Albuquerque

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Ningún Santuario Pt. 2

“Well, well, well…I gotta tell you, Andy, I really didn’t expect you to actually make it out here. How was the trip?”

“Oh, it was a fucking pleasure cruise. Don’t even tell me you don’t have a beer for me.”

“But of course. Come on in, we’ll unload your shit later.”

Grace’s house was in the suburban outskirts of Albuquerque; one of those ubiquitous southwestern adobe-style structures with the dark wood beams protruding from it at uniform intervals, as if they were the only thing keeping the house from collapsing into itself. An almost impossibly large cactus stood inches from her driveway and as far as I could tell in a cursory glance, this was the only thing approaching vegetation on the entire property. We walked inside and paused briefly to hug each other just inside the door, then headed for the kitchen. Grace opened the fridge and handed me a cold Negra Modello as I took a seat and propped my feet up on the kitchen table. She grabbed one for herself and sat down across from me.

“It’s great to have you here, Andy. Cheers.”

With a clinking of bottle tops, we took the first swigs of an alcohol-drenched evening. Grace had two six packs on the ready for my impending arrival and we made at least two more runs to the corner Allsups to restock.

The conversation was light-hearted, flirtatious, and almost certainly slurred. From time to time, we stepped out onto the back patio for a smoke and the cool nighttime desert air gave us a mutually sought after excuse to huddle closer to one another. Though we had spoken much in recent months, I hadn’t seen Grace since she had moved out west over a decade ago. To my surprise, she had never looked better.

The first emerging halo of dawn began to creep upwards into the blackness. Yawning, Grace rose and turned toward the house.

“Well, Andy, I’ve about had it. You can grab a blanket from the linen closet and crash on the couch. I’m so glad you’re here.”

I lay down on the sofa, dozing off as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I was jarred suddenly into wakefulness by a piercing scream coming from down the hall. Hastily pulling on my jeans, I ran towards Grace’s room. The door was ajar and when I peered inside, I was horrified to find my eyes once again meeting that familiar dead stare. He was standing over Grace’s motionless and bloody body, a dripping red machete dangling at his side. The corners of his cracked lips rose in a sadistic grin as he gazed at me and slowly lifted the machete into the air, taking one lumbering step towards the doorway. I turned and tore off down the hallway, tripping and fumbling my way towards the front door. I ran out into the early morning air and stopped at the end of the driveway to catch my breath, peering up at Grace’s window. I couldn’t discern his silhouette in the room and stepped cautiously backwards in anticipation of his appearance at the front door. Slowly retreating, a sudden obstruction from the rear caused me to spin around to see him standing directly behind me, smiling from ear to ear, exposing a haphazard set of greenish pellet-like teeth as he raised the blade high above my head.

My eyes popped open as a muted scream escaped my throat. Drenched in sweat, I looked wildly around the room as reality began to settle slowly back into my consciousness. Fuck. I got up and wiped the sweat from my brow with the edge of my T-shirt and headed toward the kitchen to forage through Grace’s cabinets for coffee. That face continued to loom at the forefront of my psyche, as tangible as when I had first encountered him at that Podunk gas station, while my shaking hands tried feebly to peel one coffee filter from the conical stack. After clumsily performing the task of starting the percolator, I grabbed a washcloth from the edge of the sink and wiped up the excess grounds that had scattered on the counter from my spasmodic hand spooning the coffee into the basket. I sat back down on the sofa with my head in my hands waiting for the coffee to brew.

I was on my third cup of coffee, a newspaper I had grabbed from the front porch spread open on the table, when Grace emerged from her room, yawning and rubbing her eyes. Despite the fact that I knew it had been a dream, an overwhelming sense of relief came upon me when I saw her.

“Any coffee left?” she asked.

“Yeah. Want me to pour you one?”

“I think I can handle it. How’d you sleep?”

“Just fine,” I lied.

“When did you get up?”

“A few hours ago.”

