DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY




"Within the members of the relatively small search team, Chinese all, was a Buddhist or Zen Buddhist. When they came across me, not knowing if I was the one they were searching for or not, the Buddhist amongst them noticed the small Chinese symbol hanging around my neck. The team was just going to abandon me, but the Buddhist, after seeing what I had around my neck told them I was under protection of the Lord Buddha and to leave me in such a state and in such surroundings would be bad Karma --- that nothing but bad fortune and and bad luck would follow them if they did not take me with them."

PARAGRAPH ELEVEN, BELOW


There are two parts to what follows. The first part concentrates on the physical aspects of how I originally ended up spending a portion of my life in an isolated Zen monastery perched perilously along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in the first place, as well as the somewhat strange circumstances surrounding my eventual departure. The second part falls more into the actual day-to-day functionings, hierarchy, ins-and-outs, and operations of a monastery, written for those who want to know what it's like being a bottom-of-the-line neophyte monk within the confines of a stark Zen monastery. For that portion please go down the page to the section titled MONASTERY RULES AND SCHEDULE.


the Wanderling


THE MONASTERY AND BEYOND:

When people conjure up thoughts related to the life of the Buddha, after Enlightenment, usually India and the vast southern reaches of the Himalayas where he lived and taught comes to mind. When they think of Buddhism, most people turn their thoughts to China. With Zen, typically Japan --- with credit going to China from which it sprang. However, although it is not exclusively Buddhist, there is a broad band of Buddhism beyond those three countries that forms a huge crescent-like swath from India through southeast Asia, passing through Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Within that crescent-like swath are hundreds of Buddhist and Zen Buddhist monasteries with thousands of monks, many of which amongst their ranks of thousands have been found to be protesting government policies in Burma, while in the early-mid 1960s they were burning themselves alive in protests over government policies in Vietnam. (see) However, high in the mountains and plateaus bordering up and behind that swath, in an almost impenetrable area, there exists many ancient and unknown to the outside world and all its turmoil, basically unhindered and unmolested, a smattering of monasteries operating almost independent of time.

Buddhists notwithstanding, although memories are fading strongly into the past, when most people think of that area below the mountains, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, it is associated primarily with the Vietnam war with all of its in-country death and destruction, matched, albeit unevenly, only by the social unrest and upheaval throughout America and around the world. However, the war cast a much different net than exclusively in-country fighting or anti-war demonstrations abroad. For years ALL the countries in Southeast Asia, large or small, were involved in some manner or the other, especially so following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in March of 1954. After the French surrender and eventual pullout, in order to ensure western interests would continue to be maintained on some level in the general greater southeast Asian sphere, the U.S. and/or allies or closely allied mercenaries or surrogates continued to keep their hands in the pie at some level or the other.

One of those closely allied mercenaries or surrogates was an otherwise minor Laotian warlord that through his association grew much more powerful than otherwise would have been ordained. Through a series of events I found myself in the court of that same warlord. The downstream outflow from that encounter, an encounter of which was put into place by others well beyond my control, later found me miles and miles away high in the mountains of the Himalayas outside the confines of any warlord, in one of those ancient monasteries truly beyond the reach of time.


The warlord financed a good portion of his largely regional Laotian warlord activities through the use of, bartering of, or marketing of, opium. The problem with being a marketer of opium is that for any amount of it to become super-profitable on a large scale at the user end --- over any distance and to large population centers --- it quickly becomes way too bulky, heavy, difficult to transport, and hard to hide. However, processing opium into morphine base and then into heroin concentrates the power of the product into a more manageable material to transport --- that is, small amounts relative to its potentially huge worth can be moved in rather small spaces. The thing is, the refining process to turn morphine base into good stuff, say China White at 99.9% pure --- and doing it safely and expediently --- requires lots of chemicals and the experience of a master chemist. Although in later years there were eventually quite a number of highly capable heroin refineries located throughout the Golden Triangle area, at the time we are talking about here, the Laotian warlord operated one of only two known, and, even though it could process heroin, it was rudimentary at best and turned out only small amount of product.

In those days most of the opium in the Golden Triangle came down from Burma to Thailand by mule train to the railhead in Chiang Mai. Although the majority of the opium was grown or fell under the control of the Burmese strongman and warlord Khun Sa, on the long mule train trail to the railhead it was guarded by remnant soldiers of Chiang Kai Shek's old KMT, the Kuomintang. When Chaing Kai Shek and his Nationalist troops escaped to Taiwan a good portion of his army had been split into separate parts with large remnants remaining in the far reaches of the western provinces basically living off the land and scrounging for a living. Some of that scounging included providing security for Khun Sa's opium being moved overland by mule to Chiang Mai.

The people I was traveling with decided, and I am not sure of which even to this day, that it could possibly be quite lucrative on one hand or could eliminate a lot of drugs ending up on the market on the other if, rather than leaving Khun Sa's raw opium up for bid in the markets of Chiang Mai, we intercepted it sometime before arrival and making an offer that would be hard to refuse.

Over the years the Laotian warlord always had sufficient supplies of opium gathered from numerous small fields operated by local indigenous tribesmen. However, because of his newly established refinery and the fact that it took lots of raw opium to manufacture a marketable amount heroin, he was hoping to get the lion's share of the Burmese opium for himself. In so saying, he caught wind of the plan and sent his people out to ensure we were not successful in our endeavors. Since everybody's job was only done on "a need to know basis," my role in the whole thing was minor but the most important. Khun Sa did not want paper money, he only wanted gold. My job was knowing who had the gold and where it was after a deal was made. Up to that time NOBODY else but ME in our portion of the on the ground group was privy to that information. However, OUTSIDE our portion of the on the ground group was a different story. Apparently someone higher up in the chain of command with more to gain personally must have informed the warlord of what we were doing and of my role in it specifically.

Waiting in Chiang Mai, and not knowing any of us were being pursued, members of the Laotian warlord's contingent caught up with some of us. Before I had a chance they grabbed me, took me to some dingy building, put me into a stupor with opium or some other drug, then shot me up with some ultra-strong heroin over a period of days, possibly weeks --- the idea being, it is supposed, to stop any transaction from going forward in the first place, and secondly, to turn me into a highly addictive state and thus then revealing the whereabouts of the gold.

Now, if any of that was being done on their own level of operation or the orders to do so went clear back to the Laotian warlord --- or beyond --- was not known. Either way, for me initally, the results were the same. Then something happened.

Spearhead members of the KMT came into Chiang Mai with intentions to meet with my portion of the group to close the deal. Since none of us were at the preordained meeting spot they began searching the city. They heard a roundeye, possibly an American, was in one of the dens and went looking for me. In the meantime those sitting on the gold, who had lost contact with me as well, bypassed my portion of the operation and sought out the KMT. While all of this was going on the KMT searching the city came across me, finding me with bloodshot eyes, drooling at the mouth, unbathed, dirty, unshaven, no clothes, sitting in my own urine and defecation, and so mind-numb that I was worthless to their or anybody else's cause. However, this was when something highly unusual transpired that inturn, changed everything.

Within the members of the relatively small search team, Chinese all, was a Buddhist or Zen Buddhist. When they came across me in the den, not even knowing if I was the one they were searching for or not, the Buddhist amongst them noticed the small Chinese symbol hanging around my neck. The team was just going to abandon me, but the Buddhist, after seeing what I had around my neck told them I was under protection of the Lord Buddha and to leave me in such a state and in such surroundings would be bad Karma --- that nothing but bad fortune and and bad luck would follow them if they did not take me with them. Now, whether it was true or not doesn't matter. The Buddhist believed it and HE convinced his fellow KMT such was the case.



ANCIENT TEA HORSE ROAD

I woke up in what was apparently some days later in need of a fix and traveling with a large contingent of KMT returning through Burma to their digs in China. I was still dirty, barefoot, albeit with a pair of GI boots tied to either side of my hips through the belt loops of my pants and still carried the shoulder bag I had with me all along. It was a good thing too, because I had a stash in the bag and feeling the oncoming effects of the monkey on my back, the first chance I got, shot up. The KMT Buddhist, seeing what was going on and seeing, regardless of his good intentions, it wasn't going to work, left the main contingent of the KMT taking me with him high into the mountains basically retracing the steps of the ancient Chamadao, the Tea Horse Trail or Tea Horse Road (see gif with link at right). Some days later, with me still shooting up on and off, but running out of stuff, we parted company after he left me outside 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, some would even 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. Then one day, basically appearing out of nowhere, a group of monks showed up headed toward the village or into the fields and I followed them hoping to pull something, anything, out of the ground to eat. When they returned, I returned, entering the monastery right along with them. I looked worse than any animal and for sure smelled worse than any garbage truck. After hulking in the corner and eating scraps off the ground tossed to me over a period of days I woke up one morning to find a halfway decent pile of folded clothes sitting in front of me. I cleaned myself up, put on the clothes and was pointed to work in the kitchen food preparation area doing clean up and more or less garbage and latrine detail.(see) Soon, as I got some sense of my surroundings, I began sneaking in and sitting in meditation in the main hall with the rest of the monks. Nobody said anything and nobody questioned why I was there. Not even the master. See:


THE FIRST PART


Months went by and I continued to sit in study-practice. Except for the occasional sting of the shiang ban or possibly the brightness of the light or the length or shortness of the shadows caused by the movement from the summer to a winter sun and back, nothing seemed to change. My mind was blank, only the moment existed and consciously unregistered within days of first doing study practice, as mandated by tradition over the centuries, falling into and following the strict


MONASTERY RULES AND SCHEDULE


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RETURN TO THE WEST AND THE JOURNEY HOME:

Early one morning, not long after the unfolding of events regarding my stay at the monastery so described in The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, found me having just crouched down to do my business in the fields some distance outside the walls of the monastery after a trek to the village and back when I felt the shadows of three men fall across my face. The darkness came from the KMT Buddhist accompanied by two Australians that I recognized as having been members of our covert team. They apparently had been snooping around in the village for a day or two when they heard the white monk was in town and had followed along the trail in my wake in an effort to catch me before I entered the monastery and be beyond their reach. If I would have learned three men were in the village, two of them from the west, I may have been suspicious enough to have looked them over first. Or, even without me knowing, had I not stopped in the fields outside the monastery I may have had sufficient distance and time between me and them to have made it through the doors unhindered. Instead neither happened and I fell within their grasp.

