Indian Mandala, New Mexico, Brilliant Passages: Conclusion
Cast the Spell, Come the Storm
To explain, from a different tact, how this story evolves spiritually, I will describe it, within the structure of a recent journey to India, to clas- sic Kundalini awakening. This same explanation will relate briefly the events of the Indian adventure, so pivotal to our progress. I was in India to complete some research for this Ph.D. program in Berkeley. This fol- lowing comparison with Kundalini and Tibetan equivalents is a potent depiction of possible Christian realization, if a Christ really is at the heart of all Being and Existence as I believe.
This resolution reduces several stories and whole religious and cul- tural traditions to a few phrases but now I seem to be rushing towards the end, no longer patient with making this kind of record or perhaps not much longer capable of it. Following the sequence in the Shrichakra mandala described in Tucci’s book on the Mandala (Appendix plate III). I interpret as follows:
1. The earth chakra, Muladhara, at the perineum and Svadhisthana at the base of the genital organs is represented by my experience with the chthonic creatures the black widow (and the vast, terrible black (snake?) that arose in my inner world, as I and my spirit guides watched, for days, its arising!) just before my departure for India last summer. In the midst of financial and emotional despair, the Widow appeared and pumped me full of extraordinary energies as the ‘black snake creature’ arose from primordial ooze to first terrorize, then carry me through the galaxy. In actuality, I went to India against all expectation and financial ability.
2. An experience in Hawaii, on my way to India concluded with, among other things, (a.) an uncomfortably, brightly active, but also pleasing energy flowing around the Manipura (naval) chakra. (b.) “We will be with you there” was the clearly stated ‘communication from those volatile islands’, that came to me while I was involved in some other ordinary occupation. Who is “we”…? (c.) AIDS connection: Articles in Hawaii papers about growing infection in the world… Reports about similar mysterious new diseases… And tragic need for population stabilization, reduction…
3. An experience in Agra, India that was so disturbing was an unrequited affair of the heart; the Anahata chakra in the heart. It was similar to Yemen experiment. Personally earthshaking.
4. News about the calendar coincidence of the earthquake at home in San Francisco and my own disturbance in Agra simi- lar to the frustrating Yemen ritual, came to me from the ‘throat’ chakra, (the voice of a holy woman, Agnes, who runs the leper colony, my friend in Derha Dun), the Visuddha, (the Word).
5. Violent headaches in Dharamsala (the top of my head felt like it was coming off as I was taken to the hospi- tal…) indicate possibly, activity in the Sahasrara or Crown Chakra being opened, at the top of the head. (The Yamataka (remover of obstacles) Initiation was being given in the Dalai Lama’s Monastery at this time.)
6. Visions from my stay in Dharamsala of the dragon- ”man” who came to me comatose; and my striking him with my staff through his forehead as I try to heal him, is the opening of the Ajna chakra, or the “third eye.”
7. Powerful energy flows from the earth through the mar- row of my skeleton preceding the terrible headaches and the visionary energy experience, at the conclusion of the India trip, of my connection with the skeletal structure of the psychic earth makes the tantric, microcosmic- macrocosmic leap. Thus, the purpose of the Shrichakra mandala is to some degree effected with the resulting sense of somehow coming of age, of elevated integra- tion, peace and normalcy, of having died, of giving up my powers, being reborn to be empowered in prepara- tion for…
This seems to be a fairly clear Kundalini/mandala experience spread over several months and thousands of miles. Kundalini power or enlightenment experiences are not as uncommon as one might think. They happen spontaneously or can be induced by difficult yogic tech- niques. (See White, Kundalini.)
As my tantric studies have concluded in India, my shamanistic stud- ies also an element of my Ph.D. comprehensives in religion and art, conclude with a stay at the American Indian reservation pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico.
In Zuni, it is the dances and some of the masks and some other art forms in the context of the larger Indian religion that take one to that ‘other’ place of ‘nothingness’ that is ‘everything.’ The old, sacred masks, when worn, confer on the wearer divinity itself. (Shalaco) The imper- sonator becomes the impersonated. In one case, the God is sacrificed for the good of all. The dances, in which the masks are worn, are danced to effect all that is good. (In that desert land rain becomes the metaphor for what is beneficent.)
