Apple, India, Buddhism, and Zen
In February of 1985 Playboy magazine published an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs that had within it's contents some rather interesting aspects of Jobs, as a 19 year old, backpacking barefoot through India with a buddy in the summer of 1974. He was gone seven months, primarily in search of a guru and possible Enlightenment. Even though the information on his trek has been available to a wide general audience since at least that 1985 interview, over the years, relative to Jobs, it has long been overshadowed by other events. However, since his death and publication of his authorized autobiography that goes into some aspects of his India adventures such as having his head shaved by a monk high in the mountains of India among other things as well as the Ashton Kutcher movie Jobs showing some aspects of his 1974 travels to India with his friend from Reed College Dan Kottke, people have been coming out of the woodwork with all kinds of comments and questions regarding his trip, India, his relation to Buddhism, Zen and Enlightenment.
On and off over time I developed a sort of rolling interest in Jobs' spiritual trip to India --- primarily for a couple of reasons. First, because I talked to Jobs just days before he left on his trip. And secondly, how it related to a man named Adam Osborne who I re-met in 1982 that I knew from my childhood and had lost track of over the years. Osborne, whose father was Arthur Osborne, a devotee of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and a well respected author of several books on Ramana, grew up at the Ramana ashram as a young boy --- and it was there at the ashram that I, also as a young boy, met Adam for the first time. Interestingly enough, he became one of the earliest pioneers in creating and marketing a commercially viable personal computer called the Osborne 1, and because of same, became one of Silicon Valley's first high-tech multi-millionaires and an arch foe of Steve Jobs.
Sometime in the early 2000s, probably 2002 or 2003, in a quasi follow-up on the going to India aspects of the Playboy article, I had a page on the net that alluded to an impromtu meeting between Steve Jobs and myself that happened just days prior his final decision to go to India, then actually leaving on his trip. However, that page, as many of my pages have, disappeared into cyberspace some years ago --- not unusual for a lot of my pages --- and by the time I discovered the page was down I never followed up in trying to retrieve it.
Back in the old days I used to get a regular stream of emails when the page in question on Steve Jobs was up and, as time went on, I continually refined the page so the questions would be answered by simply reading the contents. When the page went down, every now and again people would ask questions regarding Jobs and India. In those days I would answer them individually. Then sometime around June of 2009 I added some of the information as a footnote to 'page two' of my long running page, ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, and simply just refered people there without comment. Recently the contents of the footnote were updated and moved into the main text and now reads thus:
"Before the oncoming summer of 1974, and somewhat early for the arrival of my mentor's friend, I headed north up California slowly wending my way toward Sausalito, all the while crossing paths with a few friends along the way. One of the people I stopped to see was an old high school buddy who lived in San Jose and worked at IBM. Typically he and I would never have been friends or even known each other in high school because we traveled in such different circles. However, we had established a strong tie and friendship because he was like an artist when it came to working on and having knowledge of old Fords, of which my early 1940s woodie station wagon was one. While I restored the wood, except for twin carburetors that had been installed by famed race car mechanic Joe Landaker, my buddy was the only one that worked on it, spending tons of hours on the mechanical end of things just for the heck of it, and because of his endeavors, it sang when it ran because everything mechanical was so in sync.
"Other than our high school days and working on theWoodie Wagon in our past, we really did not have a whole lot in common, so staying at his place for a couple of days we did things more to his liking than what I would have otherwise have done. He, having to work on one of the days I was there, suggested I visit the Winchester House which was located not far from his apartment. It wasn't long before I was off on my own wandering around both inside and outside the rather bizarre complex, eventually ending up leisurely strolling around the Victorian gardens that surround it. While in the garden I was approached by three or four monks in full Buddhist regalia. We spoke for a few minutes and they went on their way. A somewhat intense, disheveled, and bearded young man in his late teens or early twenties who seemed to have been following and observing the monks from a distance came up to speak with me when they departed. He asked if they always acted that way as they seemed to exhibit some sort of reverence toward me. After several more questions I told him I had studied Zen under Yasutani Hakuun Roshi and had as well been to India and the ashrama of Sri Ramana Maharshi. As the afternoon passed in conversation he continually wanted to know all about the the difference between the Indian side of things and that of Zen. After awhile, he stood up from the bench we were sitting on and said as soon as he had the money he was going to go to India. Later I learned the besheveled young man did just that, actually traveling in India for seven months. His name Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple." (source)
Now, to make it perfectly clear, there is no credit here, implied or otherwise, that somehow the meeting that transpired between the the young Steve Jobs and myself in the garden of the Winchester House directly influenced him into acting positively toward his then already seedling desire to actually go to India. However, even though Jobs and Kottke had been strongly influenced after reading the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass (1971) followed by a smattering of other books on eastern spirituality and mind altering substances while at Reed College in Oregon, he had since dropped out of college and been working for Atari. That put him within easy range of the Winchester House by bus or car --- possibly even walking since in his days in Portland he used to walk seven miles to the Hare Krishna temple for a free meal once a week.
