Why The Future Looks Good/The University Fights Back


Tashi Delek and Namaste from Nepal! I hope you are happy, healthy, and that your neighborhood is free of zombies. The following short piece is an excerpt from the Costa Rica section of the new book, and is dedicated to Zak Aldridge, Amelia Perkins, Leah Ashton-Facin and all the other young people that are busily pounding the dents out of our damaged humanity. Thank you for giving this jaded geezer hope for the future.
Have an enjoyable ascent back into the daylight, everyone. Fearless Puppy /// Doug Ten Rose

Why The Future Looks Good/The University Fights Back
There are young folks around the world, including those here in Costa Rica, who are rejecting fear to embrace love, life, and celebration. Sadly, there is no reason to think that they won’t eventually follow the lead of generations before them by selling their birthright for material trinkets, a false sense of security, and conditioned reflex responses to everything. History often turns out to be more shit than poetry, doesn’t it?
I have faith in them anyway. I have to. It is faith in the young that keeps so many otherwise skeptical old bastards like myself alive and personable. Without it, a lot more of us would be in bell towers with rifles.
I had the privilege of meeting some of these up-and-comers on “The Street of Bitterness.” My landlady and several others referred to one of the University’s bordering streets by this unusual name. I went to a bar on that street looking for intelligence, and found it in a group of students that were stoned, drunk, laughing, and groping each other before noon.
Alfonso was a nineteen-year old soccer scholarship student at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). He owned an abundance of common sense, a strong sense of the cosmic, and an even stronger ability to have fun. “University life itself is the actual crucifixion. Where we are drinking is called the Street of Bitterness, named after the Stations of the Cross. This street has been called that for as long as anyone can remember. The system crucifies our creativity with regressive, conservative attitudes. The good parts of an institutional education are often overshadowed by the indoctrination and obedience-training aspects of it. We come to the bars on this street and drink in order to reverse the direction of the steps that lead up to that crucifixion. We wash away the brain washing with alcohol, to sort of rewind as well as unwind from both the process and the results.”
I asked whether he thought the university’s overall climate felt progressive or reactionary. Alfonso replied, “Both! The administration is more on the side of big business, but the student body itself is much more progressive. The problem for us is that the progressive students are always spread too thin. There are so many protests! There are so many meaningful concerns that a lot of the students become too burnt out to get involved in yet another issue—even when the most urgent ones arise. We sort of get ourselves too watered down, and must somehow learn to be more selective about where we put our energies.”
What an amazing insight for a nineteen year old to have! It would be very nice to be able to think that this guy was an average college student. I had, after all, randomly chosen to speak with him and his friends. The only real qualifications for being approached by me were that the group was close to campus and publicly buzzed before noon. But these people, and especially Alfie, were unusual. He had already spent several months on a full soccer scholarship at the University of Florida, but decided that the benefits weren’t worth living away from his beloved Costa Rica.
This large sign covers the entire front window of one of the most popular among many pizza places on this beautifully infamous street.
“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose Jesus and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching some mind numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food in your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your miserable last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the few selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.”
I may complain about the rain in Costa Rica, but never about the Costa Rican sense of humor. This is some very bright darkness from a neighborhood whose average resident is twenty years old!
To me the University of Costa Rica is the capital of this nation. Of course, my little opinion is gleaned from one day of bar hopping off campus. A full four years of matriculation might change that point of view.
Alfonso kept pumping out intelligence that any elder would consider well out of the normal range of a drunken teenager.
“There is a broad difference between social classes here, more so than in America where there is a lot more of a middle class. I am kind of in the middle here. It is a rare situation. I can have friends that are very rich and others that are very poor. This gives me more opportunities to grow and learn. I have a great deal of freedom in many ways. I drink on this street, then work doing research for a law firm for a few hours, then classes, and then study. I work very hard but still feel very lucky—and I have a lot of fun.”
“So many people want to change the world, but a sad lack-of-power feeling frustrates them. I think I have to just be nice and be as much an example as I can of what a better world would be. Nobody changes the world—not directly. We can only change ourselves. In doing that, well, that is how we change the world. These people who think they will change the violence in the world with violent means are fucked up! That is just a way to become what you hate! The only way to change the violence is to change everything you do in your own life to being as non-violent as possible in every aspect and situation.”
These were privileged kids who were using their privilege well. They all loved being where they were. They all loved doing what they were doing. Each had a sense of social responsibility and was very grateful for their opportunities.
I highly recommend a visit to the nearest campus bar for every older person. You may meet some shallow, vain youngsters consumed with unenlightened self-interest—but if you are lucky, you will get to meet people like Arturo, Alfonso, Vivianna, and Andrea. If not, maybe you should try another bar or another campus. It is worth a few-drink investment to find these people. Parts of the conversation may seem a bit laughable, but there is enough genius, hope, decency, and love of life present to encourage any elder. Even the most ornery of jaded old geezers that has been beaten from one end of this massive world’s most bitter streets to the other can appreciate the glow of unmolested hope.
You can trust me on that.

Solving Darkness

Happy Solstice! Let’s hope that as more and more light comes into each day for the next half year, more solutions than mishaps come to light as well. Knowing how to repel darkness helps a lot too!
This is a short excerpt from Ejection Eddie, a ten page chapter in the book Fearless Puppy on American Road. In it, Eddie gets ejected from several places that humans are usually never thrown out of, including the US Army draft board during the Vietnam era, a secured lock-up ward in a psychiatric hospital, and a jail.
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER
Certain hitchhiking rides have delivered me to realizations as well as physical destinations. Ejection Eddie was one of these.
“Welcome to my vehicle. I’m Ejection Eddie. Who are you?”
I felt a funny punch line coming on, but it didn’t seem smart to joke around with a guy who called himself “Ejection” until I knew why he did so.
I got right to it. “Everyone calls me Ten, but that’s obviously not the name on the birth certificate. Your mom didn’t pick the name Ejection for you, did she? Do they call you that because you have one of those James Bond car seats that ejects passengers?”
Ed answered with a pleasant smile and friendly tone. “Indeed not, my friend. There has never yet been a need to eject anyone from this vehicle—and judging by your relatively pleasant demeanor, my streak of uninterrupted hospitality won’t have to end here. However, my mom did have something to do with both parts of my name. Of course, she was directly responsible for the Eddie part. She was also indirectly responsible for the first of my no doubt record-breaking streak of ejections, from which the Ejection part of my name was born. She put me into a mental hospital at the tender age of seventeen because I smoked pot. The hospital eventually threw me out. I have, in total, been ejected from two mental institutions, the U.S. Army draft board during the height of the Vietnam War, a jail, and several lesser venues that ordinarily pride themselves on maintaining long term possessive relationships with their clientele.”
ENDING OF THE CHAPTER
The nurse said that she would give my note to the newspapers. Whether she ever did is questionable. Armed guards brought me back to the jail. They deposited me in my own special isolation cell, probably figuring that my next move could be to incite a riot. Within a few hours of my return, the head of the whole county’s jail industry/system came to my private digs. At her request, the guards left us alone in the cell.
She got right to the point. “You’re making a lot of noise for just one guy. What’s going on?”
She got the full Eddie account of the problems I had witnessed in her facility, including my little personal problem of being locked up for seven days without access to a lawyer. A lawyer seemed necessary to repair the nonsense responsible for my being in this hellhole. She listened.
“I’ll see what I can find out,” she said as she left.
Forty minutes later, guards came to my cell and escorted me to the front desk. They advised me that I was free to go.
I asked if they were toying with me. “Hitchhiking is still my only way out of here. Are we going to have to go through all this again down the road?” I asked. Hey, you never know what these guys could be setting you up for.
The guard answered with such a seriously apologetic tone that he couldn’t have been lying. “All police personnel have been notified about your case, sir. You can, within the legal limits, go to wherever you want to go, using whatever means you want to use to get there, and do whatever you want to do within this county. We’re not going to bother you again, sir.”
I smiled. “Thanks, brother.”
The guard looked up and smiled back at me. He seemed touched by the fact that after all that had happened, perhaps the most difficult prisoner of his career would be calling him brother.
He spoke to me in a gentle tone. “I am going to think about some of the things you said while you were here. A lot of it was right, I think.” The guard returned my shoelaces and belt as he offered his free hand for me to shake.
I shook his hand. “Thank Bobby Sands, my friend. He’s the one who gave me the hunger strike idea.”
“Who’s Bobby Sands? We don’t have any Bobby Sands locked up in here. Where’s he from?” asked the puzzled guard.
As he opened the last set of doors between the jail and my freedom, the guard promised to read up on the man considered a saint by many Irish folks (although he is certainly not as popular with others).
About a hundred yards after my release, a police car pulled over. From its open window, the officer asked, “Which way are you going, Ed?”
“Headed into town, officer. Same place as eight days ago.” The officer nodded. “Hop in. You’ve got a ride.” And that, my friend, is the story of how Ejection Eddie got thrown out of the military draft, two mental hospitals, and a jail—and how he earned his name.
I was struck by his stories and told him so. “Ed, no one I’ve ever met has even gotten into that much trouble, much less been able to get out of it!”
Ejection Eddie’s simple response impressed me as much as his stories had. “It’s not magic, buddy. Of course, you have to keep your eyes open for life’s little snares. You can avoid most trouble just by doing that! But sometimes a situation can blindside you, even when you have had your eyes open! Like a moth caught on the edge of a spider web, you have to keep flapping those wings until you escape. You can’t panic—and you definitely can’t get discouraged and give up. If you rationally, energetically, and consistently (but patiently) keep moving toward your freedom, you can escape from almost any trap. Creative confidence and dogged perseverance can make you free. Lack of faith in your own ability, surrender of your will power to another, or panic replacing logic and common sense will make you into a spider’s lunch.”
Doug “Ten” Rose may be the biggest smartass as well as one of the most entertaining survivors of the hitchhiking adventurers that used to cover America’s highways. He is the author of the books Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense, has survived heroin addiction and death, and is a graduate of over a hundred thousand miles of travel without ever driving a car, owning a phone, or having a bank account. Ten Rose and his work are a vibrant part of the present and future as well as an essential remnant of a vanishing breed.

