Chapter Two


Part One

Chapter Two


In which:


-We arrive in India.

-What was supposed to happen. What really happened.

-The second dragon.

-Shivalila Women.

-The flight home: A vision.

-Who followed us home.


…This last event secured my direction toward “unconventional” spir- itual explorations, since it destroyed my reputation as a mild, mystical, pious son of the Church in favor of something that I came to view as— more vigorous. All quite by “accident.” It also seemed to release some force, including physical strength in me that surprised us all. The arche- type of the hero/warrior is beginning to have a surprising influence in my life. This includes a puerile egotism as well, but is an issue of transi- tory immaturity, not a life commitment to vanity. Perhaps, this is a nec- essary aspect of the overall task to be accomplished: Formless energies of youth called up to effect a specific, if yet to be named, intention.

My preparation for this pilgrimage to India involved much physical exercise, mostly swimming and running, as well as studies, prayer, med- itation and religious rituals. Stress on physical endurance seemed important. Then, I hitchhiked to New York. There was only one inci- dent of paranormal note in this trip across the U.S. On an evening onramp somewhere in the East, but before New York, as I waited for a ride—in complete darkness of a moonless, overcast night on this unlit onramp, I sensed a presence that described the place as a holy place of some sacred power. Dissected by the freeway! It planted a seed in me for later harvest as I continue to research the genius loci of the world, though I didn’t think much of it at the time. It was just another lonely, country onramp at night.

I met my young traveling companion at the airport. We stopped in Italy, on the way to India in order to visit Assisi, in homage to St. Francis. Just an enthused intuition that our plane tickets allowed. Our first day in Assisi led us to walk into the surrounding hills. We found a place to do an all-night vigil in honor of that great saint. We com- menced the first of several rituals and meditations. As usual it became uncomfortable. But once, about half way through the moonlit night, a very clear understanding came into my mind; “if you turn around you will see ‘them’.” So, I turned around. I saw two trees illumined like the rest of the meadow by the bright moonlight. I looked at one. Nothing. But the other… We went over to it. Did I see anything? No. Yes, there was something located on one of the branches. At best, one could say that the presence displayed itself as an altercation in space, or like heat waves rising from hot pavement. Not even that. Yet it was an undeniable presence. I made a ritual offering of some grapes. The rest of the night was characterized with a kind of gentle, buoyant elation and energy. The next day we returned to the town. We stayed for a couple of days. As we wandered through the town one afternoon, I noticed that there were many, many images of dragons. In one such instance, the presence from the night of vigil connected itself in my mind with the image of a dragon.

Believe me, I did not aspire to be a New Age Dragon and Crystal dil- ettante! But, this experiential identification of the vital life force in nature would continue to repeat itself with increasing power and effect as we continued to make pilgrimage to such “sacred” locations around the world. On the morning that we left Assisi, we walked down to the train station on the plain below that mountain town. Once down, we turned to see the town encircled by a dragon-like cloud of roiling dark reds, gold and umber coils.

This was the first conscious encounter with what I would come to identify as the Dragon Lord (The Holy Spirit of nature, Seraph, Abbas Mundi…)



We arrived in Delhi at the worst of the dry season. Because of the heat we decided not to stay on the plains very long. But instead headed for the foothills where the hopefully cooler Tibetans were keep- ing their exile. We were first to stay in a Sikh ashram, on the other side of a jungle from the Tibetan monastery where I was to study. We did so and early the first morning there, we were awakened by a young Tibetan monk knocking on our door. He was looking for someone else. We were not expecting anyone. But because of the unlikely circumstances, he considered it his karma to be my guide, at least for a while. And guide me he did. Rather than taking me to the lamas with whom I had com- municated at the monastery in preparation for my studies in India, he took me right to the Abbot. This head lama who became my “root guru” in Tibetan studies, eventually taught me the stages of initiation into a Tantric practice, Tsa Lung, including certain breathing exercises and visualization and mandala offering/meditations.

We came up to these mountains earlier than expected, so we had some free time before the Tibetans were ready to begin my instruction. We decided to visit Kashmir. I thought that I had come to India to study Tibetan Buddhism as a diligent student of comparative religion. But something else happened entirely and my lovely young traveling com- panion became the “cathartic” catalyst for this transition.