In the above mentioned authorized autobiography on Jobs simply titled Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson released in October 2011, Isaacson writes, talking about Jobs going to his boss right after the meeting in the garden regarding Jobs going to India:
"When Jobs told the folks at Atari that he was quitting to go search for a guru in India, the jovial Alcorn was amused. He comes in and stares at me and declares, I'm going to find my guru, and I say, 'No shit, that's super. Write me.' And he says he wants me to help pay, and I tell him, Bullshit! Then Alcorn had an idea. Atari was making kits and shipping them to Munich, where they were built into finished machines and distributed by a wholesaler in Turin. But there was a problem: Because the games were designed for the American rate of sixty frames per second, there were frustrating interference problems in Europe, where the rate was fifty frames per second. Alcorn sketched out a fix with Jobs and then offered to pay for him to go to Europe to implement it. It's got to be cheaper to get to India from there, he said. Jobs agreed. So Alcorn sent him on his way with the exhortation, 'Say hi to your guru for me.'"
Of course, as it was, Jobs was unable to say "Hi" to his guru in any traditional sense anyway because the guru he sought out, and of which was so prominently advocated in the book "Be Here Now," Neem Karoli Baba had since left his earthly paradise.
In any case, one way or the other, Jobs and my garden meeting fell within weeks, possibly days of his decision and departure. So too, the events I describe in Dark Luminosity had transpired some years before, so the two of us crossing paths, even for the short time we did, there is a chance he may have vaguely whiffed the perfume of the gateless gate and thus then the possibility of it being accessed.
Below is a click through link to the best selling highly sought after Steve Jobs biography titled STEVE JOBS by Walter Isaacson published in 2011. At the time it was linked to on this page it was a totally free, complete, unabridged online copy, computer safe with no sign up or download required offered through Academia Edu. Even though there are a whole bunch of click through buttons and things that come up asking you to click or download PDFs and the like, it is not necessary to do so. It is all there by just scrolling down the page. Everything, all 42 chapters, preface, graphics, index. How long the link will stay up or remain accessible is not known.
Probably the two chapters that will be of the most interest for readers here, at least initially, will be CHAPTER THREE: The Dropout and CHAPTER FOUR: Atari, India and Zen. So too, if you haven't gone to any of the footnotes you might consider doing so. You'll find out why Jobs called Adam Osborne an asshole if nothing else.
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
THE 1985 PLAYBOY INTERVIEW
STEVE JOBS: ISAACSON
(please click image)
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.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
ON THE RAZOR'S
OSBORNE 1 PERSONAL COMPUTER
In April 1981 Adam Osborne publically revealed his Osborne 1 personal computer at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. Some of the Mac team attended the Faire and reported back to Jobs that Osborne staff were telling all who would listen that their personal computer was going outsell the Apple II and Mac by a factor of 10 to 1. Jobs immediately picked up the phone and called the Osborne Computer Corporation and asked to speak with Osborne. The secretary told Jobs that Osborne was not available, asking if he would like to leave a message. Jobs replied:
"Yes, tell Adam he's an asshole."
