Monthly Archives: December 2007

Vultures Copulating on The Roof: An Essay on Wholeness

I’m jotting notes at random for this essay on Wholeness and two vultures are copulating on the second roof down the ridge. iTunes is playing John Prine’s song “Illegal Smile.” I’m jotting a note about a YouTube vid on sustainable One Taste Buddhist orgasms (Jana posted it on Integral Visioning’s forum but I’ve watched only about 30 seconds of it—hand-me-down media makes my skin crawl) and two vultures are copulating on the roof down the ridge. I’m wondering if I have not lived longer than what I can afford to remember…there’s this memory here of me and John Prine standing side-by-side at the men’s room urinal at the old Exit Inn in Nashville. Prine lifts his bottle of Heineken in toast to the effluent before us and says, “It’s all pure Heineken.” Did he mean the effluent or did he mean the Whole of It All…everything Integral? Heineken was the bar special that night when John D. Loudermilk and his opener Steve Goodman and Prine who Goodman called up from the audiance and Doug Kershaw, who John called up from the audience, sang a lot of their songs and all of us ended up at Kershaw’s house, all of us, my wife, John’s wife, Kershaw’s wife and Prine’s brother too, where Kershaw, who hadn’t slept in three weeks, riffed bouncy Cajun waltzes on a French concertina.

This essay is about being Whole which is why I’ve stayed in the Integral Province so long, because I wanted to know if this place was about being Whole or at least acting as if one was. I wonder about things like that. I am wondering about this place still.

Note—Definitions: Whole means Real as in Real Being, Integrated Being. Whole for the time one has— like a fine, instinctually self-organizing process, a naturally open self-organizing process like a hurricane. Hurricanes thrill and Wholeness can thrill too. Wholeness is not particularly The Non-Dual. I did not come here in a self-organized package to always pretend I did not. I find pretending becomes a bore. (Yes, Ramana Maharshi did non-dual. Did he pretend? No. Did he do Whole? I think not.)

Two vultures on the roof. “1000 Airplanes on the Roof,” the piece by Glass, the concert at Popejoy in Albuquerque and afterwards someone in our party mentions that their Entheogen of the Week was like condensing a three day Vipassana retreat into five hours. What he took I cannot recall for I have no taste for Vipassana. But I have a fascination with Wholeness.

Note (the jot just below the jot on the YouTube Buddhist Orgasm Sutra)—”Wholeness is not a product of meditation…it is a quality that comes with being born.”

Below the kitchen window, below the vertical back yard, a narrow, battered road runs a few kilometers in from its fork off Carretera Panamericana, past Sr. Luna’s body shop and snakes into a barrio called La Matica from whence comes the rarely ceasing Afro-Cuban drumming of Caribbean Christmas songs. Early risers trudge to work, night-timers are trudging home. A man in Hawaiian print Bermudas and a wife-beater slips into the rancho across from the body shop. I make mental note to:

Note—Wholeness. Born from the stuff of world, the Whole Being freely wanders waist deep within it, fulfills all the world stuff, all the stuff required; no resource ignored, no faculty unindulged. There’s this memory…Max’s Cafe, I’m with two other writers and a photographer and the three of them are talking about the photographer’s curious times with Ali in Zaire, but I’m flirting with the only waitress around who still has all the teeth one should be able to see. She’s flirting back from behind the counter. She used to run with the Texas song writer who’s at a table between me and her and she and I are feeling deliciously brassy but he’s feeling badly left out and dangerously Texan; looking huesos at me as they say in the north. He’d written, maybe not too long before, a line that sang thus: “Too far and too high and too deep ain’t too much to be. Too much ain’t enough…”

Thought at the kitchen window…Too much, anything less is a partial life, not the Whole, not the Real…no self-respecting …. will ever choose partial, or decline to be a fool for love, or ever stop contesting against the wind, or and or…and on and on like that.

Vultures on the roof and Nicole on the YouTube, One Taste, Cum to Buddha Teaching lets us know that she has had mind-bending realizations in Buddhist retreats…she says nothing of Vipassana…but realizations, alas, that are unsustainable. She says “…as soon as I went into the supermarket they were gone…” So we’re at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the boats are beached, the sun wanes and Ann Shulgin, cuddled up to Sasha, is talking about how “you” (meaning her and those who have no doubt been there too) are standing in a prolonged state of samadhi at the supermarket check-out where everything remains ecstatically WHOLE and sustainably CLEAR to you (and her), but the only thing clear whatsoever to the surrounding throng is the fact that “you” (being her) are not one of them.

Note—“Wholeness is not synonymous with samadhi. The absence of samadhi does not mean the absence of Wholeness. The presence of samadhi does not mean the presence of Wholeness.”

God knows that Ann knows that samadhi can be chemical, can be self-hypnotic suggestion, can be conditioning, can be brain-wash, can be pathology and always has more to do with the endocrines than the spirit. Samadhi is contextual and contingent. Wholeness is not burdened by such qualifiers.