I Start From Here (1st chpt. new book!)

Many folks tell me that I am the happiest person they’ve ever met. I’ve had a nightmare childhood, several chronic disabling problems, and a couple of terminal illnesses—so the doctors told me. But at least three of the doctors who told me I’d be dead by now have died themselves. Others have just been flat-out wrong with their diagnoses, prescriptions, and predictions. It just goes to show you that a formal education isn’t always the most important thing.
Back when medicine was a profession instead of an industry, I may have believed those doctors. I may have been more polite and died out of respect for them. Experience has taught me that polite and compliant aren’t always the right course of action.
But nearly fifty years later, now that half of our American doctors have shown a diseased integrity that only used car salesman and high-level politicians were previously famous for, I usually don’t show up at their doors at all. Better results have come from taking care of myself.
But I recently made a mistake on this account and did a long-term medication given me by a Naturopath who didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. It resulted in what looked to be a fatal aggravation to an already problematic liver. Two doctors said I had liver cancer. The “specialist” said I had six months to live. That was in October of 2018. Do the math.
After half a year or more of heavy meditation, highly focused breathing, Rick Simpson oil, apricot seeds (laetrile/B17), Chaga mushrooms, steam rooms and hot tubs, high potency Milk Thistle, lots of vitamins, herbs, raw juices, and of course dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes, I’m still here and having fun. Vampire pimps for the pharmaceutical industry didn’t put this smile on my face. I’m not going to let them take it off. I thank The Universal Whatever for these natural remedies.
It’s not that I completely distrust medical personnel and their methods. There are some good doctors and many great nurses. Several close friends are nurses. I am very grateful for their kindness. Doctors deal with diseases. Nurses deal with people. A nurse can sometimes help fix what a doctor screws up.
All that being said, and conquered diseases notwithstanding, I still must admit to being an old man. If you have read Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense, you know that my aging bones have a lot of hard miles on them. Logic dictates that I be put out to pasture to enjoy the better memories. But if you have read those books, you also know that the out-to-pasture thing is not going to happen.
I’m going to make a voyage completely around the world. Everyone tells me that no one my age, especially no one with a rapidly disintegrating skeletal structure and a diagnosed terminal illness, should make such a journey. But we all have to die sooner or later, and I have a mission to accomplish before I do.
Several friends who have been abroad lately tell me that there is no place else on Earth as morally bankrupt, lacking integrity, crumbling apart from the inside, and as intimidating and repulsive to its neighbors as America. There is plenty of evidence to support their claims, but I still don’t like to believe them. I have to go see for myself. If it is true that no place sucks quite as badly as America does, I want to find out why. What are other places doing that we would benefit from doing ourselves? And more importantly, why are we not doing those things? What things are the other places doing that don’t work for them? Why aren’t they fixing their own messes? What are the ways people keep smiling, laughing, and loving life while fighting to repair a world that is mentally as well as physically ill, often disgusting, and may very well have a more severe terminal illness than I do? How do folks keep the fun happening in the midst of all the tragedy?
I’ll report back to you from each location, for your entertainment. But if you read anything that seems even more important than entertainment, feel free to use it. There may be some unusual information in these reports that you will find helpful. Don’t worry if people look at you like you’re crazy while you use unusual or unpopular information toward social, or even harmless personal, benefit. Any small move in the direction of saving any part of humanity from falling through its own inconsistencies is a wonderful thing—even if the bulk of humanity itself thinks you and your information are wacky.
The only people who ever change the world are the ones crazy enough to think they can do it. Being “crazy” in the eyes of others often means that you just have a different way of seeing things than they do. That can be a very good thing just as easily as it can be a very bad thing! Sure, Hitler and Idi Amin were crazy. But Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Jesus, and Copernicus were also said to be crazy, by many people who intended the word as an insult. Those critics didn’t realize just how helpful so-called “crazy” can be, if managed with a loving intelligence.
The medicines helped a lot to fix the cancer, but the real reason I am not dead yet is because I am a little crazy. Maybe I can explain that better with this little story I heard from a brilliant Indian mystic. “On a certain day, one cow asked another, ‘So what is your opinion about the Mad Cow Disease?’ The other cow responded, ‘I don’t give a hoot! I am a helicopter’!”
The ancient Chinese mystic Lao Tse put it this way. “There is no fear of tiger’s tooth, no danger from rhino’s horn. There is no place for death to enter.”
Understand? If not, no problem. I’m pretty sure it will make perfect sense to you by the time you finish reading this book.

INTRO to Great New Book!

INTRODUCTION
My name is Tenzin Kharma Trinley. In English that means “The Activity of the Buddha Teaching.”
There are only two reasons that I haven’t killed you or several people just like you yet—Sergeant Pepper and LSD. I grew up as Doug Rose, the lone Jewish maniac in a Sicilian Mafia neighborhood. At fourteen years old I became the only person to ever take Killer Tortoricci’s best punch and not go down, as well as the only person to ever back down a half dozen mafia kids at knifepoint. This earned me enough respect to survive the rest of my childhood, and the nickname “The Crazy Jew.” The neighborhood folks looked at me as an emanation of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, the legendary Jewish gangster famous for violent insanity, altruism, and the idea that has since become Las Vegas. I was surely on the road to becoming a contract killer at about the same age that puberty kicked into high gear.
As all this was happening, I was also busily trying to kill myself. In my teens I was brought to a hospital, supposedly already dead from a drug overdose. They gave me a shot of adrenaline in the heart. It didn’t work. One doctor pronounced me dead. Another said no. He gave me another shot. That one worked.
Non-Sicilians on the fringe of the mob never did well in the long run—not in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 60s. Even the organization’s best friends, if not full blood Sicilian, could count on eventually being used as a fall guy to take the rap for a full blood Sicilian “family” member. I was saved from this and many other deadly fates by hallucinogenic drugs and a collection of thirteen songs.
My diet-pill-and-tranquilizer-addled parents listened for years to their unstable child whine about getting a dog. They finally gave in with the promise that in two weeks we would drive from Brooklyn to the Long Island Bide-A-Wee animal shelter and adopt a canine. I had big plans for the animal. Its name would be Assassin. I immediately built a dummy of old clothes stuffed with newspapers. The plan was to teach the animal how to attack and kill humans. I impatiently prepared for the day when Assassin’s training could begin.
As my plans were taking shape, fate kicked the shit out of them. I guess it would be more accurate to say that fate knocked me into a whole new world where plans like mine simply weren’t relevant. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released and I started doing LSD during that two weeks of waiting to adopt the dog that would have become Assassin.
The dog was instead named Sergeant Pepper. She became the gentlest, kindest dog in the neighborhood. She was also a big hit with all the neighbors because in the 1960s, my German Shepherd/Boxer mix was the only female sergeant in existence. She was especially popular with the old folks, who laughed until they near wet themselves at the concept of a female sergeant. They would cross the street through heavy traffic to place a hand near Sargie’s head. She would bump her head up into that hand, begging for petting. Everyone obliged with a short laugh and a long smile.
The dummy I had built for Assassin’s practice was eventually used for a harmless Halloween prank and then destroyed. Well, harmless except for being thrown out of a fourth floor window with a scream, in an attempt to scare the shit out of that pain in the ass, Mr. Perlmutter, as he walked by below. It did. He peed himself.
I have spent the rest of my life as a wannabe do-gooder instead of a short-lived hitman. Long and painful work has been spent in an effort to more completely convert the violent and crazy tendencies into kind and considerate habits.
Now, over five decades later, I have almost completely dissolved the personality of that deranged teenager. It took a lot of cross country travel without ever driving a car, a lot of study without classrooms, and some do-gooder efforts and charity projects to benefit others—often while remaining homeless myself. It also took a consistent faith in no describable thing and a consistent determination to go any place. There was no cell phone full of friends’ numbers and no bank account for backup. This was not always a rewarding modus operandi. Evolution was not a smooth path for me. Mistakes were made. There were several slips, falls, and blatant fuck-ups. There still are some. But they are now a lot fewer and milder than they used to be. The whole process is described in the books Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense. You can also find out something about it in the About Author/Media section’s TV/radio interviews and newspaper articles at the website.
The best explanation of how I turned myself from a semi-crazed animal into a more or less decent human being is contained within this old Cherokee legend.
A boy asked his grandmother, “Why are some people so good and some people so bad?” The eighty-year-old Cherokee woman answered, “There are two wolves that live inside every person. One is good and one is evil. These two wolves are constantly fighting with each other for possession of the person’s spirit. They may find occasional places to compromise out of necessity, but essentially they are always at war with each other.” The grandson responded, “Which wolf wins, Grandmother?” Grandmother smiled and gently stroked the boy’s face. She powered her gaze right through her grandson’s eyes and into his heart as she answered, “Whichever one you feed, my love. Whichever one you feed.”