We left Dehra Dun near where the Tibetans had their camp, traveling by bus down out of the monkey-and-jungle clad mountains back onto the scorching plain. The bus broke down several times. Finally, we had to abandon the bus in a military village not half way to Kashmir. There we were told we could catch the train. So, we bought tickets, not know- ing that we also needed reservations for first class seats. Well, we were green in India, naive about so many things. For one, how my compan- ion would be treated. Everywhere she went, men approached her. (In Italy as well) It seemed like they thought she was free game. She dressed modestly by our standards, but that was not enough. I had to stay with her constantly. Also, there were other ingredients to this alchemy that are growing in their power. My young friend is an independent person- ality. But for various reasons she had to be dependent on me. It seems that as much as I wanted to be free to pursue my esoteric studies I can’t seem to avoid a pastoral vocation. In this case, I became her defender. That may sound a bit grandiose, but events suggest this to be the case.

Rather than expose ourselves to what seemed to be a rough town filled with a lot of hot army boys, she and I retreated to the train station where we had several hours to wait for the train. At first we were there alone. It was very dirty. It was hot and everything was covered with soot from the coal-burning train engines. As we waited, a lovely woman in a white sari and fragrant flowers in her hair, strolled by. Later, after dark we saw her climbing up from the tracks onto the platform. Still later, the same again. I don’t know how she stayed clean at all. But by late evening she still looked fresh and attractive. Seemed to be a successful business- woman of a certain kind.

My young friend and I stayed together and waited. There is increas- ing tension between us. She was supposed to make plans to occupy herself while I went with the Tibetans. But nothing along that line seemed to develop. Perhaps I had been too directive, or, not enough so! The journey so far had been very hard, requiring much physical and psychological endurance. She was beginning to feel the stress of that and of being in a radically foreign culture. There were many sleepless nights, and fasting. She was nineteen. This was her first trip away from home. She felt exposed here and assaulted generally. She was very anxious to get out of this town.

The train station began to fill up as the evening passed. Our train arrived at 10:00 p.m. That’s when we found out that we needed reserva- tions. They had no place for us. My companion was frantic. We couldn’t even get on in second class. We weren’t quite ready to ride on top. Others did. My friend was frantic to leave this now over-crowded place. The train pulled out without us. The next and last train was at mid- night. In the meantime we met some army officers who had traveled a bit and understood that my young lady friend was not a prostitute, and not available. They were sympathetic and tried to help us. When the 12:00 train arrived and the conductors wouldn’t let us on that one either, one of these officers spoke “convincingly” to one conductor, so we were allowed to stand in the passageway of a 1st class coach all night. My friend was greatly relieved. However, this train seemed to be the milk run. I’m sure it stopped every half-hour. The heat was still stifling, even in the middle of the night. The dirt on the floor of the car could be pushed around in waves of idle composing. Once, early in the morning, I grabbed the bars of the window to pull myself up from a cramped, seated position on a spread out newspaper. Water trickled over my fin- gers as they grasped the bar. Great! The long-awaited monsoon had begun. What a relief. What? No? I pulled myself up and looked out the window. There was no rain, no clouds even, and just the first dim radi- ance of another too hot day. The train had been stopped for several minutes. When else would the fellows riding carte blanche up on top have a chance to relieve themselves?

We arrived at the end of the next day in the wonder of what is the Vale of Kashmir. Broad shallow lakes reflect the peaks, snows, and eagles of the surrounding mountains. It was doubly a delight for the hard time getting there. We rested a bit in a houseboat lined with carved wood panels, oriental (what else) carpets, embroidered curtains. A little of that was wonderful and enough. We went on a trek in the Himalayas after a couple of day’s rest. To reach the base camp for this excursion required travel by car, horse, and foot. Base camp was a meadow located at the convergence of two rivers. We set up camp for ourselves, a guide and several horse boys. Then discovered that besides the shepherds and other nomads, was a camp of women. One of them came over to our fire and plopped herself down without invitation or greeting. We found out that she was guarding their camp, until the rest of her company returned. She belonged to an “order” of sorts, who called themselves the Shivalilas. Instinctively, I did not like her. Several more women joined her the next day. They took an interest in my friend, and she in them. They wanted her to go with them. I had a terrible feeling about them. They had a number of very pretty, blond children. That and the rugged mountains made the whole thing appealing to my traveling companion. It seemed to her that it might be nice to spend the summer in the mountains with these kids. Not good. They tried to convince our guide to help them convince my friend to go with them. The tension between us became acute. I didn’t want to be a surrogate father figure. She did not want me to be. But, I couldn’t let her go with these women. I would have to face her family when I got back home with the news that I let their daughter/sister go off with a strange group of women who proba- bly practiced illicit tantric sex and had gone native in the mountains of Northern India. It wouldn’t wash. Our guide told me of their plans to take my friend with them.