The Australians seemed huge in size, pale white with booming loud voices. Over their shoulders hung automatic weapons made of cold steel-gray machined metal with big long clips filled with bullets. Both men were the total antithesis to all I had been engaged in for so many months. Seemed the opium deal never went down and the gold never showed up. Thinking I along with possibly a few others may have absconded with the gold, powers that be began searching out details on what happened and in the process ran across the KMT Buddhist. Regardless of what story I or the Buddhist told them, or the trust the team may or may not have had in me at one time or the other, it was clear by the insistence of the Australians if I intended to remain alive, I had little or no option but to return to Chiang Mai with them. Which I did.

On the return trip we stopped for a couple of nights at a military encampment or compound of Khun Sa. At first I thought we had been captured and taken to the camp, which for all practical purposes, we were. However, once we were inside the perimeter of the compound it was quite obvious the Australians and Khun Sa knew each other. He wanted to see the man under the protection of the Lord Buddha. After a quick introduction I was told I was under HIS protection now. Everybody laughed. Then Khun Sa motioned me closer, almost immediately dropping his eye contact from my eyes to that of the the small gold Chinese character dangling around my neck. Reaching forward he softly took the tiny medallion between his thumb and index finger, looking at it very carefully and rubbing it for what seemed the longest time. The background noise and the overall din of the soldiers in the camp became quiet and the air stilled. As a man who could have and take anything he wanted I thought he was going to yank the chain from my neck. Instead he allowed it to gently fall against my skin and stepped back and the sound returned to normal. Basically a tribal person seeped in superstition, Khun Sa, and no doubt along wtih good part of his camp as well, knew that for the necklace to have the intended power vested in it, it had to either be given freely and without malice or found after having genuinely been lost. Otherwise, if taken or stolen, its intent would be reversed and what would befall the person so involved would be quite the opposite of the protection it provided. (see)

Sometime in the middle of the night or early morning hours I was startled awake by two men. One of them placed a hand over my mouth while silently placing the index finger of his other hand over his lips in the international keep quiet sign. At the same time, with the assist of the other man, they pulled me out of the sleeping area and threw me, uncooperatively, into the bed of what appeared to be military vehicle with a canvas covered back. One of the men got in front of the truck apparently as the driver while the other man crawled into the back with me. In the dark I could just barely make out the figures of three other people sitting along the part way up metal sides of the truck bed. Hours went by, sometimes on rough roads, other times smooth. Sometimes curvy other times straight. Mid morning we stopped and the dropped canvas rear cover was untied from the outside and we got out.

The two men that I figured were my abductors wore military fatiques with no patches or markings. The other three men riding in the back with me surprisingly enough, were dressed in the garb of buddhist monks, with shaved heads and all. Each of the five were of asian stock and not one seemed to have any command of the english language --- although it was quite clear, combined, they were on some kind of mission that included me.

Hours later and into the night, after stopping a couple of more times during the day with the monks begging food and sharing with the soldiers and myself during one of the stops, we pulled into a large area full of buildings and structures and we got out. The monks were met by a few other monks, the truck with the two soldiers drove away, and I was escorted into a building apparently to sleep.

The next morning I was met by a man, a monk, that spoke english who told me I was at the Mahasi Meditation Center in Rangoon and brought there for, among other things, my safe keeping and overall well being. By the end of the day, over a period of several hours, I met with the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, the center's meditation master and Principal Preceptor.(see) Through others it was explained that I was welcome to stay as long as I liked. The whole thing, well intentioned or not, possibly even as an effort to detox me back to normalcy from my time in the monastery, was short lived. Within several weeks or so, but most assuredly before I could turn around and really start making sense of things, the two Australians showed up along with a couple of Burmese government suit-types looking for me (nothing gets by the authorities). I told them I was not complacent in any of the endeavors that brought me to the center and it was, from start to finish, all done so without any previous knowledge or instigation on my part. They seemed to agree and soon we were back on our journey as though nothing happened.


In the beginning of the whole operation, when I first went to Chiang Mai, a couple of days before the Laotian warlord's contingent caught up with me, and unrelated to any of their forthcoming actions, to cover my own back, I secretly moved the gold --- all of it in pure, untraceable rough cast bars and quite heavy --- to a second more secure spot known only to me. The gold being missing wasn't found out until others, thinking they were sitting on the gold, and bypassing me, went to finalize the deal only to find it gone. By then I was long on my way to China and, at least initially, involuntarily so high on drugs I didn't know anything about anything one way or the other anyway.

Not trusting the Australians I kept my mouth shut until we returned to Chiang Mai and was able to meet with higher members of the team investigating what happened. Once I told my side of the story and the gold was where I said it was, although I didn't escape without repercussions, I was officially absolved of any misdeeds. (see)

It must be said, however, that for our purposes here, except for being the primary thrust-medium that put into motion all the events that unfolded as they did, what I am interested here is NOT the opium or drug aspect of it all, but my stay at the Zen monastery. There are many strong, notable, and well respected members of the Buddhist, Zen Buddhist, and Enlightenment commmunity that have gone to, studied under, written books about, and run a number of excellent and fine Centers both in America and abroad. Many of the notables went to India or Japan and studied for months and possibly years under highly venerable teachers. Other teachers came to the U.S. passing their understanding to others and they still to even more. However, very little of what has been gleaned or passed on bubbled up untainted and unlayered from the unspoiled roots of their ancient past. I am the only person I am aware of operating at the level that I do that truly bypassed most of the layers --- primarily because where I was none of the layers existed. While at the monastery, I studied under the direct bold, unbending hand of a non-English speaking Chinese master of Zen and Enlightenment. The monastery itself was a cold, stark environment high in the mountains above the tree line, far removed from the western world and civilization, operating beyond the bounds of time, whose lineage, rituals, and beliefs harkened straight back unbroken and unfettered to the likes of Hui Neng, Bodhidharma and the Buddha. Doing so enabled me to be guided, via the master's skillful means, through to the full level of the unveiled truth, springing undhindered and unencumbered from it's original grounding source.(see) Returning to America I have, because of that experience, through comparison and similes, been able to cut through and discard the trappings overlayed over the centuries, stripping bare to the undiluted core. Now while it is true the monastery followed, implemented and enforced physically harsh and sometimes mentally arduous rules, they never strayed beyond the central underlying reason. They were far from what has permeated and morphed over time as being standard in Japan and the west. Some people need rituals and trappings, robes and cushions, Enlightenment doesn't. For more regarding the stay at the monastery see:


THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER

SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN



NOTE: If you have not yet read the comments regarding the phrase "under the protection of the Lord Buddha" and the origin and meaning behind it, please scroll down as well to the footnote at the bottom of the page. See also the bottom of the page sub-section The Second Part and how all of it ends drip-layered in the myths of the mysterious hermitage of Gyanganj high in the mountains of the Himalayas (sometimes referred to in the west as Shangri-La or Shambhala).


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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BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS



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MONASTERY RULES AND SCHEDULE:


Day after day, week after week, month after month, rain, wind, snow, sun, hot or cold, the following schedule as listed below was, regardless of rank or position in the monastery, strictly followed and adhered to. Up at 2:45 AM, bedtime around 9:00 PM. When I say bedtime around 9:00 PM, you were expected to go to bed, but in practice after 9:00 PM the time was your own. Typically, after the long day you were wiped out, but you could bum with other monks, go outside the walls, work in the kitchen hoping for extra food, meditate. Even so, there was not many places to go and have a few drinks and kick back with the locals --- all of which, if there were any locals or drinks, were miles down the trail --- which was way to perilous to traverse at night for any reason. Such an endeavor, as enticing as it may sound, even if it did transpire, most likely would NOT have ended up similar in fashion as say, the tavern in Raiders of the Lost Ark owned by Marion Ravenwood, high in the mountains of Nepal. So said, although I NEVER indulged in anything of a suspect nature after my arrival, a few monks, even though it was strictly prohibited, were known for their ability to concoct some sort of unauthorized fermented brew on the side that if imbibed, would knock your socks off.




Although it was quite clear I was not of indigenous stock, and as well, not brought up through any local or regional system however formal or informal, in that I had studied under the Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi I had some background as to how to conduct oneself under the conditions afforded by the monastery. Because of such, even though it would seem I had many strikes against me, I fit in somewhat more comfortablely than might be expected. I did not come pounding on the door either, but, in a near Nirodha state, sat silently in what seemed a power beyond my control in the Bhumi-sparsha Mudra pose for weeks on end like a latter day Hui K'o outside the monastery until I became a more or less familiar figure and fixture. By then, seemingly more Neanderthal than Homo sapien, after entering the monastery, the mere aspect of being seeped in Zen or Buddhist protocol in what should have been clearly a foreign environment for almost anybody, showed at least I was not a neophyte.

As for the monastery's daily schedule notice on the list below there is time set aside for what most would call breakfast as well as for lunch, but NONE for an evening meal. What is provided and eaten is not what most would call gourmet. No meat, table salt, coffee or sugar, but some of the best tea around, most often Pu-erh which was traded for along the trail up from the south. No electricity either, but 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.





Besides the rituals and schedules put into place and followed, there is a relatively rigid hierarchy of rank and authority in a Zen monastery. Most people understand there is a Zen Master and possibly an Abbot, but they don't always know that from top to bottom there exists an almost quasi-military-like structure. In a near parallel of same, professor Robert H. Sharf, the Director of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, writes:

Zen monastic training involves a prolonged course of instruction in the elaborate ritual and ceremony of monastic life. Indeed, as a prerequisite for entering a sd (monks' hall), a novice is expected to be familiar with the ceremonial life and etiquette of a Zen temple. (Most Zen priests are "temple sons" who grew up in a temple environment.) Thus, by the time he is ready for the sd a priest would already know how to chant, having memorized a few short sutras and other liturgical materials, most of which are written in Chinese. He would know how to wear his monastic robes and handle the ceremonial surplice (kesa), as well as how to make devotional offerings to the Buddhist deities enshrined throughout the temple complex. He would also ideally know how to feed the hungry ghosts, how to perform memorial rites, how to prepare and serve food, how to minister to visiting parishioners, and so on.

