the Wanderling

The quintessential book on Shambhala/Shangri-la, although fiction, is Lost Horizon. Most people who know anything about Shambhala/Shangri-la have garnered it in some way through or from Lost Horizon, either the book written by James Hilton and published in 1933 or the classic black and white movie of the same name released in 1937. Although the story is mythical in context as Hilton presents it, for a person that had never been to Tibet --- through the novel's main character Hugh Conway --- he describes the hidden Himalayan valley he calls 'Valley of the Blue Moon' wherein Shangri-la resides thus:

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

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

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

If you set aside James Hilton's aforementioned fiction book Lost Horizon and Govindia's more general Tibetan book, then Edwin Bernbaum, PhD, by virtue of his most well-received and influential non-fiction book, THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas (1980) rises to the top. Although Bernbaum is highly recognized in any number of areas, he is considered in most circles as the avowed expert and go to guy on Shambhala, AKA Gyanganj or Shangri-la. Bernbaum's book is pretty much de rigueur on the subject in the English speaking world. Any serious internet search using one, two, or all three of the names the mysterious hermitage is generally known by, Bernbaum's name invariably comes up, usually in relation to his book. So too, no respected work on Shambhala, and some even not so respected, that doesn't include mention of Bernbaum's either in the main body of their text or footnoted usually can't be taken seriously.[1]

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

The strength of Bernbaum's Shambhala related expertise however, stems from the enthusiasm promulgated from and during those early learning stages, that is, his years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps serving in Nepal. Although as near as I can tell, in that he and I were both in the Peace Corps and we seemed to have served within a few years of each other, our experiences were worlds apart, yet still similar in some areas.

I served in the sultry sea level tropics of the Caribbean --- where I ended up apprenticed under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah --- while Bernbaum served under almost totally opposite climatic and cultural conditions found in the high altitude and mountains of Nepal. From my own experience unfolding as it did between the Obeahman and myself while I was a volunteer, I can vouch that any number of doors or opportunities could have easily opened or been made available to Bernbaum during his service, adding, at least for me, a depth of credence to what he has to say that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.[2] [3]

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

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

When you come to the image of Bernbaum's book below and click the image it will link you through to a very well written and informative review of his book that appeared in The Daily Lama. In the review the following is found:

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

Starting the mid 1920's a man named Nicolas Roerich along with a small close-knit personal entourage traveled throughout Tibet and the Himalayas for five years or so. In the process, Roerich, a highly accomplished artist, created hundreds and hundreds of paintings, mostly sweeping landscapes of what he saw or observed first hand. A good portion of his travels took him into rather isolated and off-the-beaten-path and places, especially compared to what the typical westerner of the day would ever see, few and far between other westerners were at the time.

On the surface for the majority of outsiders who were semi-aware of his movements, Roerich Tibetan-Himalayan travels appeared not to be specifically focused, having a wisp of being widely general in nature. There were two areas that captured his interest at a very high level however, that he didn't spread around at a very high level, Shambhala, discussed here, and what is known as the Hemis Manuscripts. The Hemis Manuscripts were said to be a series of ancient books or scrolls stashed away in a couple of monasteries in Tibet that say Jesus of Nazareth, during the 12 years he shows up missing in the bible, traveled to India and Tibet. As for Shambhala, even though he never made a formal declaration that the mysterious hermitage was his primary motive for his travels, everything he did was heavily blanketed by the prospect, with many moves either following leads or taking calculated moves that he hoped would lead to Shambhala. Over and over he sought out, met with, or talked to various people from highly distinguished spiritual notables to vagrants and Indigents, who were supposed to have either insight or knowledge in where it was and how to access it. Nowhere has it been revealed that he was successful, either alone or in the presence of members of his party. The following quote, taking into consideration regarding the above, Roerich, and Shambhala, is presented without comment and in contrast to the visual imagery in his painting below titled "Drops of Life" (1924):

"In The Guidebook to Shambhala written in the mid-18th century by the Sixth Panchen Lama (1738-1780) the Lama explained that the physical journey to Shambhala could only take one so far. To reach the fabled land, one needed to perform an enormous amount of spiritual practices. In other words, the journey to Shambhala was actually an inner quest. This explanation, however, did not seem to deter intrepid adventurers such as the Roerichs from trying to reach Shambhala by merely trekking there."

Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala

Most if not all of Roerich's paintings are regarded to represent actual Tibetan and Himalayan landscapes and places that can still be seen and recognizable to this day. However, among his hundreds of paintings there is one that stands alone in what it represents, clearly showing a mild weather climate containing nearly sub-tropical plants and a lightly dressed woman surrounded in the background by barren, snowy mountains. The painting, seen above, shows hot springs and rich vegetation in the midst of barren, snowy mountains, creating a micro-climate not unlike how Shambhala is said to be. Why he would veer from the reality of all the others for that particular one if it wasn't so is not known.

The following is from the source so cited. In an event attributed to have transpired in modern times, two monks associated with the mysterious hermitage of legends said to be the abode of immortals existing beyond time hidden deep in the valleys of the remote Himalayas, and known in the west to most as Shangri-la or Shambhala, were dispatched to retrieve a lost member of their own.

"Then one of the monks emptied a cloth bag I hadn't noticed either carrying that either appeared out of nowhere or had been left on the putting green earlier. Falling to the ground were several leather-like strap items, three of which were some sort of harness things and the others looking all the same as western style boot stirrups, but with loops in the back rather than metal spinners. The monks quickly strapped the harness-like things to themselves and motioned me to to the same. We did the same with the stirrups.

"Then they laid facing down in a prone position with a slight distance between them motioning me to do the same in the open space. One of the monks slipped a staff through loops across the back of our legs being held in place just above our heels by loops on the stirrups then his. He laid down and pushed the other staff along under his chest, mine, and the other monk about even with our shoulders through leather loops on the harness. Then with me between them holding the staff with both hands across my chest at my shoulders the same as the two of them the next thing I knew we were in the air with me positioned between them suspended by the two staffs front to back moving forward at a quick pace. The mountains fell away under us, the wind was blowing hard enough to force tears from my eyes, and the ground, that had dropped well below us, was passing beneath us at a fairly high rate of speed."(source)


As a young boy in the fourth or fifth grade or so I used to go the back alley of a nearby neighborhood bar and meet with an elderly Chinese man I got to know over time while turning in beer and pop bottles for the deposit who was teaching me to meditate Buddha style. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles off a cardboard box table in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan, China by B-29 Superfortresses of the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He told me that from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had never practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

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

During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering. The following, relative to Shambhala and Kuan Yin, is found in Kuan Lin link previously cited. The complete book in PDF, free with no sign ups, is available below through a click through link along with James Hilton's Lost Horizon as well:

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




Almost all written and historical accounts of Shambhala, also known as Gyanganj and Shangri-la, describe it as a spiritual and mystical place, a city, a country, kingdom or hermitage infused with the blessings of the universe, inhabited by Enlightened immortals existing somewhere beyond time in a remote and hidden section deep in uncharted areas of the Himalayas. Taking it as real or a legend, most people can pretty much grasp the concept behind the words of such a place until it comes to the part of being beyond time and actually going there. So said, primarily because of the so-strong strength of the beyond time aspect of Shambhala, to the typical common-run-in-the-mill everyday garden variety purveyor of Samsara events, Shambala sets up nothing but a series of what appears to be time paradoxes. To wit the following:

"What is not known with any amount of certainty is when passing through the portal from the outside into the monastery, is the measurable distance from the outside to the inside more than the thickness of the doors' front to back, or once in the monastery is the inside and all of the surrounding countryside beyond the thickness of the monastery doors actually somewhere else?"

Shambhala, Time, and the Langoliers



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

(please click image)


"The question arises, did showing up at the ashram in the past affect or change the future, and if so, how?"

The above two paradoxes are from a real life happenstance. The two were bound together through a singular untangleable event as so cited in The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, linked elsewhere and of which largely circulates around an eastern spiritual master in the Zen tradition, the monastery of which he was master, and the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas. Specifically, the so mentioned remote and mysterious hermitage beyond time is known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La. So said, both paradoxes in themselves and their relationship to Shambhala, fall under the aegis of a much bigger umbrella known in Sanskrit as the super normal perceptual states of Siddhis. To wit:

"The Zen master's intent, as I have extrapolated it in hindsight, was for me to bypass any potentially powerful Mara induced impediments by coming in on the side of time in front of them, that is before they happened. Thus in a sense, after which returning into the present forward, maintaining in place any 'mental barriers that had been reduced to nothingness' before the impediments were set into motion. As events seemed to unfold in my life such does not seem to be the case, that is, the Zen master missed his mark."