Back To Less Important Business

The children have been fed through the severest emergency period, lockdown is partially relaxed here in Nepal, and families in the village we were feeding are doing a little bit better. The remaining smidgeon of money that was in the kitty of our food drive has been properly distributed to food and medicine for two desperately needy local families. (Romash and friend, pictured above getting ready to deliver.) There are many families throughout the city that are still very much in trouble, so we will keep the GFM page open and take care of those folks as contributions to do so roll in. As always, we will continue to report to you in prose and photo about the great good that your generosity accomplishes. Our crew is, at least part time, getting back to their previous lives. That means that I am once again an author writing a book about a laughing corpse who travels completely around a decaying world in search of truth and fun. Here is a very short piece from March. It describes the beginning of the long, severe lockdown in Nepal. Oddly enough, nearly everything in it is still very much current (except of course that the numbers are much higher than one by now). ***And again, thank you very, very much to all the compassionate donors that have helped, and those who will continue to help, to keep our neighbors from starving! https://www.gofundme.com/f/malnourished-nepali-children-need-help
Trapped In Heaven/Free In Bondage
Want to know how to be blissful and free while shackled to where you are? I found the answer (again) while trapped in The Boudha Stupa’s wheelhouse in Kathmandu, but it can happen anywhere.
Just three short days after moving into The Pundarika Cozy Apartments to enjoy my last two weeks in Kathmandu while finalizing plans for a Spanish adventure, Spain closed. It seems like most of the world closed with it.
The corona virus has spun the planet into panic. Everything is closed. Everyone is out of work. Early reports say that it will become a lot more serious. So far, what we have seen here involves a lot more social engineering and cultural manipulation than disease. A lot has been done about successfully controlling human behavior. Nothing has been done about successfully controlling a virus.
“Never waste a crisis.” —Winston Churchill
The manufactured fear, real economic impact, and spooky sociopolitical consequences are already proving to be worse than the actual disease. Nepal has one reported case so far. That person was isolated and cured weeks ago. Nonetheless, the government has officially mandated social distancing to the point of locked down isolation for its citizens. There is no projected end date to this process. Communication with the Western world tells me that reactions and overreactions to this virus are just as pronounced there. A real disease exists and it can be dangerous. But media exaggeration, dramatization, and fear-mongering seem to be serving a diabolical purpose that has nothing to do with a virus. Call me a conspiracy theorist, label me paranoid, and send me for counseling but I’ll bet anyone that wants to take the bet—there is a sociopolitical plague and an impending degeneration of freedom in the works that a virus itself could not produce.
Anyway, I am trapped here in heaven and loving it, so far. I’m not loving the fact that people around the world are getting sick and some are dying. I’m not loving the the way so many people are drinking fear as if it is champagne during Prohibition. There is nothing lovable about the economic butt kicking being suffered by so many people that have always been a paycheck or two away from being homeless and hungry, or the restrictions already put on personal freedoms, or the strong possibility that those restrictions will expand in the near future. What I am loving is that sheer dumb luck has landed me on a fragrant garden island floating in a sea of both bullshit and real shit. Yes, there is a nasty storm all around. Yes, the storm is complete with viral monsters, social maelstroms, a typhoon strength manipulation of the public that is painful to watch, and tidal waves of debilitating insecurity and fearful insanity. Common sense has become a victim of both the hype and the disease.
But life here in the Boudha Stupa area is a bit more fun than most reports of life elsewhere. When your dimension is collapsing, it is a real plus to be surrounded by folks who are already halfway into another dimension.
Joseph Campbell said that when a person is no longer directed by and mentally immersed in the history of his or her carnal body, but is rather directed by and immersed in the Consciousness that informs that body, then the suffering of that ego driven carnal self no longer has anything to do with this person’s experience of life. Although conditions outside of self stay the same, a change of perspective, perception, and focus can actually make the suffering disappear from the way we experience those conditions.
Identifying with the dimension of consciousness cancels a lot of problems that we employ by identifying with our so-called normal egoistic frame of reference. Mr. Campbell said that it is as if the shackles fall off while never leaving your wrists—like being free in bondage. A common old expression states a similar notion as, “head in the clouds with feet on the ground.” George Harrison nailed open the door to all this for us by saying quite often that, “It’s all in your mind.”
A very high percentage of the people here understand and live by these ideas. There are over a thousand monks and nuns in this small neighborhood. They spend more time dwelling in that Universal Consciousness than in their carnal, ego-based history. They radiate what the Buddhists call Loving Kindness. It is considered to be the base station of both human and universal nature. The entire population of the neighborhood absorbs a lot of what the robed people radiate. That general public then radiates love and support back to the monks, nuns, and each other as well as toward any and all living things.
This kind and loving way of life makes sense, and it is nothing new. It has been voiced in one form or another by sages, shamans, and other emotional scholars around the world for thousands of years. Generating a state of Loving Kindness and psychological freedom by identifying with the Universal, instead of identifying with the strictly and restrictively personal, has major advantages. It provides the practitioner with great inner strength as well as a ticket to ride with happy freedom’s essential sibling components—altruism, compassion, and universal connectedness. These qualities are the building blocks for a happier life.
Knowing that a mind free and strong enough to transcend conventional, mundane thought is the base station for happiness is not enough. Just knowing about this state of mind is a very different thing than consistently practicing and actively embodying it enough to internalize its benefits, and become skillful in sharing those benefits with others.
It doesn’t take a shaman to see that we are on the edge of some very deep shit, folks. It is more important now than it has ever been to practice the transcendence that will actually bring transition. Knowing about it won’t save us. Embodying it, becoming it, and then consistently being it, will.
Knowing that we need food to live will not keep us alive if we don’t shop, cook, and eat.
MORE TO COME ON Nepal, photos of ancient spiritual and historical sites, people, culture, then the continuing trip around the world, and more—if you want it. If not let me know and I will take you off the mailing list right away.
***If you missed the Introduction to the book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier and contains the above chapter, or would like to see several other chapters that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section at www.fearlesspuppy.info or contact me directly at jahbuddha13@hotmail.com This is a book in progress. You are reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story—and probably the only book ever written about and by a corpse traveling around the world!
**The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through website and email, as are sample chapters from those books. Very entertaining tv/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books, if you choose to buy them! (***You can also get them right from Amazon. See all the 5 reviews there.) All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not exclusive to Buddhist monks and nuns.

Pandemics And Root Canals and Hornets, Oh My!

