Monday, August 31, 2009

Roads & Maps

Getting Hitched By Love I made it back to Moab a couple days ago! 
I hitched out of the Gila wilderness a couple weeks ago. Funny, my first ride was from the son of one of my good friends in Moab! I had never met the son before! 

My next ride was from a 40-something guy named Fred, and he took me to Alma, New Mexico (near Glenwood), and asked me to stay with him for a few days. It was grand getting to know the local cowboy folks. I even donned my cowboy garb (including those boots I had found in the Gila), listened to a lot of country music (and loved it!), and worked my ass off. Fred & I became good friends, & we were both sad when I had to leave. I hope to go back again sometime. 

Another really nice 40-something guy gave me a ride all the way to Springdale, Arizona, & left me with some Christian literature. A couple took me a short ways to a turn-off to Zuni, NM, out in the middle of nowhere. There was so little traffic I thought I'd be stuck there for days. But then a 60-something Roman Catholic priest, dressed in his backwards collar, picked me up & took me to Gallup, NM. Then I got a ride into the Navajo Reservation from a 50-something man who said he knew Ram Dass. He told me he also went many years wandering, carrying a change of clothes, sleeping bag, & a Bible, with no home base but Rainbow gatherings. 

 A 40-something Navajo man took me all the way to Shiprock. He lived in Gallup but was going to his daughter's soccer game near Shiprock. We talked about world travels, cultures, and world religions. Really brilliant man. He said he used to be a Pentecostal, but has since expanded his vista. He gave me half his burrito. A 20-something Navajo guy then picked me up & went miles out of his way to take me to the Colorado border. He was a fire-fighter & paramedic, & told me one exciting rescue & adventure story after another. Then a 50-something Ute man brought me into Cortez, Colo, where a 40-something couple took me all the way to Dove Creek, Colo. 

Then, lo and behold, I got picked up within 3 minutes by a 40-something man named Jose from Paraguay, going all the way to Moab on his way to Salt Lake City! He & I hit it off really well, chatting the whole way about everything you can imagine. We even made it to Moab before dark! 

I haven't even made it back to the cave, yet! I found a new campsite nearer to town, where I'm parked until I get it together to head further out. 

"Give Me Neither Poverty Nor Wealth" 

My life feels so rich, now. Like the richest man on earth. I don't always feel this way (I sometimes find myself getting pissed off or discouraged, of course) but I usually do feel rich - yes, more often than not! I can't figure out if my life is so easy or it's so hard. I don't even know the difference between easy & hard anymore. I don't even know what an ascetic is supposed to be. 

If I went contrary to my instinct, against my soul, for the sake of earning money, then I would definitely be a self-torturing ascetic. And if I had too much food & luxuries (addictions that abuse the body & mind) I would definitely be a self-torturing ascetic. But, also, if I did not take enough and starved myself and wore hair shirts for the sake of a hungry god of my own making, I would be a self-torturing ascetic. Take only what you need, no more, no less, and all your desires become fulfilled - desire ceases to control you. Needs and desires become One. If everybody took only what they needed, no less, no more, then the human world would come into balance as it is in the non-human world. This is no statement of genius. It's such common sense, so very simple, it's almost absurd I have to say it. But our world has lost the most basic common sense. 

That Ol' Dragon 

In the last blog entry, I talked about brewing visions of the world Dragon, of banking interest and the interest inherent in all of nature. It's still brewing, & it's exciting. But it's not ready yet. What's intriguing about old religious stories, myths & legends, is that the theme is constant: the little conquers the big, and the little becoming the big. The little guy and the dragon, the little guy & the giant. The little desert tribe conquering the Land of Canaan (Canaan literally means Commerce!). Canaan, full of Giants. And what life form doesn't begin as a tiny seed or zygote? 

Faith is the vision of the seed, the tiny becoming big, and all of nature runs on faith. It is also natural for those who lack faith to laugh at the seed. Their laughter is also part of the fun. The Tao wouldn't be the Tao if it weren't laughed at, the Tao Te Ching states. Little do the faithless know, the genetic code of a cottonwood tree is hidden in a seed as tiny as a flea. 

Finding a Roadmap in a Lost World 

Some man from India just emailed me some wise words and ended up saying: "The problem is that you are an example but not a road map. You need to provide a road map so that man kind can penetrate into animal kingdom of the market. If you have opened up a road and letting people realize being man instead of animal, you truly served the purpose of your life." 