This is not to say that adjustment to sd life is easy. A good deal of initiatory hazing is involved in the treatment of novice unsui (sd monks in training), and punishment for infractions, including infractions of which the novice may be unaware, is immediate and often severe. The organization of a monastery is rigidly hierarchical -- the unsui must learn to respond unquestioningly to the orders of his superiors, a category that initially includes virtually every member of the monastic community. At the same time, through close observation and imitation the novice is expected to quickly master the elaborate ritual protocol governing behavior in the meditation hall, the abbot's quarters, the Dharma hall, the kitchen, the toilet, the bathhouse, and other facilities. There is a scholastic component to Zen training as well: unsui are expected to become familiar with the classics of the Zen canon, whether through formal study as is done in St establishments, or in conjunction with kan training as is more common in Rinzai. All the while the unsui must learn to endure the physical and emotional discomfort involved in prolonged zazen. For those who will become masters, the course of monastic training can last fifteen years or more.(source)


The monks are of several categories. The Ssu shou are the leaders comprising the officers of the monastery such as the Meditation Master, the Chief Cook, the Business Manager, and the Treasurer. The Abbot usually has a male assistant as a secretary as well as a Scribe that deals with letters and documents related to commemoration of the dead, rituals and so on. The Ching chung are the ordinary monks while the Hang tang are the most menial doing such jobs as looking after rice supplies, water for tea, shower areas, and toilets. The Hsiang teng shi are cleaners and the Hsu shan foresters. The Chu i are kitchen staff. As well, although there is sometimes overlaps or shifting over time, monks are usually divided between those who work inside the monastery and those that work outside the monastery.(see)


The following, regarding the expected code of behavior for cloistered monastery-type monks, and how it applies to oneself and one's conduct within the community of a Zen monastery, is by Stuart Lachs --- as found in his paper "Coming Down from the Zen Clouds." Judging from my own personal experience I can, for the most part, attest to it's accuracy. The caveat "for the most part" is inserted however, because, at for least for me, there seemed to be more smoother corners to it all than rough edges:

In China, where Zen began, Zen monasteries became distinct from other Buddhist monasteries with the famous rules of P'ai-chang (749-814). P'ai-chang supposedly prescribed a strict code of behavior for all members of the monastic community along with severe penalties for improper behavior. All of the classical accounts of Pai-chang's founding of an independent system of Ch'an monastic training may be traced back to a single source: "Regulations of the Ch'an Approach" (Ch'an-men Kuei-shih) written in approximately 960 A.D.

According to this text, "If the offender had committed a serious offense he was beaten with his own staff. His robe and bowl and other monkish implements were burned in front of the assembled community, and he was [thereby] expelled [from the order of Buddhist monks]. He was then thrown out [of the monastery] through a side gate as a sign of his disgrace. The rules applied to everyone. P'ai-chang further recommended that "a spiritually perceptive and morally praiseworthy person was to be named as abbot." This definitely implies a moral and social aspect to Ch'an life. This is the logic of Zen from its earliest formulation as a distinct Buddhist sect.


The following paragraph, from "TO LEAD IS TO SERVE: The Training of a Buddhist Abbot," describes the Abbot's role in the overall functioning of a monastery:

In traditional Buddhist monasteries, the abbot is both the spiritual and temporal head of the monastery. He leads all the monks in religious practice and ceremonies. He is the primary religious teacher in the community. He has the final word in all decisions, and the monks are expected to willingly accept his decisions even if they do not like them very much. He is the chief administrator, and has the last word on how the community's funds are spent. He is the final authority of the monastery's rules, and can make new rules when necessary. He appoints all the senior monks to their offices, and can remove them from those offices whenever necessary. It would therefore appear that the authority and "power" of the abbot is seemingly limitless, and that the responsibilities and duties of a Buddhist abbot are both desirable and to be eagerly sought for. However, the reality of the "power" and "authority" which the abbot seems to possess pales in comparison to the weight of his responsibilities and the complexities of his office. Whatever sort of joyful bubble of ability, exhilaration, and "power" which the new abbot has unfortunately allowed to form in his mind usually bursts within the first few years of abbatical service as the reality and weight of his office begin to settle on him. It is no wonder that, in China, monks who had been asked to become abbot of large monasteries sometimes disappeared mysteriously before the appointment could be made, while those who accepted the abbatical office in large monasteries would often die in office. (source)


If and after a certain level of Attainment is reached, a select few, either on their own or by a higher authority, will leave the austerity and strict rituals of the monastery, wending their way on foot, taking with them no more than a walking stick, bowl, and possibly extra sandals. Typically trading mental jousts along the way for food and lodging, but sometimes, for the lack of same, missing meals and seeking shelter in ruined temples, caves, or deserted houses by the roadside --- often suffering the severities of nature as well as the unkindness of man.


"He befriends kindred souls with whom he discusses problems and exchanges views. In this way personal experiences are widened and deepened, and his understanding grows. Then, one day, as what happened through the moon-driven events of Japan's first female Zen master, Chiyono, 'the bottom of the bucket dropped out,' he hears a chance remark of a charwoman, or a frivolous song of a dancing girl, or smells the quiet fragrance of a nameless flower and suddenly understands: the Buddha was 'like a piece of dung' and also 'like three pounds of flax.'"(see)


See HSING CHIAO: Traveling On Foot as well as Parivrajaka.


One day a very old and ancient man came down from the mountains and apparently asked to see the monk who was said to be under the protection of the Lord Buddha. I was quickly brought before his presence. Because of respect paid him by all, plus the serenity he seemed to abide in, it was clear the man was Enlightened. Even so, no sooner had I arrived when a look of disappointment seemed to cross his face. As he turned to walk away, in a flash he swung back around with his staff swinging toward me. As I raised my arm to block the blow just as quickly he lowered the motion of the swing and before I was able to counter the move he had knocked me off my feet. Huge roars of laughter permeated the room. Here was this billion year old man who had easily knocked me to the ground and I know he must have been saying to everybody's enjoyment, "under the protection of Lord Buddha, my ass!" He extended the end of his staff to pull me up, which I took. He then strode out of the monastery and back into the mountains.

There was something about the old man that would not just let go and it continued to gnaw at me for the longest time. Months went by. Finally, when the weather turned such that I could, I sought the old man out, visiting him at what was not much more than a stone-pile hut along the edge of a stream. This time when I came before his presence there were no swinging staffs, only a sweeping open-palm hand offering me to join him for tea. Several days went by and during that time not one word passed between us. However, just as I was leaving he grabbed at my sleeve if only for a second. When I turned to see what he wanted, he reached deep down into a pocket-like slit in the side of his garment and removed a small cloth bag. Inside the bag was a necklace made of string. Dangling on the string was what appeared to be an exact duplicate of the same small medalion I wore around my neck. Never before --- or since --- under any circumstances, had I seen one similar.

Even though we were unable to communicate verbally because of not knowing each other's languages, there was a great nonverbal understanding between the two of us. When he showed me that he too had a small gold medalion just like the one I wore around my neck, through hand gestures, pantomime, and line drawings in the dirt I tried to get him to show me how it was he came into possession of the medalion. He drew a couple of cuneiform characters in the dirt and using a charcoal stick and a piece of cloth I copied them as best I could. He inturn, upon seeing how I copied them, nodded in agreement. However, nobody I showed them to could translate them --- hence a trip to Hong Kong in 1977 to seek audience with the famous translator Upasaka Lu K'uan Yu.(see)

Even Lu K'uan Yu was baffled, alluding to the fact I may have copied them wrong. Eventually, after some rather thorough study, he was convinced the characters were meant to mean Gyanganj, a home for immortals said to be hidden in a valley in the remote Himalayas as discussed in a rather in depth fashion somewhat further down the page in a footnote sub-section titled:

THE SECOND PART


AND NOW THIS:

One morning during my visit with the old man at his stone hut he had me walk down stream quite some distance with him. In the rough rock hewn hillside somewhat above the stream just before it tumbled down into rapids over a rather steep waterfall the Zen man showed me what appeared to be the remains of a fallen-over, onetime rock shelter. I had seen a shelter built in nearly the exact same manner high in the mountains of the Sierras in California some years before. In High Mountain Zendo I described the Sierra-based shelter thus:


"It is actually a natural space, like a small cave that has a handmade pile or rocks forming a "C" shaped wall that protects the inside area from the prevailing winds and allows for a small fire for warmth and cooking. There is a log with a piece of canvas that can be put over the entrance and dropped to the ground if need be as well as it can get quite cold in the altitude and the winds quite strong."(see)


From the remains of the onetime shelter I could tell that the one in the Sierras replicated almost down to the last stone the shelter I stood before --- it was as though the same person had built both of them from the same design. If such was the case, at the moment I stood before the ruins, I did not know which one came first, although I knew the shelter in the Sierras had seemed much more recent and was still intact. A strange non-weather related cold-like chill came over me as I crouched down and looked inside, gently poking the ground beyond the rocks with a stick. The feeling was broken by the Zen man putting his hand on my shoulder followed by a gesture as though he wanted to show me something else. He walked over to a close by tree and pointed to markings carved into the trunk. I could barely make out three letters and just below them four numbers, which appeared to be the date of a year, 1926. The letters were the exact same letters as the initials of my Mentor.

My mentor told me he had arrived in India a year after his future teacher to be, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, had been accosted by ruffians in his ashram. That incident has been dated at June 26, 1924, which would make my mentor's arrival in India somewhere just before or during the summer of 1925. However it was not until 1928 that he showed up at the Ramana ashram. He traveled in "China, Burma, India" and it has been said he showed up in the temple of the south Indian city of Madura "two years later." (1925 the year my mentor arrived in India and 1928, the year he arrived at the ashram of Sri Ramana translates, it would seem, into being three years. The number of months may be somewhat less than three years since the total number of months are not known, that is, less than 36 months). It was apparently during those two to three years he ended up in the mountains along the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, possibly even doing study practice in the same monastery I was staying.