August 18, 2020

                           Pandemics And Root Canals and Hornets, Oh My!
If you are anything like me, then after eighty days in near-solitary confinement watching your species go insane with panic over this century’s bubonic plague while powerful sociopaths culturally engineer and blatantly gaslight democracy out of existence—you need some diversion. After seeing Murder Hornets invade Washington State while socially crippling racism and mindless riots vent lifetimes of both righteous indignation and misdirected anger as they swallow your homeland’s last remaining shred of integrity—you need some excitement! How about finding a working dentist that has First World dental knowledge, in a Fourth World country, during a lockdown where people are afraid to even shake hands much less put those hands into each other’s mouths? Doesn’t a bunch of root canals sounds like just the ticket while waiting for this whole thing to turn the corner and actually become the zombie apocalypse we’ve all been anxiously awaiting? Can you think of a more fun-filled activity, during a time in history when clinical depression is considered a normal reaction, than a procedure many sadists view as their go-to form of torture? Well, I certainly can’t!
It seems my teeth can’t either. The few natural teeth left in my mouth have gone rogue. They scream like mindless infants among the many silent, space-age implants housed in the rest of my jawbone. The pain has distracted me from both the hash pipe induced hibernation and the golden meditations. It is one of the very few things that could ever inspire me to attempt what seems to be the impossible—finding a high level professional with a strong knowledge of cutting edge procedures and sterile, modern equipment in a country where I don’t know a single word of the native language. This dentist needs to be willing to risk exposure to potential plague by diving into a foreigner’s mouth. The foreigner is from the nation with the world’s highest plague-related death toll. This has to happen in a world that has completely shut down, and in a part of that world where the phrase “strong knowledge of cutting edge procedures and sterile, modern equipment ” has never been part of the vocabulary.
Sometimes you get lucky. Doctor Samdup at Mon Lam dental clinic has an Internet presence that includes an email address. He answers emails quickly, and opens his office for emergencies even during a pandemic. During our first meeting, he shows more than enough dental knowledge and humanity to inspire my confidence. He seems to be a wonderful and very talented person. Dr. Samdup’s office has only one other employee. His younger brother, Chungdak, is his dental assistant since the dentist lost his actual assistant when she returned to her village as lockdown began. Chungdak seems to know his way around a dental office pretty well. Tibetan refugee families, and Nepali families in general, are very tightly knit. He has no doubt been watching his elder brother very closely since birth.
There is a high risk in this situation, but it doesn’t involve the dentist. It is with the administration that controls the opening and mandatory closing of businesses, such as the  laboratory that makes the crowns. There is a five day wait after the root canal procedures before lack of infection is verified. This verification allows the remains of the teeth to safely accept crowns. The lab makes the crowns during that five day gap. Teeth lose core strength when the central nerve (root) is extracted. Nothing is left in the middle but a vacant canal. Teeth in that condition, without strong permanent crowns offering a protective cover, could shatter. If there is a sudden forced shut down of the lab, the results could be disastrous. Decisions such as whether or not to shut businesses down are often made on-the-fly amidst the uncharted waters that have engulfed our lives in 2020.
Many administrative authorities around the world, within government and business alike, have shown confusion about what appropriate Corona procedure is and how to implement it. Actions that affect everyone everywhere are sometimes instituted by very small groups of folks doing guesswork in offices and boardrooms. They can’t be altogether blamed for this. Political and social as well as medical functions are all on new ground.
Some authorities also show more concern for the control and social engineering of their constituents than for the well-being of those people.
We all suffer a shortage of accurate information, not just government and business. There also, at times, seems to be a lack of knowledge as to what to do with accurate information, even if it appears in a very recognizable form.
Authority often has an unfortunate abundance of confidence without clarity. To be fair, so do many folks that aren’t in authority. Confidence, when tainted by pride and ignorance, will not allow its host to admit just how little he or she actually and accurately knows. This can result in some half-baked and counterproductive decision making.
All these factors are currently making life on Earth very unpredictable.
Again, sometimes you get lucky.
The lab stays open and everything goes smoothly. Two short weeks after first entering the Mon Lam dental clinic, I discover that it is possible to have fun getting four root canal procedures done, as well as a tooth pulled. Doctor Samdup seems to have the heart of Mother Teresa, the knowledge of a scholar, and the skill of a top level dental surgeon.
Those of you residing in the Western world will think this is a misprint. It is not. Four root canals, four crowns, and one extraction costs a total of  less than five hundred U.S. dollars here. The same procedures and prosthetics anywhere in America would cost somewhere between five and thirteen thousand dollars. It is very unlikely that the dentist performing these procedures in America would be any more talented than Dr. Samdup of the Boudha section of Kathmandu.
There are a lot of older foreigners with dental issues here. I recommend Dr. Samdup to all of them.
Holy Shit, I Really Am Dead!
Here is something even more bizarre than root canals during a zombie apocalypse! I have been severely, abnormally sensitive to cold for many years. Some friends say that I was spawned by a lizard, cobra, or other cold-blooded reptile. When most other people wear shorts and a T-shirt, I am in a sweatshirt and cap. In addition, I often claim to be already dead and that this book is being written by a corpse. As you know, doctors said the death part would happen by now.
These light-hearted comments have just tripped over their own feet. As it turns out, both of these chuckles seem to be a very different type of funny than anyone could have ever suspected.
Having seen and experienced more trauma than most people do in several lifetimes, I don’t freak out easily or often. But I am a little freaked now.
The monastery café that serves free lunch to trapped tourists is required by the government to keep people at least three feet apart while waiting in line at the steam tables, make sure each person keeps a mask on except while eating, and keep each person seated at a different table. Management is also required to welcome diners by putting a thermometer to the skin of each person before they are allowed to enter the first gate.
If you have a fever, there is another series of procedures.
Fever is not my problem. Usually, my friend Mr. Dawa or the lovely Ms. Diki just press the thermometer up to my head and say, “you’re fine.” Then I proceed to the mandatory hand washing and line waiting. Last week Dawa showed the thermometer to me. It said 90 degrees. I advised him to get a new thermometer as either his was broken or he was talking with one of the undead. He held that thermometer to his own and several other people’s heads. The readings were all between 96 degrees and 99 degrees. We have tried this little experiment five times during the past two weeks. Each time my temperature runs between 88 and 94°. This is cross-checked each day against several people, and always registers them between 96 and 99°!
There is no apparent explanation for this. It now appears that this book actually is being written by a corpse. For all my joking about “the zombie apocalypse,” I never thought of myself as one of the zombies!
A Nice Thought
“We suffer a serious disease as well as all the terrible human mismanagement, political and economic manipulation, fear mongering, gaslighting, social engineering, and other assorted criminal greed that is flying into our lives on the tailwinds of this virus. What if these are the abusive parents of the beautiful happening that we’ve been talking about and waiting for all of our lives? Could all this madness just be the last dying gasp of the old paradigm and its disappearing architects? Is their organized confusion and grasping at regressive straws just a sign that the old ways are fading to make room for a new, more compassionate, much more common-sensible sanity—a sanity that may come to us as soon as the dust from all the insanity settles? There may be some real ugliness in the tunnel, but the light at the end of it could be the birthplace of a near-utopian legend. As we keep our inner lights burning brightly right now, no matter how dark it temporarily seems to be outside, our better possibilities gather strength on their road to becoming tomorrow’s realities.”  Tenzin Kharma Trinley
MORE TO COME ON Nepal, photos of ancient spiritual and historical sites, people, culture, and more—if you want it. If not let me know and I will take you off the mailing list right away.
***If you missed the Introduction to the book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier and contain the above chapters, or would like to see several other chapters that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section at http://www.fearlesspuppy.info (If you only have time for a bit, scroll down 6 or 7 pieces to the most important bit. It is titled What I Have Learned So Far.) This is a book in progress. You are reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story—and probably the only book ever written about a dead man’s journey around the world!
***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through the

http://www.fearlesspuppy.info website, as are sample chapters from those books. Very entertaining tv/radio interviews with, and newspaper articles about, the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not exclusive to Buddhist monks and nuns.

HER BRILLIANT RESPONSE!

She says she tries to stay happy regardless of how bad the world news is. He asks if she is insensitive to other people’s pain. She answers, “Empathy doesn’t have to include stupidity. No one else’s suffering is going to decrease because I also suffer. Whether it is someone else’s misfortune or my own, being miserable about it is not going to help—and the only things that matter right now are the things that help. It seems more productive and helpful to sharpen my ability to have happiness come from inside, rather than having it being dependent upon the environment. If I accomplish that, and someone feels me radiating happiness and catches a little bit of it, that seems to make more sense than my catching someone else’s fear or despair. Also, every person in the clutches of fear or despair provides a victory for the assholes that purposely manipulate our information and emotions in order to trigger crippling negativities and profit by them. I will not comply. They can’t have me. I have me. The Universe has me. Most of the living things on Earth have all my devotion, time, money, effort, attention, concern, and love. My teachers have me. My beloved friends and family have me. The assholes cannot have me.” www.fearlesspuppy.info

You Can Learn A Lot From Dogs

YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM DOGS/CALL OR WRITE TO SOMEONE! There is an organic vegetarian café here in Kathmandu that usually does a good enough business to help fund the large monastery that is attached to and established it. They also host the Saturday farmer’s market. Since the Corona thing has been going on, they are not actually open for business, but do stay open several hours a day to feed tourists with no kitchens that are trapped in Nepal. The meals are provided at no charge and funded by the monastery. I go there and put out sealed vitamin C tablets for folks and also donate oranges bought from the fruit stand near my apartment. I have made friends with the manager and told him of my concern for the neighborhood dogs. He arranged to get me some dog food. Today is my first trip around the neighborhood with it. It is a very bizarre experience.
As I try to feed the first cluster of four, a local says to me in broken English accompanied by a dramatic shoulder shrug, “won’t eat!” I put handfuls of food in front of the dogs and discover how right the local person is. None of them take the food. One scurries away nervously, but three of them rub up against me and insist on being petted. I do so. They are very obviously happy about this. Of the hundred or so dogs I run into within the square half mile, only three dive into the food like they haven’t eaten for a while. At least fifty rub up against me and insist on being petted. These creatures are not starving for food! They are starving for all the people that are missing from their streets, and the affection they are used to getting from human passersby.
I wonder how many people are in the same boat as the Stupaville dogs. Call or write to someone you love, or someone you don’t! www.fearlesspuppy.info

MAGIC FOR BREAKFAST!