“Damn. Well, you should have no problem landing a decent job out here with sleeping habits like that. Most New Mexicans seem to have a hard time ending their tequila-induced siestas early enough to hold a nine to fiver. And I gotta admit, I’m kinda one of ’em now.  Welcome to the Land of Mañana .”

Grace sat down next to me and placed her mug down on the table next to mine, holding her bathrobe closed at the neck.

“So can I impose on you for a bit of a grand tour today after you get yourself together? It’ll sure be nice to be in a car with someone else driving, for a change.”

“It’ll be my pleasure. Kind of strange looking out here when you first see it, eh?”

“You got that right. Oddly unsettling…but I’ve always sorta liked things that way. I’m sure I’ll adapt swimmingly.”

**********************************************************************

“Up here…I think I found it, Guys.”

Sgt. Martinez gripped the handle of his revolver and cautiously approached the skeletal remains of a former hovel at the top of the dusty rise. Lying on its side in front of the entrance was a doorless Amana refrigerator that looked to have been manufactured sometime in the 1950s. Flies buzzed furiously around the remains of the small building frame, and Sgt. Martinez swatted mechanically with his free hand as he stepped over the long-defunct appliance and entered the litter-strewn shack. Once inside, he was immediately bombarded by the overwhelming stench of death. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and holding it over his nose and mouth, he bent over the body that was laying face-up in the center of the room. The eyes were still open and the lack of decomposition seemed to imply that his death had occurred fairly recently. A faded corduroy John Deere cap was on his head, and a rusted machete lay at his side, just out of reach of his extended right arm. The sergeant backed out of the doorway into the arid afternoon air and walked towards the two patrolmen who had accompanied him.

“It’s him,” he said flatly. “Ring up headquarters and tell them to get a coroner out to mile marker 26 on the Turquoise Trail; tell them we’ll keep the patrol car parked on the shoulder so he can find us.”

Martinez pressed a cigarette between his lips and lit it while his underlings carried out their orders. He glanced backwards towards the shack one last time, then turned and walked slowly towards the small church cemetery that bordered what he could only guess had been this man’s unofficial “property” just days ago.

“Jesus H. Christ,” he muttered to himself while exhaling a wafting nebula of smoke into the wind. “Just once, I’d like to get assigned to a murder case where someone actually gives a fuck about the victim.”

An Easter Requiem For Squeaky Fromme

Charlie-manson

There’s a savior that’s here today, and they call him — Charlie! A different savior that thinks your way, and they call him – Charlie! Kinda young, kinda now, Charlie! Kinda free, kinda wow! Charlie! The kind of savior that’s gonna stay, and he’s here now — Charlie! – Paraphrased 1970s Revlon Commercial

Since today is a day on which honoring risen Messiahs is nearly obligatory, I thought perhaps I should contribute to this theme with an homage to an oft-overlooked but still very much alive self-proclaimed Son of God: Charles Milles Manson.  To his naïve and drug-addled disciples, Manson had just as much divinity as Jesus Christ himself.  And much like Abraham was able to drum up sufficient enthusiasm to murder his own son in the belief that it would please his God, Charlie’s band of devout death hippies were pleased as punch to carry out the carnage at the L.A. addresses of 10050 Cielo Drive and 3301 Waverly Drive just as their Messiah decreed.

Charlie called his unique take on the apocalypse Helter Skelter after a slightly misinterpreted Beatles song about a roller coaster.  Apparently, a copy of the White Album wasn’t among the communal items to be found at Spahn Ranch because one of Charlie’s girls managed to misspell it in her attempt to scrawl the words in blood on the living room wall of the LaBianca home.

Several years after Charlie, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were sentenced to life in prison, a lunatic pixie Manson Family holdout named Squeaky Fromme, whose devotion to Charlie only seemed to grow after he was incarcerated, attempted to jump start Helter Skelter once again by trying to assassinate President Ford.  Her gun jammed and Ford lived to smack his forehead into the door frame of Air Force One another day.  After her arrest, Squeaky alleged that the planned assassination was meant to call attention to environmental issues, but I suspect this was merely to save face once she realized that The Family hadn’t really been in vogue since 1969.