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

In the case of me, if I as a grown man had been placed into the ashram environment during the same period of time the boy was there but BEFORE his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness, upon my return I would not have known, seen, experienced, or even been aware that I as a young boy, sitting before the Maharshi, had reached a point where my "mental barriers had been reduced to nothingness." After sitting before the Maharshi as a young boy I should have gone through the whole rest of my life reaching the stage of being a full-fledged adult, Awakened, Enlightened the same as the ancient classical masters. Instead, from my childhood to when the Zen master returned me to the ashram as an adult, because of the mitigating circumstances as alluded to in The Last American Darshan, I knew nothing of it. However, Ramana, having seen me at the same time in both situations, knowing me when a boy as Enlightened, but me as a man NOT Enlightened, interceded at the stage stop to resurrect the loss.

Looking back, how I have it figured is, if I had seen the young boy in a state of having been reduced to nothingness, yet, as an adult not aware of ever experiencing such a state nor had I ever recalled from youth to grown man, I would have interceded in some fashion to ensure growing to manhood it wasn't lost. The easiest way for that to have transpired would to have somehow eliminated the one, primary specific incident that was most directly responsible --- without disturbing the overall nature of the time-flow. Now, if I could have figured out that specific incident on the spot in the ashram at the time or not is one thing. However, looking back, that one specific incident, that I have since given the name mitigating circumstances, would be to ensure the boy knew, no matter what, under NO or any circumstances, was he to get out of the car and open the garage door before his aunt stopped the car and she herself got out.



Did showing up at the ashram in the past affect or change the future or not?

"If it's not possible to change the present by going into the past, then how can you change the future from being in the present?"

Again, did showing up at the ashram in the past affect or change the future?

"After leaving Chiang Mai the Buddhist monk left the main contingent taking me with him high into the mountains basically retracing the steps of the ancient Chamadao, the Tea Horse Road. Some days later 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. Nobody said anything and nobody questioned why I was there. Not even the master."


Once enveloped by the unfolding of events after having been usurped in the perplexity of the never ending sea of the singular moment that blanketed the monastery and surrounding environment of Shambhala, infused as they were by a penetrating continuum of ethereal timelessness, beyond the gates of the mysterious hermitage I found myself within the grasp of a major opportunity to change, stop, or modify the outcome of downstream future events as they applied to me, --- or at least I thought I did.

"I figured, if I didn't get back over the 'hump' into the Himalayas and the monastery I wasn't sure what the ramifications might be. After having missed William Samuel in Bangalore, rather than go straight to the U.S. Consulate in Madras, I circled back around to the Ramana ashram in Tiruvannamalai hoping to catch up with the young boy. Considering any outcome from what I presently found myself in, with no clear way out, playing God with time, my intention was, if I able to avoid the couple and get to the boy long enough talk to him, was to explain, convince, or warn him, that under no circumstances. no matter what, when as an adult he found himself in Chiang Mai and confronted with the opportunity to go with the monk, he was NOT to do it.

"When I arrived at the ashram with all honorable intentions to carry through on my intent, the boy and the couple were gone."


Most people who have read through all that I have presented, with the thousands of interlinking footnotes, find themselves close to having had enough. However, every now and then there are those who come forward interested in how it was that I, as an adult at the Ramana ashram, was able to successfully return to the monastery, especially so considering the differences in time and all.

We know I ended up in Tiruvannamalai in some fashion with the help of the woman on the farm, yet no where does it show up how it was I ended up back at the monastery. It is clear that I did because in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery I write that I was abducted by military irregulars outside the walls one morning and forcibly taken back to civilization.

