LETTER TO A BISHOP- PART ONE: CHAPTERS 1-9
92  Silenced Oil on Canvas 5.5′ x 3′ 1987
Having once been freed from conservative restrictions of parochial ministry, I came to feel even more repressed by the liberal attitudes of subsequent supporters.
ENDNOTES PART I
ENDNOTES Letter to a Bishop
1. D’Arcy, McNickle, THE INDIAN TRIBES OF THE UNITED STATES. Oxford University Press. Institute for race relations. Pg. 75.
2. About that place: Around the same time a famous Tibetan Lama was building a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in the form of a mandala very near that place in the wild countryside. He belonged to the same sect, the Nyingma, with which I was to study when I went to India ten years later and ten years after that, he was once again present at important moments of a return visit to India. That place in the coastal mountains of northern California is potent with herbs and energies at that time.
1. TAI CHI TOUCHSTONES, pg. 14.
2. Sifu Joseph Crandall: My then current teacher recently had stated that Tai Chi is never violent. Violence is an emotion of reaction. Tai Chi does not react. The Chi flows through the warrior detached from ardor. Compare this with the stories about the “ardor” or “heat” of such warriors as Cuchulain.
3. Beng Ming Dao, GATEWAY TO A VAST WORLD. Pg. 52-53.
4. Ibid. Pg. 110 5. Eliade, M. SHAMANISM. Pg. 3 ff.
1. Table: Altar, place of sacrifice, that is, communication with the divine. Table/altar is the place for the Lord’s memorial supper and Paschal sacrifice. This idea of the commemorative meal evoking a sacrifice brings to mind the ritual complex common in agricultural societies, (Mediterranean, Meso-America for example), from the Stone Age until recent centuries, in which a “sacred king” was sacrificed after a period of adulation, so that he could become immortal and intercede for his people with God(s) (The term in the Old Testament most often used for God is in the plural: Elohim) . Often his blood would be drunk and his flesh eaten. (Graves. GREEK MYTHS) The sacrifice was meant to produce fertility, power and well being for the culture. (See also: Zuni, “Sacrifice of the Shalaco” Parsons) The altar/table represents this divine mundane complex of relationships.
In Peru, the shaman’s “mesa” or table/altar, with its good and evil “objects” and cosmological concepts is the locus for evoking spiritual power to change and to cure or curse. In this context the warrior/shaman does battle with swords set up vertically along one edge of the “mesa.” (Sharon, WIZARD OF THE FOUR WINDS.)
From my Christian perspective, Christ, as sacred God/king sacrificed, is the religious evolution that unites this cultural pattern with the prophetic (shamanistic) tradition of the Old Testament and breaks through into the clarified arena of human potential for absolute realization– or self-destruction.
2. Charity: God’s Love. (CATHOLOCISM, McBrian) The major “technique” of spiritual realization in Christian tradition is charitable service/self-scarifice. “Nepsis” is meant to be such a good work in its own way.
1.”Changes” (Written while living in a Trappist monastery.)
Red-leafed maples have cried the death of this year’s green delivery.
Hills are mottled gray beneath the waiting of a cloud-shaded day.
It’s as if something had changed or was about to change…
within the silence
and the dying,
within the creation of fall and spring,
like a worship of holy things,
still in the singing of Godly things,
beyond earth and Fall
to spring without the Fall
and that brothers, sisters all is all… and All.
Abbey of the Holy Trinity, Huntsville, Utah. 1976.
2. Poem from post-monastery, but still very young period, while working as a caretaker for a quadriplegic artist in a studio with high skylights, Venice, CA.
I live beneath a river of clouds;
rain masses moving beyond my reach.
I watch the slipping light-boats
run their rapids down each white-capped undulation in the sea.
Here, jetty rocks hold for hanging froth,
for falling foam
from full-bent breakers,
the last leaping roar of ocean-going waves.
Sea pull your sucking best,
waves and sea–
even if you held me firm in your limpid, liquid grasp, I would from you or any holding hand, be free.
If I lived among rocks and sand,
a white cage in the driest land,
with a cold wind to tune my cry,
I would still know the rhythm of Your pulsing light,
and heave my loving sigh.