Manson is now 82 years old and has been behind bars for 48 years.  He’s been interviewed by major journalists, proposed to, beaten to a pulp and nearly burned alive.  But one thing seems to have remained consistent about Charlie and this is also something frequently attributed to divine avatars come to Earth: when he speaks, very few people can make heads or tails of the intentionally manic, stream-of-consciousness revelations he disseminates.  Though I always find it entertaining, I can’t make any sense of what he says, either.  My Christian friends tell me that my disbelief in the words of the Scriptures arises from a misunderstanding of their true meaning.  Maybe so, but I doubt it.  If that is the case, however, who’s to say that Manson’s incomprehensible word salads don’t contain just as much esoteric divine wisdom?  “God works in mysterious ways” is the mantra of the explanation-bereft Christian faithful when confronting a heathen like me, and those words might apply just as well to God’s puzzling decision to choose someone like Charles Manson to spread The Word to the unwashed denizens of Haight-Ashbury.

At such an advanced age, Charlie’s time on Earth is probably drawing to a close.  But when he’s gone, will you proselytize and spread his message for the benefit of those whose lives didn’t overlap with his 82 year mission or will you just search for a new source of inspiration who is less dead?  One can’t just pick and choose his or her religious leaders like they were an assortment of colorful socks.  The right candidate actually has to speak to you in a way that arouses your best, most Godly self.  I’m thinking Eric Andre might just have the charisma to take up the mantle and carry the message to future generations.  He is risen!

But wait – Charlie’s not dead yet.  Keep your heart open to any revelation he may yet dispense.  Unless you’re not a creepy weirdo, in which case, just enjoy the continuing spectacle while it lasts.

Happy Easter!

Ningún Santuario

o-TRUCK-STOP-900

This is the start of a southwestern horror story I began writing many years ago.  My intention was for it to be novel-length, but thus far, the only thing of that magnitude I’ve been able to pull off is a memoir.  I’m hoping that by posting the beginning of it here, along with one or two more already completed installments over the next few weeks, I might feel motivated to revisit and maybe even finish it.

Prologue

Usted cerró su boca, Momma.  Solamente lo hará más doloroso si usted lucha.”

Tears silently sliced channels through the grime caked on her face as she reluctantly yielded, moving her bare knees outward.  The reek of tequila from his mouth directly above her own brought her to the brink of nausea.

“Padre Nuestro, que el arte en Cielo, santificado sea thy nombre…”

“Chinga sus rezos, Momma.  Dios no esta escuchanco.”

The hunchbacked old woman limped her way up the shoulder of Cundiyo Road with an infant swaddled in blankets under her right arm, trying desperately to exorcise the horrible scene from her mind.  She looked to the overcast sky while mouthing the Act of Contrition, and briefly stumbled over a thatch of sagebrush, quickly adjusting the baby securely in both arms.

After several hours of walking in the blistering August sun, the bell tower of the main chapel of Santuario de Chimayo appeared in the distant waves of heat.  As she walked along the pathway leading to the church, the baby resting in the crook of her right arm, she lightly glided the fingertips of her left hand over the homemade palm crucifixes affixed to the fence in tribute to countless suffering and departed loved ones she had never known.

She entered the chapel and genuflected at the altar before placing the baby down carefully on a wooden kneeler, moving towards the right of the crucifix to light a votive candle.  She knelt in silent prayer for several minutes beneath the heavy oak ceiling of the chapel.  Then she arose, gently picked her baby up from the kneeler and entered the sanctum to the left of the altar.  In the center of the sanctum was a well of dirt at ground level.  She placed the baby tenderly at the edge of the well and thrust both hands into the auburn mud, first wiping it on her forehead, chest and heart.  She then picked up the baby and removed its swaddling clothes.  Darting glances left and right, she raised the child above her head, uttered “Lord have mercy”, and submerged him as far down into the holy dirt as her feeble arms would allow.  She re-clothed the infant and placed him on the floor of the sanctum while reciting the rosary, shaking fingers grasping the appropriate bead at timed intervals.