Lets just say in more ways than one, my return involved war torn Burma, the Japanese Invasion of India, the crash of a C-47 high in the rarefied air in the Tibetan area of the Himalayas after being lost on a flight from Calcutta, a CNAC mechanic, and a U.S. Army captain who flew over the "hump" from China only to end up visiting the Ramana ashram at the same time I was there. That same captain, who had been called back into the Army to serve in the Korean War, during the throes of battlefield decimation going on all around him, as written in his tome A Soldier's Story, experienced a deep Spiritual Awakening not unlike those afforded the ancient classical masters.



BEFORE LEAVING CALCUTTA-----------------------------------------------------AFTER LEAVING CALCUTTA

Time associated within the walls of the monastery and the land beyond flowed like the surface of a Mobius Strip, non-orientable. When the Zen master put into place his intentions, he did so from a non-orientable time environment --- meaning, because of conditions, when and where he was within that non-orientable time environment relative to the conditions, would determine the outcome or results of his efforts --- in effect making his Siddhi efforts different in implementation and outcome than they would by if put into place on the other side of the walls.




Even though the paradoxes easily replicate time travel in the broadest sense I never placed either of them, at least as I saw it initially, into a time travel frame of reference. Others saw it differently. For them, discounting Siddhis and moving the events into a time travel schemata seemed to make what I have presented somewhat more understandable. Paradox three and four below happened so close on the heels to the events in the Himalayas and my experiences on the Indian sub continent under Sri Ramana I connect them together under the much larger blanket of Shambhala in that the events unfolded during my immediate return trip home. Although I personally see the two as Siddhi-based, finding their strengths from the same initiating source, they were more-or-less put into place from roots emanating within or beyond the edges of the greater sphere of indigenous tribal spiritualism:


"There had to be in existence two of me at the same time, albeit occupying separate spaces. One of me quite possibly knowing my mother died, the other still having a mother alive."

The above sentence, like the previous two paradoxes is also based on a real life happenstance. It is found in the text toward the bottom of The Spiritual Elder and the Santa Fe Chief. The seed of what is behind that happenstance and how it was able to come into play to such a point that it could, would and did actually transpire, was initially set into motion primarily through the downstream outflow of the following:

"(U)nknown to me, my mother was no longer at home, having become totally unable to care for herself, so much so my dad placed her into a full care sanatorium-like hospital in Santa Barbara, California on an around the clock basis. Before my dad had a chance to respond to the couple, the couple, knowing full well that my mother was in a sanatorium, without my father's grace, took me to India, simply sending him a note saying that in the end I had changed my mind about going. While I was gone my mother died. I missed the funeral and by the time I got back my family had disintegrated, my two brothers and myself all going separate ways, my dad disappearing into the countryside heavy into alcohol."

SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Darshan

Traveling with the foster couple during the declining health of my mother but before her death put me as a young boy arriving at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai south India sometime in early January 1944 and staying to sometime after April of 1944. By all indications, as brought forth in the Raft Drift story as found in the sinking of the British motor vessel M.V. Tulagi I was most likely back in the states by June of 1944.

The M.V. Tulagi was attacked and sunk in the Indian Ocean by the German submarine U-532 March 27, 1944. Survivors, after 58 days adrift in the open sea, ended with only seven of the 15 crewmembers left alive that were able to make it into two lifeboats out of the original 54 crewmembers, landing on Bijoutier, a tiny island of the Alphonse Group belonging to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. Well after the sinking, but still well within the time period of the drift, I was returning to the U.S. onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean when some onboard passengers reported seeing a lifeboat sometime toward the end of May, 1944. If it was one of the rafts from the Tulagi, and I am almost sure it would have to have been because of it's description, it would put me back in the states sometime in June, 1944.

The June, 1944 date is fairly solid assumption anyway in that I was on my way to California from Pennsylvania via Chicago as a passenger on the all first class Santa Fe Chief being pulled by a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern bearing the Santa Fe ID #3774. Outside Williams, Arizona, on the night of July 3, 1944, the train derailed in a high speed crash, killing the fireman and three passengers, while injuring 113 passengers and 13 train employees.