I live in a clean corner beneath a river of sky
a giver of clouds and torrents
bringer of gentle whispers in the evening breeze.
I live beneath a river of dreams–
images and vast space
crowding between moments,
feelings that hold their claim in waking,
sight beyond the grasping heart
and more and more that can’t be held
by words but only in the stillness and silence,
and roaring, crashing moan given by glacial Arctic ice flows.
I live beneath a flood of stars
knowing the daily round– the morning prayers and prayers to wash the dishes
again and breakfast
and serving it all
and all and washing the clothes
and prayers for lunch,
thanksgiving and praise the rite of it
in afternoon chores that move us into night.
(We carry our boats and move beneath a river of night a silent crew marching, marching… God knows where.)
Pluck the string,
Climate of my dreams,
sound your timbrel,
that I may sing
and river dreams
of all that is
and all, all that seems.
Venice Beach, California. 1978.
3. Energies: Prana, Hesychastic “Divine Energies,” Tibetan “Tum mo,” Shamanistic mastery of heat and cold, Chinese “Chi.” See note #12, Introduction.
4. Jung, MAN AND HIS SYMBOLS. Also in Jung’s “Commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower,” pg. 44:
“…The person who has understood what is meant by psychic reality need have no fear that he has fallen back into primitive demonology. If the unconscious figures are not acknowledged as spontaneous agents, we become victims of a one-sided belief in the power of consciousness, leading finally to acute tension. A catastrophe is then bound to happen because, for all our consciousness, the dark powers of the psyche have been overlooked. It is not we who personify them; they have a personal nature from the very beginning…”
5. Renunciation: To give up the usual involvements with culture; family, career, property, civil responsibility, so that one may concentrate entirely on a relationship with God, depending on God’s mercy and generosity to supply one’s needs. Asceticism: Techniques of renunciation. See Merton’s WISDOM OF THE DESERT, or the practice among Hindus of the “Sunnyasi.”
1. Castaneda, Carlos. EAGLE’S GIFT. Pg. 176ff. supplies the abstract of Don Juan’s scheme for salvation. In brief, Being is a rapacious eagle devouring awareness. Only the impeccable warrior-shaman can/will follow the terrifying path to freedom, knowledge and individual immortality.
Don Juan did exactly the same thing with me, and with La Gorda; he made us shift levels of awareness and told us the rule of the Nagual in the following way:
The power that governs the destiny of all living beings is called the Eagle, not because it is an eagle or has anything to do with an eagle, but because it appears to the seer as an immeasurable jet-black eagle, standing erect as an eagle stands, its height reaching to infinity.
As the seer gazes on the blackness that Eagle is, four blazes of light reveal what the Eagle is like. The first blaze, which is like a bolt of lightning, helps the seer make out the contours of the Eagle’s body. There are patches of whiteness that look like an eagle’s feathers and talons. A second blaze of lightning reveals the flapping, wind-creating blackness that looks like an eagle’s wings. With the third blaze of lightning the seer beholds a piercing, inhuman eye. And the fourth and last blaze discloses what the Eagle is doing.
The Eagle is devouring the awareness of all creatures that, alive on earth a moment before and now dead, have floated to the Eagle’s beak, like a ceaseless swarm of fireflies, to meet their owner, their reason for having had life. The Eagle disentangles these tiny flames, lays them flat, as a tanner stretches out a hide, and then consumes them; for awareness is the Eagle’s food.
The Eagle, that power that governs the destinies of all living things, reflects equally and at once all those living things. There is no way, therefore, for man to pray to the Eagle, to ask favors, to hope for grace. The human part of the Eagle is too insignificant to move the whole.
It is only from the Eagle’s actions that a seer can tell what it wants. The Eagle, although it is not moved by the circumstances of any living thing, has granted a gift to each of those beings. In its own way and right, any one of them, if it so desires, has the power to keep the flame of awareness, the power to disobey the summons to die and be consumed. Every living thing has been granted the power, if it so desires, to seek an opening to freedom and to go through it. It is evident to the seer who sees the opening, and to the creatures that go through it, that the Eagle has granted that gift in order to perpetuate awareness.