It has always been interesting to me that Steve Jobs would think of and call Osborne an asshole. Jobs traveled to and all over India in search of Enlightenment and a guru while all along Osborne, from a toddler to just on the cusp of being a teenager, had been raised, grew up, and been around one of the most venerated Indian holy men to ever come down the path, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Although Ramana had passed from his earthly paradise, Osborne's mother Lucia Osborne had been a member of his inner circle and his father had written a whole slew of top rated books on the Maharshi. You would think rather than being called an asshole that Jobs would have sought him out. As it was the guru Jobs went to India to see had passed from his earthly paradise as well. See:
NEEM KAROLI BABA
As Sarlo, who has a long running guru rating service on the net says about my works:
"It's organic and sprawling, but intricately interlinked, linking also to outside sites. One of the most fascinating aspects of this interconnectedness is that his collection is not very systematic in the usual sense. Forget site map, there is nothing for it when visiting but to wander from one page to another without much sense of where you're going, and usually without completing the page you're on, which you may return to only after a long garden path. In reading, you become a wanderer.
"One more tidbit is the domain structure. The Wanderling has undertaken to create his project in free website places, assembling a myriad of apparently different sites, but all interwoven. As the free website places fold and merge and change their rules, he shifts accordingly, thus a migration happens on this level as well."(source)
Regarding my trip to Sausalito and meeting Steve Jobs along the way. The trip, although it started out a little rocky, ended up being one of my best road trips. I left weeks if not months before I had to be in Sausalito, wending my way north at my leisure, stopping whenever I wanted, visiting and staying with friends and strangers alike as I came across them. At first I didn't hold much hope for the trip. My mentor had requested my assist which required me to go north and much as I liked doing anything I could for him my heart just wasn't in it. My dad had died a short time before and his daughter, who was actually a biological half-sister who I was just getting to know after years apart, was killed in a horrific auto accident --- a crash that took three of her friends lives as well.
I was driving her vintage split rear window VW bug that was given to her by my father for her 16th birthday and that had been in storage since her death. When my dad got it for her he had it completely restored inside and out, having it painted with seven coats of hand-rubbed black lacquer with chrome plated Porsche rims mounted with Pirelli tires. He also had a Porsche 1500 Super engine with a roller bearing crank, dual Weber carburetors, and a street legal Spyder exhaust system installed --- all done and maintained by famed Porsche race team owner and mechanic Vasek Polak.
I don't know if it was the car or not, but once on the road things changed quickly. I left the Los Angeles area headed toward Santa Barbara, back to my old self, without keeping track of time, distance, or place. Once through Santa Barbara after spending most of a day walking the grounds of the Santa Ynez mission I cut across to Highway One that hugs the California coastline, eventually doing the 17 Mile Drive, staying at Monterey and into Santa Cruz holing up at the Boardwalk. Then it was over the mountains into San Jose, staying with my buddy and meeting Steve Jobs.
As to Sausalito. Several years ago a-long-time email correspondent, Ken Fry was discussing Enlightenment Intensives with me, and of which, in so many words he favored and I didn't. In the process Fry mentioned Alan Watts, saying:
"Alan Watts knew about them. He called it A True Western Zen when I discussed it with him personally, on his houseboat in Sausalito, a few decades ago. Afterward we went to theTrident and ate boullibaise and drank white wine."
Disregarding anything more to do with Enlightenment Incentives, referring to the Trident I said, "So who hasn't?" I went on to say long before Fry ever emailed me, my page ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, was made available on the internet as mentioned in The Letter. Page two has a longtime appearing paragraph that, without mentioning Alan Watts DOES mention Sausalito and Emanuel Sorensen, known as Shunyata. If one knows their history, Shunyata, a man of great spiritual attainment, was invited to stay on the Watts houseboat in Sausalito in the "marina," spoken of below, not far from where I picked up my mentor. The reason Watts wasn't mention regarding picking up my mentor and meeting Sorensen is because Watts had died the year before, in November 1973, but I had been to the houseboat --- actually a former 1870s stern-wheel ferryboat named SS Vallejo once moored in the mudflats off gate 5 road --- several times previously over the years, just not in connection with Shunyata:
"In 1974 another of the few occurrences where the man next door mentioned someone specific transpired, only this time, unlike above, how I downplay the extent of my meeting withSwami Ramdas, I actually met the person involved. My Mentor sent word requesting I pick him up along the California coast and take him to one of the marinas in the Bay area to meet an old friend visiting from India. It had been at least twenty years since he had been on the mainland, so it was quite clear something important was up. Plus, except the brief encounter with Swami Ramdas as I have described it above, with me being brand new at the time I had never really met anyone from his past. Now, with some experience under my belt I was most anxious to do so.