The wreck left whoever I was traveling with being either too hospitalized or too injured to oversee me. Because of same my uncle, who lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the closest relative to my location was contacted. While waiting for him to show up, which took a day or two longer than expected, he called a close-by tribal spiritual elder he knew to fill in for him until he was able to get to Williams. It is fair to say the spiritual elder sitting around inside of a train station all day long between the occasional train wasn't exactly what I would call his particular forte'. At the end of the second day, the spiritual elder seemed to have had enough and decided he needed more open space around him. Just after sundown of the second full day basically after just hanging around inside a stuffy train station or sitting on shipping boxes and crates in the shade along the wall of the loading dock, without any real discussion between us, we started walking eastward along the railroad tracks for some distance before turning south into the desert, the two of us ending up camping overnight along the Rio Felix in New Mexico.

The longer of the two quotes at the top of this section is from the source so cited. Although the paragraph is taken out of context having been extrapolated from a much longer text, it cuts to the quick quite clearly about my mother, the foster couple, me going to India, etc. It also brings to light the fact that while I was gone my mother died and I missed the funeral. It happened that way because of me having left for India late in the year 1943 and not returning to the states until June of 1944, meaning by inference according to the quote, that it was during that six month time frame that my mother died. Taken to the extreme then, by inference it would also mean that my mother was alive at least right up to my departure and possibly sometime shortly after. So too, most likely right up to my departure I was in the U.S. on U.S. soil because as I have stated elsewhere I went to Santa Barbara with both of my real parents sometime in 1943. The question is, if I was with my parents or even the foster couple how is it during the same 1943 period I was able to hole up for the night along the Rio Felix in New Mexico with the spiritual elder waiting for my uncle to show up? There had to be in existence two of me at the same time, albeit occupying separate spaces. One of me quite possibly knowing my mother died, the other still having a mother alive. Truth be told however, when I was traveling with the spiritual elder I had no clue it was not, not 1944. It was well after the fact, actually years later, through the normal course of research instilled by a deep personal interest in the subject that I discovered the incident along the Rio Felix involving the German POWs was not 1944, but instead one year earlier.

In 1964, thanks to the friendly Selective Service, or the draft as it is so affectionately known, found me as a fully ingrained member of the even more friendly United States Army. During that period of time there was a similar or like event that harkened back to the year 1944 as well, albeit some weeks or months prior to the train wreck. Re the following from the source so cited:

"Everything in my life from before entering Laos to Chiang Mai to my eventual return to Rangoon and beyond, time-wise, led up to, overlaid and bracketed my stay at the monastery as outlined in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery. Within that bracketed period of time at the monastery I came in contact with (the) woman at the farm house, ending up in Tiruvannamalai circa 1944 and the Ramana ashram. It was embedded inside that same period of time in Tiruvannamalai that the three hours sitting before the Maharshi in the ashram transpired. Added together, the whole of the whole episode that unfolded, at least outside of the monastery walls it would seem, and how time is typically constituted consensually by those in the Samsara world, was enveloped in the broader sense by the calendar year 1964."(source)

Again, as with the opening of this section, the paradox of Paradox Three:

"There had to be in existence two of me at the same time, albeit occupying separate spaces. One of me quite possibly knowing my mother died, the other still having a mother alive."



The night the POWs entered the little no-frills camp that the spiritual elder and I had set up along the Rio Felix they didn't seem to present any form of a threat, only wanting a little food, a few safe minutes to rest, and information regarding where they were specifically. After giving them food from what little we had and stoking the fire back to it's former luster the drowsiness that had come across me faded at the thought of escaped German POWs being in our camp.

In the train station the night before an elderly man sat down next to me handing me a comic book he said had a true story in it, saying his son had participated in the actual events so depicted in the story. The following, from the source so cited, picks up as the elderly man sat next to me that night in the train station:

He came over and sat next to me and asked if my dad was in the war. I told him no that he worked in the shipyards. Asking if I liked comic books he opened his suitcase and pulled out one called Blue Bolt. All the while he was thumbing through the pages like he was looking for something he was telling me he had a son in the war and that his son was a pilot. After he reached a certain spot he folded open the pages and pointed to a story about a group of American pilots that shot down 77 German planes in one outing. Then, carefully reading the story page by page and pointing to the different pictures he told me that his son was one of the pilots. My uncle told me with that I took the book from the man's hands completely fascinated, so much so I read the story over and over without stopping or setting it down. The man, seeing how much I appreciated the comic and the story, said I could have it. After that my uncle said I continued to read it again and again all the way back to California and months afterwards."