These art forms help create a beneficial relationship with nature especially, there in that special ‘place,’ that I feel to be of great power. That is why I went there. There is an old Church there, a 16th century Catholic mission, in which murals of the Kachinas are being painted. That ancient building is the integration and amplification of ancient spiritual power. I celebrated Mass there several times, talked to the artist, and visited that side of pueblo often.
Visions at Zuni:
3/10/90 The Shrichacra mandala pattern of Kundalini realization identified as the pattern of the Indian mandala pilgrimage!!! (as described above)
3/12/90 Sky mating earth ritual—sense of sinking into the local water- table: connubial bliss with the water goddess. Rains follow. Meet the war god Twins from Pueblo myths. Merge with them
3/10/90—3/23/90 Battle with Steel Staff from Yemen. Weather Working: Water, Earth, Air, other Elementals. The Yemen staff is retired. ???
4/3/90 Yesterday the ritual of creating a battle mandala (‘medicine’ shield) con- tinued at grotto where the Dragon-man from India was cured. But then the steel staff from Yemen, in a spontaneous arising vision, heated to melting point and the lower half fell away through the earth to the sky below!! Now all is open sky above, sky below. Puncture through earth plane. I am still holding. Holding. I still have the glass sharp sword. (Monk becomes warrior.) If worse comes to worse, there are still the direct energies. I must disappear to survive.
Staff is replaced by large earth-red shield. I am now solely warrior. I am naked, clothed in light and dark behind shield with large glass sharp steel sword in my right hand surrounded by auras of protective mandalas.
THE FIGURE OF THE WARRIOR IS NOW COMPLETE,
and soon to launch the salvific ‘first strike’…
MANDALAS AND POISON
The human body and the body of creation engage to produce the mandala’s intention, which is justification of personality, of world, God. The aesthetic experience of the mandalic configuration is fairly elitist, since few would go to the trouble to conjure it. So in evaluating art objects, as related to this story, perhaps we could look at the painted, 3- D, or sand mandalas as psycho-active substances, from the art world rather than the plant world, meant to: 1.] aid one’s journey of trans- formed consciousness; to catalyze growth and holiness as “fetish” power objects; 2.] provide, in a ritual context, for the divine encounter with “self” and “Self”; 3.] be a “personality” to engage us in the “Grand Affair” of absolute realization.
This story is meant to function like that. Conceptually, the Mandala, like the Crucifix or the Sacraments for pre-Reformation Christians, represents the distilled codification of a vast “wisdom” gleaned from eons of cultural and esoteric redaction, to produce substances (art objects), and processes (rituals, religions), symbols if you like, that engage the divine to the greatest degree possible. Why? For Love. For the union of all things open and luminous. For complete realization, reso- lution of the divine mundane conflict. For survival.
In my own inner conflict, my personal ‘dysfunction’ (poison), and the world’s conflict, microcosmic/macrocosmic dysfunction the battle seems necessary, as this play of dualities that produces the world is nec- essary(?). The Fall, the “necessary Sin (poison) of Adam”: Necessary as the Aryans violently invading and conquering, (poison), northern India to produce the Vedas and thus Buddhist and Hindu culture. Necessary as the conflict, (poison), between Christ and Jewish/Greek/Roman cul- ture, culture in general, that produced the Mediating Church. Necessary as the conflict between the natural world and technological aptitude to perhaps realize the destiny of divinely mundane Christos; that Omega point to which spirit and matter evolve, or better, resolve (?)…
Well, at this point no one can say what that is. Exactly. No one knows what the Glorified Body is, or the Mystery of Union with God, or Nirvana for that matter. But the “way” is clear…
Something of importance happened in New Mexico in this regard. I circumambulated—drove around the Trinity Nuclear Test site near White Sands, New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was detonated. Nuclear power is the central symbol for the great technological leap forward characteristic of our age and our “problem.” Poison
My friend Fr. Chris is back in jail on further molestation charges. Poison. He was arrested in New Mexico when I first arrived there for the Zuni research. In this story, aberrant sex is the result and connection of this spell to aberrant cultural and technological use of human capaci- ties, creative powers. It triggers the great release of creative energy so that we may turn it to sacrifice and healing.