As dusk began to temper the sunbeams shooting through the stained glass, she picked up her baby and exited the chapel, holding him as close to her bosom as she could without risking asphyxiation, heading away from Chimayo with as much haste as her aged body would allow.

Chapter 1

Feeling haunted by the red dust dervishes dancing tarantellas in the desert expanses on either side of the highway, I turn my attention to the odometer which has just flipped back to zero for the second time today. The ashtray is boiling over, so I tip it out the window while lighting another. A sudden rush of cool air raises the hair on my forearms and signals the approach of nightfall. Next exit 53 miles.

There’s something sinister in the atmosphere out here; an unspoken warning riding the desert wind. If I had driven this far to die out of range of those I knew, the feeling all around me might have been inviting, even pacifying. But the suicidal nature of this trek is only figurative and the hopes of finding comfort in a new setting are being called into question with each rotting armadillo carcass that I speed past.

I’ve never seen eyes on a human being quite like the ones staring at me through the sunken sockets of the attendant who sold me this pack of Marlboros at the last filling station. They were dead, shot through with gray lines; the eyes of a corpse beneath a corduroy John Deere cap. Even so, I could still feel them fixated on me miles from the place. Once or twice, I was startled by the illusion that they were peering at me through my rear-view mirror and I spun around to make sure the back seat was inhabited by nothing more than storage boxes. I had to laugh aloud at myself to make the creepy feeling dissipate. Light another cigarette, put another CD in the stereo and sing along with the gusto of someone auditioning for the church choir.

Scanning the garbage on the passenger side floor mat, I realize I’ve gone through three packs of Marlboros already on my first day of driving. Jesus. No wonder singing to the radio is becoming so painful to my throat. Time to call it a day and get some rest I tell myself, while unconsciously popping another cigarette between my lips.

The television at the Motel 6 gets two channels, one of which is devoted entirely to religious programming. I stare at the evening news while pulling on a freshly rolled joint, letting the one-two punch of TV and marijuana push me into a sweet state of catatonia. For the first time today, her ghost is no longer by my side. In an effort to enjoy the momentary reprieve, I sit upright and try to fend off sleep for a while more. Slowly, I sink back down into the bed to the lullaby of the local weather report.

Black.

I’m not sure on which continent a pre-packaged Danish and a cup of black mud coffee is considered breakfast, but for today, it will have to do. I want this drive behind me and I’m not very keen on avoidable delays like finding a decent restaurant. Only 200 miles today and I’m…well, home, I suppose. And she’s still right here, so close I can smell her perfume. I’m beginning to realize that she may follow me where ever I go until the day I die. I want to be angry with her, tell myself I am wise to have put so much distance between us. I want to stop crying at every fucking reminder that comes from the radio, the television…the pulsating blue white star equidistant from the tip of the Little Dipper as that tip is to the North Star. And I’ve never seen a clearer night sky than out here in the desert.

I picked up Route 66 in Oklahoma and have been on this highway littered with the skeletons of towns for what’s seemed an eternity. Finally, the road sign I’d been impatiently anticipating for thousands of miles materializes. Welcome To New Mexico. Thanks, but somehow I feel about as welcome as a cloud of locusts. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to fill the tank before departing the town where I had spent the night, but a quick glance at my gas gauge tells me it’s time to fill up at the next exit.

I coast off of the exit ramp towards the dingy Gas & Go up ahead, put the car in park and step into the dry air of early afternoon. The unlined blacktop of the road beside the station is undulating with waves of heat; I imagine it’s a Venetian canal while I put the nozzle into the gas tank of my gondola and flip the switch. Still feeling a bit hungry, I walk towards the store to grab a Snickers bar.