What I haven't stated elsewhere is that in my new found enthusiasm regarding the story of the P-40 Warhawks or Tomahawks as the case may be, that in one outing shot down 77 German planes in the so-called Goose Shoot, is that I still had the comic book with me the next night when the POWs came into camp. With additional light from a restoked fire I got the comic book out and began reading the story, all the while pointing out page after page of the graphic drawings of the event. Needless to say, even though they eventually were caught up in what I was showing them in that they had not received any substantial amount of news from anywhere let alone the battlefront, they just were not up to giving any truth or validity to the story, especially so coming from a kid and a comic book. As I got older I deciphered the attitude they displayed that night stemmed basically from a still strong or lingering belief in the infallibility of German superiority.

However, if you look at the timing of it all --- and truly unknown to me at the time until it dawned on me one day totally out of the blue years later --- the POWs did in a sense have "right" on their side, i.e., not giving any truth or validity to the story, especially so coming from a kid and a comic book, to wit the following:

  • The POW escape is recorded as having transpired on January 14, 1943.

  • The Goose Shoot happened in the skies over Tunisia, North Africa three months later on Sunday, April 18, 1943.

  • The story I showed the POWs of the Goose Shoot was in BLUE BOLT, Issue Number 6, which wasn't even published until January, 1944, one full year after the POW escape --- even though I had the comic book with me at the time of their escape.

There had to be in existence two of me at the same time, albeit occupying separate spaces. One of me quite possibly knowing my mother died, the other still having a mother alive, to wit:

As my mother's illness became more and more serious it became increasingly more difficult for my father to care for her as well as care for three young boys, so much so he decided to investigate the possibility of a full time care facility for her. One of the facilities was an around the clock full care sanatorium-like hospital in Santa Barbara, California. Although a good portion of the year 1943 is not totally clear down to the most minute detail I remember the Santa Barbara excursion well because the day my dad went to see the sanatorium not only did he take my mother along, but me as well --- with no brothers! So said, the trip had to have occurred before the end of the year 1943 because by Christmas of that year I was in India. The following, is found at the source so cited:

"My mother died when I was quite young. However, even before her death, because of her illness my father continued to have to work more and more hours to pay for mounting medical expenses. Through it all he found it extremely difficult to care for my two brothers and myself and work the hours he did. At first he dealt with it with regular day-to-day babysitting, then overnight and weekends with my grandparents and neighbors. Along the way a couple that just happened to be visiting our next door neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner, and of which we were invited to, offered to help by taking one of us kids fulltime. A few days later I was selected and basically fostered out, moving away from my brothers and family even before my mother passed away."


Hence, it is clear that at least up until Thanksgiving 1943 my mother, father, two brothers and myself were all alive and well living together under one roof in Redondo Beach, California, my whole family intact and in place, happily sharing a Thanksgiving meal with neighbors. Seven months later, on my way back from India, I was waiting for my uncle in a train station in Williams, Arizona, following the wreck of a train I was a passenger on. Having survived the wreck, in due time I was returned to California and temporarily placed under the guardianship of my grandmother, re the following from the source so cited:

"There I was, a young boy barely even closing down on six or seven years of age, not long returned from India, without a mother, having missed both her final days and her funeral as well."


IF, as it seems, my family was alive and well and intact up until Thanksgiving 1943 living in our family home in Redondo Beach, it would be then a straight line given that ten months earlier, in January of that year, my mother would be alive as part of that same family. It would also hold true then that I, as part of that integrated family unit, would be fully aware of her being an active part of that family. The train wreck occurred July 3, 1944 after which I was placed with my grandmother, albeit without, as I write, a mother, having missed both her final days and her funeral as well.

It was because of the train wreck I met the Native American spiritual elder in the first place and having done so only for the first time because of the wreck. No wreck, no meeting, no spiritual elder. It was also because of the spiritual elder that I was camping along the Rio Felix and met the three German prisoners of war. In January 1943 I was with my mother in Redondo Beach, she being very much alive by all that I have presented. I was with the POWs along the Rio Felix in New Mexico because while heading home from India, trekking across the desert with the spiritual elder I ended up along the river, the prisoners having escaped January 14, 1943. On the way home from India on the train I missed both my mother's final days and her funeral as well, meaning at the time she was no longer alive, even though while along the Rio Felix, taken there by the spiritual elder and having missed both her final days and her funeral as well, in January 1943, she was still alive.