Moving On
In spite of the beauty and history, the friendliness of the people, and what may be the most inexpensive cost of living on Earth, it is time to leave Cambodia.
After a week or two in Nepal to break up the long trip, Spain is the next goal. The cost of living is bound to be more expensive in Spain, but I speak the language enough to carry on basic conversations with the locals there. The frustration of conversations ending with a first smile instead of beginning with one can cause devastating loneliness, even in a strong-minded traveler. A sixty-eight year old person is isolated enough when going around the world alone. Most individual world travelers are much younger. They are zip lining and night clubbing. The older ones usually travel in tightly knit tour groups. Not being able to speak with locals hammers a big, uncomfortable nail into communication’s coffin and can put a damper on an otherwise joyful trip.
On To Nepal
You may remember my friend Neil from the Netherlands, described in an earlier chapter. Before leaving for home, he advised me that help getting through customs and security at the Siem Reap airport was available through his connections. He sets it all up from Holland by phone. I get a ride to the airport in a Lexus from Neill’s Cambodian business partner, and am guided through check-in and customs by one of his friends that works at the airport. Neill continues to be a godsend, even from several thousand miles away.
It is great flight with wonderful crews on Silk/Singapore airlines. A Nepali couple fill the two seats next to me on the second plane. They are very sociable. We speak for hours as if we have known each other for years. Dayal and Orina live in Pokhara, about five and a half hours outside of Kathmandu. Oddly enough, their city has just been highly recommended to me. A good friend in America with Nepali traveling experience emailed just the previous day to say that, considering my health concerns, I should leave Kathmandu as quickly as possible and get to the lakeside Himalayan beauty of Pokhara. I tell Dayal and Orina to expect me within a couple of days. They are very happy about that and looking forward to my arrival.
A Terrible Beginning To A Wonderful Experience
Kathmandu, Nepal has the certified worst air quality on the planet Earth. Oxygen has color and texture here. The temperature is currently running between thirty and fifty degrees colder than Cambodia. I reserve a hotel room near the famous Boudhanath Stupa, and am guaranteed three times in three different emails from the manager that it has efficient heat.
When I step off the plane after the all day trip from Cambodia by way of Singapore, a hotel representative and driver are waiting with a sign that says, “Mr. Tenzin. Mandala Hotel.” So far, so good. Upon arrival at the hotel, I find that they have no heat in the rooms. The manager is gone for the night, so there is no way to confront him. It is too late to get anywhere else. Being out of options, I crawl into bed figuring death is imminent but at least my exit will be peaceful. Death ignores my invitation and sends suffering to take its place. All night shivering while fully dressed replaces sleep. Fiery anger with the dishonest manager is brewing in my cauldron. Anger is almost always poison, but in this case it may have raised my blood pressure enough to save me from illness.
When the manager that sent me the “we definitely have heat” emails comes in the next morning, I give him a massive tirade of shit and feel no guilt about it. It is loud and severe! Employees are staring around corners and folks look in from neighboring shops to catch the show. The word “fuck” is used more times in this five minutes than I have used it in any other five minutes since my early teenage years in Brooklyn. I tell the guy that if I die from this episode, Italians from New York are going to visit him. To his credit, he finds me a hotel with heat and has his people help carry my bags to it. The Pema Boutique Hotel is what I pictured the Mandala would be like. It is heated and clean. They are both about the same price, but the Mandala has cost me a lot more in terms of health problems and aggravation. It takes two days and gallons of hot tea to thaw out my lungs and get rid of the chill.
There are valid reasons why this situation is so serious. For the first time since twelve years old, I haven’t had any ganja for four days in a row. This has me more than a little tweaky. The forty-two hundred feet altitude and 30some degree low temperatures here would be a shocking change to anyone’s system compared with the sea level altitude and 70some degree lows that I just came from hours ago. These problems are piled on top of jet lag and the ever present fact that doctors had already labeled me a walking corpse a full year before starting this trip around the globe. The in-room heat most Americans take for granted is a real concern here in the third world.
The situation is well remedied in the next venue. If you are ever in Kathmandu, do yourself a favor and stay at The Pema Boutique Hotel on Phulbari Street. The place is as nice as any in the Stupa area and the staff is incredible. I’ve been in hundreds of hotels, motels, and hostels during my life, but never at one staffed with better people than those working here. Nikky is the manager. He does everything possible to insure the health and comfort of his guests. Power went out in the whole ten block Stupa area and Nikky spent a half hour rigging up the heater in my room with extension cords and batteries. Wangmo is Nikky’s sister and seems to be the hotel’s administrator. I immediately take her presence as a good omen for a few reasons. She is kind, honest, clever, and has a giant Beatles sticker on the front of her computer.
The food here is good and the service is great. This is due to a fine cook and wonderful staff that is fronted by two very special people. Bishnu is the young lady usually at the front desk. She is lovely, efficient, speaks English fluently, and has a patient smile that never fades. Passang is the 20some year old go-to guy. He is the main waiter in the restaurant, the room service person, and the main housekeeping person. He works fifteen hours a day, six days per week, without ever losing his happy, personable, pleasant attitude. I think of him more as a younger brother than a hotel staff member. The staff is rounded out by Tashi and several other young ladies. Each is as beautiful in character as they are in physical appearance.
Daytime In Magicville
With the preliminary disaster behind me, I step out into a spiritual paradise. The giant Boudhanath Stupa is in the middle of it all. A Stupa could be very loosely described as a dome-shaped Buddhist monument containing holy relics. The word Stupa is literally translated from the Sanskrit language into English as “heap.” Stupa structures actually pre-date Buddhism as burial mounds for relics as well as people. There are many levels of symbolism associated with the structure. All the earthly elements are represented. The building has a solid square base that represents earth. The hemispherical dome represents water. A cone shaped spire above the dome represents fire. There is a lotus parasol and crescent moon at the top representing air. Giant eyes painted on the dome represent the all-seeing wisdom ability of Buddha. The nose represents Nirvana, the liberation from suffering. It is in the shape of the Nepali character for the number 1, signifying universal unity. A whole book could be written about the various representations and interpretations of Stupa symbols! Perhaps the most important of these is that Stupas are considered to be a representation of the enlightened mind of all the Buddhas.
The Boudhanath Stupa is thought by many to be the mother of them all. Many folks feel there is a magic in the structure itself. Others feel that the building’s power stems from generations of human energy being fed into it. Reverence, devotion, prayers, and aspirations have been inspired by and fed into this structure for over a dozen centuries—and not just by visitors, pilgrims, and local passersby. Many spiritual professionals wearing robes live in the several monasteries surrounding it. They have been on the job for their entire lives. There is no denying the intensity of the structure itself, the intensity that radiates between the building and its devotees, or the energy that permeates the entire surrounding neighborhood.
On the grounds are a few hundred people, nearly a third of them monks and nuns, walking around the structure in a clockwise direction. Many of them are working rosary prayer beads and reciting mantras as they walk. A mantra is a short phrase containing the message associated with a particular deity. Continuous repetition of this phrase not only instills its qualities into the person speaking it, but is simultaneously directed toward the benefit of everything alive. For example, “Om Mani Padme Hum” is the mantra associated with Chenrezig, the deity of compassion. Continuous repetition of it fosters compassionate tendencies within the person pronouncing the phrase as well as sending those tendencies out into the world. There are varied opinions about which end of this equation is actually in play. Some think that a compassionate energy is actually projected into the atmosphere in the manner of a positive spell being cast. Others feel that the person pronouncing and absorbing these positive thoughts then passes the benefits on to the world through their actions, which are upgraded due to a strong association with the mantra’s message. The evidence I have seen supports the possibility that both opinions are true to at least some extent. To exactly what extent may depend upon the length and depth of experience, and the strength of motivation, in the practitioner.
I join the walk around the building.
The sound of monks chanting, blowing giant ceremonial trumpets, and beating drums seems to be coming from everywhere. It is. There are temples in all directions. The air is thick with an electrical vibration of elevated consciousness and compassion that I can physically feel as a swelling in my heart. It also feels like I am walking in slow motion as if through deep water, but with a lightness and lack of labor. This otherworldly experience seems out of my control. It is overpowering enough to draw tears from my eyes. A child brushes against me. According to his father’s watch, I have been walking around the Stupa in a trance for an hour. There is no way to tell how many times I have gone around it, but the crowd has grown since my trance began. A sea of people from around the world, many clothed in outfits that match the red-wine colored robes of the monks and nuns walking with them, flow around the Stupa structure. They are both engulfed in and creating the massive vibration, like the current within a river.
The flow of people that surrounds the Stupa is itself surrounded by a ring of shops. Most of them deal in Buddhist artifacts, masks, paintings, and Nepali souvenirs. Streets feed into that ring of shops from every direction. Like the spokes of a wheel, they branch out to create the neighborhood.
I float up to one of the rooftop Stupa-view cafés in the primary ring of shops. There is no way to be sure whether or not it is the same one filmed in the Keanu Reeves Little Buddha movie. Imagination tells me that it is. A strong cup of coffee there helps bring me back to Earth a bit—but certainly not altogether.
Love and Medicine For Breakfast
I will try to describe the rest of the Kathmandu experience in terms that are as grounded as possible. I don’t want to sound like a person whose LSD experiences never wore off. But the truth is that the baffling energy of the Stupa and the folks that frequent it spreads throughout this whole neighborhood and doesn’t seem to ever fade or weaken. The Pema Boutique Hotel is only a few blocks up one of the adjoining streets that act as spokes in the neighborhood wheel with the Stupa as its central hub. If you are anywhere within that wheel, you are engulfed in and become part of its motion, as it seems I have.
Next Morning
The next morning starts with the breakfast that is included in the price of the room. It might be the best breakfast available anywhere. Guests are offered a choice of American, Chinese, or Himalayan breakfast sets. I go with the flow and pick the Himalayan. It contains more food than one person could possibly eat and includes porridge (oatmeal) with honey, nuts and raisins, tsampa (a traditional Himalayan barley flour dough), a scrambled egg, a bit of well flavored spinach, Indian bread, mildly curried potato soup, fruit juice, and the option of cappuccino, coffee, or tea.
I eat seated at the front window counter of the hotel with a full view of the action on the street. The folks passing by are a very beautiful collection of humans. Besides the regular type of physical beauty, many seem to have a glow or radiance about them. Many are working their prayer beads and reciting mantras on the way to the Stupa. An old lady walks by with a limp. I project Medicine Buddha mantras in her direction.