I traveled around New Mexico with a friend who had come to drive me home to California. We visit El Santuario del Chimayo. A holy place. Then we visit Los Alamos nuclear research center, which is run by the University of California. Very uncomfortable place. Evil? Then we make an unplanned return to Chimayo. Holy. (?) Nurturing place. Healing place. Then we were to go to Crown Point in the middle of the Navajo reservation, where I was to celebrate the Sunday Masses. Go through Los Alamos again to get there by the shortest route. Get lost in Los Alamos. It’s night. Drive around and around, trying to find the right road through Los Alamos to Crown Point. Psychically I am spinning a web. A trap is set? Some sort of psychic/spiritual device to control this power represented by Los Alamos? Then we find the road out.
Celebrate beautiful liturgies in Crown Point. Wonderful people there.
Finally we are ready to leave New Mexico. All the people who had helped me get to and from New Mexico faced many unusual obstacles. For example, my friend’s transmission and starter blew out on his car two weeks before he came; his driver’s license was suddenly in danger of suspension, so he had to delay coming for three days; he sprained his ankle; developed a terrible cough; infected sinus; and was troubled with high blood pressure while in New Mexico. Needless to say, I felt relieved as we finally headed for home.
But I also felt under assault psychically. I drove the first ten hours until we were out of the danger zone. It concluded like this.
I am the warrior. I am crouching, sheathed in skin-like armor of sil- ver light, behind the great mandala-shield which is on my left arm. It is being blasted with a constant assault of tremendous energy from the left. On the right, I am repulsing small shots of energy with the lower blade of my sword. As we travel across Arizona, I feel increasingly chal- lenged. Rather than be overcome, I curl into a ball, lay on my side in a shallow hole in the earth and cover the hole with the earth shield. I’m just “not there” when the light-blasting angel of death passes over.
As we arrived at my friends’ house in Southern California house, it started to rain heavily, a rare tropical rain storm, a deep blessing.
The battle (of self) still rages. And I am ready now. A warrior of the heart (self), and the body (self), dependent on the world (self) and the Holy (Self) to fashion the battle. Personal and corporate suicide is a possibility. Hell is an option. But, so is Heaven.
Thus begins the Turn of Being. This is not the end, this is the begin- ning. WE MUST WAKE UP. Thus, I have dreamed dreams of Power. Thus, I have turned in my sleep.
But, Fr. Chris is back in jail. A child molester. (God, how the media loves this stuff.) As a result, someone recently congratulated me on being right about how badly his case was handled by Church and Culture. I suppose I was right. The usual institutional way of handling this sort of case not only has little of the Redemption in it, but its not even practical. Though at the time, I didn’t have any alternative that might seem obvious now.
We “compassionately” abandoned Chris. Did all the “right”, seem- ingly compassionate, legal things. And destroyed him in the process. Left him on is own in Albuquerque, isolated in shame and compulsion.
Materially taken care of, but out of the way! After all that psychological therapy, was he healed or even restrained?
Thus we are all abandoned.
“Stephen is at the same location in the same Southwest desert as before, with the crystal skull reliquary at his side.
Stephen with great, steel, glass-sharp, sword across the altar, the “mesa,” in front.
Stephen with medicine shield, the battle shield mandala of 8 direc- tions. Baqua, Axis Mundi.
(I am in the center of the great mandala shield, now three dimen- sional and all around me, a galaxy, the universe.)
The great staff from Yemen rests at his side.