As we made the trek to a glacier, the tension between us was excruci- ating. I had demanded too much, perhaps from both of us. Or, not enough… Or, not effectively enough… Or, perhaps this was necessary for future developments. Whatever the case, we felt terrible. We contin- ued up the mountain on horseback, then on foot. My companion was behind. The guide, Rashid and I went ahead. Then, Rashid pointed the way to the Glacier. I went on alone. While I was there, I prayed, made a small cruciform mandala of stones. Then I felt a strong sense of the “presence” that I now refer to as the “dragon.” Clearly, this was the same sense of the “presence” as at Assisi. I felt that I was at the turning point of this pilgrimage. This experience was wonderful, a clear vision of the world, the presence of the heart of all things. Wonderful. Was it an hour? Two? It was seemingly detached from the melodrama that was going on below.

Preliminary to these experiences of the Holy, is frustration, near exasperation, be it ascetically produced or spontaneous. My fellow trav- eler’s importance in this will make itself more and more clear as we continue towards the end.

When I returned to where Rashid was waiting in a shepherd’s hut. He was relieved that I hadn’t been hurt by the terrible, cold wind that had blown up the valley while I was exploring the face of the glacier. What wind? It was so bad that he had to take refuge in that shepherd’s hut. Only a few hundred yards of open space from where he was, I felt no wind.

This was the second experience of the Holy Spirit as the Dragon Lord. The Seraph Spirit of Creation.

The distinctions between transcendent and immanent deity lost their significance during this experience. Who can explain or under- stand these things? But this is still only the beginning.

We returned to camp. Next morning we prepared to leave. Rashid spoke to my friend. He told her that those women probably were going to use her for prostitution or sell her to the tribes in the mountains. I also spoke to her. Between the both of us we were able to convince her not to go with those women. She might have already decided. I have a feeling that she had sensed an evil there, and so had to remain with me.

They also broke camp as we did. One group went down ahead of us. Another followed. Both out of sight. They had said they planned to stay the summer. One, whom we thought to be a witch, ran over the hills barefoot trying to get to our companion. But I was behind her. Rashid was in front. There were horsemen before and behind us.

The women had some kind of power that seemed to engulf a person. But they couldn’t get to her. We seemed to lose them in the mountains. We stopped for a rest in a village. We were in a tiny teashop, all seated on the floor. The second band of these women caught up with us. Their leader pushed her way into the shop and attacked me verbally in English. My friend said later that their leader seemed at that point to be like a great vulture. What the vulture lady called a dharma battle ensued. I am sympathetic to the dharma. It seemed to me that it was not a battle between different religions, but a battle between good and evil. The words did not matter. It was an underlying conflict. Rashid finally parted us. He took us to a different part of the village. Then we contin- ued our travel. We returned to Shrinagar. We rode that evening in a gondola-like shikara across the twilight lake of liquid silver and gold; fruit trees silhouetted along a dike; a distant mosque, dark magnificent shadow against the cloudy copper beauty of sunset. We soon returned, by plane, to Delhi, then the foothills of central, North India to Dehra Dun.

These Shivalila women had said that they would find us. They knew where I was to study with the Tibetans. The women said that there were many of their order all over India. I went back to the Tibetans and told them that we were not so concerned about the women that we wanted to leave India, we thought we should become scarce for a while. They thanked us for that, since they had enough problems. But they had felt that I was blessed for having been brought that far in my quest. The abbot gave me a white silk scarf and a vajra ring and some other gifts.

A friend of mine told us about an ashram (Hindu monastery) up the Ganges from Reshikesh where foreigners never visited. We would be safe there. So, we set off for this place of holy refuge. First to Reshikesh by bus, then up the Ganges into the mountains on a foot trail. We walked all day. Watched the monkeys play, fight, and forage in the jun- gle and at the evening of our first day’s hike found a yogi’s empty cave wherein we spent the night. I slept only because my companion took away the tension that had been collecting in my body by applying cer- tain energy techniques. That was her first time using such techniques and the effect evidenced her gift.