My reply (a bit revised): 

  "I keep getting glimpses of a road map, but it is still too incomplete to present to the public. Also, everything must happen one step at a time. First, be an example (prepare the ground), then plant the seed, if it is the divine will. There are too many road maps & advisers flooding the world, but few examples. The example must come first. Even if my example is not very good, it has to come first & develop. My example is still a child learning to walk, stumbling as I go... Like anybody learning to walk, I get laughed at, but also praised. Following a map is useless if we don't know how to walk. If it is the divine will, may the map come more clearly and may we be able to follow it, my friend." 

I'm in the spotlight now, and I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this rare opportunity and totally enjoy it. I'd also be a fool letting it go to my head. If we've been given, by grace, bright peacock feathers to strut, why shun them? But also why forget they are a total gift and get arrogant about them? They will be gone someday, and our bodies will return to dust, as everything will, and a million years from now we specks of dust will all be forgotten in this infinite universe. 

Pray for me, to stay on the Middle Path, and to relish it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gila Healing

I just crawled out of the Gila wilderness in southern New Mexico, living with a primitivist (I'll call him "M"). Now I'm at a computer in a little public library. Culture shock.

Funny, the first woman I met in Silver City, at an Indian music kirtan, knew of M & his friend with the burros. Then the guy who gave me a ride here from Silver C knew M personally, & directed me to his camp!

M is a guy my friend Prema (formerly known as Gillian) has been wanting me to meet for a couple years. When I finally met M, I understood why Prema so wanted us to meet. I think I didn't really come to learn new skills, but to understand his spiritual presence. And he has a deep spiritual presence - quite astounding.

M is 40-something, soft-spoken, & lives with more grace & light-footedness than most if not any body I've ever met. He is the epitome of patience & living in the present. He doesn't seem to give a hoot about religion or consider himself on any spiritual path. That's what makes his path pristinely spiritual, in my eyes. His camp is pristine, like a Zen temple. And everything he makes is a total work of art. M is gradually replacing everything he brought from civilization with what he makes himself from his local natural environment. He makes his own gorgeous pottery & fires it at his campfire. He makes his own cordage, weaves beautiful baskets, made his own shoes, built his own bow & arrow, his own hut, table, chairs. The list goes on. Everything he does is to perfection - perfection in the way that Nature, not Babylon, defines perfection.

But M is new to the area & isn't any more skilled at living off the wild land than I - as far as eating goes. So I didn't learn much new skills in that area & was pretty much on my own.

M has close connections with an "intentional community" across the river, though he is not a member of it. He shares farmland with them and grows his own grains (wheat, rye, millet) which he harvests by hand. He is super generous & was always giving me food. His cooking is a work of art, too. What isn't?

Credible Edibles
I myself ate only wild edibles quite a few days, and I must admit I've lost a lot of weight. It's a good thing. The beginnings of my mid-aged paunch are now gone. I've eaten lots of mesquite, some honey locust, wild grass seeds, cholla (starchy cactus fruit) rattlesnake, fish, amaranth greens (seeds not ripe yet), acorns (the kind you don't have to process), black walnuts, & berries (I forget the name).

The bugs are relentless down there: mosquitoes, chiggers, ants. That's been the hard part. The heat gets pretty bad at mid-day, but frequent river-dips remedy that. And there have been short, cool monsoons in the afternoons.
This all exacerbated my bouts of chronic fatigue. Yeah, bouts of extreme fatigue have been my little trial for decades (& living moneyless hasn't made it magically disappear). But it's my Teacher, & teachers stick around until our lesson is done.

Into the Wild Gila River
M's friend (who also seems enlightened to me, though I didn't get to know him much) told us about droves of acorns way up the Gila river. So, a couple days ago, M & I took a trek up to find them, camping overnight. I was a bit concerned, because I really had little food & not sure I could do it all in my sandals. But I didn't say anything. I just kept reminding myself that "all these things shall be added unto you" if I not worry. Besides, we were heading to the alleged "abundance of acorns". So off we went.

I found tons of super-sweet mesquite pods & chewed them the whole way, feeling not a bit of hunger. My sandals held up well, but my feet were pretty scratched up by the time we reached our destination. There was an abandoned camp ring there, &, lo & behold, a pair of perfectly good boots hanging, just my size!

There were lots of oaks, but all the acorns were gone - eaten by critters in the desert competition. That evening I toasted a few wheat berries M had given me days before, and a bunch of grass seed I had collected. I also ate lots of mesquite, again. And I pulled out a fishing lure I'd found & caught a fish. I felt great. In the morning, M insisted on giving me cooked rye cereal, which he had too much of. I had boiled a sweet milky syrup from the mesquite & carried it with me. We headed back. I came across a rattlesnake, knocked it in the head with a rock, & ate it. Rattlesnake has a texture like, & tastes like, calamari (squid), and peels off like string cheese.

