the Wanderllng

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

"For me, as a kid, comic books were big in my life. Although I saved and collected a number of them on and off over the years, in the end, the vast majority of them simply just disappeared, were given away, lost, or forgotten. However, among that vast majority, at least two impacted my life and me personally in major ways and a third in an important but somewhat more minor way.

"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 a human powered air-worthy craft back in 1490 AD."

As far as comic books are concerned, True Comics, No. 58 and one titled BLUE BOLT No. 6, because of a story it had in it that was referred to as The Goose Shoot, had major impacts on my everyday early childhood. But, as mentioned above previously, there was a third important comic book character that influenced me as well in a somewhat more minor but longer term way. She was a heroine billed as the "Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier" going by the name of Firehair.

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

In the book SHAMBHALA: Oasis of Light, by Andrew Tomas (1977) the author, who spent many years studying the myths and legends of the Far East, writes that the Kunlun Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai Province holds a very important place in Chinese mythology. It is in the Kunlun range that the Immortals are believed to be, living in a mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La and, according to Tomas in his book, ruled by Hsi Wang Mu, the Queen Mother of the West. Hsi Wang Mu, is also known as Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy and compassion.

Not long after World War II while I was still a young boy somewhere around the fourth or fifth grade or so, I met an elderly Chinese man who worked as a dishwasher and swamper in a bar owned by my Stepmother. A couple of buddies and I used to pull a wagon called a Radio Flyer through the back alleys in our neighborhood a few days a week collecting pop and beer bottles for the deposit. After we collected a wagon load we would turn them in various places around of which one was the bar. In the process trading in the bottles for cash I got to know the dishwasher.

During slow times or when he was caught up with his work he used to sit Buddha style in the back alley and meditated. As a young boy without a lot of experience in the matter, and never with my buddies, I used to go by the bar and meditate with him even without turning in soda or beer bottles for the deposit. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan by B-29 Superfortresses of the United States Army Air Force during World War II.

He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

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

My older brother was born three years before me, and thus then, because of being older, started school several years before I did. As he went from kindergarten through to the third grade my mother helped him with his reading. Even though I hadn't started school because of being too young, I learned to read right along with him. By the time he reached third grade and I started kindergarten, I was reading third grade books probably as well or better than he was and was being shown off by my mother for being able to do so to anybody who would listen. My brother had assigned school books to read. I didn't, so in the process I turned to comic books. The quote below, from the source so cited, although right on, is meant to be tongue in cheek as well:

"As we traveled along, in a general chit-chat sort of way about the floods, drawing from my super heavily injected academic background brimming with in-depth encyclopedic and intellectual knowledge of information and data --- all garnered from comic books of course --- I told him about a great story I read in a Gene Autry comic called 'Ship in the Desert' (issue #52, June 1951) as well as an another one in an Uncle Scrooge comic called 'The Seven Cities of Cibola' (issue #7, September 1954) wherein wrecked Spanish galleons had been found in the desert in both stories. As near as I could remember, as far as the ships were concerned, the punchline for both stories were associated with an old Colorado River channel covered and uncovered over the centuries by flash floods or some such thing leading to the Salton Sea."

GENE AUTRY: Ship in the Desert" Issue #52, June 1951

When my dad married the person I call my stepmother he gathered up my brothers and me to live once again as a family unit. My stepmother, who was just about the the same age as my father, had never been married nor had been around children, raised children, or had any herself. So said, her view of what she thought of as family, and although I loved her view and her too, was a little skewed from what my family was before my mother died. My stepmother hired people to do everything. So family-wise, my older brother, who only my dad and godfather could control, was overseen by our godfather. I fell under the auspices of my Uncle and my younger brother was taken care of by a nanny or a series of nannies. My brothers and I and our caretakers, nannies, et al, stayed on the same property my uncle's art studio was located, a place everybody called the compound while my stepmother lived in an exclusive behind the gate estate community some distance away

One summer her namesake niece stayed with her and in the process, in that the niece was several years older than my younger brother and me my stepmother had her babysit us some of the time in an effort to offer some relief to my uncle and others. Directly across the street from my stepmother's house lived a family or some notoriety, the Halliburton's of Haliburton Oil. During the summer my niece was visiting a son of old man Halliburton named David fell hard for her, and of which I think, even though he was in his late teens or early twenties was most likely his first and thus then, his most unforgettable summer of love.

The son, David, eventually ended up being David Halliburton, Sr., a semi-avid yachtsman and marlin fisher, and, although a heir to a good part of the Halliburton Oil fortune, a man in his own right. From a young boy onward Halliburton loved the area in and around the tip of the Baja Peninsula, re the following:

"As an adult, David Halliburton Sr. frequently returned to Baja to fish with friends including Baron Hilton, Dean Martin and John Wayne. Partly so their wives would make the trip, instead of complaining about the men's frequent Mexican fishing excursions, David Sr. built the peninsula's first upscale resort, the Twin Dolphin, in 1977."