Note—Wholeness is not a state of consciousness. Consciousness is not large enough to hold this state of being…not even in samadhi, not even in Buddhist retreats…retreats are for spiritual matters and Wholeness has but a single thing to do with spirit…being its often uncredited source. To spiritualize the Whole of one’s being is to imprison one’s body in a cage that it smaller than it is.

Note—”Unless you realize you are unimaginably All-that-You-Are the whole of the Other-Out-There is a projected illusion. No matter how many needy orphans scramble to find the phantom mother, the outside search for the integral womb is futile. The outside finds are always frauds. When you are One with the All-From-Within the Other- Out-There may be whole or may be not…irrelevant either way.

M has been reading Bhagavan Das and thinking back. The two of us are easing toward sleep, her head, my shoulder conjoined. She wonders why he or anyone else wants things to have meaning when meanings just enforce limits.

From M—Wholeness: no limits, no meaning. Make a note of it.

Standing on the roof of the National Cemetery Administration, downtown Valhalla. I’m looking at an inevitable death in the sky above and I’m just inside those gates myself. I indulged a risk in Nambe, NM earlier and now I am seemingly elsewhere. I’m invited into a majestic glass, steel and rock tower off an Elysium-esque boulevard by a fat little hard-bitten man in a shabby suit and tired Hamburg. He wants me to meet the Head Grave Digger, the Lord of Death himself. On the building’s PA system we hear a radio interview with the Lord. He sounds unctuous; telling how he feels such an obligation to every fallen soldier within the administration’s care that he personally visits each grave in a 20–year cycle to make certain the dead are well respected, faultlessly attended. It was not a live broadcast because here he comes down the hall, alive as I may or may not be, to greet us. He is not unctuous. He’s dangerous, combining the total essence of every executioner and hit man and assassin who ever drew a weapon. But he is friendly, authentic and honorable beyond the need to be, trustworthy beyond the need to be and more than likely to kill us all without a second thought. He wants to show me something, escorts me down the hall, bows me into an elevator. The second I step into the car the left hand wall of it curls slightly and rolls into the space like a stainless steel Tsunami. I’ve been suckered into almost certain death, but I spring to the rear and it barely clips the back of my jacket. I turn to see how the Lord and the Shabby Man fared with the wave. But they are still standing in the door. They nod approval—I pass the test, I’m still on my feet. We ride to the roof and they show me to an observation deck and I see Her. She rises above this building by two stories at least; the Supreme Valkyrie—Liberty, a statue. She holds her torch straight out in front, not a stationary beacon but a dynamic guide-light. She is constantly cared for by the warriors of the Lord, those who ride in his wild hunts and who will die with him in Gotterdammerung.

Comes the PA again: News flash, warning, look to the sky for inevitable death. Ground control radar has picked up a military jet fighter and a little private single-prop on a collision heading and they’re past the point for evasive acts, both men will die. Don’t get hit by falling debris. I look up just in time to see the fighter pilot—within inches of the other—roll the fighter into a spinning dive toward safety, a trick that flouted the laws of physics. No one dies this day. Apparently I have seen all that has been intended for me: She and that ferocious act of will. The Lord and the Shabby Man walk me to the elevator, we exchange sly smiles at the door as the steel wave rolls, we ride to the ground floor. Before the Shabby man shows me out of the tower the Lord of Death tells me now I can come and go there as I have need to. For one inclined to shamanic sensibilities, who could ask for more?

I regain consciousness sometime late that night. I have not been anywhere except a little deeper into The Whole, closer to my source to life and death. The Lord, the Shabby Man, pilots and warriors and ground control, Liberty, the tower, the city—all are currents within this flow, this Whole. Where does it go? How is it mapped?

Note—”WholenessWe don’t need no stinking maps!”

Whatever Gets You Through

A Soap in One Prologue and 11 Lines


To live sanely is to limit the awareness. It is to draw back from the incoherent cusp of each on-setting moment to organize snippets of conditioning into sheltering illusions and idealized blinkers. Enough of these patches can be cobbled together into a process that one can call their own perspective; a discreet, serialized narrative that is manipulated to function within others and around others—currents knotted on currents—and function smoothly as long as one can pretend it is non-fiction. To live sanely is to suspend disbelief in the Inner Disney, the master of make believe and author of The Cautionary Tales. Sanity depends on how closely one attends the Inner Disney’s Cautionary Tales.

Act I

One — “I’m afraid…”

Another — “Tell me.”

One — “…of the chaos out there…”

Another — “The chaos within?”

One — “We can only hope for Integral™”

Another — “Oh, but Darling, how can you sacrifice your authenticity, your heat, for such a…a…clunky…I don’t know…oh god…it’s a cloister!”

One — “I need to gain control again…” (sobs)

Another — “But there are others…other sheltering illusions.”

One — “What? Existential Phenomenology? It’s too sad. It’s too scary…too real…so close to the edge. We have to fall back! I’m frightened.”

Another — “I’m afraid…”

One — “Tell me.”

The Scene

Outside: Reality remains the same as it has always been—but that’s an incidental matter.
Inside the Tale: Their content is nothing, their style is all.

They are trembling through the night.