Night Visions of a Dragon
The trek was incredibly gorgeous & wild. That night we camped I felt high, sleeping sporadically, interspersed with amazing dreams. New revelations were coming in the wee hours of the night on charging interest & world religions, believe it or not. Everything nature produces is interest bearing - an observation I've tried to avoid thinking about in my opposition to banking. But now the answer was crystallizing in me, and the idea of interest in the Torah, as well as the idea of Yajna (sacrifice) & renouncing the fruit of action in the Bhagavad Gita & Upanishads,& how Jesus often uses the word "lend" rather than "give" in his teaching. It's blowing me away.
But there is also something quite frightening about all this. We're getting to the Heart of the World Dragon, and do we dare stab it? I realized then I had to move on out of our wilderness refuge & go back out & help deal with the Dragon. Part of me is really reluctant, & part of me is excited to no end, & kind of scared about what's happening.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sitting in Silver City

Publicity, Dancing, & Credit 

Now I'm in Silver City. I have lots of computer access at the U here, so I decided to stay a couple days & catch up on emails before heading "into the wild." But the internet server here was down yesterday.

I'm trying to get used to the sudden publicity & the plethora of emails & comments (both loving & hateful). Thanks for them all, but please understand I usually get little computer time & hope I can read them all & maybe even answer them all. 

Maybe publicity will spoil my path. It can be an ego trip. It seems incongruous with this lifestyle, doesn't it - whatever "this lifestyle" is "supposed" to be, huh? But it's only natural to get a kick out of it, whatever. 

Really, it's true, deep down I don't always live totally without money. I have hypocrisy in me. And I'm not talking about what people keep saying is "mooching off the products of money, like computers & libraries & dumpsters." I can't find any contradiction in that - being like the raven or the bacterium - using what is freely given or freely thrown out, what is released from obligation, debt, making no value discrimination between a pizza or a corpse or a nut. But I'm talking about what's within. I still find myself doing things for self-credit, doing things not out of natural instinct but to get credit, or out of a sense of debt (obligation), rather than from a sense of love. Self-credit is money & money is self-credit. And I deal with this dilema sometimes writing this blog. A dancer deals with this when he dances: "Am I dancing out of the passion of my heart or am I dancing to get credit from spectators?" But does this mean the dancer should stop dancing before others? Should I stop dancing? Should a flower stop blooming? 

However, your work in secret, done for no credit, is what is eternal. Since it must be unseen, of course, you risk being called lazy. And those who judge you as lazy want more than anything for you to expose your work, to give yourself credit so they can praise you, so they too can give you credit, and thus forfeit your eternal substance. 

If you did things for no credit, nobody would know, would they? This is the comical paradox. 

The nations of the world run on working for credit. But don't be like the nations of the world.

Musings on Hitch-hiking

I'm in Silver City right now, probably parked here till Tuesday, then "into the wild" to hook up with a primitivist I'm hoping to learn from - like better how to live off the land.

A couple weeks (?) ago, after meeting James at the airport in Albuquerque, we camped in the woods by the Rio Grande for a couple days. James started teaching me Tai Chi. I had never realized you could touch the face of God through Tai Chi. This is what James came all this way to impart to me. He has an understanding of the Bible & other world scriptures & religions I've rarely seen before. We feel like we've known each other forever.

James & I got a couple rides all the way to Las Cruces. The first was from a Mexican American who told us he always picked up hitchers. He had gotten stranded once and had to hitch and not a soul would stop for him. Now he doesn't want others to go through that. I hear that story often.

We tried to hitch out of Las Cruces on I-10 for nearly 2 days in the blazing heat, and not a soul stopped. We got a lot of honks and heckles though. James started getting really sick and we walked to the rest stop some 3 miles west of town. Before sunrise, James was getting deliriously ill & couldn't sleep & said he didn't think he could make it through another hot day. He didn't think he had the strength to walk to town. So we tried to get a ride for him at the rest stop. Not a soul would help. Everybody said they weren't going to Las Cruces, but it was the only way you could go from the rest stop (it being one-way). Finally, I stashed my pack there and carried James' pack, & we slowly walked into town as the sun was rising. James called his wife & she booked him a hotel & a plane flight back home.

I felt sad & upset on the one hand - like the rug had been pulled out from beneath us. And I was upset about the lack of help from fellow human beings (& in the heat of the moment I went to the U & wrote an impassioned blog entry, which I later deleted). But beneath it all I knew it was the Divine will, and I felt intense peace. 

Most everybody gets to see life from the viewpoint of the driver, but few know what it's like to be a vagrant or a hitch-hiker. Drivers are scared, based on some truth, but also overblown statistics & sensational media. I understand the fear. I've been both a driver and a hitch-hiker. I myself passed up hitchers in my driving days, and I picked up droves of them too, all without incident. But my friend could have died out there. James & I even asked ourselves, would anybody have stopped if James' corpse had been lying on the ground? People have pointed out that I am voluntarily living this way, and nobody owes me anything. Yes, nobody owes me anything. If I am speaking only about myself, then I am speaking selfishly. And what if I am? But consider that maybe, just maybe, I'm speaking for all vagrants & hitch-hikers, most of whom don't choose this lifestyle, and are even less likely to be picked up than I. This sounds moralistic. But it's just truth. And once in a great, great while, somebody gets mugged by a hitch-hiker, probably less often than when somebody gets mugged walking down any street. Getting out of bed is a total risk.

But the flip side is that nothing is black-&-white, and I began seeing an overwhelming outpouring of human compassion when I started hitching north. But, first, a little incident in Las Cruces.

More Usual Police Harassment... ho, hum 

After I had said goodbye to James, I was hot & exhausted, hungry & sad & concerned about James, but strangely feeling exhilarated & in intense peace at the same time. I came upon a Domino's Pizza, which I usually avoid (due to both the junk food factor & my lactose & wheat intolerance). But exceptions are good, & this one felt right. I walked to the dumpster as a cop watched me. I decided to ignore him. There was a full pizza in a box, right on top, waiting for me. So I grabbed it & sat on a curb in some precious shade under a mesquite tree. I took one scrumptious bite, and, as expected, the cop walked up. As he was slipping on rubber gloves, he said, "Put down the pizza. For your safety, would you please stand up, put your arms up and spread your legs?" 

I put down the pizza, stood up, & asked, "Am I being held for any reason?" 
"Well, no," he said, taken aback. 
"Then may I go?" I said. 
"Yes, but we are trying to help..." he started saying. 
"This is prejudice. I choose to live without money and to live as ethically and morally as possible on earth, and I get constantly harassed for it." 
"But we're not harassing you..." he replied. 
"This same harassment happens all the time. Thank you for honoring the law and letting me go," I said, as I picked up the pizza & walked away. 
Though I was turned off by the cop's insincere talk, I ended up admiring for him for actually honoring the law and letting me go without further harassment. That wouldn't happen in lots of other countries.

Hitching North 

The door was closed going west, so I started walking north, to the side highway 185. Interstates are bad news. I walked most the day, without hitching, to find a good spot. I walked through opulent neighborhoods. I finally found some shade from a nice big tree overhanging the adobe fence of a fancy house. I plopped down on my back. It was public land. Then a young guy came out and asked me if I was going to stay there long. I was surprised about the intense mistrust, & told him so. Then, minutes later, another young guy (his brother?) came by & asked me the same, & that I should move along soon. I decided to get up and keep walking. I thought, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if somebody came out and actually asked me if I were thirsty (which I was)?" But this mistrust comes with the territory - literally. When you have a lot to lose, you have a lot of mistrust.

I finally reached a spot on 185 that felt right to hitch. As soon as I stuck out my thumb, two really nice young Mexican American guys picked me up and brought me all the way to their home-town of Hatch. I camped by the Rio Grande that night. That evening I feasted on gleaned corn & chiles from fields with canned pintos & a can of pineapple juice from a dumpster & some foraged pig weed. The next morning I put my thumb out & immediately got a ride with another Mexican American named Eddy who talked like Cheech & Chong. He was a total joy to be around. He was delivering food to tiendas all over the area, and chatting it up and laughing with everybody he came across. He said he could do his entire day's work in a couple hours, but it ends up taking all day because of friendly folks. 

I told him it was refreshing how friendly & kind people were here, unlike in the cities. "Yeah, in small towns, people can start remembering what Jesus' message really means. But in the rat-race of the cities, you forget. I was that way when I was living in the cities." I liked how he said this naturally, how he didn't have any agenda to convert me. 

Eddy told me he was having problems with splitting headaches, & how his doctor told him it might be sinus infection. I told him to get it checked out, because doctors once told my late brother the same, and it ended up being a brain tumor. "I know," he said. "I am afraid to get a cat scan for that very reason." But he still lives life with total gusto. 