"The old friend turned out to be Emmanuel (Alfred) Sorensen, known as Shunyata, a man of great spiritual renown, although much to my chagrin, that I was not totally familiar with at the time. He was European, at the very least in his eighties, spoke with an accent, dressed somewhat like an east Indian, and, as it turned out, truly one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever met. Sorensen, it has been said, was BORN Awake. My Mentor and Sorensen had known each other from the early years when both inadvertently met while travelling in India and had, unlikeUpaka the Ascetic on the road to Benares, immediately recognized in each other the aspect of Awakening. The man had remained in India since the early 1930s and had only recently arrived in California for a short stay."
It should be noted the visit by Sorensen in 1974 was his first or initial visit. In 1978, at age 88 he moved to California on a permanent basis, under the auspices of the Watts' leftovers. In July, 1984 he moved into a house in Fairfax several miles north of Sausalito. After living almost his whole life in India and with only a few short years in California, in 1984, at age 93, he was hit by a car while crossing the street in Fairfax and died in hospital soon afterwards. In 1978, when Sorensen moved to California to stay, I was living in Jamaica. During that period my mentor died. When I returned to the states I wasn't even aware Sorensen had moved to California until sometime later when the circumstances surrounding his death filtered down to me. See also Footnote .
"When Buddhism went to China, inconsistency became problematic. This was due to the very non-Indian way the Chinese perceived the world and human nature. Unlike Indian thinking, which gave priority to the devine or the trans-human element of reality, Chinese thought gave priority to the human world. The traditional Chinese view was that people are born with an innate sense of goodness, purity and truth, and that the normal human passions are a part of this goodness and an Enlightened sage is someone who accepts this."
SUDDEN OR GRADUAL ENLIGHTENMENT? Rev Vajra Karuna
The difference between the Indian side of things and that of Zen are huge --- although the end results, the finality of the Absolute, are not unlike.(see)
I started study-practice under a man who himself had Awakened to the Absolute under the grace and light of the venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Much to my mentor's chagrin, in my study-pactice, he discerned little or no headway over the years on my part. He decided my approach and temperment suited more of what Zen had to offer than what was found on the Indian side of things. In so saying, he arranged for me study under the noted Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. That too, did not reach the results he had hoped for. Knowing that as a young boy I had met with the American Franklin Merrell-Wolff high in the mountains of the Sierras with somewhat striking results, and, in that I would not quit bugging him, in a last ditch effort he decided I needed something in-between Yasutani and his own teaching. In 1965, through connections with Pulyan's Teacher who he apparently knew, having met her during his travels in India, my mentor arranged for me to go to Connecticut and visit a nearly invisible man of great spiritual prowess by the name of Alfred Pulyan. Just as spring reached its final count down and the warmth of summer was coming on I showed up at Pulyan's wooded rural compound and began a most unsual almost non-study study --- the visit eventually growing into the end of summer because, I'm sure, of my mentor's pull and Pulyan's own graciousness. Before I could return the following year Pulyan died.
People constantly ask if my stay with Alfred Pulyan ended in a positive outcome. As stated above, initially I had not had much actual success along the path. My mentor sending me to Pulyan in 1965 and the events that followed in May of 1969 as presented briefly in the paragraph below and more indepth in Dark Luminosity are all part of the Dharmadhatu. Nothing stands alone. Additional contributing co-factors was my earlier childhood experience with Franklin Merrell-Wolff as well as doing months and months of hard time in a Zen Monastery high in the mountains somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Although it is extracted from its original context below, when asked, I usually refer them to the following paragraph that shows up on page two of the previously cited ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds:
"After an intermittent slow start as a teenager, followed by twelve years of serious practice, in the month of May of the year 1969, at age 31, because, for the lack of anything else to call it, a Collision of Infinities occurred and the bottom of eternity consciousness literally broke through --- which refers to Awakening in the classical sense and whatSri C. R. Rajamani refers to as well in The Last American Darshan about my even earlier experience under Sri Ramana Maharshi. Rajamani says, speaking of me, 'Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness' --- and thus therefore, the equivalent of Inka Shomei, the Seal of Approval, at the Fourth Level (ken-chu-shi), was graciously accorded me by the person from which I sought guidence; he himself, having experienced full realization under the grace and light of Sri Ramana Maharshi some thirty-nine years earlier, also at the age of 31."
