 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 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 the confidential clearance in the first place, someone higher up the food chain, thought possibly to be Richard M. Bissell, took notice of me, possibly brought to his attention by someone who knew me personally as well as Bissell, most likely in an official capacity. 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:


THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB


Not long after my Mexico trip ended than my draft notice showed up and I was in the Army. Following an overnight train trip from the induction center in Los Angeles I was in Fort Ord, California for basic training. Then, having gone through 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. So here I was, just like when I was a kid, only now a fully uniformed private slick-sleeved member of the United States Army, running around carrying a Captain Midnight decoder with me every where I went.




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.

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 the decoder held for me 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 at least 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.


In early June of 1964 eight F-100D fighter-bombers of the U.S. Air Force's 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron operating out of Phan Rang Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam flew the first combat air missions in Laos with strikes against 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,(see) along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers.(see) 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.[6]

Following a series of extenuating circumstances, all or most of which are fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, found me in the then 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, 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.(see) After days and days of walking, 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.

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 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 am currently in the process of or have been working on), 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 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."


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, 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.

This is where people start getting befuddled and, 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.

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.

So too, inside the monastery years could go by, like say for me for example. Months and months passed as recorded by the passing seasons. However, 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. Since I didn't age inside the monastery when I stepped back into the outside world I would only age the amount of time I was gone relative to the outside world.


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 in front of them, that is before they happened, thus in a sense, maintaining any 'mental barriers that had been reduced to nothingness' before the impediments were put into place.

Following the Zen master's directions without knowing of or even being vaguely aware of any underlying intent, 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 the backside of 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, carefully looked at it similar to how a jeweler might examine a fine diamond, then scrutinizing it 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. 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. 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.



(PLEASE CLICK)


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. 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 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 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.[7]

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:


"An American came to the ashram. We did not know his name. The tall, handsome 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. I asked Bhagavan, '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)


I slowly walked across the compound toward the main gate after leaving the Old Hall having sat before the Maharshi in silence for close to three hours as so alluded to above, in the process of my walk contemplating my next move after 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.

No sooner had he seen it 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 held 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 into the milieu of the crowds beyond, disappearing.[8]-- [9]


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 in the square a picture of Captain Midnight."
[10]



Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA

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THE LEGEND OF SHAMBHALA IN EASTERN AND WESTERN INTERPRETATIONS



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 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, 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:

TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS
HOWARD HUGHES, DA VINCI, AND FLYING MACHINES

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:


WASHOE ZEPHYR






















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)


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.





















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:




FOXHOLE RADIOS: THEIR HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION























RICHARD M. BISSELL, JR.

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 designers, builders, and hands-on operation personnel. All along the way 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.


RICHARD M. BISSELL, JR.





















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. See Footnote [6] as well as:


JOHNNY ROSELLI






















-----------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)


TSEC/KL-7 CIPHER MACHINE


AN/GRC-26 MOBILE RADIO UNIT






















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]

In the above main text 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. The text then goes on to say:


"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."


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.

Which brings us back to 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 mentioned, thought of, 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 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. Karma and Fate threw Roselli and me along with everybody else in the mix together at just the right time at just the right place. No coincidence could have been greater, especially when you consider I was less than 10 years old the first time Roselli and I met.


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 a 15 year lifespan, would stop most forward momentum in obtaining a security clearance.

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, for example, as found in the opening paragraph at the top of this footnote, actually the totally opposite happened. My chances seemed to have been enhanced by the association and had a tendency for those in power to steer me toward areas I might not have otherwise been considered for, primarily it is thought, because of now-known and since unclassified actions initiated between Richard M. Bissell and Johnny Roselli date-wise. The following is as found in The Johnny Roselli Dossier. Notice the connection between Richard M.. Bissell and Roselli date-wise, almost half way 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."

THE JOHNNY ROSELLI DOSSIER


SHEEP DIPPED





















Footnote [7]



In the summer of 1960, several years after high school but before being drafted, a buddy of mine and I went of an extended 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.