Eddy took me to Caballo and handed me a bag of cookies and his lunch. He did it as if I were his equal brother. 

Caballo is where the back road goes into Silver City & Gila, exactly the destination James & I were trying to hit going the I-10 way! I put my thumb out & immediately got a ride to Hillsboro from a really friendly 60-something named Embree Hale. Embree is a petroglyphs photographer & there's even an award-winning documentary film about him & his work, called "In Place Out of Time".

Hillsboro is teeny-tiny & beautiful, & seems a town of enlightened folk. After wandering around there a bit, I walked to a good place to hitch, right under the shade of a tree overhanging the wall of a modest & artful house. I plopped the pack down & a 60-something woman immediately came out. "Here we go again," I thought as I braced up. 
"Are you resting?" She asked. 
"Yeah, I'm hitching through." 
"Are you thirsty?" She asked. "Why, yes, I am," I said, grinning in relief. It was as if my wish from Las Cruces were manifesting itself right here. 
"Well, come on in the house," she said. 
It was beautiful in there. It was obviously an artist's house. She gave me cold water, plus a frozen bottle of water. Then she brought a chair outside and put it under the tree by the road for me to sit on. 
"There isn't much traffic out here, but people are friendly and you should get a ride. Are you hungry?" She asked. 
"No, I just ate, but thank you so very much," I said, almost in tears. 
"Well, if you're still here and you get hungry, let us know. Oh, yeah, by the way, the bathroom is right inside the door if you need it." 
A few minutes later, her husband came out to chat. He also reminded me they had food if I wanted it. 

I got a ride pretty quickly from another really friendly 60-something Anglo guy name Jim. We chatted about our travels & families. He wanted to show me the unbelievably huge copper mine on the way, where his dad used to work. It's shut down now, like most mines, because copper prices are too low, he said. He seemed to have mixed feelings about such mega-scars on the land. I often wonder why we need to ever mine any metal ever again, with so much already above ground. It would be so much cheaper & efficient & rational to recycle what we already have. But mining lobbies & tradition have kept this from happening. Maybe that can change now. 


Musing on Moochers & Technology 

I smile when people keep calling me a worthless mooch. 

When you stop to think about it, there's not a single creature in the world that
isn't a mooch. 

The point of living this lifestyle isn't to become independent, but to realize my utter dependence upon you and every other living creature, and visa-versa.

Why do those who take more than they need call those who take only what they need worthless mooches? Ah, Babylon runs on Orwellian doublespeak, does it not? 

I think about Van Gogh. He was called a worthless mooch who didn't work, who only sold one meesly painting (to his brother) his whole life. Now art dealers have hijacked Van Gogh's work & sell it for ridiculously obscene amounts of money. But Van Gogh was a mooch, and the art dealers, of course are not, right? Can you imagine the next Van Gogh scavenging from an art dealer's dumpster & being shooed away for being a worthless mooch? 

Technology comes from the same Creative Passion as do trees and ants and atoms 

Just because I usually live in a cave doesn't mean I'm a Luddite! 

I remember, in my money days, working as a counselor at a homeless shelter in Boulder. There was a white-haired man there nobody took seriously. He used to carry around tiny metal objects & fiddle with them. One day I was astonished to find out he was a successful inventor. Presently, he was working on a new-fangled bobbin for a sewing machine. It's probably in use in machines today! Wish I remembered his name. But getting credit wasn't his gig. He, like Antony van Leeuwenhoek (who invented the microscope), and like most inventors we've never heard of, didn't care a lick about money or other credit & lived & died paupers. They ran on Creative Passion, not money or credit. Think about all the musicians, artists, inventors, and prophets who gave us all these wonders of civilization Babylonians love to turn around & take credit for! And Babylon hijacks all these things that were freely given and mass-markets them. And Babylon takes way, way, way more than it needs, and doesn't know how to say "enough," and then calls anybody a moocher who dares grab a few crumbs from its table of opulence. 

The stone that the builders rejected becomes the Chief Capstone. 

(All Credit to Jah) 
This is the whole meaning of life

Technology is meant to serve us, and it would be a very beautiful thing if it did! But who can deny that we are serving technology, rather than technology serving us? Why do people have less time than ever before with all our labor-saving devices? But is technology the problem? What you own owns you. And if you own, you owe. Owe & own are really the same word. Mammon isn't serving people, people serve Mammon. "Owe nobody anything, except to love one another." Own nothing, share everything, and all comes into balance. Then technology would serve us, not over-run us.