ALL IS ILLUSION?
A Chinese-Indian Dichotomy In Advaita and Zen
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
THE FIVE DEGREES OF TOZAN
TEN FETTERS OF BUDDHISM
A few paragraphs back I wrote that before the oncoming summer of 1974, and somewhat early for the arrival of my mentor's friend, I headed north up California slowly wending my way toward Sausalito, all the while crossing paths with a few friends and strangers along the way. Once through Santa Barbara I cut across to Highway One that hugs the California coastline, staying at Monterey and into Santa Cruz holing up at the Boardwalk. Then it was over the mountains into San Jose.
My reason for going to Santa Cruz involved catching up with another person. A few years before, as found in DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined, I told of meeting with my uncle in Kingman, Arizona, a small desert community located about halfway between where I lived in California and where my uncle lived near the Sangre de Christo mountains of New Mexico, a meeting of which he arranged. When the meeting ended the following transpired:
"(A)s we were parting he gave me a small package to deliver in person to a man in Laguna Beach, California --- and told me whatever I did, NOT give it to anybody else under any circumstances. When I arrived in Laguna Beach I went to an establishment on Pacific Coast Highway called Mystic Arts World as directed by my uncle. There someone took me to the man who was sequestered in a remote cave hidden in the hills above Laguna Canyon Road. The man, Dr. Timothy Leary. The contents of the box not known."
The Laguna Beach establishment my uncle sent me to, Mystic Arts World, for all outward appearances looked like not much more than an early 60s head shop, with racks of tie-dyed shirts, the smell of burning incense, psychedelic posters, and bongs. It was actually the base of operations for a seemingly loosely organized albeit tightly knit outfit called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The Brotherhood dealt heavily in the movement and sale of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and LSD --- reportedly with upwards of $200 million in sales in the late 60s. The organization began to fall apart shortly after its leader died of an overdose of synthetic psilocybin in August 1969 and the Mystic Arts World building burning to the ground following a mysterious fire that started just before midnight June 4, 1970, a fire widely viewed as arson. By 1974, following an August of 1972 multi-agency government raid, most of the remnants of the organization were dispersed, scattered, or gone.
In 1971, before the government raid and the falling apart of the Brotherhood, the seminal book Be Here Now by Ram Dass, which Steve Jobs mentioned as being influential in his life, was published. In the book, which became a wildly popular best seller and almost a bible in the counter-culture, Dass mentioned a highly respected young white American he met in India called Bhagavan Das, a follower of the venerated Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba, that was fully and deeply ingrained into the spiritual culture of India. The two of them traveled around India together partaking of a variety of religious and spiritual undertakings as well as indulging in a lot of LSD. It just so happened Bhagavan Das was originally from Laguna Beach and, even though it was known on an underground basis locally, because of his stature given him in the Ram Dass book, had become a growing sort of hero amongst the local LSD crowd associated with the Mystic Arts World and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.
Because of number of vague similarities, real or imagined, but mostly imagined, between me and the former Laguna Beach resident Kermit Michael Riggs, AKA Bhagavan Das, in the eyes of some of the more strung out Laguna Beach crowd, it wasn't long before he was brought to my attention. By the time of my trip north and Bhagavan Das had returned from India after six or seven years as an itinerant holy man followed by some time in the desert southwest, he was living as a civilian in the northern California bay area, most notedly, Santa Cruz and sometimes Berkeley. I figured on my way through I would look him up. When I met Steve Jobs in the garden that day at the Winchester House I mentioned Bhagavan Das to him saying there was a highly respected holy man just returned from India now living in the area he should look up, a holy man that could give him all the ins-and-outs of a spiritual quest in India anybody would ever need or want. Jobs remembered Bhagavan Das almost immediately from having read about him in Be Here Now and seemed sort of excited about the prospect. If Jobs ever went to Bhagavan Das I never learned, as neither ever mentioned it as far as I know. However, shortly after our meeting in the garden at the Winchester House, Jobs did go to India.