Before my mentor left Europe he took a job at a coal mine in Lens, France. There he met a former Polish army officer and mystic by the name of Kosti. Kosti, drawing from the failings of his own experience, basically told my mentor he most likely had learned all he could from books and should seek his answers elsewhere, possibly in things less academic and more spiritual. In the process of listening to Kosti's advice, in the midsummer, early fall of 1922, before going to India, my mentor met a Benedictine monk in Bonn, Germany, called Father Ensheim by Maugham. At the time of their meeting Father Ensheim was on a research-study leave from his monastery in Alsace, France. The Father noticed my mentor seemed to be stuck in the beginning stages of a deep spiritual quest so he invited him to return with him to his monastery. In the summer of 1923 my mentor went, staying three or four months or more, studying and partcipating in all the monastery duties and activities. When he decided to leave, the following is said to have transpired:


"Those good fathers had no answers that satisfied either my head or my heart to the questions that perplexed me. My place was not with them. When I went to say goodbye to Father Ensheim he didn't ask me whether I had profited by the experience in the way he had been so sure I would. He looked at me with inexpressible kindness."

"I'm afraid I've been a disappointment to you, Father."

"No," he answered. "You are a deeply religious man who doesn't believe in God. God will seek you out. You'll come back. Whether here or elsewhere only God can tell."


What I was told, the good Father, figuring IF my mentor was just put into the right environment, he should be able to bridge the gap between the religious aspects he was familar with and that of the potentially deeper spiritual aspects he was seeking. In so figuring, he suggested that he go to India and visit a certain monastery high in the Himalayas called Hemis (sometimes, Himis). How it has been related back to me is that the Father told my mentor that he heard sometime in the late 1880s early 1890s a man by the name of Nicolas Notovitch had ended up in the monastery of Hemis recuperating from an injury. While at that monastery he was shown an ancient manuscript that indicated Jesus of Nazaerth had been in India during the so-called missing years of his life as indicated in the bible. The manuscript Notovitch was shown was a translation of the original which was kept in the library of the monastery of Marbour near Lhasa. The original text was written in Pali, whereas the Hemis manuscript was in Tibetan, consisting of fourteen chapters, of which contained a total of two hundred and twenty four verses --- all related to Jesus being in India.

Some thirty-five years following Notovich's sojourn to Hemis, around the sametime that my mentor arrived in India (1925) a follower of the Theosophist sect by the name of Nicholas Roerich, who would eventually go on to be nominated three different times for the Nobel Peace Prize, arrived at Hemis to see the Hemis Manuscripts and then on to Tibet in search of the originals. Foreigners, especially white people from the west, did not travel much in Tibet in those days, especially to Lhasa, and Roerich and his party were held incognito in Tibet during the years 1927-28, during which five of his party died. He was eventually released in 1928 and returned to India. It is reported he saw the same manuscripts as Notovitch. If you recall from the above, my mentor carved the date 1926 in the tree along the stream near the rock hut. It is my belief my mentor, following Father Ensheim's advice, went in search of the same manuscripts seeking the truth. Although he met Roerich, if he ever saw the manuscripts --- or if the manuscripts ever existed --- is not known. However, it seems to me my mentor had a massive change regarding his approach to things spiritual and religion after going to Tibet, especially so how he viewed things in a western sense. Between the time he got off the boat in Bombay and the time he arrived at the temple in Madura some two to three years later and met a Holy Man there, who inturn was sent by that Holy Man to study under Sri Ramana, enough of a change occurred that he was Awakened to the Absolute --- that is, his mind became ripe and he was Enlightened in the same manner as the ancient classical masters.(see)


SEE:
THE LETTER


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


It should be noted that Adam Osborne, who, as a young boy grew up at the Ramana ashram and the son of one of the foremost Ramana biographers Arthur Osborne, played a prominent role in the Last American Darshan as linked above.

To return to main text click HERE.

















"UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE LORD BUDDHA"


Many people take issue with the saying: "under the protection of the Lord Buddha" --- especially so in how it relates back to the Buddha and Buddhism --- and then inturn, how it relates back to me specifically.

However, implications or no --- or related to me specifically or not --- the quote is NOT of my own making. Although I have since heard it unsolicited a couple of times under varying circumstances, it first came to me from an apparent underlying belief held by the KMT Buddhist upon seeing the small Chinese character around my neck. Accurate assessment or not, it is what he believed. So too, in his own way, it is what Khun Sa believed as well. I have since run into people seeped in Buddhism that upon seeing the tiny medalion said the same thing.


One day, while still at the monastery, I was in a group of monks that went to the village some miles away. While there I sought out a villager that was able to speak some English. I was able to get him to write, in Chinese, a note to the master requesting information as to WHY the symbol around my neck afforded some sort of significance. Upon return the note was delivered by an intermediary. Some months later I was given a handwritten response --- in Chinese. After returning to the states nobody I showed the response to, who should have had the ability to read it, were able to translate it with any amount of accuracy.

In 1977 I was in Hong Kong to seek audience with the famous translator Upasaka Lu K'uan Yu. The purpose of that meeting was to get a better handle on what the Zen master wrote. The whole story is fairly long and complicated and most do not have the time or interest to delve into it at much length. However, the gist of the translation revolves around one King Dhatarattha, Bodhisattva, one time follower and confidant of the Buddha. Dhatarattha was the Lord of the East. The sun rises from out of the east, that is from the east of Mount Meru, out over the ocean that laps against the eastern shoreline of Meru and that extends continually eastward well beyond the horizon. The King's realm and power oversaw all that the ocean and beyond entailed --- the hidden lands of Fu Sang and all. If you recall, the symbol around my neck originally showed up around the neck of a merchant marine that had been found strapped to a piece of debris floating in the ocean. (see)

In the Sutras, Dhatarattha, in addition to being Lord of the East, he is also King of the Swans, and he above all others was the Golden Swan. The King of Benares heard of the Golden Swan and wanted him. So he built a beautiful lake to entice him to come there, wherein, upon doing so he could capture him. To wit:


Not suspecting anything and trusting the words of the king's proclamation the Bodhisattva and his friends were enjoying themselves among the lotuses of the lake, when the foot of Dhatarattha got entangled in a snare. In order to warn the other swans of danger, he announced by a certain cry that he had been caught and the swans with a cry of terror flew up into the air. Only Sumukha stayed at the side of his Master and would not move.

The Bodhisattva urged his friend to leave him as he could not help him, but Sumukha answered: whatever thy fate is, my Master, that shall be mine also. I always attend on thee in thy prosperity and I will not leave thee in thy distress." The bodhisattva answered: "My fate will be in the kitchen, as is the fate of birds ensnared. Why should you follow me there? And what advantage will there be of death of both of us?"

Sumukha answered:"The law of Righteousness teaches that one may not leave one's friend in distress, even for the sake of saving one's own life!"


Bodhisattva Dhatarattha told Sumukha, "My fate will be in the kitchen, as is the fate of birds ensnared," followed by he said, his death --- as sure as me continuing to be ensnared by heroin would most certainly lead to my death. The analogy as it applies to me is, when opium is processed into heroin it is in a sense, "cooked." Because of that "cooking" the refinery is refered to as the kitchen. Hence my fate would be, like Dhatarattha, in the kitchen. As for the fate of birds ensnared, in continuing analogy, the bird, as it relates back to me is what is called Vihangm Marg, the bird's way --- which in the Transmission of Spiritual Power is the shortest (fastest) way to achieve the Final Reality --- and taught to me by my spiritual guide and Mentor in study practice prior to going into the service --- making me in a sense the bird. Thus, the KMT Buddhist, not unlike Sumukha, who would not leave the Bodhisattva in distress, would not leave me in distress. Now true, we were not friends as Dhatarattha and Sumukha were, but in the overall scheme of things, seeing the symbol around my neck the KMT Buddhist apparently arrived at a kin relationship.

As Dhatarattha moved up he became, as in the Atanatiya Sutta, one of the four kings discussing with the Buddha what was called the Atanatiya Protection, hence the relationship to protection by the Buddha. At the end of the Atatatiaya Sutta the Buddha closes with:


When the night had passed the Blessed One addressed the monks: "Learn by heart, monks, the Atanata protection, constantly make use of it, bear it in mind. This Atanata protection, monks, pertains to your welfare, and by virtue of it, monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen may live at ease, guarded, protected, and unharmed." (source)


Now, how it relates back to me and being "under the protection of the Lord Buddha," I have been told, and I have no way of knowing how accurate any of it is, is that it is not from any direct translation of the Chinese symbol that is of importance, but the power invested in the symbol itself, as it harkens back to it being an ancient relic handed down through the centuries and blessed through the Buddha by King Dhatarattha himself.

For more please see:

THE BOOK OF PROTECTION

PARITTA: The Book of Protection






















BUDDHST MONK THICH QUANG DUC, JUNE 11, 1963
(please click)





















The person I call My Merchant Marine Friend was a man I worked for as a part time errand boy during my first two years of high school. He was an able bodied seaman in the merchant marines during World War II when his ship was torpedoed by German submarines. In order to save his life he was forced to jump overboad into oil burning on the surface of the sea. In the process he was badly burned. The following, regarding the merchant marine, is from the source cited below at the end of the second paragraph:


"Replicating almost down to the letter the classic Egyptian "tale" --- with strong Atlantean overtones --- transcribed on papyrus by Ameni-amenaa dating from the XII Dynasty, circa 1991-1805 BCE, The Shipwrecked Sailor, he was found weeks, possibly months after his ship had been torpedoed somewhere in the Atlantic strapped with heavy ropes to a piece of debris floating all alone in the middle of the ocean, and except for being unconscious and heavily scared from the burn marks, which had seemingly healed, he was in pretty good shape. Everybody said it was a miracle, that his burns must had healed by the salt water. How he had made it in the open ocean without food or water nobody knew. Most people speculated he had been picked up by a U-boat and ejected at a convenient time so he would be found, although no record has ever shown up to substantiate such an event, nor did he recall ever being on a submarine, German or otherwise.

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


To learn how I came into possession of the necklace and small medalion please see Saigon Tea Girl.


SEE ALSO:

CODE TALKERS


THE SHIPWRECKED SAILOR


WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO























LATRINE DETAIL:

Latrine detail --- as I have chosen to call it --- COULD, if one so chose, fall within the precepts of the Buddha's Eightfold Noble Path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. So said, Eightfold Noble Path or nay, the task, generally rotated, CAN be and is often metered out in a disciplinary fashion for nearly any reason --- sometimes delt with by one person for days or weeks at time. It carries with it a total bottom rung status amongst the monks assigned and everybody knows WHO is doing it. Working your way out of that detail, in a sort of finished basic training, paying your dues or prove yourself sort of way, changes your status. The job, done with un-gloved hands because there were no gloves, basically entails scooping out a small wood and stone lined cesspool using a ladle on a long pole. The ingredients therein, unless otherwise below zero or frozen, are poured into large wooden-stave buckets and carried, honey bucket style, to the growing fields to be used for fertilizer.