There is no way to tell if the old lady feels it, but it feels so good to me that I continue to do it toward everyone walking by on the street. About halfway through breakfast, it clicks in that most of the people already look healthy. They don’t really need Medicine Buddha! I had been listening to the Beatles singing All You Need Is Love on the computer in my room while getting ready to come down for breakfast, and so switch the mantra to the “Love, love, love” phrase from the song.
Yes, folks, I realize that an ex-junkie from Brooklyn, New York sitting in a window in the middle of Asia casting love spells on everybody passing by in the street sounds a little fucking nuts—but that’s what this neighborhood can do to a person! And the more you think about it, the less strange it sounds. Being in a war zone will likely turn anyone defensively violent and keep them in a constant state of fear. The nicest of people can turn into a raging beast when life-threatening danger is in the air. Being in Stupaville fosters the attitude of projecting positive energy at any and everything that is alive. This sort of thing only sounds weird to most of us because we have spent much of our lives being on guard, stressed, and competitive instead of loving, comfortable, and cooperative.
The positivity in the atmosphere is largely, but certainly not solely, about the influence of all the monks and nuns in the area. Every one here, not just the spiritual professionals, is warm, friendly, and helpful—even when it doesn’t involve any obvious profit for them. It is also very apparent that the girls and women seem less nervous around white men than they are in Cambodia. Maybe this is true because they have seen more of our spiritually oriented gentlemen, and less of our bombings and sexual tourism.
But as much as I love Nepal and want to see more of this country, it is time to go. It is very chilly and wet at this time of year, the concrete buildings radiate the cold, the electricity cuts out often and takes the heating systems with it, it isn’t altogether safe to eat a salad, the air quality is as dangerous as the weather, and there is no access to the dietary needs, vitamins, medicinal supplements, and other resources necessary for an old ailing Westerner to stay alive. Spain has constant sunshine, warmer temperatures, more reliable electricity, healthy Mediterranean food options—and I speak enough Spanish to hold a conversation with locals. I will certainly miss what, in less than a week and in spite of all its material shortcomings, has become my favorite place on Earth. It would be wonderful to return in the warmer season, but for now it seems like this old man’s survival is dependent upon getting to some warm sunshine and greater resources. If I had discovered Nepal when eighteen years old, my last fifty years would have been spent right here. But old age brings with it a degree of physical fragility and restriction, as well as the wisdom to recognize and obey it. A person in my condition may go to sleep here and, if the electricity cuts out during the night, might wake up with a long painful illness—or not wake up at all.
PUT A DOUBLE LINE SPACE HERE IN THE ACTUAL BOOK
There is a distinct line between courage and stupidity. I am going to erase that line. Those two commonsensible paragraphs above about leaving immediately for Spain were written last night. They still make a lot of sense, but I can’t bring myself to leave Nepal. Every time I walk out on the street, my brain experiences a joyful explosion and I start laughing at nothing just from being around the people here.
Of course this Stupa neighborhood is a particularly consecrated area, and likely unique within Nepal as well as being unique on Earth. Even the rest of this city is probably quite a bit different. The Stupa is universally regarded as an international treasure, is a certified World Heritage landmark, and one of the holiest places in the world for Buddhists and Hindus alike. Besides that, it is now Losar (Tibetan New Year) week—so the vibe is likely stepped up even a notch further than usual. Every time the thought of leaving pops up, I cry like an abandoned baby. Part of that feeling, and the rest of my personal emotional circus, is no doubt the result of not smoking ganja for an entire week for the first time in fifty years, culture shock, and all the other variations in life that are being dealt with. But there is a lot more to it than that. Every day I go out and kiss the sky like Jimi Hendrix. Every night I punch up plane and hotel reservations for Spain, but can never bring myself to push that last button and finalize them. Whether it is a case of courage or a case of stupidity, I’m going to be here a bit longer. If I die before finishing this book, or even the next section of it, know that I love you and have loved being able to write for you. This will be true no matter where in the world my body gets left behind. But this feeling, like all feelings, is a little stronger here in heaven.
PUT A DOUBLE LINE SPACE HERE IN THE ACTUAL BOOK
Losar Day
Today is Losar, the Tibetan new year. It includes going to temple with family as well as public festivities. The Tibetan New Year’s celebration lasts for several days. When I hit the lobby for breakfast on this Losar Day One, Nikky, Wangmo, and much of the hotel crew, along with several of their family members, are present and dressed like royalty. They are even more smiley and sweet than usual, if that is possible. The streets are lined with people in their finest and most colorful regalia. If Walt Disney was still alive, even he would stand back in awe of the spectacle.
My positive-energy-projection-toward-the-street shtick is being done from the front window counter of the hotel without even thinking about it anymore. It happens on automatic pilot. After breakfast, I head toward the Stupa and watch as the entire massive structure is painted. This happens every New Year’s Day. It has been cold and raw since my arrival in Kathmandu, but even the sun has come out in force for this festive occasion. So have folks from all over Nepal and the world. A 20some year old named Milabuddha sits next to me on a bench by the Stupa. He is from another part of Nepal. Mila starts a conversation and then takes a selfie of us on his phone. The friendliness of the people here continues to astound me. It will be very interesting to travel elsewhere in Nepal and see if this friendliness is a national habit. Being in the Stupa neighborhood is somewhat like being in church. Visitors are on their most noble behavior.
But for the thousands of people that actually live here, their most noble behavior is way of life—and the animals on the Stupa grounds are just as amazing as the humans! A couple of dozen dogs, by far and away the most conscious, mellowest, and sweetest animals in the world, surround the Stupa. They seem to belong to no one and everyone. These canines seem more human than many actual biological humans. They also seem to have a sharp intelligence, a kind of radar and sense of premonition.
A white one sits himself in front of the bench that me and Milabuddha are on. A man walks in our direction and starts to approach a woman two benches away with his hand out. The man looks more hungover than hungry. He has an air of snarling surliness about him that I can feel from a distance. He isn’t doing anything loud, crazy, or even noticeably different than other folks—but to me the energy radiating from him seems to stand out like a sore thumb within this otherwise serene atmosphere. The white dog feels it too. He bolts up and darts himself between that man and the woman on the bench. White dog barks as if his master’s house is on fire! The man backs off and walks away quickly. The dog continues to bark at the ornery man’s heels for twenty yards or so until both are well out of range of the benches. White dog then simply lays down silently by the Stupa. This creature seems to be in a meditation, as do all the canines in the area. These animals lay around as if they are reincarnated saints that have earned the right to relax in heaven for a lifetime—unless there is a situation that calls them to action.
Several hundred of the most well fed pigeons in the world have their own corner of the Stupa grounds. Locals sell grain to visitors who spread it around for the birds to eat. Any form of caring for any form of life is considered a source of blessing here.
While I’m sitting on the second floor deck of a temple building facing the Stupa, a monk comes over to talk with me. He tells me that the crowds are a lot thinner than usual for Losar this year due to the Corona virus threat. We speak about how this is just one link in a long chain of well-publicized pandemic threats that included Swine Flu, West Nile virus, Henta, Bird Flu, SARS, and so many others. I guess out loud that these maladies may be largely manufactured, or at the least exaggerated, by the media and their associates that profit from public fear. These human vultures know that scared people will pay blindly for imaginary protection from manufactured enemies. Folks in Cambodia had also complained about the sparse tourist traffic this year. They also blamed it on the disease scare (as well as on the potentially volatile political situation there). For whatever reasons, tourist traffic in Asia seems to be way down this year. The merchants, manufacturers, people who count on visitor fees and contributions, cab drivers, and so on are all suffering the result.
On the way home, I stop at Thar Lam Monastery to visit the temple that sits halfway between the Stupa and my hotel. The monks are having New Year’s badminton and volleyball tournaments! The adult monks are playing as the elder and child monks cheer from the sidelines. I sit down near a few elders to watch and am immediately approached by a young black dog with markings that make it look as if it is wearing a white necktie. The dog licks me until I fall off my seat on the narrow curb, and keeps licking as I lay on my back on the ground. The monks are laughing at me almost as hard as I am laughing at myself. The dog seems to be laughing too.
Midway through the game, I go into the temple. It is, as most of them are, a beautiful structure with a gorgeous interior composed of giant iconic Buddhist statues. The walls are painted with scenes from the historical Buddha’s life. There are offerings of yak cheese, cookies, fruit, and many other goodies stacked everywhere in obvious preparation for a later ceremony. After a short solo meditation, I head back to the hotel with a big smile on my face and the love of fearless puppies in my heart.
Much of humanity thinks that a power beyond itself will drop from the sky to help save our species. Few people are coherently concerned, consciously aware, dedicated, motivated, and common sensible enough to realize that the only way our planet will become a better planet is if we each individually put in the mental work necessary to become better people. I may be in the ten square block area of Earth that contains the highest concentration of people that are aware of this fact. There is a palpable density of love and goodwill here that is fostered internally by individuals. This internal mental work, this fostering of goodwill, is not done as a self-serving mechanism. It is motivated by and done on behalf of the entire human community. It is extremely powerful—and it seems that even the animals are involved in the process.
My experience of being here is akin to that of a thirteen-year-old baseball fanatic who has suddenly found himself living in a bed-and-breakfast planted smack in the middle of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. I have spent almost all of my life in America. In America, many people who see soldiers in uniform approach them and say, “thank you for your service.” The soldiers are considered heroes worthy of respect and admiration. My heroes are not professional killers. My heroes are professional altruists that dedicate their lives to producing saner, kinder, more compassionate opportunities for everything that lives on this planet. My heroes are walking on the streets of Nepal, and I have a campsite in the Hall of Fame.
***If you missed the Introduction to the book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier and contains the above chapter, or would like to see several other chapters that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website blog section at http://www.fearlesspuppy.info, or check out fearlesspuppy at WordPress.com, or send email requests to jahbuddha13@hotmail.com. This is a book in progress. You are reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story and the only book ever written about an around the world voyage being made by a corpse!***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through the http://www.fearlesspuppy.info website, as are free sample chapters from those books. Very entertaining tv/radio interviews with, and newspaper articles about, the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! Author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not exclusive to Buddhist monks and nuns. 

