Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Death of Our Innocence.

Today I watched the PBS movie Jonestown, The Life and Death of People’s Temple. It was a pretty remarkable film. Sometimes the right people get together and the chemistry is good. They didn’t dwell on the end.

I don’t remember where I was the day I heard about the massacre. I remember where I was when JFK got killed but for some reason I don’t want to tell you. Ironically, I was in Texas, but not Dallas. I remember where I was when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. I was in prison.

When Elvis went down I was with Gary Bonner who wrote “Celebrate” (dance to the music) and a few other things. An ancient woman opened her door as Gary and I were going up to his apartment. She was Irish. She said “Ah Gary, did ya hear? Elvis Presley died.”

All those places that I was, the things I did, the people I met, the dreams I had... sometimes it can be strange looking back on it all. There’s this person who was always me. I can remember him in many places. He was behind the personality. That person never changed. The personality changed. It was shaped by consciousness and circumstance; what happened, what got heard and the particular way I reacted to it.

I’m just some guy in an enormous crowd. I think I’m different. Most of us do. Well, we are different, unique as a snowflake. But, we have a commonality underneath. It is what makes us empathetic. Lacking that, and there are some that do, you are no longer human.

Now I’m sitting here writing this. I have written so many things and I don’t know who wrote them or why, not really. I don’t know why I do the things I do or feel the way I feel and I suspect that is something else we all share; sure, a lot of us are dead certain who they are and what they are about. I think of them as non-psychedelicized. It isn’t necessarily bad to be sure of who you are. It could go either way.

Before I took psychedelics I was delusional, in the same way that I think many people; people I pass on the street or watch from a park bench, are delusional. They think they are a particular someone and they aren’t anyone at all. That’s what I found out anyway. I found out that the ‘me’ I had been was just a particular collection of thoughts that were determined by who I thought I was. That vanished instantly and a completely new being emerged. To attempt to explain what happened to me is futile. I’d wind up making Proust look like he didn’t have much to say. Balzac?

Although I was changed, ‘made aware’ is probably a better way to say it... the personality continued to be what it was, except freer, more exuberant. There was this vitality that I had been unaware of before. I felt like I had become an old man even though I was just in my late teens. All of that veneer, the imagined weight and sorrow just melted away. It wasn’t based on anything real. Nothing that I had been thinking and feeling was real.

I had been going to the library. I lived in Washington D.C. at the time. I would sit in the library all day sometimes, reading Freud, Nietzsche and whatever heavy and ponderous things I thought would make me smarter, as well as explain to me how come I was the way I was and what did it all mean.

After the psychedelic event, these writers became unimportant to me. I had realized that it was very simple. It just was. Why it was, how it was, who it was were not important. It just was and that was a fundamental thing. Nothing else could ever have as much importance. Nothing else could ever be as real and as present. Life revealed itself as a pointless escapade; a game of solitary hide and seek. It was the personality’s world, not mine. Still, I was there and had to do something.

So, I took my personality out for a long walk called life, with mixed results. I laughed and cried, injured myself and sometimes others... did this, did that. Now I’m sitting here writing this and realizing that this will just go on until the envelope fades... until les visible is reality. Who was that masked man? Any of us could ask that question.

We’ve basically got two states. There is the state where we are occupied and there is the state where we are aware that we are. Sure, there are a lot of subdivisions but that is what it amounts to basically. That aware state is the same for everyone, may even be the same person. This is why people of a particular consciousness are aware of the same.

This is why some people freak out on psychedelics. There is this single issue of how attached you are to what you think you are. Just letting go solves that because what you really are then immediately presents itself. From wonder into wonder it continues forever. Not letting go can be really unpleasant. Psychedelicized or not psychedelicized it still goes on all through life; this letting go and not letting go. It’s all we are involved in. Where we are with that determines where we are with everything else.

Being ‘really’ cool is letting go all the time and the aptly named ‘uptight’ explains itself. What life does is push our buttons. The whole point of life is having our buttons pushed until we let go. We don’t have any other options. Death is letting go. Dying all the time is the gateway to immortality. Giving up everything makes you rich. Attaching no importance to anything besides being makes you free. We literally design our lives and... what a lot of funny architecture.

It’s because of this one thing that all of the virtues have meaning. To be magnanimous and compassionate becomes the natural extension of your being. It’s not an act. It’s the way it is. Because a lot of people don’t behave this way it can be difficult due to the personality push and shove. Simple truths... no big mystery about life except what you will never, ever comprehend. You can realize that whatever ‘that’ is, it is benevolent and so you have nothing to worry about. Do unto others makes good practical sense. It’s a law in operation.

Religion and all of the colorful garments that make up the visible life are just window dressing. The body beneath is the thing. I am fond of saying, when the truth takes off her clothes the world disappears.

We lose our innocence but... we can get it back. There is a sad irony about senility. However closely one cleaves to the essential self, however intensely one strives to let go (now there is an amusing contradiction in terms) that is the determinant of regenerated innocence or senility. We waste our lives if we concern ourselves with anything besides that which is.

Jonestown, the deaths of icons, our own personal betrayals of our essential self, the compromises and the lies, the sad appearance of a desperate world always on the verge, these things take our innocence one step at a time. What we are thinking and what we remember encloses and defines our world. Change the way you think and you change the world. We do not have to imprison ourselves. Innocence is a curious word. It means more than it seems.


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The 3rd Elf