DRIED TURDS, DRIED DUNG, AND SHIT IN BUDDHISM AND ZEN



































NIRODHA:

There is a sanskrit word NIRODHA described usually as cessation that carries with it a more indepth meaning. In the index of the Visuddi Magga, for example, there are over twenty-five references that need to be read in context in order to cull out a fuller more concise meaning. Briefly, like Deep Samadhi, it is a very, very high degree non-meditative meditative state. During Nirodha there is no time squence whether a couple hours pass or many, many days, as the immediate moment preceding and immediately following seem as though in rapid succession, start and finish compressed wafer thin. During, heartbeat and metabolism continue to slow and practically cease, sometimes continuing below the threshold of preception at a risidual level. Previously stored body energy that would typically be consumed in a couple of hours if not replenished can last days with very little need for renewal. The Visuddhi Magga cites several instances where villagers came across a bhikkhu in such a state and built a funeral pyre for him, even to the point of lighting it. During low-level residual states the body temperature drops well below the 98.6 degree point. If suddenly jarred to consciousness body metabolism is slower to regain it's normal temperature, and inturn, that is recorded by the quicker to return cognative senses as "being cold."(source)

























"In that everything was off the books, and because of such I didn't in fact exist in any paperwork lineage, there wasn't anything anybody could do about it on an official level. Even if I had 'strayed off the reservation,' and located in some fashion, since I was officially a civilian what laws were compromised or events promoted or participated in that anybody could come forward and either admit to or point out? Theoretically, on the official level no punishment or reprimand could be metered out. However, in that I no longer existed, it wouldn't matter what was done one way or the other because nobody would ever know about it. Besides, even as a civilian I wasn't who I was anyway."(source)


Years later I was waiting between trains at the major railroad terminal in Los Angeles, California called Union Station. Directly across the street from the terminal is a small Mexican-themed tourist area called Olvera Street. Walking over from Union Station, just on the left as you enter the street, is a small open-air stand that sells the best tacquitos in the world --- at least for me they always have been. My Stepmother used to take me there when I was just kid, and being at the train station with some time to spare I could not resist going over and indulging myself.



TACQUITO STAND ACROSS FROM UNION STATION, OLVERA STREET, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA


The man behind the counter handed me my tacquitos almost as soon as I placed my order and I sat down on a little wall close by to eat them. Within a micro-second of taking my first bite a hulking homeless-looking man in ragged clothes and reeking with the sour smell of a unhygienically clean body stepped up basically out of nowhere and said that he knew me.

Without the remotest chance to reply he rattled off some story of where we first met, a story that only someone who DID meet me under the circumstances he described could have possibly known. Seems he knew when I was in the military I had the opportunity to interact with a couple of Asian warlords, both of whom the man was familar with. I bought him a double order of tacquitos and an iced tea, then, carefully positioning myself upwind from him, I sat down and we began to talk.



(please click)


He told me while other low-ranking members in the military contingent I was with were off trading cheap hand-mirrors and pocket combs for favors with the local tribeswomen, in that we were all sheep dipped and I was in civilian garb, I had gone off on my own volition easily passing myself off like some Peace Corps volunteer rather than a heavily armed GI, to lend a hand in repairing and building an irrigation ditch and fresh water conduit that supplied drinking water to one of the villages. An advisor to the warlord, a shaman, informed the general of my actions and the general invited me join him for dinner. Knowing only high-status people were included in such get togethers I asked the now apparently homeless man, who must have participated in the dinner, how it was he found himself in his current situation. Rolling up his sleeve he graphically showed me the scarred up chicken tracks all across the upper inside of his forearm. He told me it started with opium, then heroin.(see) He said he had ended up with the section of the team I was with in Chiang Mai but got separated in the den after being abducted by the warlord's men. He never knew what happened to me specifically, but figured that a similar fate had befallen me. From there, for him, it was nothing much more than a downhill sprial. Now, until recently, given the chance, he injected and used just about anything. He had lived on the streets for years, eating scraps, begging food, stealing to support his habit. Then sometime back his longtime close female companion OD in a cement hole along the L.A. River. He carried her lifeless body for miles crunched up in a shopping cart to a church of her demonination and left her in front of the main doors on the stairsteps. Before he had barely even crossed the street someone had taken her shoes and jacket. That day he quit shooting up cold turkey. For weeks he had been trying to get his life back together without any luck. Then he saw me.

We talked for a long while. Then needing to catch a train I had to go. Before we parted I called a person I knew who attended a local Zen center on a regular basis and he promised he would come by for him. I also wrote down several URLs to my websites. I told him as soon as possible go to the library and look up the websites and follow some of the suggestions as they might help. I handed him the slip of paper along with a few bucks for himself and some for the Zen center, then, taking him at his word, darted across the street at the last minute to catch my train.


Two years passed. Then out of the blue I received an email from him. In it he told me at first he had not done so well. He didn't feel comfortable at the library or the Zen center. Then one day he was walking along outside a Starbucks and saw a woman working on her laptop computer. He asked if she could look up some URLs for him, and unbelievably, she did. He said he tried to read them, but, as nice as the woman was, he couldn't really absorb anything considering the circumstances. She said she could print them out for him that night and bring them by the next day at a certain time and give them to him. The next day he came by, but no woman. He hung around hoping she would show up, but nothing. After awhile the Starbucks manager came out and thinking he was going to be chased off he started to leave. The manager asked if he was waiting for a woman to give him some paperwork. When he nodded yes the manager handed him a large manilla envelope. Inside were all the URLs on the list printed out. He never saw the woman again, but he read the papers over and over. He cleaned up his act, started doing study-practice first at the Zen center, then on his own, all along following what he could in the paperwork as extracted from the URLs I gave him.

He tried to get a job with a local school district as an instructional assistant working with individuals with severe disabilities, but because of his rather sketchy background, they wouldn't hire him. An instructional assistant who just happened to drop by the the school district office to sign some papers recognized him from the Zen center. He told him a nearby group home that served adults with disabilities had been looking for a person to work there. He went by the group home and they hired him on the spot. He had been there ever since. He also wrote he felt he was very close to a spiritual breakthrough. Although I haven't seen or heard from him personally for quite sometime it has been brought to my attention through intermediaries that while attending sessions at an affiliate center of the one the man that I sent him to was associated with, a center high in the mountains above Los Angeles, the onetime homeless smell-like-a-garbage-truck man attained a state of immortality. If it happened I don't know. However, I like to think that it did.

The Zen center so mentioned located high in the mountains above Los Angeles was the Mount Baldy Zen Center and the local center affliated with it being the Rinzai-ji Zen Center, in those days under the auspices of:


JOSHU SASAKI ROSHI




















The following is found in SANNYASA: The Further Shore:


"Let us take first the case of Christian monks, who are already bound --- and freed --- by their religious profession. When they come into contact with their Hindu brother-monks and meet with the uncompromising ideal of sannyasa, they discover in their own dedication a compelling summons, even more interior than exterior, which no longer allows them any respite. They feel a natural urge to take the garb of the Indian sannyasi --- and or if not them, send others as with the French Benedictine monk Father Ensheim --- to observe at least the most essential of their customs in matters of poverty, abstinence, abhayam,(fearlessness) etc. Even more fundamentally, they surrender themselves to that freedom breathed in their hearts by the Spirit. In such cases to receive a new diksa would be without meaning, since in the total surrender of their original profession, expressed in the prayer "Suscipe ....," the essential oblation was already made. Their case is comparable with that of the paramahamsa who, when the full light shines within him, passes over, quite naturally and without further thought, to the condition of a Turiyatita."



























PARIVRAJAKA:


PARIVRAJAKA can be defined in two ways: Paritah Vrajati (One who wanders everywhere) and Parityajya Vrajati (One who wanders renouncing everything). One who has released himself from the bondages of the world is a Parivrajaka. To such a person, observing the Dharma will have become as effortless as breathing. Therefore, they need not make any effort to practise the Dharma. They are often referred to as 'those who have transcended Dharma'.

























HUI K'O

The Buddha (560-480 BCE) sat seven years in meditation. The First Patriarch of Zen, Bodhidharma (470-543 AD) sat nine years facing a wall. During some of that time an adept that championed Bodhidharma's cause waited outside the Shaolin monastery where Bodhidharma resided . He was a Confucianist scholar, a prodigy who had mastered the theory of the Dharma and wanted no more than to receive the teaching from Bodhidharma. One winter as the sun set and it became cold it started to snow. The adept remained unmoving. When dawn began to break Bodhidharma took notice of the wretched sight outside the walls freezing and waist deep in snow and said, "What do you search for?"

He answered, "I would like to hear the Dharma's compassionate teaching so that it could be disseminated widely.

Bodhidharma said, "The various Buddhas of the past devoted themselves earnestly. They practiced what was difficult to practice, and endured what was difficult to endure. One cannot be shallow, small-minded, proud, or complacent."

The scholar listened to the advice, then took out a knife and cut off his arm at the elbow and displayed his now severed arm to Bodhidharma, all the while turning the white snow all around him red with blood. Bodhidharma took the scholar as a disciple.

Not having resolved his problem, the disciple was still deep in confusion. He entreated his teacher, "I have not yet found peace of mind. Please grant me peace of mind."

Bodhidharma responded, "Bring me your mind and I will show you peace."

"I cannot grasp it," the disciple replied

Bodhidharma then said," Then I have shown you peace of mind."

The disciple's name was Hui-K'o, the to be Second Chinese patriarch.

























BHUMI-SPARSHA MUDRA


In Buddhism the Bhumi-sparsha Mudra, the earth-touching gesture, is associated with the victory by Shakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama over the demon Mara just prior to his Enlightenment, thus becoming the Buddha.

The upcoming Buddha had vowed to remain in meditation until he penetrated all the mysteries of existence and in the process of maintaining that vow was visited by Mara --- a demon associated with all the distractions of mundane existence. According to the Sutra's, Mara's soldiers hurled an unending variety of dangerous weapons accompanied by a continuing onslaught of vile and threatening gestures. The Buddha remained unmoved by their assaults and all of their subsequent distractions, both pleasant and unpleasant.