"People go to The Code Maker, The Zen Maker hoping to cull out some insight into the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la. They are seeking answers. They want to know does Shangri-la exist? Is Shangri-la real? Where is Shangri-la located? What of Shambhala and Gyanganj? And what do they get when they go to Code Maker, Zen Maker? Actually, the answer is there, but all they see in the beginning is something about a boy and something else called a Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph. Without delving into the contents of the text or going deeper into the subject matter they end up befuddled and perplexed. However, the answer is there, not hidden or written in some kind of subliminal manner, but there for all to see. However, for those who demand or would like further clarification as to how something seemingly as insignificant as a small handheld toy could rise to such majestical and spiritual proportions in the overall scheme of the universe that it could unlock the doors to Gyanganj."







JAMES HILTON-------------------------------------ANDREW TOMAS--------------------------------NICOLAS ROERICH













Footnote [1]

Lost Horizon and/or The Way To Shambhala notwithstanding, there is supposedly another publication out there that is said over-and-over to be the MOST comprehensive account of Gyanganj ever written. That book was said to have been composed by a venerated Indian holy man by the name of Gopinath Kaviraj (d. 1976).

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

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

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

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

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


PART II---------------PART III


Footnote [2]

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

However, in opposition to what I perceive as Bernbaum's approach, if you notice in my case, rather than avoiding or clouding the issue, on my page, THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER: Shangri-la, Shambhala, Gyangnj, Buddhism and Zen, directly under the title, the opening graphic, and the opening quote, before getting into the main text, speaking outright of myself, I state quite flatly:


Then, at the end of the above, again avoiding or clouding the issue, I write that one moment when all the trials and tribulations that have been laid out from childhood through to the Army, the monastery, and the Himalayas, et al have ended, I walk away from the ashram, suddenly jumping to many years later as I have written it, apparently comfortably safe back at home in the United States as though nothing ever happened --- simply hanging with a friend sorting through a bunch of decades-old Captain Midnight Decoders, offering for the readers a clarification or closure as found in:


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

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

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

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



Please go to Footnote [3]

Footnote [3]


In Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery I write about how I was brought before the presence of a very old and ancient man of Zen who had come down out of the even more rarefied atmosphere of the high Himalaya mountains and asked to see the monk who was said to be under the protection of the Lord Buddha. Because of respect paid him by all, plus the serenity he seemed to abide in, it was clear the old man was Enlightened. After meeting him, there was something about him that would just not 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 out the old man, visiting him at what was not much more than a stone-pile hut along the edge of a stream.

In Zen Monastery, other than saying that I went to see the old man I do not elaborate on any travails I may have encountered getting to his hut or on my return. In Hope Savage I relate to the readers basically the same story except that I interject more ordeal-like aspects encountered during my journey. To wit:

"Going to and from his abode 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."

Even though the Zen-man and I were not able to communicate verbally in the standard way because neither of us had command of each other's languages, he as a man of Zen as were my leanings, for all practical purposes the two of us were quite comfortable in how we had established a working relationship of understanding between us. However, not operating at his level, for me there remained many more unanswered questions than answered ones.

In the mountains generally it was out-and-out cold, but in the rarefied higher elevation where we were it was even more so. Even so, considering the usual outside nighttime temperature drop, with the tiny almost candle-like fire in his stone hut, it was typically bearable.

The day before I was to leave we spent a good part of the daylight hours scrounging around for burnable material. To me the amount we gathered seemed much more than would otherwise be necessary, but what I found even more odd was that we left nearly half or more of what we collected neatly stacked at the long abandoned stone hut he had shown me a few days before.

After returning to his hut and leaving the rest of the material we gathered, we put a little food, a few utensils and tea in a shoulder bag then went back to the abandoned hut before sundown for reasons to me unclear. After arrival we ate, then in the declining if not all but gone sunlight he searched around and found what at one time appeared to have been a fire pit. Following his lead the two of us put together a fairly good sized, considering what his fires were usually like, almost pyre-like pile of combustibles. With the sunlight gone and total darkness having fully encroached on us by the time we finished the Zen-man lit the fire.