Dances the dance of swords
sends the webs of
[Having spun the web around the sacred trees of Los Alamos
I now play the webs of the Spell.] And
binds the insane Destruction And binds the Criminal, injects the poison
Dances the Dance of Swords and entreats the God of War. Is the God of War.
spins the webs of healing. Artificer tends the fire of creation;
the 5 creatures and 12 directions, dragons of water and fire, earth, air and ether, tends the weapons, warrior guards the People Spreads the Spell of Being treading twilight, Artificer watches for dawn,
Within the month of these events above, the U.S. had sent troops to Saudi Arabia to prepare for the war with Iraq. The communist party in Russia is soon to fall. But which is the most “evil empire”, finally?
“Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us…”
(The battle for the sentience of Being continues…) _____________________________________________________
…we walk along the misty beach, children playing in the distance…
Adam, Man of clay, of the earth, straining for realization, liberation. Chris, the priest=the active, mediating purpose of human identity=Christ=the Great Symbol of God=Shaman, yogi, minister, monk, Chris. Kind Chris, Warrior Chris—Buddi(y) to Stephan the Crown(Gk.)=Sanctuary, Magic Circle, Mandala, Meeting Place w/The Other World as the Non Temporal Other (half) meets Matter and Consciousness (Time) of human perception. Agnes Lamb of God
Art is everything that comes after the timeless moment of consciousness. Everything subsequent to consciousness—which does not seem to be touched by time—is a reflection about the timeless moment of consciousness stretched out in linear, temporal thought. It is literature. It is science. Art.
The scene shifts to the suffering of the world, building… building to nuclear proportions, to an explosion of white light. White, Black of a star lit night. Then white fades to mist, misty, sunny beach. Stevie and Chris are walking along the beach arm in arm. There is a little child playing in the sand. The others are horsing around in the distance. More people are scattered along the beach. We don’t know where this is.
Stephen is talking. His image is superimposed over the scene. He is com- pleting his ritual in New Mexico. He is alone, but next to him is a faint red glow from beneath a cloth. As he moves he inadvertently pulls the cloth aside to reveal the crystal skull, delicious red inside.
“Are Chris, Stephanie and the others dead? Is the baby dead? Are they in this world or the other world? Was their experience only personal? Merely deluded hallucinations? Or did it have impact on the world? Did it facili- tate our survival as we hoped? Our salvation? Their effort was total.
Who are we that we think we can effect change in the direction of Being? Who are we?”
Then Stephen starts to laugh. It’s hard to tell if it is friendly laugh or not. He just laughs, thunder rolls, lightning flashes. The dragons, a great, writhing cloud mass of tangled delight, laugh with thunder, par- ent and newborn beast dissipate into sunrise cloud. The Virgin appears, resplendent in first morning light. Then her image becomes the face and rainbow antlers of the Stag, the divine quest.
Re: Salvation outside the Church:
The Church understands itself to be the place where the incarnation takes place. And here is a reference to the shift in its ultimate sense. Just as the Church, since Origen and St. Cyprian in the middle of the third century formulated that famous statement: extra ecclesiam nulla salus [outside the church there is no salvation] we are exposed to a tautolog- ical emphasis: Wherever salvation happens, there is the church. Ecclesia is understood as locus salutis. This is the cosmic and soteriological understanding in the primordial Katholike: the church which exists throughout the universe, space, time, and eternity. (Panikkar, Bellarmine Lecture, 1991. “A Christophany for our times”, p. 1.) We are talking here not just of the organizational level of church in the Vatican or the hierarchy, or even the World Council of Churches, etc. but of the real body of salvation that is the animation and life of existence.
During my first assignment as a priest, I went to a psychologist/hyp- notherapist for treatment of migraines. He was not able to help me with headaches, but we had this interesting experience. We first talked generally about my condition. Then, about my comparative studies and like experiences that he had had while a graduate student at a major university. Then, we talked about past life regression. I felt such experience to be so subjective as to be impossible to judge as anything but an interesting psychic, probably purely psychological, phenome- non. However, since this therapist was versed in the hypnotheraputic
By then, I was already used to hypnosis. So, I followed his lead. The first image that came to mind was not a past life, but very much this life—when I was five years old: I had arrived home from school at our California ranch. I discovered that my mother was not home when I got there, which meant that I was alone on the ranch. I was afraid. I gazed up into the hills to the east. And began to cry for the loneliness of what I saw up there. My mother walked in at that point, which meant that I had not really been alone at all. She asked sympathetically why I was crying. I told her that I had seen a wolf, which amused her. There had not been wolves in that part of California for 50 years. I had not seen a wolf. But to this day I believe that I did glimpse something terrible.