Seeing the possibility of defeat Mara launched a final assault that consisted of undermining the Buddha's sense of worthiness. Mara wanted to know by what entitlement did he seek the lofty goal of Spiritual Enlightenment and thus then, freedom from rebirth? Friendly spirits reminded the Buddha of his countless compassionate efforts he had made on behalf of sentient beings throughout his many incarnations. In doing so Shakyamuni recognized that it was his destiny to be poised on the threshold of Enlightenment. Shakyamuni answered Mara's question initially without a voice response, but by only moving his right hand from his lap to touch the ground, then, to underline his gesture, stated, "the earth is my witness." This act of unwavering resolve caused Mara and his army of demons and temptresses and the like to disperse. Shakyamuni, the Buddha, then experienced the Consummantion of Incomparable Enlightenment known as Annutara Samyak Sambodhi

SEE: MARA

--------SUJATA

--------TOWARD ENLIGHTENMENT: The Eight Jhana States

--------THE TEN PRIMARY MUDRAS























Some people, mostly those that have not had the opportunity to find themselves in, or to have experienced a similar situation, sometimes take a strong issue against what I have written in the quote below --- and any implication that it may or may not have --- especially so in how an adverse intake may apply to their own efforts along the road to Enlightenment:


"The monastery itself was a cold, stark environment high in the mountains above the tree line, far removed from the western world and civilization, operating beyond the bounds of time, whose lineage, rituals, and beliefs harkened straight back unbroken and unfettered to the likes of Hui Neng, Bodhidharma and the Buddha. Doing so enabled me to be guided, via the master's skillful means, through to the full level of the unveiled truth, springing undhindered and unencumbered from it's original grounding source. Returning to America I have, because of that experience, through comparison and similes, been able to cut through and discard the trappings overlayed over the centuries, stripping bare to the undiluted core."


While abiding in a like-minded self-imposed starkness the Buddha traversed through all eight of what are called the Eight Jhanas States --- and beyond --- before reaching the Consummantion of Incomparable Enlightenment, Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi. The Jhana states are considered to be at the very heart of the Buddha's teaching. Regarding those Jhana states the following is found at the Jhana link so provided:


"The Jhanas are difficult to teach. Not everyone has a temperament suited to concentration practice. Even for those who find concentration easy, the Jhanas require a long silent retreat setting for learning. Far from being "secluded from unwholesome states of mind," people who wish to learn the Jhanas are immediately thrust INTO the state of desiring something. Finally, as mentioned above, the Jhanas do not lend themselves to "book learning"; you really need one-on-one, immediate feedback from a teacher in order to aim your mind in the correct direction. The Jhanas are natural states on mind, but the lives we lead here at the close of the 20th century are so filled that it is difficult to find the quiet, natural mind."


It is stated in the Sutras that a disciple must be careful to select a suitable place for meditation, mentioning in the texts Eighteen Faults of a Monastery unfavorable to the development of Jhana. However, in the end, what actually led Siddhartha to the Buddhahood was his OWN experimentation in meditation --- the and the beyond mentioned above. This new meditation is known as Vipassana. Vipassana is a Pali term which means insight or penetration into reality. See: VIPASSANA MEDITATION.


SEE ALSO:
ZEN AND THE TRANSMISSION OF SPIRITUAL POWER

























My use of the Chinese language, especially in the beginning, was non-existant or minuscule at best. My ability to observe and understand the various monastery hierarchy was, however, well in place. To call them by their correct Chinese names or nomenclature such as Ssu Shou was lacking or never learned to such a point that they were retained. So said, the paragraph this footnote is cited to, in order to refresh my memory in such areas and present it accurately and academically, I turned to the works of J. Prip-Moller (CHINESE BUDDHIST MONASTERIES: Their Plan & Its Function as a Setting for Buddhist Monastic Life) via John Crook (NEW CH'AN FORUM, No 23, Winter 2000) and recognized here, by me, as having done so.


























VENERABLE MAHASI SAYADAW


The Mahasi Meditation Center is located in what was once called Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar. It was founded in 1949 by a group of highly involved Buddhist adepts, including the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw Agga Maha Pandita, 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, 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)


The following is from the Mahasi Center website. Please compare the similarity with the Monastery Rules and Schedule listed previously above:

The Daily Program of Meditation Practice

The day starts at a 3 a.m. and continues until 11 p.m. with breaks for meals, bath etc. almost the entire day is spent in silent individual meditative practice diversified with group sitting in a meditation hall. Individual sitting meditation is alternated with walking meditation. Individual interviews with the meditation teacher are scheduled at regular intervals to enable the Yogis to report their meditational experiences and to receive necessary guidance by their teacher for further progress. In addition, Dhamma discourses will be given from time to time to the practicing Yogis by the senior meditational Teachers. These discourses are meant to assist the Yogis in deepening their meditation practice. In this way each Yogi will receive personal attention and guidance throughout the entire course of meditation and will have an opportunity of gaining sufficient personal knowledge and experience of Satipatthana Vipassana Meditation through all stages of progressive Vipassana insight.

Mahasi Vipassana Meditation Method


Because of the unfolding of outside circumstances beyond my control as cited in the main text above, I was unable to reach completion of the full 12 week meditation regimen as offered by the center, and, although it is valid, intense and valuable in the meditative learning process, I can vouch it is WAY less strenuous and harsh than anything I encountered during my stay at the monastery. Compare all the schedules with, for example, the American-based Mount Baldy Zen Center.


In the end none of it may be really necessary:

The author of "DAZZLING DARK: A Near Death Experience Opens The Door to a Permanent Transformation," John Wren-Lewis, a fully Enlightened person in his own right --- who I met twelve years BEFORE his experience --- is pretty much in agreement with my last sentence. In an interview with Dan Sutera titled "Conversations with the Down-Under Mystic" Wren-Lewis says, as written by Sutera:


"In fact, he (Wren-Lewis) feels that most methods people practice to try to reach Enlightenment are counter-productive in that they concentrate on self-effort and think along the lines of time and causality. Although the acausality of enlightenment may sound like bad news at first, John says that it is also good news in a sense because there is no need to kill yourself with spiritual practices or worry about making irreversible mistakes on the spiritual path."

SYMPOSIUM: August 1999 Volume II, Number 1



























In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 it is stated that the supernormal perceptual powers of Siddhis that are most often associated with as going hand-in-hand on the Indian side of the Awakening process --- as well as Enlightenment on the Buddhist side and sometimes manifested but seldom admitted to on the Zen side of things --- CAN be reached through the use of certain DRUGS. The use of those certain drugs is called Aushadhis in Sanskrit. The Awakening process through Aushadhis can be a very quick, albeit short-term and totally risky and unreliable method. In doing so it should be undertaken only under the guidance of a person who is totally reliable, knows the science and full potential of it's use, and thoroughly versed in any outcome thereof. See:

AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs


THE ZEN MAN FLIES
























The Buddha himself outlined several major factors that make a dwelling area favorable to meditation and Jhana as well as describing, as found in the Sutras, a whole slew of factors considered unfavorable to the development of the Jhana states as related to study-practice in a monastery.

As to the favorable aspects of dwellings and dwelling areas, Henepola Gunaratana, citing various Sutras writes, as found in The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation the following:

(The dwelling) should not be too far from or too near a village that can be relied on as an alms resort, and should have a clear path: it should be quiet and secluded; it should be free from rough weather and from harmful insects and animals; one should be able to obtain one's physical requisites while dwelling there; and the dwelling should provide ready access to learned elders and spiritual friends who can be consulted when problems arise in meditation (A.v,15).

The types of dwelling places the Buddha commends most frequently in the suttas as conductive to the Jhanas are a secluded dwelling in the forest, at the foot of a tree, on a mountain, in a cleft, in a cave, in a cemetery, on a wooded flatland, in the open air, or on a heap of straw (M.i,181). Having found a suitable dwelling and settled there, the disciple should maintain scrupulous observance of the rules of discipline, He should be content with his simple requisites, exercise control over his sense faculties, be mindful and discerning in all activities, and practice meditation diligently as he was instructed. It is at this point that he meets the first great challenge of his contemplative life, the battle with The Five Hindrances.


You may have noticed I used the word dilapidated describing the monastery where the KMT Buddhist left me. If such was the case, according to the texts, even though I myself did not select the monastery in the classical sense, it would not meet the specifications for one along the path reaching toward Enlightenment as presented therein IF actually dilapidated.

The texts mention The Eighteen Faults of a Monastery, that is, unfavorable to the development of Jhana. They are, briefly, a large monastery, a new one, a dilapidated one, one near a road, one with a pond, leaves, flowers or fruits, one sought after by many people, one in cities, among timber of fields, where people quarrel, in a port, in border lands, on a frontier, a haunted place, and one without access to a spiritual teacher.

The paragraph below is from "The 18 Faults of a Monastery," which lists as Number 3:


3. A DILAPIDATED MONASTERY

"In a dilapidated monastery there is much that needs repair. People criticize someone who does not see about the repairing of at least his own lodging. When he sees to the repairs, his meditation subject suffers."


In writing the piece in the first place, and having used the word dilapidated, I suppose I could have simply selected another word and let it go at that. However, in writing, it was only after the fact that I realized I had used the word dilapidated as a discriptive reference. Now, while I still think it was a good word, looking back it is not like the monastery was akin in some fashion to a long unattended and unused falling down old barn as seen along the side roads of some great plains midwestern state. One could say Mayan ruins like Yamil Lu'um, are dilapidated or maybe so the so-called Astronomer Rooms 350 feet straight up from the desert floor along the top edge of the Chaco Canyon butte associated with the Sun Dagger site --- BUT, when seeing them or being within their presence I do not sense a feel of dilapidation, but more of a sense of awe. My use of the word dilapidation describing the monastery was actually directed toward the crumbling walls of the outside facade and not necessarily an observance of a lack of care or maintainence on the part of the inhabitants or monks. Inside there was a more-or-less feel of a long time existance, slowly battered and worn by the weather of time, rounding onetime straight cut edges, ever so slight widing of hairline cracks, minute settling in the shifting soil. Paths and stairs tread on for centuries creating a concave pattern in the stones and paths so tread.


