So, the question arises, does a dichotomy exist or is it no more than just a boring conceptual construct propped up out of whole cloth so bigtime spiritual types can bat their gums using mispronouced sanskrit words and their minions can sit around at their feet in awe?
Could be. If you move away from the above visual the whole thing can get complicated the more you read and the deeper you get into it. In a search or research, any potential dichotomy usually boils down to differences welling up from two major divisions, the Buddhist version and the Indian version. The main Buddhist thrust is of course, Zen, and lesser so by a little, Buddhism generally. The Indian version is typically related to what is called Advaita. Both main catagories break down into several branches, each with their own set of rules to follow if you expect to reach the final goal.
The quote below by Tiruvannamalai-based Kevinandaji, whose stuff I absolutely love but whose blog is universally hated by the hawk Enlightenment crowd, will put into perspective what I present for those who may be so interested because, as Kevinandaji presents it, so closely parallels my perfume on the subject that if I were to write it myself there might be copyright infringements:
"Traditional and Gaudapadian Advaita have failed to address the arguments of Madhyamaka Buddhism. This too is the legacy of Gaudapada's political formulation of Advaita. We know that Gaudapada borrowed from the Madhymakans and reinterpreted their thesis of non-origination without crediting them. Unlike the Sarvastivadin and Yogacarin positions, the Madhyamaka teaching of non-origination was not nihilist. Its main teachers Nagarjuna and Candrakirti - now classified as Prasangika Madhyamaka - rejected outright both nihilism and eternalism. They advocated instead a new interpretation of the Buddha's Middle Way which says (as modern theoretical physics confirms) that absolutes are impossible. There cannot truly be any enlightenment, Self or Brahman to attain - nor can there truly be any jiva, 'I' or method to attain it. This position does not say 'no I' or 'no method' It says all things including the person exist as empty, co-dependent arisings which are neither totally existent nor totally non-existent. Methods may happen, methods may not - what happens simply happens - and whether someone practises a method or not is completely irrelevant ..."
Historicly Gaudapada is considered the teacher-guru of Govinda. Govinda inturn, is said to have been the teacher-guru of Shankara --- Shankara being the main bigtime heavyweight dude behind Advaita Vedanta as it has come down to us today. As Kevinandaji points out in the above quote, Gaudapada borrowed from the Madhymakans and reinterpreted their thesis of non-origination without crediting them. While the non-crediting is valid, researchers and scholars on Gaudapada seem to think how and what he has presented his works indicates a strong familiarity with Buddhism both in language and doctrine. Many of those same researchers and scholars seem to think he was originally a Buddhist and simply brought his philosophy with him.
So, what is being said, whichever of the two you seek to use to contribute toward "your mind being ripe," if you seek either, they are in the end, based in common roots. All the bells and whistles are just external trappings like the plumage of the peacock --- to attract you --- that is, if you are a peacock.
Painting legs on a snake won't make it traverse the ground any better or reach it's goal any faster.
The death of my father in 1972 set into motion a lot of how Bhagavan Das came to be mentioned in a number of my works.
More than once in my writings, most notedly in Brenda Allen, I mention that the woman my dad was married to at the time of his death was not particularly warm toward me, out-and-out hate being more like it. Why such was the case I'm not certain. I think a good part of it stemmed from a continuing close relationship and almost reverence, deserved or undeserved, I held long into adulthood toward his divorced second wife, the woman I call my Stepmother and sometimes ex-stepmother in all my works. My dad's wife took her misplaced dislike she aimed toward me and blanketed it broadly across a number of other family members I was close to, of which one included my dad's brother, my uncle.
Toward the end of his life my father had fallen into a deep coma, after which his wife, against the recommendations of a variety of doctors, had him put on life support --- even though for all practical purposes his major faculties and primary physical abilities were basically non-functional. When my father was first caught in the fire two years before and seemed on his last legs, my uncle came to see him. However, he was treated so shabbily by my dad's wife he vowed never to return regardless of the situation, a vow he held on to even to the point of not going to the funeral.