We sat in meditation facing each other across the fire on an east-west axis with me facing east toward what would eventually be the location of the rising sun. At some point into our meditation, and non-Siddhi related, there was somehow a coalescing of our mind processes forming a single mental entity where we both able to understand each other's thoughts.

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

The next morning the Zen-man was gone. So too, neither was he to be found when I returned to his hut, although I did find a rolled up piece of cloth tied to the strap of my shoulder bag. Marked on the cloth, most likely done so from the burnt end of a wooden stick, were four Chinese cuneiform characters, one in each corner and, filling most of the center, the outline of some sort of a shape I didn't recognize.

When the four Chinese characters were deciphered they turned out to mean nothing more than colors: red, yellow, green and black. The outlined shape in the center remained a mystery and meant nothing to anybody who saw it. The mystery however, was solved on its own some 15 years later, a period of time that found me living in the Caribbean island country of Jamaica, and was solved almost on the first day I arrived for what turned out to be a two year stay. So too was answered, before I left the island, my comment regarding how arduous the trip back and forth through the mountains was and his response that I travel my way and he travels his way.

The first part was answered right after leaving the airport to the train station. Almost immediately I saw a giant map of Jamaica and instantly I recognized the shape of the island as being the exact same shape the Zen-man drew on the cloth some 15 years before, an island or place he probably never saw or heard of in his life. Secondly, on my train ride through the cities and hinterland I saw all over, again and again the dominant colors of red, yellow, green and black in the graffiti adopted from the country of Africa and used by the Rastafarians in the graffiti that was plastered all over on almost every available open space. Those two eye-openers along with my experience high in the mountains with a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah led to the meaning behind how the Zen-man traveled those so many years earlier as found in the following:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



What I call Mitigating Circumstances, as presented below, is the primary focus and cause of the lengthy blackout period experienced by me shortly after my return from India. That blackout period pretty much wiped clean all traces of my memory over a period of several years at one of the most crucial times of my life --- taken together, most definitely, a wide ranging series of almost unsurmountable Mara induced impediments. To wit:

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

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



There are those who have come forward on occasion taking issue to what I have cited as being a Zen monastery --- a monastery they take as being in Tibet --- with Zen and Tibet in their view not necessarily going hand-in-hand. For those who may be so interested however, there exists a strong historical tradition backed by recent evidence for just such a thing, that is, Zen in Tibet. Re the following:

On the ancient Silk Road, also called the Chamadao, the Tea Horse Trail or Tea Horse Road, of which was a part of the Silk Road, there is a place known as Dunhuang in northwestern China on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Sixteen miles southeast of Dunhuang is the Mogao Caves, a complex of some 700 or so caves dating back to 400 AD, perhaps before, carved out of the living rock above the Dachuan River. One after the other of the caves are adorned with Buddhist statuary and art, among them one cave specifically noted for having a hoard of manuscripts known as the Dunhuang Manuscripts discovered hidden and sealed away for well over a thousand years. The following is what Wiki writes on the manuscripts:

"By far the largest proportion of manuscripts from the Dunhuang cave contain Buddhist texts. These include Buddhist sutras, commentaries and treatises, often copied for the purpose of generating religious merit. Several hundred manuscripts have been identified as notes taken by students, including the popular Buddhist narratives known as bian wen. Much of the scholarship on the Chinese Buddhist manuscripts has been on the Ch'an (or Zen) texts, which have revolutionized the history of Ch'an Buddhism."

There is a book titled TIBETAN ZEN: Discovering a Lost Tradition (2015) by Sam van Schaik based on his study of rare Tibetan manuscripts discovered among the hoard of manuscripts found in the aforementioned sealed cave. Taken together van Schaik's works offer a heretofore unknown window into the existence of a Tibetan Zen tradition that has not been known previously to scholars and laypeople alike, whether Tibetan, European, or Chinese. See:


(please click image)


Please click the above image. The wordy introduction is quite slow, give it a few minutes or slide the bar forward. It is expandable to full screen size by using the appropriate buttons. If for some reason the film does not come up click HERE.