The resort, although no longer there having long since demolished, there wasn't much that rivaled the Twin Dolphin in it's hey day. I frequented the place often and almost always as a guest of Halliburton and if I wasn't and he discovered I was there he comped everything. One of the times I was there Dean Martin was there traveling with the actress Phyllis Davis. Now, while I didn't meet Dean, or even see him for that fact, I did have breakfast under invite as a guest of Halliburton one morning and Davis, sans Dean, was there. Several years later she contacted me regarding what she described as a growing spiritual awareness she was hoping to cultivate and wondered if I could offer some advice. Thinking what I suggested was a little more difficult than she wanted to pursue at the time she just let it go at that.

"According to the Buddha and how the sutras are said to present it, to manifest or execute the abilities of Siddhis, a stringent regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."

SIDDHIS: Supernormal Perceptual States

Unlike most, in an honest assessment of herself, Davis questioned if she could meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places. However, as time passed and people in her life she cared for and loved began to come and go, some on a more-or-less permanent basis by pushing up daisies, she began reevaluating just where she was finding herself in the overall scheme of things.

Sometime later, unrelated to Phyllis Davis or any of the above, I traveled to the Mahasi Meditation Center located in what was once Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar to participate in their 12 week meditation sessions. The center is a rather large complex squeezed neatly into twenty acre compound exclusively for the participating in Vipassana Meditation, the same meditation method developed, used, and taught by the Buddha.. 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 experience into Vipassana meditation. Amazingly enough, 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.

A few days before I was to complete my 12 weeks, and for all practical purposes, on a countdown in hours to depart, one of the monks, in a highly unusual set of circumstances, came to me and said an American woman had arrived at the office requesting to see me. In that only a very small cadre of people actually knew where I was and what I was doing, thinking someone seeking me must have some importance behind it, I agreed to go back with the monk. When I got to the administrative area the woman was gone, leaving only a $100 dollar Desert Inn poker chip to be given me.

When my time was over and I was unceremonious walking out the main gate, carrying what few belongings I had and dressed in the civilian clothes I arrived in, a man, looking all the same as being Burmese and most likely a local, who had been sitting in a parked car across the way in the shade, got out and began walking toward me. Speaking English the man said he had been asked by an American woman to watch for me, hand me an envelope, then, if I was willing, take me to the hotel where she was staying. The woman of course, was Phyllis Davis, and I knew it would be because probably next to the last time I saw her she gave me an exact duplicate to the $100 dollar chip I had now in Rangoon, telling me then to go gamble and have a good time. I never used the chip, actually sending it back to her in 2002 when her co-star of the TV series Vega$ Robert Urich died.

After a couple of days lounging around the hotel pool with me indulging in tropical drinks with crushed or shaved ice, triangle shaped pineapple slices with little pop-up umbrellas, and as well, having room service, sleeping in air conditioned rooms, and taking real long and hot showers with plush towels after 12 weeks at the meditation center, we gathered up a couple of things we might need and left that world behind ending up in Chiang Mai, Thailand to seek out a person I knew would be able to help us. I told him that the lady I was traveling with was in the early stages of following a spiritual path and had expressed a desire for my assistance hoping to become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna. To do so she needed to be a frequenter of lonely places. With that we were taken back to the hostel where we were staying.

The following day, barely before the sun had a chance to break across the slum-tops lining the close-by Chiang Mai eastern horizon, unknown to us and without our bidding, two men, one who could speak English, accompanied by a Buddhist monk arrived in a van looking for us. The man who could speak English said to gather up all our stuff because, with the monk's help, we were going to a place where the lady could be a frequenter to lonely places. The driver, following the monk's directions, headed northeast out of Chiang Mai on the main roads toward the mountains and jungles beyond.

The next morning the van turned onto some rough unpaved jungle road. After some distance the monk told the driver to stop. Phyllis and I got out taking our stuff with us and followed the monk into the jungle. Some hours later we came upon an opening with a small roofed wooden structure built at least three feet off the ground on stilts with a set of steps in the center-front leading to a wood floor interior. All four sides of the structure were open but had roll up rattan-like shades or blinds that could be pulled up or down forming walls, of which the one in the back was down. The way the structure faced the sun came up in the morning on the far left going across the sky in an arc setting on the far right, shining all day on the structure albeit leaving almost all of the floor area shaded. The only thing inside were two meditation mats neatly laid out on the floor. About 30 feet across the clearing was a fire pit like cooking area. After a week or two when I could sense she felt comfortable with her surroundings, the villagers, the jungle, her safety, and especially so with her meditation sessions, I told her I would be leaving. The next day, following one final wave from a distance, I headed alone into the jungle on the same trail the two of us came in on.