A bell rings to signal my entry and I find myself amidst dusty shelves of aspirin and Dinty Moore beef stew decorated sporadically with stuffed jackalopes. I smirk at the fact that each of these mythical creatures actually appears injured, its fur matted and stained a dried blood color, as if a road kill statistic or a hunting trophy. Scanning the selection of candy, comprised largely of cheap brands that must be sold exclusively to ghost town gas stations, I find the one Snickers bar left on the shelf and head towards the counter.

Fumbling in my pocket for a single, I glance up at the counter and am suddenly frozen with terror as my eyes meet the same two sinister gray orbs beneath the John Deere cap that have kept me unsettled for the last hundred miles. Not wishing to draw undue attention from this familiar zombie behind the cash register, I steady my hands and wordlessly pay for the candy bar, my eyes fixed on the floor. Heading towards the door, I feel those eyes piercing the back of my skull as I quicken my pace and exit the store.

In a panic, I climb into the car and turn the key, nearly forgetting about the gas nozzle which is still protruding from the tank. I exit the vehicle, quickly replace the nozzle and screw in the gas cap, get back in and leave the station with a screeching of tires and a cloud of sand kicking up in my wake. Just before the station is out of sight, I glance in my side view mirror and see him standing at the door, motionless, watching me tear off down the highway as my heart beats with such rapidity that I fear it will explode at any moment.

I did not stop again until I arrived.

Friday Funhouse 3: Noqoyqatsi

Welcome to the House of Fun! Now I’ve come of age.  Welcome to the lion’s den.  Temptation’s on his way.  Welcome to the House of Fun!

This week, Orangina The Terrible rattled his sabers at the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea, Sean Spicer paid a heartwarming tribute to Adolf Hitler’s humanitarian restraint, and I created my second Twitter account in as many months because I seem to enjoy making failed attempts at generating traffic for this blog.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Another week in the can means it’s time once again for me to abdicate my blogging responsibilities by re-posting shit made by people who are funnier than I.  Today’s video is a bit more cerebral than usual.  Here’s Sarah and Laura Silverman pondering one of the most perplexing mysteries of my generation:

But wait, there’s more.  Charlie Murphy, brother of Eddie, passed away on Tuesday.  If you’re not familiar with his brilliant work on Chappelle’s Show, do yourself a favor and check out his episode-long homage to Rick James at your leisure and right now, take in his hilariously bizarre encounter with Prince and The Revolution (Comedy Central aren’t very tolerant of their content appearing on YouTube, so you have to click this link):

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/e748yj/chappelle-s-show-charlie-murphy-s-true-hollywood-stories—prince—uncensored

Rest in peace, Charlie.

7,500,000,000 Realities

reality

There’s so many of us, there’s so many of us, there’s so many, there’s so many of us, there’s so many of us, there’s so many – Let’s have a war!! So you can go die!  Let’s have a war! We could all use the money!  Let’s have a war! We need the space!  Let’s have a war! Clean out this place! – Fear

If you’re anything like me, you often wonder what the world looks like to your dog or your cat.  When I walk Bernadette, her nose is firmly rooted to the ground sniffing out a world of signals and clues, exploring and interpreting a level of reality that is inaccessible to most humans, whose sense of smell is secondary at best.

But do we really need to use animals other than homo sapiens as the subjects of our curiosity about the experience of different realities?  Every time you interact with another human being, you are encountering a life form whose experience of the “objective” world is entirely subjective and therefore, different from your own.  I don’t just mean that they’ve had different life experiences and influences affecting their viewpoints and outlooks, I mean that every person sees, hears, smells, feels and tastes reality in a completely unique way.  When I say “blue”, a certain hue is instantly called to mind by anyone who hears me utter the word (excepting the blind and the color blind, of course).  But how do you know that what I see as blue is the same thing that you see as blue?