For the purpose of guiding living things to that opening, the Eagle created the Nagual. The Nagual is a double being to whom the rule has been revealed. Whether it be in the form of a human being, an animal, a plant, or anything else that lives, the Nagual by virtue of its doubleness is drawn to seek the hidden passageway.
The Nagual comes in pairs, male and female. A double man and a double woman become the Nagual only after the rule has been told to each of them, and each of them has understood it and accepted it in full.
To the eye of the seer, a Nagual man or Nagual woman appears as a luminous egg with four compartments. Unlike the average human being who has two sides only, a left and a right, the Nagual has a left side divided into two long sections and a right side equally divided into two.
The Eagle created the first Nagual man and Nagual woman as seers and immediately put them in the world to see. It provided them with four female warriors who were stalkers, three male warriors, and one male courier, whom they were to nourish, enhance, and lead to freedom.
The female warriors are called the four directions, the four corners of a square, the four moods, the four winds, the four different female personalities that exist in the human race.
The first is east. She is called order. She is optimistic, light-hearted, smooth, persistent like a steady breeze.
The second is north. She is called strength. She is resourceful, blunt, direct, tenacious like a hard wind.
The Third is west. She is called feeling. She is introspective, remorseful, cunning, sly, like a cold gust of wind.
The fourth is the south. She is called growth. She is nurturing, loud, shy, warm, like a hot wind.
The three male warriors and the courier are representative of the four types of male activity and temperament.
The first type is the knowledgeable man, the scholar; a noble, dependable, serene man, fully dedicated to accomplishing his task, whatever it may be.
The second type is the man of action, highly volatile, a great humorous, fickle companion.
The third type is the organizer behind the scenes, the mysterious, unknowable man. Nothing can be said about him because he allows nothing about himself to slip out.
The courier is the fourth type. He is the assistant, a taciturn, somber man who does very well if properly directed but who cannot stand on his own.
In order to make things easier, the Eagle showed the Nagual man and Nagual woman that each of these types among men and women of earth has specific features in its luminous body.
The scholar has a sort of shallow dent, a bright depression at his solar plexus. In some men it appears as a pool of intense luminosity, sometimes smooth and shiny like a mirror without a reflection.
The man of action has some fibers emanating from the area of the will. The number of fibers varies from one to five, their size ranging from a mere string to a thick, whiplike tentacle up to eight feet long. Some have as many as three of these fibers developed into tentacles.
The man behind the scenes is recognized not by a feature but by his ability to create, quite involuntarily, a burst of power that effectively blocks the attention of seers. When in the presence of this type of man, seers find themselves immersed in extraneous detail rather than seeing.
The assistant has no obvious configuration. To seers he appears as a clear glow in a flawless shell of luminosity.
In the female realm, the east is recognized by the almost imperceptible blotches in her luminosity, something like small areas of discoloration.
The north has an overall radiation; she exudes a reddish glow, almost like heat.
The west has a tenuous film enveloping her, a film which makes her appear darker than the others.
The south has an intermittent glow; she shines for a moment and then gets dull, only to shine again.
The Nagual man and the Nagual woman have two different movements in their luminous bodies. Their right sides wave, while their left sides whirl.
In terms of personality, the Nagual man is supportive, steady, unchangeable. The Nagual woman is a being at war and yet relaxed, ever aware but without strain. Both of them reflect the four types of their sex, as four ways of behaving.
The first command that the Eagle gave the Nagual man and Nagual woman was to find, on their own, another set of four female warriors, four directions, who were the exact replicas of the stalkers but who were dreamers.
Dreamers appear to a seer as having an apron of hairlike fibers at their midsections. Stalkers have a similar apronlike feature, but instead of fibers the apron consists of countless small, round protuberances.
The eight female warriors are divided into two bands, which are called the right and left planets. The right planet is made up of four stalkers, and the left of four dreamers. The warriors of each planet were taught by the Eagle the rule of their specific task: Stalkers were taught stalking; dreamers were taught dreaming.
The two female warriors of each direction live together. They are so alike that they mirror each other, and only through impeccability can they find solace and challenge in each other’s reflection.
The only time when the four dreamers or four stalkers get together is when they have to accomplish a strenuous task; but only under special circumstances should the four of them join hands, for their touch fuses them into one being and should be used only in cases of dire need, or at the moment of leaving this world.