As easy as it may have seemed for Phyllis and I in Chiang Mai, and the graciousness of the help we received with transportation and all for her to reach a meditation spot where she could safely become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, Prajna, and a frequenter of lonely places, which she was apparently able to do, it wasn't done without a cost. Nothing is free. Although Phyllis never knew about it nor did I ever have a chance to tell her, for the services rendered there was a price that was to be extracted.

The person I went to see in the Thai restaurant was willing to help in exchange for me providing a service for him. He knew I was a longtime Asian travel hand, sometimes Nam Yu related, sometimes not, but nearly always under rather scary or unscrupulous circumstances with a once upon a time uncanny ability to slip through places without raising undue concerns. He also knew I was a trusted commodity, especially if leveraged against the fact that no harm would come to the "woman," i.e., Phyllis. After hearing his request, of which I thought was a little much of an overkill, to do his bidding I asked if when done, he would in turn do an additional small favor for me. Agreeing to do so, we shook hands and the deal was done. All I had to do was get a small item across the Thai border into Burma and deliver it to a specific person. A couple of days later found me crossing the bridge by foot from the Thai city of Mae Sai into Tachileik where the man I was supposed to meet was supposed to be. But of course, wasn't. I was told he was now in a place called Mong La about 85 miles north up along the Chinese border.

In the Star Wars film, when Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Luke Skywalker that he would never find a more "wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley Spaceport," there was no clarification. However, it thrived in being so mostly because of being located so far from the galaxy's political epicenter, and rarely if ever policed. So it is with Mong La.

As far a Mong La itself is concerned, being compared with Mos Eisley, or perhaps even the cities as seen in Bladerunner or the early scenes of the Fifth Element, movies all, they are some writers thought up view of what someplace like what they are trying to depict would be like. In real life I don't think any writer, producer, director or actor would step foot in Mong La alone without a whole lot of a protective entourage. Without any knowledge of how things work a person can and will sometimes, just disappear.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Luke Skywalker that he'd never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in the whole galaxy than Mos Eisley spaceport."

I guess neither Obi-Wan or Luke ever heard of Mong La.(see)

Not surprisingly, when I arrived in Mong La the man I was looking for wasn't there either. Powers that be told me he was supposedly at a place called Panghsang, 70 miles further northwest. More specifically at his private fortess-like mansion west of the main section of town directly edging up to the Myanamar China river border but still in Myanamar, called Wan Nalawt. I was also told I would be taken there the next day and in the meantime just hang out.

Mong La is crawling with casinos. However, six or seven years before, in 2003, as told by my driver, in nothing less than a sovereign invasion, China sent heavily armed People's Liberation Army troops cross-border into Mong La an effort to shut down the Casinos. Word had it that high-ranking Chinese government officials had lost billions of yuan in the town's casinos. One report said the daughter of a senior Chinese official had lost more than the equivalent of $1.6 million U.S. dollars using nothing but government funds. Sai Leun, the warlord who runs what is officially known as Special Region No. 4 wherein the city of Mong La is located, responded to the Chinese incursion by moving the casinos to a jungle area I estimate to be about 8 miles east and slightly south out of town. By the time I was in Mong La he had built more than two dozen casinos in an area now known in the vernacular as "casino city." After that most of central Mong La became a ghost town, although at the time I was there you could see a recovery was going on albeit never loosing a step as to its disreputable reputation.

"While the abandoned casinos are left to crumble in the centre of Mong La, the glitzy new casino area is a truly incredible sight huge columned palaces with names like Royal Casino and Casino Lisboa rise up in bizarre contrast with the villages and rice paddies that surround them. Armies of young casino workers in waistcoats mill around outside, and inside they robotically flip cards and spin wheels for the crowds of Chinese men and women squeezed around the tables."

MONG LA: MYANMAR'S SIN CITY, Charlotte Rose, Myanmar Times

Of course Mong La, although not a country but a city, is being offered up as a simile, albeit in reverse, of all that Shambhala stands for.

As for similes, not only on this page, but in one of the very first paragraphs of THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER: Shangri-la, Shambhala, Gyanganj, Buddhism, and Zen I state that from his Enlightenment forward, the Buddha, as part of his teaching method, presented his deeply held spiritual and philosophical concepts to those so interested through the use of comparisons, allegories, similes, and metaphors. However, even before that paragraph, centered and in caps, in conjunction with the page so presented, directly underneath my name identifying me as the author and making no apologies, pulling any punches, or waffling, I flat out write:


Then I write that for me, as a kid, comic books were big in my life jumping quickly to the Green Lama. Here I was, independently and on my own while still a young boy only in the fourth or fifth grade being introduced to and learning about Om Mani Padme Hum by an ancient Chinese man sitting Buddhis style meditating in a back alley behind a bar. Even then the groundwork was being laid as I was being groomed by outside forces for acceptance into the realm of Shambhala.


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Bodhidharma, Hui'ko, Hui Shen, Hui Neng, Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien, Zhaozhou, Mugai Nyodai,
Moshan Liaoran, Nagarjuna, Tung-Shan, Te Shan, Dogen