Next, the therapist took me on a vision journey back through a long tunnel to a place of mist and fog. The mist blew away. I was in a pre-his- toric age. Perhaps somewhere in south central Asia or north west India. I was a shaman or yogi in a forest far away from the nearest village. I was sitting before a fire at twilight conjuring the ‘powers of being’ somehow. Then, something came for me. It was terrible. Too powerful. It devoured me.
The next scene placed me in a Renaissance Roman Place. I was an ecclesial prelate. Perhaps a Cardinal!? I was dressed in the full satin robes appropriate to my office. I was moving swiftly across marble floors. We were dealing with the same evil as above but more success- fully, given thousands of years of religious development and the Advent of the Christ.
That concluded my “past life regressions.” Genetic memory? Waking dreams? St. Paul’s “one life” lived out in various temporal modes? Perhaps, it was the fundamental religious issue deeply etched in my sub-conscious. How is this feral beast to be met? Simple goodness? Heroic self-sacrifice? I’ve done what I can, as you see…
So, Bishop, what do you think? Have I not walked the path of the pil- grim—sincerely? And like a shaman/prophet of old,—human “history” for thousands of years—have I not gone into the other world to steal fire from heaven for the sake of the people?—or at least tried to—like a priest, for the union of worlds, for the reconciliation of all things, for healing? Have I not submitted to the strict disciplines of contemporary academic and religious masters? I am mystified and challenged by the horrific element that I came across in Yemen and other places. I have taken this as far as I can without further conversation with you. I need to hear (Lt. root: ob audire) what you have to say to help determine the will of God in this, the rhythm and breath of the Spirit in this—in order to be truly obedient (Lt. root: ob audire) as I intend. So, Bishop, Over- seer of the Sacrament, Guardian of Souls—
…what do you think? Can Stevie ever face the baby’s death alone? Was the shock needed to send her into the other world or to bring her back? To do what, after all?
(CAST THE SPELL, COME THE STORM)
After setting down
from 19 hours in the air
to San Francisco
to sleep the first hours of jet lag away
“Lasher” of a storm
trunk thigh lift
strip leaves lift
and lift the air
swarm like hair
upon the shelf
let the wind blow
work its pleasure
lash the ground
sweet bright breath
clear and sound
lift the dust and rave
raise sprint high
the spirit my soul
not last my storm gusting through yours
permeable to your full breath
whip the air
papers high ( the stack
piled neatly, filed
in their sullen society
then solely membered in the clear clean sky (that morning)
between earth and sky mating a clean sky morning high snow storm of papers whipped up instead of down
“hope you have a copy buddy…”
blow the wind
connubial bliss with the wind
sin… no, no
eucharistic feast maybe
at least its a good try
earth and sky
break the heart crushing broken centuries, eons dry lake dry
for all our sakes
sate the drought
light not doubt
ignite the storm
then sweetly kiss our lips
together with a gentle fall
light drops on an iridescent day
a battle fraught with love
and fought from trench foxholes
(Hide my lady, the front is coming.)
points of passage in
this sweetest honeycomb
of mornings and misses in
this labyrinth of meaning and misses
Until the rain (sane director, ringmaster, crew) rain too full many body laid out forms some not lost yet not yet
sheath the sword
Dear my sweet Lord forgive my fears
dear my Lord…
come the storm.
red berries high branch
high piled snow
to taste of sweet salvific satisfaction
in high rhythm lilting
in high heavenly choirs
in rhythm with our
to ravish the ‘lie’
to reason and lavish dream
(for ‘I’ start to see too
So, finish the dream
for ‘I’ cannot (upon the shelf)
So, rip the wind
weather and spirit
maker of storms and climate of our dream.