The two female warriors of each direction are attached to one of the males, any combination that is necessary. Thus they make a set of our households, which are capable of incorporating as many warriors as needed.
The male warriors and the courier can also form an independent unit of four men, or each can function as a solitary being, as dictated by necessity.
Next the Nagual and his party are commanded to find three more couriers. These could be all males or all females or a mixed set, but the male couriers had to be of the fourth type of man, the assistant, and the females had to be from the south.
In order to make sure that the first Nagual man would lead his party to freedom and not deviate from that path or become corrupted, the Eagle took the Nagual woman to the other world to serve as a beacon, guiding the party to the opening.
The Nagual and his warriors were then commanded to forget. They were plunged into darkness and were given new tasks: the task of remembering themselves, and the task of remembering the Eagle.
The command to forget was so great that everyone was separated. They did not remember who they were. The Eagle intended that if they were capable of remembering themselves again, they would find the totality of themselves. Only then would thy have the strength and forebearance necessary to seek and face their definitive journey.
Their last task, after they had regained the totality of themselves, was to get a new pair of double beings and transform them into a new Nagual man and a new Nagual woman by virtue of revealing the rule to them. And just as the first Nagual man and Nagual woman had been provided with a minimal party, they had to supply the new pair of Nagual with four female warriors who were stalkers, three male warriors, and one male courier.
When the first Nagual and his party were ready to go through the passageway, the first Nagual woman was waiting to guide them. They were ordered then to take the new Nagual woman with them in the other world to serve as a beacon for her people, leaving the new Nagual man in the world to repeat the cycle.
While in the world, the minimal number under a Nagual’s leadership is sixteen” eight female warriors, four male warriors, counting the Nagual, and four couriers. At the moment of leaving the world, when the new Nagual woman is with them, the Nagual’s number is seventeen. If his personal power permits him to have more warriors, then more must be added in multiples of four.
I had confronted don Juan with the question of how the rule became known to man. He explained that the rule was endless and covered every facet of a warrior’s behavior. The interpretation and the accumulation of the rule is the work of seers whose only task through ages has been to ‘see’ the Eagle, to observe its ceaseless flux. From their observations, the seers have concluded that, providing the luminous shell that comprises one’s humanness has been broken, it is possible to find in the Eagle the faint reflection of man. The Eagle’s irrevocable dictums can then be apprehended by seers, properly interpreted by them and accumulated in the form of a governing body.
One should also review pertinent sections of books like THE WIZARD OF THE FOUR WINDS, by Douglas Sharon, for a wider anthropology.
2. Wicca: See note #1d, Introduction.
3. Other places of such power: Assisi, Kasmir, Dakotas, Olympus/Cuernavaca, Corfu, E. Turkey, Montana, Yemen, Geyserville, Tarahumara, Himachel Pradesh.
I never wanted to slay the dragon, as happens in the fairy tales. But in the myth of St. George and the Dragon, the Dragon is nature tamed by George whose name in Greek means “farmer,” or “earth-worker,” the first great technological revolutionaries. Is technology part of Nature, since we are part of Nature? Then what is the source of our current dilemma? I seek to raise the dragons of Being to aid in the defense of Creation, body and spirit, against the evil effects of … human technological genius? Something worse?
CHAPTER 6 No Notes.
CHAPTER 7 1. Krk and a dream of the Goddess and the Sacred King:
After Venice, I went to an island, Krk, off Yugoslavia. I take time and trouble here to tell this episode, only because of a powerful dream associated with this island. In the dream are delineated much of the sexual dynamic at the heart of the “problem.” I had this dream my last semester in college ten years earlier in 1973. In it I am a king in a palace on this island. I am married to a goddess. We worship her image in the form of a raised cobra in a shrine in the palace. We are attacked by a huge Navy of oar driven war galleys. The Goddess disappears. I, along with citizens, am taken prisoner. Then, there is a desire to escape to distant mountains as I am prodded in the back by the blunt end of a spear. The scene changes to Greece. War. Absurdity of Hollywood war movie mentality, vaudeville influence in media.