Two people can hear the same exact piece of music, but one of them might find it melodically beautiful while the other hears an unpleasant cacophony.  Why?  The sequence of notes and the spacing between them is exactly the same to both listeners, as is the sound quality and skill level of the musicians performing it.  Regardless, the experience of hearing the song is completely different to each of the listeners.

I’ve read several studies about how people with extremely liberal views and people with extremely conservative views live in realities so radically different from each other that finding common ground on almost anything is a near impossibility.  However, the research informing these studies focused on the activity in various areas of each subject’s brain, such as greater electrical action in the fear-activation center (or amygdala) in the case of someone with extremely conservative views.  While this is fascinating, it deals more with emotional reactions than sensory experience and so doesn’t quite reach the level of “different realities” that I’m speaking of here.

The only information we can obtain to understand another person’s experience is their own description of it and an observation of their actions.  But even this information then gets filtered through our own reality bias, prompting us to say things like, “I know just how you feel” and “I’ve had that exact same experience” when, in truth, I only know how I feel.  The phrase “reality bias” that I just coined might sound extremely spurious – kind of like Kellyanne Conway’s belief in the existence of “alternative facts” – but that’s not what I meant.  There are, indeed, facts.  A color called blue exists on the spectrum and everyone has a clear image in their minds of how it looks.  But what if this shade is interpreted differently – even if only slightly – by each individual’s eyes?  Even though there is a consensus as to what is and what is not blue, what you see as blue might be seen by me as a shade identical to what you see as red.  We just don’t know, and we never can, because we both identify it as “blue” and any further discussion about it would just seem silly.

The planet’s current human population of roughly 7.5 billion is absolutely unsustainable.  I’m not talking about lack of resources or space, although those are very legitimate concerns.  The advanced methods of communication we now enjoy have brought everyone into everyone else’s orbit, increasing the potential strife between individuals who cannot possibly understand differing worldviews and beliefs because they aren’t even capable of understanding how life looks, feels and sounds to anyone but themselves.  I see war as mankind’s most self-defeating activity and the planet’s absolute necessity.  If a long enough period of time goes by without a major genocide, the Earth must respond with a plague or natural disaster in the interest of its own survival.  We are, after all, products of the Earth and it does not share our sentimentality about the need for trimming its toenails, so to speak.  But I would personally prefer that we as a species evolve out of the hunger for armed conflict.  Unfortunately, the only way to even attempt such a thing would be to voluntarily thin out our own numbers by allowing more people to die than are born for an indefinitely long period of time.  Cooperation on something like this is unlikely and mandating people’s sex lives is abhorrent.  Back to the drawing board.

I think there is a sound reason related to what I just said that makes so many religious fanatics seem almost giddy about the possibility of an imminent Armageddon.  If they were able to see below the surface of their biblical and self-righteous reasoning, they’d probably find a tiny spark of logic that understands humans are just too numerous to enjoy a decent quality of life for much longer.

I have no resolution to this post; no final words of wisdom or advice.  Perhaps keeping in mind that our species consists of as many realities as it does people may be a good way to be more accepting of those with whom you are perpetually at odds.  Then again, perhaps not.  I don’t live in anyone’s reality but my own, so I can make no definitive statements.  But I do wonder how someone reading the words I just typed would experience this post.  All I know is that it would be nothing like what I would assume through my own reality biased brain that told my fingers what to type.  I can influence someone’s reality, for sure.  We all can and we all do every single day.  I just can’t know what that influence might be upon a reality I’ve never experienced.

Lila

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Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. – Alan Watts

We’re playing the game all wrong.  All of us.  The most embarrassing part about it is the fact that we invented the game but got so caught up in playing it that we forgot we are engaged in a game whose rules and playing pieces we created in the first place.