THE FIRST PART:


Over and over people with an interest in Enlightenment, Buddhism, and Zen, and what it might be like staying or studying in a Zen monastery for any length of time seek out and read "Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery." So too, many of the same people, since they are coming from a spiritual or seeking side of things, find themselves bewildered, perplexed, or lost by the thread I've weaved regarding opium and heroin. Most of all, they want to know how does any of this have anything to do with doing hard time in a Zen monastery or anything else even remotely close?

That is where the story splits. One part of that split, of which for the sake of simplicity I have called it here the First Part, keeps its feet on the ground as much as possible by putting forth how it came about that I myself personally ended up spending a good portion of my life in a Zen monastery in the first place.

The other part, which I will call the Second Part, veers toward what some consider more in the realm of the mystical, that is Gyanganj, a home for immortals said to be hidden in a valley in the remote Himalayas and known in the west to most as Shangri-la or Shambhala. The following refers to the First Part:


"For a vast number of young men growing up around the same time I did, after reaching a certain age, they were uprooted from whatever they were doing by the then in place friendly Selective Service System, otherwise known as the draft, and plunked down into the military. And so it was for me. Following a crowded ruckus-filled overnight 400 mile train ride from the induction center in Los Angeles to Fort Ord I, along with several hundred other potential GIs, at 4:00 AM in the morning, was herded into one of a whole line of cattle trucks and taken to what they called the Reception Company Area. Then, after being issued two pairs of too large boots along with several sets of too large olive drab shirts and pants, and having the good fortune of completing eight weeks of basic without incident I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia to attend the U.S. Army Signal Corps School for what they called Advanced Individual Training, or AIT."

THE PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER AND THE ASIAN WARLORD


Following the completion of Advanced Individual Training and the issuance of a Top Secret Crypto clearance, after a series of events I found myself in the court of an Asian warlord. The following quote is from an early paragraph found in the main text above:


"One of those closely allied mercenaries or surrogates was an otherwise minor Laotian warlord that through his association grew much more powerful than otherwise would have been ordained. Through a series of events I found myself in the court of that same warlord. The downstream outflow from that encounter, an encounter of which was put into place by others well beyond my control, later found me miles and miles away high in the mountains of the Himalayas outside the confines of any warlord, in one of those ancient monasteries truly beyond the reach of time."


Those events led up to and included the following:

In early June of 1964 eight F-100D fighter-bombers of the U.S. Air Force's 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron operating out of Da Nang 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, along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers. Several select members of those ground teams, all who were taught to travel light, eat indigenous foods, and leave no tracks, were soon appropriated for other duties.

Again, to wit:


"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."


Once the assignment to a ground team was made an elaborate secondary filtering-out process was put into place setting aside a small select number of individuals meeting certain criteria. It was within the secondary filtering-out process that 'appropriated for other duties' came into being and contact with the warlord occurred, after which, albeit previously stated, the following happened:


"The downstream outflow from that encounter, an encounter of which was put into place by others well beyond my control, later found me miles and miles away high in the mountains of the Himalayas outside the confines of any warlord, in one of those ancient monasteries truly beyond the reach of time."


In order for every single event of the above to have transpired exactly as I have laid it out hinges on one quasi-cloudy historical fact being right or wrong. That historical fact is: IF OR IF NOT high grade injectable heroin was being manufactured anywhere in the Golden Triangle area at the time I say it was. Historically, almost everybody who claim to know about such things say it wasn't. In opposition to all of those pundits, I say it was. The problem is, IF there were no operable refineries in the time period I write about, the total gist of my story from start to finish would be undermined.

The quote below is found in Chapter 7 of "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia," by Alfred W. McCoy:


"In the 1960s a combination of factors --- American military intervention, corrupt national governments, and international criminal syndicates --- pushed Southeast Asia's opium commerce beyond self-sufficiency to export capability. Production of cheap, low-grade no. 3 heroin (3 to 6 percent pure) had started in the late 1950s when the Thai government launched an intensive opium suppression campaign that forced most of her opium habitues to switch to heroin. By the early 1960s large quantities of cheap no. 3 heroin were being refined in Bangkok and northern Thailand, while substantial amounts of morphine base were being processed in the Golden Triangle region for export to Hong Kong and Europe. However, none of the Golden Triangle's opium refineries had yet mastered the difficult technique required to produce high-grade no. 4 heroin (90 to 99 percent pure)."(source)


The sourced author for the above quoted paragraph, Alfred W. McCoy, considered by most as the utmost authority on such things, says at the end of his paragraph that in the EARLY 1960s "none of the Golden Triangle's opium refineries had yet mastered the difficult technique required to produce high-grade no. 4 heroin (90 to 99 percent pure)." Further down in the article he writes that it was only toward the END of the 1960s that opium refineries in the Burma-Thailand-Laos tri-border region, began producing high-grade heroin --- and then only in limited supplies.(see)

A great number of people who profess to know about such things typically go with with McCoy and his research, which again I say for the most part is accurate. Again, the problem is, IF there were no operable refineries in the time period I write about, the gist of my story would be undermined. So said, great number or few, not all agree with McCoy including myself and author Martin Booth. In "OPIUM: A History," Thomas Dunne Books (1996), Booth, using other or additional sources than McCoy, and of which I am in agreement with because of my own experiences, states that the first, albeit rudimentary, operative refineries for making fairly high qualitiy injectable No. 4 heroin began showing up in in the general area in 1963. To my knowledge there were at least two. One in Thailand in a village called Mang Tang Wu, as cited by Booth, the other in the vicinity of the then so-called secret city of Long Tieng, Laos, run by the aforementioned Laotian warlord. The problem in the operation for both was finding and keeping knowledgeable chemists and putting into place and maintaining a reliable, trusted source and delivery of necessary chemicals into such remote areas, then sustaining the operation for any continued length of time.(see)


Another person strongly backing up both Booth and myself is a man by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Anu Nuernhad. Nuernhad is a highly respected local historian and author of 17 books about Chiang Mai history and, although his books and comments are not as well known world-wide as either McCoy or Booth, he did not simply come in and interview a few people and then leave, he actually worked and lived in the Chiang Mai area for years. His writings often describes drugs and their impact on the community, recalling gang-fights over drugs and drug territories as early as the 1950s. In one of his books he describes a major gun-backed street fight over territories in March 1958 between two rival gangs, Sri Ping --- named after a cinema where they used to meet --- and rivals from another district. Anu is quoted as relating the following:


The smoking of opium was common in those days (circa 1958). However, in and around 1963-64 the derivative heroin began to be produced in the Golden Triangle. The Sri Ping and others were soon selling it in the streets of Chiang Mai.


A third person adding equally as strong to my thesis, if not more so, was a man named Anthony Poshepny, also known as Tony Poe. Poe, who died in 2003, was a major mover and participant in the Secret War in Laos. In The Death of a Legend by William M. Leary, Coulter Professor of History at the University of Georgia, Leary writes the following about Poe:


"In March 1961, Tony took part in the efforts to train Vang Pao's Hmong followers at Padong in Laos. In the fall of 1962, following the Geneva Accords, he and Vint Lawrence became the only two CIA officers in Laos, monitoring the truce agreement. Tony grew restless in this assignment. A teetotaler, he began drinking heavily. Whereas Vint Lawrence got on well with VP, Tony soon became alienated from the Hmong leader. He welcomed the return to fighting in Laos in 1964, year in which he married the niece of Touby Ly Foung, a prominent Hmong leader who did not always see eye-to-eye with VP. The union would produce two daughters, of whom Tony was inordinately proud.

"In January 1965 , Tony took a NVA round though the stomach at Hong Non. After recovering, he was assigned to Nam Yu, where he spent the next five years, sending intelligence teams into China and monitoring the construction of the Chinese Road. It was during this time that the legend of Tony Poe took shape. Tony, himself, who took delight in feeding tall tales (some of them true!) to gullible reporters, fed the legend. Tony eventually became disillusioned with the war. George Kenning, who worked under Tony at Nam Yu, sensed a change in Tony in the late 1960s. The will of Americans to win the war seemed broken. This simple reality, Kenning recalls, more than anything else, is what finally defeated Tony Poe."(source)


In an article by John Prados titled The Biography of "Tony Po," AKA Anthony Poshepny, appearing in the National Security Archives, Prados writes the following regarding Poe:


"His attitude to the drug trade was another issue. According to a former USAID worker Poe refused to allow opium onto his aircraft and once threatened to throw out of the plane a Lao soldier found to have a kilo of powder. On the other hand he ignored the burgeoning heroin factories, Vang Paos stock, or Laotian General Ouane Rattikones officers from using U.S. facilities and equipment to plan and manage their traffic."(source)


Notice the timing in how Poe, who had been there from the beginning training Hmong soldiers, had by 1964, became alienated from the 'Hmong leader' as written by Leary and his attitude about drugs as written by Prados become combined. The combined attitudes come to a head coinciding perfectly with what Prados calls 'the burgeoning heroin factories' and Poe's end-of-the- year 1964/ first-of-the-year January 1965 departure to northwest Laos, where he stayed for five years. Prados saying that Poe threatened to throw a Lao soldier out of his plane for having a kilo of powder is an interesting statement as well. Typically the transport of opium involved wrapped packages resembling a clay-like brick. I don't remember ever seeing opium in a powder form, at least for transportation purposes. Heroin yes, opium no. A kilo is 2.2 pounds. No easy task to make that much H without a good operational refinery. All of which, considering the timing of it all, when tied together strengthens my position as to a much earlier rise of heroin refineries than the view as put forth my McCoy.


Speaking of Poe, almost the very second he and I made eye contact, although I wouldn't say 'we knew each other,' we recognized each other, Poe asking, "What the hell are you doing here?," with my response at nearly the exact same instant being, "I thought you were in Tibet."

The last I saw Poe was in 1959 or 1960. He was in Colorado at an old onetime World War II U.S. Army facility called Camp Hale, training covertly off the books, a bunch of Tibetans to fight the Chinese.(see) At the time I was a real civilian yet to be drafted, working instead for a small offshoot of a a major aerospace company involved with the then super-secret U-2 project. The person I worked for directly, called Harry the Man, was the top high altitude breathing equipment person in the world.