The final scenes involve art and a person I knew in my Art Department. The person is a friend, Russell, who lived mostly in the “other world” in real life, certainly was deeply influenced by his dreams. He was a body- builder, long-distance swimmer, artist of considerable talent. People thought that he was crazy. He wasn’t. There are so many stories about him. He drowned in the ocean a couple years after college. He is for me a call from the “other world,” the world of archetypes. The dream is really rather simple. The masculine, feminine dynamic is very strongly indicative of a spiritual initiation, to the service of the earthly divine powers. In the dream, spiritual values are over-run by the militant aggression of “world.” General popular values become misplaced and pathetic. Art is academic and elitist; becomes anemic, decadent and disregarded by any serious consideration. Russell is like a call from the other world.
It is now ten years after this dream. I had felt drawn to this island where I was provided a place to meditate and then given an understanding of the dream. This will be reinforced and interpreted later, so let’s move on. Suffice it to say now, that the interior structure of the “problem” and how to meet it is becoming clear bit by bit over a long, long period of time. The archetypal power in the dream of the Goddess and the Sacred King foreshadows the central dynamic of the “problem” to be faced in this story. Take Note. The island itself seemed to provide a place of clarity for this understanding.
There was something about the mountainous plateau of the island that made me want to go to sleep there. It was a bit of an adventure. But the Great Old Man appeared briefly, urgently urged me on.
1. White, KUNDALINI. Introduction.
2. Eliade, SHAMANISM. Foreword.
3. Lila: Game of Being. A board game from India that charts the Vedic cosmology in the form of a dice game that leads one through all stages of Being.
The title of a prayer experiment among several priests and lay people meant originally to address world peace. It started by a small gathering that met on the island of Corfu off the coast of Greece. This perhaps was the first step in a journey that led to the disasters associated with that first trip to Yemen.
4. Grace: The Spirit’s operation in the world. Divine Energies: The theology of Grace in the Byzantine Hesychasm.
5. Spirit Animal: Use made by the Spirit of creatures in the biosphere to communicate power. Perhaps these “familiars” are the Deity. Perhaps something else. Perhaps both.
CHAPTER 9 1. “Letter to the Bishop” See note #4, Introduction.
2. Master Lin, my first Tai Chi teacher, at the perfect moment advised me to be “soft” and not to seek after power. He didn’t know at the time that I was a priest and that I was just about to have a meeting with you, Bishop. So, inspired by this fine man, I was “soft” when I met with you, Bishop. It was a most successful meeting that gave me this unusual freedom to work Nepsis. For “soft” martial arts also see Ralston, EFFORTLESS POWER. Or, YANG FAMILY SECRET TRANSMISSIONS: “Tai-chi Ch’uan is the art of concealing hardness within softness, like a needle in cotton.”(!!!)
3. Now my vision is this. On my left is a realm of darkness associated with the Black Widow. This is a realm of wild power, very great, dangerous. This is the fundamental structure of creation. In the center is the sunlit land and distant mountain with family helping spirits; bear, ape, wild oats and eagle. On the right, is unknowable and amazing opalescent power.
4. Panikkar, R. THE SILENCE OF GOD. “The Buddha’s contribution to the intense religious dialogue of his time was Silence.”
Oil on Canvas 44″ x 32″ 1986
“…There is something that I should mention that I discovered about …(the) rainmaking experience in Montana. … within a week or less, his bishop had died and his family’s ranch burned down. Then, within a month, his father died of a heart attack. An aftermath of the fire.” From, LETTER TO A BISHOP: MONTANA RITUAL. S. Frost, 1990.
Oil on Canvas 24″ x 18″ 1987
An ‘artifact’ of unconsciousness after a blackout from “substance abuse.” What was the content of that experience of nothing? Pure, clean, black, refreshing space. Surprise! The other world!
Misc/65. Owl and Mouse Repaint
Oil on Canvas 44″ x 32″ 1987/12
See NEPSIS POEMS ‘72-’73, “BEGIN”
From the last section of the poem:
A moth beats its wings against the window pane.
A hummingbird sits on a branch looking from behind a leaf.
Gnats swarm in mobile circles beneath a tree.
There bursts the cotyledon
a red bud bursts
ready with pistil and stamen
a barn owl
dark shadow after sunset,
a mouse scurries through the wild oat fields
All is ready once twice again we rise
with a chorus of scraping chairs