If this game had a name, other than “life”, it might well be called Amnesiac Gods (or Hungry, Hungry Hippos for those who eat most of their meals at the Golden Corral).  Arthur Hancock and Kathleen Brugger’s book “The Game of God” is a playful and simplified take on Alan Watts’ pantheistic philosophy, tackling with wit and whimsy this frustratingly taboo view of theism that is also shared by the Hindus (or at least the ones who understand their own religion).  Pantheism, as the name implies, is the belief that “God” is not a separate, judgmental creator spirit existing on a different plane such as “Heaven”, but is a convenient word to describe the Consciousness that resides in an indivisible and indestructible state within each and every one of us, imbuing us with the power of creation that we so foolishly attribute to independent outside forces (atheists do this, too, in bending over backwards to explain all aspects of life and the Universe from a purely scientific perspective).  In short, all Western philosophy and theology makes the fatal mistake of believing in duality.

Early on in “The Game of God”, the authors provide a simple analogy to make this clear, which I will now paraphrase.  Imagine a billionaire who likes to “slum it” at the local blue collar dive bar a few times a week to experience how the other half lives.  He dons scruffy working class clothing and hob-nobs with the locals over two dollar well drinks.  This person is not even remotely experiencing how the lower class lives.  No matter how carried away he may get over the course of the evening, in the back of his mind he is well aware that at closing time, his limousine will be waiting outside to take him back to his Park Avenue penthouse.  He may have experienced a small taste of the sights, sounds, tastes and conversations of the folks with whom he was drinking, but he did not experience their struggles, anxieties, disappointments and tragedies.  Now let’s think about God in the typical Judeo-Christian way.  “He” is invariably described as perfect, flawless, without limitation.  Okay.  What is the only thing that a limitless entity cannot possibly experience?  If you said, “limitation”, give yourself a pat on the back.  Perhaps God wanted to experience what it feels like to have limitations and in order to find out, he/she/it splintered him/her/itself into billions and billions of little God-microcosms who are instantly given amnesia so that they cannot, like the dive bar billionaire, console themselves with the fact that since they are God, they are impervious to harm resulting from their own game of hide and seek.  This makes the point of the game — or “how to win”, if you will — to remember what you really are after your head has been filled for years and years with countless ideas and “facts” that claim otherwise.

As I said, it’s a simplification and as such, takes a few of its own anthropomorphic liberties with the “god” concept.  But it’s a good place to start for anyone interested in delving into the idea of pantheism.

Our biggest folly and the sole catalyst of all of our suffering is our insistence upon simultaneously inventing, fearing and worshiping an ether-dwelling Capo di tutt’i Capi in front of whom we humble ourselves, and running roughshod over every other creature and resource at our disposal because we also invented the idea that man “holds dominion over the Earth”.  Here’s what’s really going on: animals, minerals, plants, God, and every man, woman and child are all different names we’ve created for aspects of the same ubiquitous thing: Consciousness.

Consciousness created the phenomenal world and Consciousness sustains it.  One of the most clichéd logic riddles around asks if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, would it make a sound?  This is a ridiculously easy question to answer: NO.  First of all, sound is the effect of vibrations upon the ear drum, so in the absence of an ear drum, there’s just a vibration having nothing with which to interact.  But even that is an unreasonably complicated line of reasoning to arrive at the answer because, of course, we made the tree and the forest and the vibration and if we weren’t here to sustain the illusions that comprise our planetary game board, no tree would have existed in the first place.  The ear in that riddle is actually Consciousness, without which nothing could be experienced and so, for all intents and purposes, couldn’t exist.

So continue to play out your personal dramas and victories and defeats as long as they are fun.  If you find that you are genuinely depressed, confused, enraged, hopeless and self-destructive, you need to review the rules of the game.  To recap the rules: 1) You do not exist as a separate entity, so stop taking yourself seriously; 2) no one else exists as a separate entity, so stop letting them get to you; 3) you created the Universe (the game), so stop feeling like a confused outcast in a cruel alien world; 4) shut the fuck up once in a while and pay attention to this weird, beautiful, chaotic phenomenal display of your own creation.

In other words, you are God.  So get over yourself, for God’s sake.