Several months before my dad fell into the coma, around the start of the summer of 1972, he called me to his bedside without the knowledge of family or friends, including his wife. He told me he had long rented a small, single-car garage-size storage unit unknown to anybody. In it he said was all kinds of stuff, all of which, any time from then forward and especially so before he died and before others became privy to it, was to be divided between my two brothers and myself as we saw fit --- except for two things. The Porsche-powered restored vintage Volkswagen that belonged to his daughter, my half sister, was to go to me. Second, in the storage unit was a large locked trunk clearly marked with his brother's name, my uncle, and that I was to take it to him post haste unopened without anybody's knowledge, even my brothers.
Adhering to my father's request to deliver to my uncle the trunk post haste (my dad's words), put me in Santa Fe unexpectedly on a quick couple of days turn around during late June early July of 1972. I say unexpectedly because as soon as I walked out of the hospital I went straight to the storage unit, picked up the trunk, and drove all night right to Santa Fe. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of us designing time around me being there.
During that couple of days stay my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town, and I went along. I wasn't introduced or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked.(see) However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks.
Although I didn't know it at the time, I quickly discovered the tall young man with Ginsberg was Bhagavan Das, who I learned about from my Laguna Beach cohorts, then sought out by me in Santa Cruz, California. By then his dreadlocks and beard were gone. Sometime between Santa Fe and Santa Cruz, as the story goes and the legend grows, Bhagavan Das was visiting the venerated Tibetan holy man Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche either at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado or at a retreat of some kind in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and after a long night of booze, sex, and drugs, Das passed out only to wake up the next morning with his head shaved and all his dreadlocks gone courtesy Trungpa.
The three-photo strip below was taken at the 1972 meeting in Santa Fe. The first photo show Alan Ginsberg. The center photo has Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass shown together. The third photo shows him with Ram Dass and Ginsberg. Ram Dass, again, IS Dr. Richard Alpert, the author of Be Here Now, the 1971 book that shot Bhagavan Das to fame.
BUDDHISM IN AMERICAN BEFORE COLUMBUS
ALLEN GINSBERG: WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA
"A year or so before I started high school and unknown to most of my peers and me, a semi-bohemian literary movement began taking root in various parts of the U.S. that eventually grew to such a point that by my second year in high school I had become more than peripherally aware of it. The movement, given the name The Beat Generation, was mainly centered in and around San Francisco's North Beach, Venice West in Los Angeles, and Greenwich Village in New York City. Two of the top movers, both of whom would become renowned poets in their own right, were Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso.
"In the South Bay just around that same time, but mostly after graduation, and even though Ginsberg read 'Howl' there, and although never reaching anywhere near the level as the other aforementioned Beat places --- and me not really knowing a whole lot about it in those days --- I started hanging out at the Iconoclast Coffee House just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach and/or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach hoping to be or at least think I was 'cool' and possibly even absorb or learn some of the movement trends. Betty Jean at the Iconoclast was cool, but of the two places, the best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Insomniac regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene, who was highly polyamorous, loved speed even more, and sadly dead from bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s."
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
I never met Ginsberg that afternoon with my uncle. Although it was apparent the two of them knew each other why my uncle requested me to remain by the car while the two of them talked was never clear. I could have easily overridden the whole thing if I so chose, and perhaps I should have. I carried a major ace-in-the-hole relative to Ginsberg that would have elevated me quickly with him had I selected to do so --- that ace being me having met a few years prior a major high-profile woman in his inner circle that had disappeared, a woman by the name of Hope Savage. She had been with the Beats ever since Ginsberg's top player Gregory Corso brought her into their circle. She had gone to Paris and Corso had went in search of her with no luck. Ginsberg ran into her in India a few years later and was the last to see her when the two of them said goodbyes in Calcutta in 1962. However, I had inadvertently crossed paths with her wandering in a remote section of the Himalayas since then. He would have flipped had he found out about it.
Most of the Beat poets, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Carl Solomon, Gary Snyder, Herbert Huncke, and Bob Kaufman had served in the merchant marines at one time or the other. Of those six, a person I call my Merchant Marine Friend, who was sort of a prototype mentor for me during my first two years of high school, had met two of to be eventual Beats. One he had known for some time, the other just in passing. The one he knew was Bob Kaufman. Jack Kerouac he met through Kaufman, and only so briefly. l met Kaufman one day when he visited my merchant marine friend.
ALLEN GINSBERG: WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA