23 December 2010

David Narby - Chapter 4 - The Crazy Cabal

I was beginning to settle down in Usu Ilimmu and had started exploring Ryarkanaglish. Even though my utility room was fully equipped with all mod-cons I was reluctant to start using them. While rambling in the village I had noticed a dingy alleyway and found a laundromat about half way down. It was called ‘Sunshine’s’, and I had started doing my laundry there. On my second visit the owner introduced himself as Shaymaas Sunshine. He was a small man with a pot belly who liked to go around with his shirt half open. I supposed that this was because of the heat. We exchanged some pleasantries about the weather and then he started talking about the Church.

“We are here to experience pain and suffering.” He said, “If we live good lives, according to the rules of the Church, when we die we will go to Heaven. If we don’t live good lives, if we commit mortal sin and don’t go to confession, when we die we will be consigned to the everlasting flames, the eternal damnation of unending torture by the devils in Hell. Venial sins are not so bad, we’ll only end up in Purgatory for those. And, if we have committed serious mortal sins, a simple act of contrition on our deathbed would get us into Purgatory and avoid Hell. Should we be unfortunate enough to die in an accident or a tragedy, then a passing kind stranger could whisper the act of contrition in our ear and we might go straight to Heaven, or only have a brief stay in Purgatory. Supposedly, everyone locked up in Purgatory would be released on the last day, the Day of Judgment. But, we could still be sent to Hell forever, based on how we got on at this final judgment. We can never be sure."

“God is always watching us.” He continued, “And if God was busy, then Jesus Christ,” as he said this, he bowed his head and thumped his chest, “was watching. They do not watch over us, protecting us. They record all our misdemeanours in a big book. When we die and arrive at the gates of Heaven looking to get in, this book is taken out and reviewed.”

I had heard all this before and was beginning to wonder was Shaymaas a little bit crazy. So I played along with him and asked, “How did all this work before there were books? Why has God not developed the technology to be able to do holographic 3D display in fast forward with stop and rewind for the really terrible bits?”

Shaymaas replied, “It doesn't matter how God knows. He knows. I see a small boy, about eight years old. He dreads Confession. It’s a Saturday morning about ten o’clock and he’s hiding out in a shed behind his house, knowing that everyone would think that he has gone out to the church early. Sitting in the shed is turning out to be worse than he had expected. He’s thinking that whatever his sins were, not confessing them will have him wind up in Hell. And even if nobody finds out that he didn't go to confession, there would be questions about why he didn't go to Communion. Anyway, after agonising over his decision not to go, and plagued by his conscience, he bolts out of the shed and charges all the way to the church. He makes it in time, just as the priest is about to close up, confesses his sins and gets his penance, which he duly says on his way home. On reflection, he concludes that being the last was much better than being the first, but he never has the courage to pull that lark again.”

As Shaymaas continued, I wondered what any of this had to do with me.

“If the cap fits, wear it. You look like a man that has lots of time on his hands.”

I replied, “Yes, I’m semi-retired and don’t have much of a routine these days.”

He said, “There are some people in the local hospital that could use some help, just a friendly ear to listen to their stories and woes. Are you interested?”

I said, “I might be. Do I need any qualifications?”

Shaymaas replied with a smile on his face, “No, you don’t need any qualifications, and you won’t get paid. The work is totally voluntary. It’s in the Regional Hospital, near Cork City, ward GF. Just go into the hospital and introduce yourself to the staff. They are always delighted to see people who amuse the patients for a while.”

Shortly after this conversation with Shaymaas I went into the hospital and after wandering around its labyrinthine corridors for some time, I found GF. To my surprise it turned out to be the local acute psychiatric unit. I introduced myself to one of the staff and told her about meeting Shaymaas Sunshine.

She started giggling and said in a derogatory tone, “Oh, yer man, he’s always pulling stunts like that. He was probably fooling you and pretending to know things about you that he gets from his ‘spirits’. He should be in here. He’s crazier than most. But now that you’re here you can go and sit in the common room. Don’t push yourself on any of the patients, allow them to take the first step. They are usually quite curious about new attractions.”

As I went to the common room, I was thinking that now I’m an ‘attraction’. What was I letting myself in for. I decided to give it a go. I was volunteering and I need never come back if I didn’t like it. The common room was a big open area divided into sections by armchairs. I chose an area with armchairs on three sides and sat on one facing the windows. It was very quiet, and might even have been peaceful, except for the screaming of a female patient in the distance. I closed my eyes and quietened my mind.

“Codish anam ditch” I heard someone very close to me say. I had no idea what he was saying.

“Codish anam ditch” I heard again and, opening my eyes, realised that the speaker was about a foot away staring down at me. I immediately stood up; talking to people at eye level had always been a standard interviewing technique. Before I could say anything, a man in the chair next to me said,

“Now Clivid don’t you realise that he doesn’t speak any Irish.” And turning to me he said,

“Don’t pay to much attention to Clivid, he’s our born-again bigot, even though he thinks of himself as a born-again Christian. He was asking you what your name is.”

“My name is David.” I replied, “I was talking to Shaymaas Sunshine in Ryarkanaglish and he suggested that I should come in here and talk to some of the patients.”

“And my name is Will, Will Helm. A good man, Shaymaas, one of our own. Most of the patients in here are short-term, only here to test their tolerance to their new medications. A few of us are here long-term, primarily because we are anarchists and don’t play the society game. We are seen by our family and ‘friends’ as troublesome and disruptive. We see ourselves as independent thinkers, but everyone else regards us as crazy. We don’t mind that, because from our perspective, the world is crazy, and being regarded as crazy by people who are really crazy makes us sane.”

I could follow his logic, and could see why most people would have difficulty with him. While Will had been speaking, Clivid had pulled up an armchair directly opposite, and kept repeating the Ten Commandments over and over.

Will said, “He’ll keep doing that until we engage in what has become known as our ‘New Arrivals Three Voice Initiation’. The fact that you sat here in the common room rather than in the visitor’s room means to Clivid that you are a new arrival. The best approach you can take is to sit still, listen and let me and Darukin over there handle the responses. Clivid calls out the commandment, Darukin reinterprets it and I give the underlying assumption on which the commandment is based”

At that, Will and Darukin pulled their armchairs in so close that our knees were nearly touching. The atmosphere was getting a little intense, and with the three of them boxing me in I would have had to jump over the armchair to get away from them. And then the three of them began to speak simultaneously. How I understood what they were saying I’ll never know.

Clivid began, “First Commandment: I am the Lord your God, and thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”
Darukin reinterpreted, “We are clearly mistaken if we think God needs our adoration or worship.”
Will said, “Separation is possible.”

Clivid said, “Second Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.”
Darukin responded, “What God is cannot be named. And since God could never be offended, we can call Him what we like.”
Will said, “Image, icon and language representations are real.”

Clivid said, “Third Commandment: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.”
Darukin replied, “God is always with us. Remember that every moment of our lives.”
Will commented, “God is special.”

Clivid said, “Fourth Commandment: Honour thy father and thy mother.”
Darukin responded, “Learn from our parents and teachers, learn not to repeat their mistakes.”
Will said, “Authority is right.”

Clivid said, “Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.”
Darukin responded, “We kill only ourselves, in thought, word and deed. Give it up.”
Will said, “Only what believes itself separate can be harmed.”

Clivid said, “Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
Darukin responded, “We are all the Sons of God, in whom He is well pleased.”
Will said, “Separate bodies can.”

Clivid said, “Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.”
Darukin responded, “Nothing of God’s can be stolen. It can only be shared.”
Will said, “Anything can be taken from you.”

Clivid said, “Eight Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
Darukin responded, “We may choose to deny the lies or the truth.”
Will said, “Words have power.”

Clivid said, “Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.”
Darukin responded, “Let her freely choose who she wants to be with.”
Will said, “Another human being can be possessed.”

Clivid said, “Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours’ goods.
Darukin responded, “We have been granted access to everything that matters.”
Will said, “More and more can make you happy.”

The three of them looked at each other in sheer amazement. Will said,

“You’re a sound man, David. That’s the first time we have ever made it to the end. Every time we have done it before, the receiver has either shouted at us to stop, run away, or Clivid picked up on their inner turmoil and started ranting and raving at them.”

I said, “But, I’m not a patient.”

Will replied, “I know, but we have done it for some members of staff and their reaction has been the same as the patients’. The idea of three voices talking at the same time is to be confusing. The object of the exercise is to overload the brain with too much information and it either goes quiet or freaks. Congratulations, David, you remained calm.”

The common room was beginning to fill up. I saw the nurse coming towards us. She said,

“It’s coming up to tea-time and I think you better leave.”

I turned around to say goodbye. Will, Clivid and Darukin had gone to join the queue for tea so  I just waved at them. As I left, the nurse came over to me and said,

“That went well. The lads seem to have taken to you. You’ll be more than welcome anytime you want to come. We like our routines here so if you could come at the same time each week we’d really appreciate it.”

I said, “OK, I’ll come in on Thursday afternoons.”

When I got home I went to my meditation room. This was a room at the front of the house that I had dedicated to peace and quiet. As part of my daily routine I had started doing a meditation first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I was feeling quite disturbed by my experience in GF and decided that some quiet time might calm me down. On the wall opposite the window, I had hung a picture of Jesus Christ, the one developed by a scientist at NASA that had caused all the controversy. I sat down in front of it and started looking at it.

It was getting dark outside, and as the light faded I had to concentrate to see the picture. As I watched, the image in the picture began to change, different faces began to appear. Some were women, some were men, some had beards or moustaches, some were clean shaven. The images kept flipping from one face to another. After a while the images disappeared and all I could see was a misty blue haze. I panicked a little, blinked a few times and the image of Jesus Christ was restored. I kept watching. The same thing happened again, except that this time the images were going from left to right whereas the first time they had been going from right to left.

As the evening got darker I could not make out the image at all. I closed my eyes and began to wonder what was the matter with me. Could going to GF have unhinged me slightly? As I sat there, my mind became calmer and calmer. After a while I began to sense a presence in the room. I opened my eyes and turned around. Mi-Li-Sam was there. I nearly jumped out of my skin. My heart must have raced up over two hundred beats per minute. Of course, I was delighted to see them, but I had got quite a shock. As they just sat there and looked at me peacefully I calmed down again.

They said, “We sensed your turmoil, David, and felt that you might need some reassuring.”

I said, “That’s true, all the people I’m meeting talk only about the church. As a result of my visit to GF today, I thought I was going crazy”

They replied, “What they are trying to do is to introduce you to the basis of your thinking and to how ideas develop, mature, get used and abused. In the beginning, there is an idea, pure and simple. The idea enters into our minds where it germinates, gets formed with other thoughts and coloured by the individuality of the thinkers. These thought-forms are passed on to other thinkers with a more concrete outlook who grasp the main outline of the idea. They crystallise it and build it into a more definite shape which is more easily understood by the general public. The idea may then get an emotional appeal and becomes public opinion. By this stage, the idea has been stepped down, has lost much of its original beauty, and is not so pure and as lovely as when it was first conceived. It may have become distorted, but it is in public use and may still be used to convey a sense of the original”

They continued, “Let’s use ‘mind’ as an example. Mind is a word that refers to that which contains ideas. But mind is also an idea. So we have a paradox. That is only because we think that everything must have a platform to support it. Take computer technology as an example - there is hardware and software. The software needs the hardware to execute its instructions. The hardware is just a useless heap of materials without the software, and the software is just a long string of code unless it has something to run it.

“Likewise, we think that we need a brain as a platform for our ideas. Without a brain in a body, thinking is impossible. This is not true. There are only ideas, and for the sake of convenience we refer to the totality of all ideas as mind. So, in that sense, we can say that mind contains ideas, but not in the sense that a bucket holds water.”

This all made sense, but I was wondering what it had to do with my recent experiences.

Mi-Li-Sam continued, “Let’s look at your experience with the picture just now. When you first looked at the picture you saw a definite image. As the light level went down your mind began to sort through your stored memories and project them onto the space where the picture was. You went through your image gallery twice and each time at the end you saw a blue haze. This blue haze is the primordial energy of the universe and is the first manifestation of pure thought. It is in everything and everything is made of it. It has congealed, coalesced and concretised into everything that we think we now see in the universe. However, it is still there, and we can experience it in everything, just like you did with the picture.”

I asked, “And what about my experience today in GF, even though Clivid, Darukin, and Will were all talking at exactly the same time I heard them as three separate voices talking in sequence?”

They replied, “Your mind made three partitions and stored each of the conversations in separate locations and then played them back to you in sequence.”

And then the three of them burst out laughing. I couldn't see what they found so funny.

They said, “David, you always want to know how things happen. You’re getting completely caught up in the mechanism of how you heard and you’re paying no attention to what you heard. We’re laughing because you are inclined to believe everything that we tell you, whereas you are skeptical about what everyone else tells you. Always be on your guard, use your discernment no matter who’s talking to you.”

I said, “You mean that your explanations about partitions is not true.”

They said, “No, they’re true is some sense, but we want you to be a little bit wary of what you believe we’re saying. Your purpose is to clear your mind of the chaos of everyday life so you can achieve a greater state of peace and inner harmony. And you are getting on very well. The fact that you could sit through the initiation today means that you are getting in control of your thinking and are gaining a more peaceful perspective on life. Being in the moment, being present is the way to experience life. Try to understand that there is really no doctrine. Today, the Crazy Cabal gave you an example of an in-doctrinated view.”

They continued “Remember, everything is based on the mind, is led by the mind and fashioned by the mind. You have started doing meditation twice a day. Keep this up for a while, but remember that the purpose of meditating with a special set-up is that you learn how to do it. The real purpose of meditation is to live your life in a meditative state. Take many moments each day to enjoy the beauty of the view, whatever and wherever it may be, and rejoice in the relaxation it brings.

Our teaching is without scriptures, beyond words and letters, pointing to the mind-essence of man and seeing directly into our nature. There are no leaders, there are no followers, we are all experiencing this together, placing ourselves in a responsive relationship with the universe.”

I said, “I have a couple of questions. What is the essence of mind?”

Mi-Li-Sam replied, “The essence of mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is mere void. It has neither colour nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains. The essence of mind is in everything, everywhere.”

I asked, “What is a responsive relationship?”

They said, “When, in conversation, if you are always thinking of what to say next you are not being responsive. You are not listening! Listen when you are talking; hear the words you say. Listen when the other person is talking; hear the words they say.”

I said, “But, the universe does not talk to me!”

They said, “Are you listening?”

And we all laughed. I thought about what they were saying. All my recent experiences had been reasonably easy, without any coercion. This was in complete contrast to the stories I had heard about esoteric students and sorcerer’s apprentices.

I asked, “Why is so much compulsion, and even violence, used to help aspirants to attain peace and joy?”

Mi-Li-Sam replied, “Some masters regard this as necessary because the ego’s stranglehold on perception is so strong and students are so hell-bent on obeying their domineering thought system that any means can be used to break it. Achieving All One Mind is just a simple matter of letting go or undoing our delusional attachment, and allowing the Holy Spirit to be our guide rather than the ego. Even though many have achieved it through the self-denial of pain, suffering, and sacrifice it was never necessary. We need do nothing! Look at the lilies of the field…”

Having spent my life being busy, the idea of doing nothing was still hard to grasp. Mi-Li-Sam were quiet. I began to wonder about Shaymaas’s story of the little boy. So I asked them,

“Does the story Shaymaas Sunshine told about the little boy have anything to do with me?”

They replied, “Shaymaas is guided by ‘his spirits’ and allows them to speak through him. They are not always right about the detail, but the message they deliver is always accurate. So, David, do you think that the message has any relevance to you?”

I said, “Yes, I had been a very spirited youth. At some stage in my thirties, I realised that my spirit had been broken. I had bowed down to the establishment. I was conforming with resentment and bemoaning my fate. Fortunately, I realised that this approach would only lead to depression, so I started looking at life with a positive perspective and got really involved in my work.”

Mi-Li-Sam said, “The Zen Buddhists use stories to get their message across. Tanzan and Ekido were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling. Coming around a bend they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross. “Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl on the riverbank,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

I said, “I like that one. It reminds me of the crucifixion. The Jews, Romans, Essenes, or whoever it was, took Jesus off the cross nearly two thousand years ago. The Christians are still carrying him there.”

Mi-Li-Sam said, “David, what are you still carrying?"

I was perplexed at this question. Having given up my career and dropped all of my old routines I thought that I had left all of my baggage behind. I decided to be diplomatic and answered,

“Not much! I think I have left most of my baggage behind me.”

They said, “But you panicked a bit when you saw the blue mist, and you got very anxious when you felt our presence earlier. You are afraid of something, you are still carrying fear.”

I was getting ready to say that I was afraid of nothing, but they continued.

“David, don’t get defensive. You are still carrying a lot of fear based baggage. There is no problem with this, it’s a phase you’ll get through. No one can get rid of the baggage for you, you have to do it yourself. There is an exercise you can do every night before you fall asleep. It is based on the idea that sooner or later you will die, and like all great events in life, the more prepared you are for it, the better you get through it. As you fall asleep ‘watch the screen’ and try to catch yourself falling asleep.”

I said, “That sounds easy, I should have no bother doing that.”

Mi-Li-Sam said, “Now, David, we are going to leave you to yourself again. When you visit GF again talk to the Crazy Cabal about the bible, especially Genesis 1:27 and Luke 10:27. Now close your eyes.”

I closed my eyes and after a few moments I felt their presence leave. I wondered would I ever get it right. I heard three voices speaking together but my mind converted it to,

“Rome was not built in a day.”
“There is no time and space in eternity.”
“Mind is eternal.”

And then I heard beautiful peals of laughter. I thought to myself that maybe Ruishk was right when he called Mi-Li-Sam the Three Witches.