Reflecting

Sorry for my relative absence, I haven’t been terribly well lately but I feel like I’m improving somewhat as I’m no longer in searing abdominal pain and my appetite is returning slowly but surely.  I was literally one day from going to the doctor when I started showing signs of improvement; I might still go to the doctor if I have any significant downward turn or return of symptoms.

Assuming I’m right about having been Philip K. Dick in my previous life (there is forever a shadow of doubt which I have elaborated on to great length elsewhere), I would have been 87 years old today.  For some reason my birthday this year has had more resonance with fans than last year, or so it seems.

It doesn’t help though.  I meet 87-year-olds occasionally, and if I could have stayed active the rest of my life, like Bradbury (who finally broke into mainstream fiction and script writing), I could have left a bigger, better legacy.  I could have lived to go from Cassandra to living prophet, and I could have possibly had some pull, as a public figure, in the outcome of things like the 2000 elections or the run-up to the Iraq war, or the rise of the technological dystopia I predicted back in the 1960s.

Instead, I’ve been bumped back to Cassandra status and I’ve been feeling so helpless lately.

Perhaps in desperation then, I took part in a ritual on Monday to summon an angel said to bring to light solutions to questions of a civic nature.  My query, of course, was what my best contribution to helping the world could be.

The angel in the vision was a beautiful one.  She had two forms; one was that of an eye in the center of a majestic whorl of wings.  The other was that of a beautiful black woman, full-figured with a round face, who was dressed and groomed like a Nubian queen in a flowing robe of purple, like a Madonna icon, but who carried herself with the enlightened humbleness and sure-footedness of a Boddhisattva.  She was the very image of wisdom, beauty, nobility, and benevolence.

Most of the vision felt like I was trying too hard; the images were beautiful but meaningless as far as I’m concerned.  I think my concentration was broken by my general illness and hunger. But the initial vision was one that seemed genuine since my query hadn’t been about past lives.

I was back at the house in Point Reyes Station, stepping out the door.  This was after Anne and I had separated, around 1964-66.  I know this because had my little VW there in the driveway, waiting for me.  I was wearing a button-up shirt.  I had a letter in my hand and put it in my shirt pocket.

I was frustrated at first to get a scene from any past life, because I hadn’t asked for that; much less for a past life where I was an addict, perpetually broke until my last few years, a terrible husband, and a terrible father (at least in my estimation).  I took the letter to be more symbolic than literal, a reference to the later verses of the Hymn of the Pearl which seem to be an ongoing theme in my reflections on that life.

I initially rejected the apparent message of “keep doing what you’re doing” because I still feel like I’m in a rut repeating a slightly less tragic version of the same life.  I don’t want to be that any more.  I want to be a living saint because the world needs living saints.  I feel like that ship sailed in 1982 and I came home from the ritual in low spirits.  My physical illness got worse and at one point I was in the right mind to die, which is to say thinking of how to make it easier for my fiance and thinking of returning to the true light instead of returning to this world of pain.

Today, the illness finally seemed to break somewhat, and without searing abdominal pain to keep me from sleeping on it, the thought occurred to me that I need to keep prognosticating in my writing, even if it seems like I’m beating my head against the wall.  I need to take care of myself, so I don’t die at 53 with so much work left to do.

A friend who has read my book about queer academics caught up in the machinations of a ruthless dictator from the world of corporate raiders put it best: “It seems your days as Cassandra weren’t altogether misguided after all.”

Perhaps this life is my chance to actually make a difference with my predictions instead of being recognized too late.   At least, I have nothing to lose by trying.

How It Would Feel

Tonight I took on a question that left me feeling more at ease with the idea of reincarnation than I’ve ever been.

I asked myself, if I had been Buddha in a previous life, how would I feel upon suddenly remembering that?

And my first thought was that if Buddha reincarnated at all, then he failed, miserably.  After all, his stated goal was to escape from suffering by acknowledging one’s true nature and escaping after death into a state of complete singularity with the universe.  To be reincarnated again and again for what would have to be thousands of years by now, would be the exact opposite of what he sought to do.

My second thought was that another chance to see the matter from a new perspective is always a good thing, and that, though even Buddha could be wrong, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

We have been sages before and forgotten ourselves; even a most sublime son among philosophers could do the same.  And that is what makes us all equal and grand and full of un-tapped potential; we don’t know the strength of our own souls.  A Buddha one day, an ox-herder the next.  Back up through the Ten Bulls again, to rebuild the house one level at a time.  But there is beauty even in that because what we build the next time is even greater than what we built the first time.

Then I had this incredible flash: perhaps enlightenment is not a fixed point but an ever-extending thread of Gnosis back, by and by, to the true nature of things.  Perhaps Buddha’s insights were only a way station onto something deeper, and that Buddha could reincarnate having still succeeded in advancing the human spirit.

Say for example that the early observation by Hermes Trismegistos that “that which is above is that which is below” was merely an early breakthrough.  When this truth became apparent to those who heard it and meditated upon it, they were ready for greater revelations.  So too with every other point about the universe that has been understood to be true.  As the human spirit accepts new ideas, it develops a tolerance for newer, bolder ideas and is forever forging into previously-inaccessible reaches of Gnosis.

I must stress that I do not believe and am not seriously suggesting that I was Buddha and failed to achieve ultimate enlightenment; only that I feel that I have reached a point where I’m so accustomed to weirdness that it just wouldn’t bother me if I was.  There’d be fuck all I could do about it, except smile, laugh, and say “Well, the joke really was on me” before simply trying in earnest to live mindfully and compassionately.  The wheel turns as always, and all is well.

 

The Nautilus

Video

The nautilus is what scientists call a living fossil. It is a very primitive cephalopod, a relation of squids and octopi. A little over a hundred million years ago, most of them evolved beyond the need for shells, but the little nautilus didn’t have to change a whole lot; it’s almost the same way its ancestors looked when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

To think the sea once teemed with such creatures, some in large sizes and with magnificent, long, swordlike shells.. Now all we have are the broken and colorless shells of these early cephalopods. I have to wonder what sort of amazing colors their shells might have been before fossilization left us blank casts of them. The sea really lost some of its splendor when the rest of the cephalopods evolved away from the need for shells. Then again, they’re a remarkable order in their own right and might even replace us one day, seeing how adaptable they’ve been.

Sometimes I wonder about where I was when creatures like these were the dominant life form, if my ideas about reincarnation are correct. Does the soul have a definite age? Was there some spark of being that would some day become me there, in that primordial sea? What was I? A curled ammonite? A gracile orthoceras? Or perhaps I was only a humble little trilobite grazing on the detritus from their meals. Or perhaps, the thought or wavelength or big steaming ball of dukkha that became me hadn’t broken through into existence yet.

I’ve had intuitions- and vague ones- of lives as creatures in the Pleistocene (as an ant and a mastadon) and the Devonian era (as an early sort of bony fish). But I don’t really trust these intuitions because I have no memories I can trace. For now, I consider my disposition in pre-human times a mystery that will probably never be solved.

Still I wonder… Where was I when the seas teemed with colorful shoals of creatures like these? Was I there?

Just a “Mulligan?”

I had a thought today that really made me stop and consider life as it is.

Supposing that this life is just a “mulligan” for the mistakes I made in the last one, and this time I have to get it right?

I know I managed to get reincarnated once, but maybe that’s all there is.  I suppose the “live every day as if it were your last” thing still applies since I still don’t know if I have another one waiting for me when this one’s over.