We continued our walk the next day and at one point passed a tem- ple dedicated to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. Ganesh represents the divine mundane connection and as such I felt a special affinity for him. Perhaps, such is a primordial intuition of the Christ. Also Ganesh is the patron of pilgrims. Prayers to him help one finish a quest. I drank from the stream of fresh mountain water flowing through the precincts of this temple. Soon after, we reached the Ashram. We were well received. A very old man was the only one who spoke English. He sang to us from the Mahabarata and introduced us to many other excellent practices of their strict observance. The ashram is dedicated to Shiva and is located at the confluence of a hot water river with the Ganga. We bathed in pools that were hot at one end and icy cold at the other. It was excellent. We stayed there for a while, then I returned to the Tibetans, and our young lady to a convent in Delhi where she would be safe. (She didn’t stay there much.) After appropriate studies with the Tibetans to learn something of the five stages of initiation into this school of Tantric practice, the Tsa Lung, I also returned home.

There are two other events that I need to tell you about regarding the progress of the story. One is about something that happened on the way home on the plane. The other is about someone who showed up in L.A. I’m including only what seem to be the elements necessary to describe the progress of my vocation as a priest.

The flight home seemed incredibly long. Forty-two hours from door to door. The plane kept breaking down. As we were flying over Greece, I had this “waking” dream. In it, I’m in the clouds above Greece. There is a great cathedral there. It is gray, but opalescent gray. So beautiful. Quiet. Silence permeates everything. I approach the sanctuary. A single file of nine hooded monks in gray robes cross the sanctuary, turn toward the main nave. The leader draws back his hood and reads some- thing from a parchment. I cannot tell what he is reading. Then, a stew- ardess interrupts and I lose the vision. I tried to bring it back later but cannot.

On the way hitchhiking back across the country, I spent a few days at the Trappist monastery in Utah. There happened to be a monk in the monastery who was a well-known Jungian psychoanalyst. I told him the dream. He said to call it back at an appropriate moment and ask the monk in the dream what he wanted. So, later when the time seemed right, I called it back. It came in full force. The cathedral seemed to radi- ate invisible energy. I asked the monk to tell me what he wanted. He showed me the parchment. On it was written the word, “FIRE.”

You will be able to interpret its meaning for yourself as the story progresses.

That vision over Greece was the first intimation that I would be “called” to Greece next year.

The last event in our story about the India trip, occurred several months later. It was December. I was back at the Seminary. I was sinking into a dark mood. My traveling companion from India called and said that she was having weird experiences, such as being pushed across a room when there was no one else in the room. Terrible mood swings. Great volatility in the circumstances of her life. Then, a friend from a Buddhist center in L.A. called and asked if those Shivalila women from India that I had told her about looked like such and such… Yes, that’s them. They’re here! My friend and I accounted that to be the cause of our current troubles.

A white magic practitioner that I know, suggested a ritual involving a protective circle of white reflective light, a mandala. I did it. Our trou- bles went away and so did the women. Some might say that such an antidote is unchristian. But I say, if you are medically sick you go see a medical doctor. Same principle. Otherwise we better give up antibiotics as well as magic. I repeated this ritual of the protective circle several times over the next months.

Sometime early in the following spring semester, I had this dream: I am to be married. We are in the Church. My family is on one side, the bride’s family is on the other. One side is good, the other is evil. The two are to be reconciled in this marriage. But, before the wedding can com- mence fighting breaks out between the families in the church. We are desperate. At this point, there is a crashing and rumbling in the back of the church. A huge elephant breaks through into the melee. That com- manding intrusion somehow solves the problem. This elephant is obvi- ously a salvific figure. Interpretation? Perhaps, there is connection to Ganesh from the temple on the Ganges. Also, there is the African tradi- tion that makes the elephant the shaman’s helping spirit. The lion is the chief’s animal, and the elephant helps the shaman, since the shaman needs powers that go beyond courage. In any case, my mentor liked the dream. This marriage of opposites, epithalamia, will become a major theme for the resolution of this story: religion; magic; maleness; female- ness; right brain; left brain. But the ‘neg-entrophy’ of divine interven- tion is an element that transcends understanding. We are truncated beings who eventually return to chaos without it.