Apparently in October of 1959 it was confirmed that China, with Soviet assistance, had established a nuclear test base at Lop Nor with all intentions of testing a nuclear device. U-2 flights over China were becoming extremely dangerous, so powers that be thought if they could put a monitoring station on top of some Himalayan mountain with a clear shot towards Lop Nor they could gather all the information they needed. Before a decision was made as to what mountain would be selected, it was a given it would be at a very high altitude. The same powers wanted to ensure that already existent equipment necessary to accomplish the mission could be modified, if need be, to operate in the rarified atmosphere OR if equipment could be designed to allow it to do so without modification. Enter Harry the Man. We were both at Area 51 at Groom Lake when the call came through for Harry to meet with some people at Camp Hale. I went along and while there met Tony Poe.

Harry's take on the whole thing was that there was a great deal of difference, as far as the need of and consumption or use of oxygen was concerned, between an assault on simply reaching the top of a mountain peak and the need for a team to be able to carry, build, assemble and test an operable station of some type on the same peak. If his advice or warnings were heeded, or if he participated in accomplishing the task beyond his consultation at Camp Hale is not known.


Besides the actual physical presence of the heroin I allude to, the reason I truly know about the warlord's refinery is laughable. Elsewhere in a footnote I write:



"(W)hile other low-ranking members in the military contingent I was with were off trading cheap hand-mirrors and pocket combs for favors with the local tribeswomen, in that we were all sheep dipped I had gone off on my own volition passing myself off like some Peace Corps volunteer rather than a heavily armed GI, to lend a hand in repairing and building an irrigation ditch and fresh water conduit that supplied drinking water to one of the villages."


What is laughable about it all is my youthful naivete. Here I was, being said by others (and possibly thinking so myself) I was like some Peace Corps volunteer lending a hand building a fresh water conduit to supply drinking water for one of the villages --- when actually it came out later that the increased water supply offered by the conduit was just exactly what was needed for the successful operation of the refinery, including the ability to increase the output level of product.


Interestingly enough, at the same time and under the same circumstances as working on the conduit, I also met of all things, an actual real-life Peace Corps Volunteer who in his own right, unknown to him at the time, would become more than just a footnote in the goings on in Laos.

It was the first time I ever met a Peace Corps Volunteer, active or otherwise --- which wasn't unusual considering the Peace Corps had only been founded the year before I was drafted. So said, he had to be one of the very first volunteers, and I have to admit there was something that impressed me about him. We were about the same age. He had already gone off to college, graduated, and joined the Peace Corps, an organization I had barely heard of, doing great humanitarian things by teaching barely educated indigenous folk, and here I was standing there with my face hanging out and hadn't done shit with my life.

The volunteer's name was Don Sjostrom, from Washington state and like me, pushing age-wise toward his mid-20's. He taught English somewhere in the center hinterlands of Thailand at a place called Yasothon. He was going to finish his Peace Corps tour of duty soon and was being recruited by USAID. They had brought him up to Laos to show him around a little to see if he might be interested when we crossed paths. Even though Sjostrom had been living under corrugated tin-roof Southeast Asia conditions in Thailand for many months, I'm sure even then the early wild west Terry and the Pirates-like atmosphere of the warlord's compound was something of a shock.

To return to main text click HERE.


WARLORD


SHEEP DIPPED


DRUG WARLORDS OF THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE
(Best free source. Takes forever to load the access page or several times)


OPERATION HAT
THE CIA IN TIBET AND THE HIMALAYAS




















THE SECOND PART:


There is an author named W.D. Gann (1878-1955) I have cited elsewhere in my works, who, after years of traveling and exploring ancient Mayan, Egyptian, and Indian temples, plus researching historical and modern books and doucuments for months and months working night and day in the Astor Library of New York and the British Museum of London in the early 1900s, formulated a thesis he came to call the Law of Vibrations. Now, if the law IS a law, universal, natural or otherwise, even though his use of it proved him right time and again, it has not been accepted at all levels by all who have come across it. So said, his description of the fundamentals of the law, which at a early age I must have innately agreed with on some level because of my interest in similar areas, reads thus:


"(T)he layman may be able to grasp some of the principles when I state that the law of vibration is the fundamental law upon which wireless telegraphy, wireless telephone and phonographs are based. Without the existence of this law the above inventions would have been impossible."


The reason I bring up Gann is primarily because of a book he wrote titled The Tunnel Thru the Air (1927), linked below, that carries a secondary title Looking Back From 1940 and of which in the book he predicts, along with any other number of predictions attributed to him, looking back from the 1940s, the Japanese attack on the U.S. and notably so by air. The book is likened by many, and especially so The Code Maker, The Zen Maker as being parallel to my own writings because of what he wrote in the Forward to his book:


"'The Tunnel Thru the Air' is mysterious and contains a valuable secret, clothed in veiled language. Some will find it the first time they read it, others will see it in the second reading, but the greatest number will find the hidden secret when they read it the third time.

"You will read it the first time because you are interested in the love story and for amusement. This will create a desire to read it a second time for instruction and knowledge. The second reading will unfold some of the hidden meanings and you will gain knowledge thru understanding which will stimulate an incentive to put knowledge gained into action. You will read it the third time because you want to make your dreams and ideals become real and find how to start knowledge into action."


GYANGANJ, SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA:

As written by me, the above main text, like Gann's book, is highly cryptic within itself as well as the links, saving the larger story for another day as found in The Code Maker, the Zen Maker linked below. However, even though a good portion of it is quietly interwoven throughout what I have presented, most people slip over or by 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).

If one thinks about it I hint at it several times, most notedly in the following quote:


"Except for the occasional sting of the shiang ban or possibly the brightness of the light or the length or shortness of the shadows caused by the movement from the summer to a winter sun and back, nothing seemed to change. My mind was blank, only the moment existed."


The 'movement from the summer to a winter sun and back' within the monastery walls would seem to indicate the passage of a long period of time, at the very minimum a year's passage of time. However, such was NOT the case outside the walls. While years passed within the monastery, only days passed outside.

The second hint is found in the quote below:


"Early one morning, not long after the unfolding of events regarding my stay at the monastery so described in The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, found me having just crouched down to do my business in the fields some distance outside the walls of the monastery after a trek to the village and back when I felt the shadows of three men fall across my face. The darkness came from the KMT Buddhist accompanied by two Australians that I recognized as having been members of our covert team.

"The Australians seemed huge in size, pale white with booming loud voices. Over their shoulders hung automatic weapons made of cold steel-gray machined metal with big long clips filled with bullets. Both men were the total antithesis to all I had been engaged in for so many months."


For the Australians, only the time from me having been grabbed in Chiang Mai and taken to the den then to being left outside the walls of the ancient monastery had elapsed --- a few weeks at the most --- yet for me, I write, both men were the total antithesis to all I had been engaged in for so many months.

The possibility of such things began to surface with my Merchant Marine Friend and maybe even before, on up through to the burnt man as found in The Saigon Tea Girl and his telling of The Shipwrecked Sailor.

As to Gyanganj, i.e., Shambhala, I refer you to the following:


"Shambhala then can be seen from the Kalachakra Tantra Teaching as the abode of those who have found their way to the centre. It is quite literally a time-less place and, since space-time is a continuum, must therefore also be a place-less place. It stands above history because it stands out of time."(source)


Like I say, in the very first opening paragraph of Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery:


"(H)igh in the mountains and plateaus bordering up and behind that swath, in an almost impenetrable area, there exists many ancient and unknown to the outside world and all its turmoil, basically unhindered and unmolested, a smattering of monasteries operating almost independent of time."


When I visited the ancient Zen master high in the mountains, going to and from his abode once outside the monastery was a very arduous several day trek, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. 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. On my return trip I was startled to come across a western woman scooping water in a bucket along one of the streams:


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

HOPE SAVAGE: The Beat Generation's Missing Woman


Please note in the quoted paragraph above the following sentence:


"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."


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.



(please click)


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. For additional clarification and insight into the phenomenon please see:


THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER

SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN


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SEEKERS IN THE ABODE OF TIMELESSNESS:

I have always been interested in time, especially since that first glimpse of timelessness (only to lose it later) that occurred while sitting in Darshan as a young boy before the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. From there onward I sought answers without knowing how to seek or what to look for. It was only until after I met my mentor that the veil was pulled back and dissipated. Before that I searched for answers in a more conventional western world sort of way, the best example while still in high school and a few years beyond as found in the following:


OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN


THE TUNNEL THROUGH THE AIR


It isn't just the mountains of the Himalayas or remote valleys of Tibet that harbor such places either. Secured in the vastness of America's desert southwest are similar places of deep mystery.

Western author Louis L'Amour wrote over a 100 novels chronicling a variety of adventures of the minions that inhabited and explored the area during the height of the cowboy era. Of those 100 or so books L'Amour wrote two, one published in 1976 the other written in 1977 but not published until ten years later, that were seeped with a heavy mystic quality about them intertwined with Native American spiritual lore and magic. The books, The Californios and The Haunted Mesa, both relied heavily on consultation with my Uncle and his indepth strengths in both areas, but most surely so in Native American spiritual lore. A lot of what L'Amour weaved through both stories, but especially so Haunted Mesa which unfolded under the same spiritual blanket that covered my experience, was drawn from the kind of knowledge that my uncle was familiar with and that encompassed what happened to me as found in the Supai link below. L'Amour writes in The Haunted Mesa:


"The Indians the white man met were no more original inhabitants of the country than the Normans and Saxons the original inhabitants of England. Other peoples had come and gone before, leaving only shadows upon the land. Yet some had gone into limbo leaving not only physical artifacts but spiritual ones as well. Often encroaching tribes borrowed from theose who proceded them, accepting their values as a way of maintaining harmony with the natural world.

"There were ancient mysteries, old gods, who retired into canyons to await new believers who would bring them to life once more.

"Who has walked the empty canyons of the lonely land above the timber and not felt himself watched? Watched by what ghosts from a nameless past? From out of what pit or horror and fear?

"The Indian had always known he was not alone. He knew there were others, things that observed. When a man looked quickly up, was it movement he saw or only his imagination?"


INCIDENT AT SUPAI
A SHAMANIC JOURNEY OUTSIDE THE TRADITION

ANALOGIES IN TIME AND PLACE


KALACHAKRA TANTRA TEACHING