Although everybody might not agree, the paragraphs in the rest of the footnote presents probably the most important thing ever written about the existence of Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La. 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, 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 [8]

Just as I was leaving the ashram and looked up to see a couple crossing the compound, other than them being with the boy thus giving me a semi-possible insight, I really didn't recognize 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, 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 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, not so much on the memory level but on the mental construct level, by the time I reached the age to be drafted into the military I had accumulated a sufficient amount of information to consider it best, just in case, to avoid them --- which is what I did.


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.

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.

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 he had been contacted by a man of deep spiritual attainment by the name of William Samuel and that 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.


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 my second visit, in Hope Savage I write that on December 10, 1962, 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 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, making everything from Chiang Mai forward to my eventual return to Rangoon and beyond as outlined in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, once added up, having transpired, or at least how time is presently constituted in the Samsara world, enveloped by the year 1964.


The Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi died April 14, 1950.






















Footnote [9]

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 or 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 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 able to stand up in the palm of his hand.

Pretty quickly I found myself a little on the bored side, and without permission from my dad or him noticing me I slipped out and began wending my way through the maze of narrow passageways and garbage strewn back alleys I hoped led toward the midway. 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 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. Before she could answer, the woman on the stool slumped over and fell off her seat to the ground. The man assured my dad it wasn't part of the act as they tried to revive her. With some assist the woman was back on her stool albeit somewhat disheveled. She motioned the man in the suit to hand her the decoder. Just as we were leaving she placed the decoder in the palm of my hand and while slightly touching her lips to my forehead, using two hands she gently folded my fingers closed over the top of the decoder and said, "Your future and past is already marked with what is in your hand."





















Footnote [10]

THE PHOTO




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 taken 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 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:

CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT: THE CODE-O-GRAPHS


TIME TRAVEL: MEETING YOURSELF



PARALLEL CONTINUUM?

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:


MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES:

Upon my return from India as a young boy, 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, Mac, unrelated to any of the events surrounding 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 Mac. 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.

THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN


MORE LOOSE ENDS: I.E., RANGOON

In regards to my second visit, when all was said and done, in relation to my return trip from the monastery as found in The Last American Darshan, I mention Rangoon. Rangoon came into the picture because the people I was traveling with, once leaving the monastery, took 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)


SAMSARA























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 and for whatever reason, both have a tendency to load slow, especially the first one. Be patient:


  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)



SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI'S WESTERN DISCIPLES






















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, as an option, a fairly comprehensive list of relevant sources can be found by going to the bottom of the main text above where I have provided a link to 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 sources listed, all in reference to Shambhala.






















AND NOW THIS:


-------------(PLEASE CLICK)

By virtue of his most well-received and influential book THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas (1980), Edwin Bernbaum, PhD, although highly recognized in any number of areas, is pretty much the avowed expert or go to guy on Shambhala, AKA Gyanganj or Shangri-La. Bernbaum's book is pretty much the classic or de rigueur on the subject in the English speaking world and loaded with references and sources. A serious internet search using any of the three names the mysterious hermitage is generally known by and Bernbaum invariably comes up, usually in relation to his book. Bernbaum himself, however, since the early years of the publication of his Shambhala tome, personally seems to have had a tendency to shy away from the subject, having moved on to other things.(see)

The strength of Bernbaum's Shambhala related expertise stems initially from his volunteer experience 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 us as volunteers in the Peace Corps and his experience in Nepal, the experience I describe as having transpired at the monastery high along the Qinghai-Tibet plateau did, however, happen long before either of us joined the Peace Corps. Tied to Shambhala as Bernbaum is, it is not unusual to find the following legend, albeit not necessarily from him per se', associated with what he has to say:


"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."


Although 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 Tibeten legend cited above and my own experience. However, the flying aspect or the need to do so is not to be discounted. Please see:


THE ZEN MAN FLIES

(please click)


EDWIN BERNBAUM




PEACE CORPS ZEN






















As to Peace Corps volunteers, 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. 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, I think there is more to it than has been presented.

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.


AN EMAIL TO THE WANDERLING
A FORMER PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER QUERIES
THE WANDERLING ABOUT HIS TIME IN JAMAICA


CONSULTING MEDIUMS





















WESTERN UNION STANDARD RADIO TELEGRAPH SIGNAL SET