Saturday, January 22, 2005

Now We Are Just Dickering about the Price.

There’s an old joke; a man approaches a beautiful woman and he asks her if she will go to bed with him for a million dollars. She assures him that she will. He then asks her if she will go to bed with him for $10.00, with a shocked retort she replies, “Absolutely not, what do you think I am?” He replies, “We’ve already established that, now we’re just dickering about the price.”

They say everyone has their price. I suppose in most every case I would have to agree. I consider myself priceless but you can have me for free.

Fame is a curious animal; truly a ‘warts and all’ creature seen in hindsight. Quite often in the immediate passage, fame is the beneficiary of real cosmetic artifice. Fame may come as the result of actual achievement but is just as easily secured by a good press agent.

Upon meeting Truman Capote, I asked him if he would like to read some of my work. He answered me in his high pitched trademark squeal, “My advice to you young man is to get a good agent.” I believed when I was young that I would achieve fame. I was convinced that certain of my talents were the equal of any man and that my message had the requisite timeless resonance. Of course, I knew nothing about fame and even less about myself. As time passed there were moments when I behaved badly; in defiance of the status quo; in misapprehension of the necessities of arts exposure; fueled by chemicals and often ignorance as well. I was lucky I had no more than a localized celebrity.

In this time, fame is generally confused with notoriety and capriciously bestowed for no good reason. It’s often a corollary to the efforts of businessmen who could never be accused of possessing either sensitivity or taste. Fame endures like infamy. Real fame isn’t the notice of the moment but rather the result of the ongoing test of time. Messages given to humanity are often understood only at a point well beyond the departure of the messenger.

It seems to me now that the measure of fame is in ‘who’ remembers you and ‘why’ they remember you. Einstein is famous but very few people know why. Justin Timberlake is famous and I don’t know why. Coca Cola is famous too, so is Disneyland, Mickey Mouse and Viagra- they’re more famous than most famous people. The highest personification of the game show host in American Idol and its many clones confers a fame that will vanish the moment the show goes away. There are skiers in Latvia; Pro Sports and Extreme Sports aficionados on everything from skateboards to snowmobiles, TV actors in a hundred countries, singers and dancers in every city, hairdressers, dress designers, paperback writers and hookers with hotel fortunes. All of them are famous in their world. There are hundreds of thousands of famous people. I live next door to someone here called Cliff Richards; I was told he is Sir Cliff Richards. I have no idea who he is; something to do with music.

I’ve been on a few large stages and I remember being struck with the desire to throw raw meat into the crowd. Once I performed at a concert attended by around 25,000 people. Some number had brought kegs into the crowd and as time passed they got drunk and
unruly. I closed out my set with an acappela rendition of one of my tunes called Alcohol. It was a huge hit, the timing was right. Drunks were screaming it out as the song progressed. Then, for the rest of the night as other artists performed, you would hear someone screaming it; sometimes several people in different locations. I think I was famous that night though I doubt most knew who I was or remembered after. No stage I’ve ever been on matches the stage I stand on every day. No stage is larger or more majestic; the grand empyrean of stars and transiting bodies and here below all brilliantly garbed in the colors and sounds of eternal shakti. And all of this is just empty chimera in comparison to what lies within and beyond.

“Here comes the Sun King- and everybody’s laughing.”

No one is more famous than The Sun. The Sun is the essence of celebrity and fame. There is no life without The Sun and everything you do and are is a part of The Sun. On the personal level some suns shine too hot and create an arid desert, on other levels the sun seems hardly to shine at all. So it is in the larger sense. It is correct to say that your destiny is to become The Sun. Every star is a seat of consciousness, a living presence that is a personalized aspect of the spiritual sun preceding all phenomena. The Sun even creates the atmosphere that protects you from it. Plants take the power of The Sun and convert it directly to energy. We are in the process of learning how to do this. All our trial and error is dedicated to achieving this.

In the deeper fabric of life there are rarified realms where millions of voices are raised in a ceaseless chant to the infinite. They create and maintain a wavelength upon which the intelligence of The Sun travels. Marvelous tapestries are woven from this ongoing song. You can close your eyes and travel right into the thanka of the Tathagata, into the living presence of The Sakyamuni and The Christ. Look upon the spiraling descent of angels from the Sun. Daily they flow back and forth upon the sublime wavelength all singing the glory of the ineffable; “Here comes The Sun King”.

Should I, myself, hope to aspire to any personal remembrance when faced with the incomprehensible achievement of that which has made out of itself every moon, every star, every planet, every solar system and galaxy; everything in everything? I am only a single grain of sand on a single beach. Every star draws from the cloud nebula new life as it passes through it. It bathes itself in itself. I become more and more impressed with the hubris of those who think themselves singular and exceptional.

If other lifetimes must come I hope I may live to sing the praises of this force which has brought me over such a distance of diminishing darkness into the gradual understanding that is like a slow increasing light. Things I could not see at all stand now in stark relief and other shapes are now dimly outlined beyond them. The anonymous melt of my tiny part into this smiling repose is beyond anything I once imagined. I suspect it is something I once feared more than anything else.

I look back at the pain and the punishing force whose intentions I never understood and I see it was all a process of alignment; of placement. What fame do any of us deserve beside the work of the divine? If I light and burn for a moment in that Love isn’t that fame enough? And I have been told that I will shine forever because of it. No, let others accept honors and awards. Let others feast at the high tower and let their names be carved in stone. I would rather move more quickly and less encumbered.

There is a joy that rises in us just as The Sun seems to rise in the sky. Every disappointment and loss in our lives is meant to be a spur to encourage us to look to where this joy rises. For now, the doorway is open only occasionally until we close it again, unable to bear that light. But once the hinges of that door are broken, once that door hangs from a single hinge, incapable of closing, then we shall be free.


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The 3rd Elf