Oh Shit!/The Largest Temple Ever On Earth/American Nuance

Country Bus To The Capitol City
Time for a six hour bus trip through the country side. This will bring me from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, the capitol city of Cambodia. Phnom Penh is where the American Embassy is and where US passports get renewed. That is this week’s mission. Most countries require that your passport have at least six months left before it’s expiration date, or they won’t let you into their country. Mine is close to that six-month line, and it will soon be time to travel. The winter season of highs only in the low 90s is nearly over in Cambodia. Lordee knows how hot it’s going to get after that! As I understand it, the same stifling humidity sticks around but the temperatures go up.
I Have To Stop Smoking That Stuff For Breakfast!
Do you want to hear a funny story? It won’t seem funny for a page or two, but the punchline is hilarious!
The trip to Phnom Penh starts with the usual Southeast Asian tweaks. My ride is scheduled on a big bus with a bathroom in it. That costs twelve dollars instead of the nine dollars that the regular bus would have cost.
Shuttles to the bus station pick folks up at certain hotels, but not at apartments like mine. I take a tuk-tuk to the bus station and am told by the friendly desk lady that the bus will be around in forty minutes. An hour later, a van shows up. Turns out that we are at an auxiliary bus station and the van is taking us to the main station three miles away. Upon arrival at the real bus station there is another van waiting for us. I ask where the big bus with the bathroom is and am told by the receptionist that it is broken. They brought the van to replace it. There are exactly eleven passengers waiting and exactly eleven passenger seats in the van. There is no crowd of travelers waiting disappointedly for the big bus. I have obviously been sold a ticket for passage on a vehicle that never existed. Now my nearly seventy-year-old kidneys are packed in a van like sardines along with eleven other full-sized humans (including driver). The option is to wait twelve hours for the next scheduled fully equipped full-size bus, which is certainly not guaranteed to be one! I hop on board while giving the customer service person a ration of shit, and immediately feel bad about that. Snapping at folks on the job is something I rarely do and am never proud of. No matter how screwed you get by a company, getting nasty with an employee rarely helps.
Within twenty minutes of leaving town, the trip improves a bit. Lower population in the outlying villages accounts for a slight improvement in both air quality and the amount of trash scattered everywhere. There are more bicycles than motorbikes in rural Cambodia, and only a few tuk-tuks in the two or three larger towns between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
The landscape is not really jungle. It is more like rice paddies and savannah. It looks like Central Florida in the US, as well as much of Africa as seen on National Geographic. Most of the houses are built on stilts as protection against flooding that often results from monsoon rains. A lot of fields, big cows, horned bulls, and water buffalo are surrounded by bushes and trees. The animals graze in the wide open fields where rice must grow at certain times of year. There is very little sign of a crop now and no apparent cultivation going on. The massive amount of food growing in the wild may delete the need for much cultivation of other crops. There are no tractors or other mechanized farm equipment around. If there is any plowing done, the water buffalo must do it. Cattle are everywhere! They are in the front yards of houses, in the fields, and on the road. They seem to think they own the place. Several short van stops are necessary to allow horned behemoths to shuffle across the road at their own pace in front of us.
More shops than logic would dictate a need for line both sides of the road, but they aren’t shops as a Westerner knows them. They are handmade tables and shelves constructed of tree branches tied together with twine. These are shielded from the sun by giant beach umbrellas. They hold everything from fruit and clothing to gasoline for motorbikes that is sold in old quart whiskey bottles. There are a few temples scattered throughout the country side, but rural Cambodia seems nowhere near as thick with them as Siem Reap.
Many countries are represented by the passengers in our van including Germany, Ireland, Australia, and several Asian countries. I sit next to and speak with a lovely couple in their fifties from Denmark. They have several reasonable questions to ask an American. “What is with all the guns?” “How do intelligent people vote for someone like Donald Trump?” “What is going to happen there?” Susanna and Kurt voice more concern than scorn for the US.
We finally arrive in Phnom Penh. The Embassy is already closed for the day. After check-in at the hotel, there is still time to go find the vitamin store I had researched. As is the practice, I give the tuk-tuk driver the address and phone number of the target destination. He proceeds to get us lost for an hour and a half in a city that is much bigger, more polluted, and filthier than even Siem Reap’s worst neighborhoods. He actually drives around one particular block five times and calls the vitamin store four times. In spite of getting instructions from them during all four calls, the search continues. We finally find the place, only to discover that it was falsely advertised as a vitamin store and has nothing but protein powders in it.
The next day’s Embassy procedure is even more frustrating than the vitamin trip! Turns out they don’t actually renew passports in country but send them to America for processing, after which they get mailed back to Cambodia. This process is supposed to take two weeks. It could take much longer, and either way would include another unpleasant, expensive round-trip into a city that is way too big for my liking. It is February. My passport expires in October. I can still linger a month or two and have the necessary six months of passport left that is required to get into another country. It seems smarter to do that, and then deal with the passport renewal in a place where the process is simpler and things are more organized. I walk out of the embassy in the middle of the process, again feeling a frustrated irritability that, as a rule, is completely out of character.
Other tweaks, too many and minor to mention, happen in Phnom Penh. Siem Reap may have some problems but there are no folks standing on a main street in downtown with their pants around their ankles and junk to the breeze, staring blankly into space. Whatever happened to this poor guy seems to have also happened, at least in some small part, to the entire city. I have had enough of this place and figure to treat myself to a plane ride back to Siem Reap instead of taking that van bus again. My last night in the big city is used for a boring rest in the hotel room and making a plane reservation on the computer.
But the SNAFUs aren’t over yet! Ready to fly in the morning, I go to the check-in counter at the airport to discover that someone on the other end of the computer screwed up my reservation last night. I don’t have one, and they don’t sell tickets at the check-in counter. The check-in counter folks direct me to the purchase counter at the other end of the airport. I haul over there to discover that the one person on that desk is out to lunch and won’t be back until after my flight leaves. At this point, pissed-off has overtaken logic. I’m co-bitching to and with other travelers having problems, as well as everyone else within earshot.
This is rarely a good thing. Anytime I react badly to temporary external shit instead of dwelling in the eternal internal shinola, I immediately don’t like who I have become. But in this case, irritability pays off. An innocent bystander overhears the tirade and reports on a flight leaving one hour later on a different airline. I go to that airline’s sales counter.
The ticket costs three times as much as the other ticket would have, due to buying it so close to flight time. The guy I buy it from takes half an hour to put it together, pretty much listening to me alternate between barking at him and apologizing for my attitude.   He finally gives me a typed piece of paper with only a flight number and time on it. There is no receipt to show proof of ticket purchase, nor any other information on the paper. Luckily there is a thick plastic window between us. It protects me from another bad reaction, and protects him from me. I strongly request an actual receipt and further instructions. He gives them.
Here’s The Punch Line
Everyone has to show a passport at the gate in order to finally board the plane. My eyes haphazardly drop into focus on the information in front as I hand mine to the boarding crew. I (please excuse the expression) about shit myself—then start laughing too loudly. Luckily, I am already in the tunnel going to the plane. If anyone in authority was able to see me, it would have appeared that a lunatic was laughing like a hyena at nothing. They surely would have called the men in the white coats to take me away.
The expiration date on the passport is indeed October, but not the October I thought it was. There is a little over a year and a half left until expiration, not just a half year. That October expiration is for 2021, not 2020.
This is all very funny, but also very embarrassing for me. I’m the guy who is always telling people how important paying real attention is. I am suffering a series of expensive and very aggravating malfunctions due to not paying attention to a simple and clearly printed detail. My eyes had seen, but not registered, that detail at least a dozen times during the past week.
It is even more embarrassing for me as the guy who always tells people that anger is pointless and accomplishes nothing. I have snapped at several people and made an actual asshole out of myself more than once during the past few days. Whether some of those people deserved it or not is no excuse for doing it. The heat, pollution, humidity, dietary variations, and the lack of ability to communicate are taking an obvious mental toll. In spite of all its good points, it seems that I need to get out of Cambodia soon.
There is another factor. I may have to stop smoking weed for breakfast, at least until I get away from this foggy brown stuff and back to the more clarifying green weed. Maybe that will improve the odds of making lucid observations and the better decisions that come with them. Now that it is over, my brainfart provided a good, long laugh—but not good enough to ever want to repeat such mental clumsiness, or the ordeals that result from it.
The Largest Temple Ever Built On Earth
Angkor Was is the largest temple ever built on Earth. It is actually an ancient city tied together by a complex of temples. It was built by Emperor Suryavarman The Second almost a thousand years ago as the state temple and political center of his empire. “Angkor” means “capitol city” in the Cambodian language. “Wat” means “temple.” It was rediscovered in the 1840s by French explorer Henri Mouhot. He said that the site was “grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome.”
The temple’s design represents Mount Meru, the home of the gods according to some adherents of both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Angkor Wat’s five towers are intended to recreate the five peaks of Mount Meru. The walls and moat below honor the surrounding mountain ranges and the sea. The tower above the main shrine is Angkor Wat’s highest point at nearly seventy feet in the air.
There is a Buddhist/Hindu fusion in Angkor Wat that seems to pay the two schools of thought an equal respect. There are Shiva Lingas and Buddha images within the same building!
A fifteen foot high wall and a wide moat protected the city, temple and residents of Angkor—but not always successfully. Much of that wall still stands. Inside this wall, Angkor Wat covers two hundred acres. It seems this area included the city, the temple structure, and also the emperor’s palace, which was just north of the temple.
The libraries, temples, and other buildings are all decorated with thousands of stone figures carved into their rock walls. These represent deities and heroic figures, many from the Hindu and Buddhist religions. They include soldiers, gods, and demons that are most often involved in warfare.
In 1992, Angkor Wat was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Chhum Chhaiya is my guide for this tour. He is also my waiter at the rare farm-to-table restaurant in the area, an English language student, and my friend. He also does volunteer work as tour guide for high school students from all over Cambodia that come to see their national treasure in Siem Reap.
Chhum tells me that the entire complex was built entirely by free labor—but not slave labor. Chhum makes his best effort at English language to explain that it was “believe labor.” Thousands of folks worked without pay for decades in the belief that the most noble way to spend life was in dedication and service to Buddha, Vishnu, their king, countrymen, and empire.
According to Chhum, giant stones were hauled by elephants from quarries many miles away. The elephants were able to pull these massive rocks because the rocks lay on bamboo rollers. Do you know how to make bamboo hold up to a several ton stone? Do you know how to pick that stone up and put it perfectly in place, once it gets where it is going? It seems the ancients did.
The area is, of course, too big to walk around—even if it wasn’t ninety-six degrees with the humidity nearly as high. Tourists hire a tuk-tuk for the day to drive them from individual site to individual site. The tuk-tuk waits outside each area while tourists climb through ancient structures.
This two hundred acres is very different from its cosmopolitan host city of Siem Reap. There is almost no trash by the side of the road. The air has a consecrated freshness to it. There are lakes, jungle, and monkeys. Angkor Wat it is considered sacred ground, and is treated as such by locals and tourists alike.
If this attitude was carried over into the city, the nation, and the planet, life on Earth would be much different for all of us. Unfortunately, precious little in any location on Earth is treated with the reverence that the ruins of Angkor Wat enjoy. My brother-from-another-mother Joe Fort (artist for the Fearless Puppy book cover) recently wrote to me, forlorn about the current state of the world. He compared our politicians and industrialists to biker bullies armed with chains, on the verge of beating a relatively innocent public to death. He hoped that people, especially American people, would arm themselves by casting future votes with increased heart and intelligence.
I do so hate giving bad news to good people! But it seems that we are past the point where arming ourselves with votes, or any other make-believe electoral effort, will help. You can’t beat a system that someone else owns from balls to bone. The owners may afford us the grand illusion that we are in control of the system we live within, but we have no power to influence any actual physical control mechanisms. Media, food, water, etc. are regulated outside of public domain. In addition, the owners and the system are co-involved in the process of killing themselves quickly—and unfortunately, perhaps taking most of the planet with them. Putting cooperative, much less combative, energy into the last gasp of a failing, suicidal empire seems like a misuse of potential. It seems that our energies are better spent putting together sensible focus and function in life. Actively building common sense always seems to work better than destroying evil. Results are more pleasant and last longer if achieved through positive means.
I know we’d all like to think that our votes count, but results are scripted long before we get to the polls. This has been true since at least as far back as 1963 and in an almost-as-real sense, as far back as 1776 and beyond. It is not at all a strictly American problem! It was Hermann Goebbels of the short-lived Nazi empire who said, “It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.” Political action on behalf of humane function is a noble effort, but the only chance of averting the seemingly inevitable collapse of humanity is a massive awakening among the majority of individuals that compose the human community. The most intelligent and historically successful method to fuel an awakening in Consciousness that accomplishes social progress is nonviolent noncooperation with oppressive forces. This requires generous, altruistic, and in places sacrificially heroic character strength by billions of individuals—not only all at once, but also one at a time. This is not going to happen. Very few people would even give up a cell phone to cancel their support of the demons that own the towers. Very few will ever stop watching manufactured traumas on TV, although these cause continuous adrenaline and cortisol rushes that shock the mind and central nervous system into a fear-based, defensive way of life. The greater contributions to personal mental health or the public good by our largely “selfie” oriented culture seem even more unlikely. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but unless some massive tipping point in our way of life, sparked by a big change in consciousness, is reached by billions of individual humans within the next few years, it seems we are very much in a “smoke em if you got em” situation.
It won’t be the first time! Look at Angkor Wat! Look at the pyramids of Egypt! Even our present-day geniuses don’t know how ancient technology accomplished much of what it accomplished! Many civilizations that enjoyed a deeper intelligence and a stronger congruence with the rest of life on Earth have disappeared. They took most of their wisdom with them. There are a lot of empty libraries in Angkor Wat.
As Relates To America
Do you remember this paragraph from the beginning of the book? “Several friends who have been abroad lately tell me that there is no place else on Earth as morally bankrupt, lacking integrity, crumbling apart from the inside, and as intimidating and repulsive to its neighbors as America. There is plenty of evidence to support their claims but I still don’t like to believe them. I have to go see for myself. If it is true that no place sucks quite as badly as America does, I want to find out why. What are other places doing that we would benefit from doing ourselves? And more importantly, why are we not doing those things? What things are the other places doing that don’t work for them? Why aren’t they fixing their own messes? What are the ways people keep smiling, laughing, and loving life while fighting to repair a world that is mentally as well as physically ill, often disturbing if not disgusting, and may very well have a more severe terminal illness than I do? How do folks keep the fun happening in the midst of all the tragedy?”
I almost forgot it altogether! The present tense is always the place to be. After only three months on the road, America and that paragraph already seem like distant memories from a past lifetime. But since it is one of the reasons for traveling overseas, here is a comparison of America to Southeast Asia as I have experienced it so far.
America is more technologically and materially advanced, cleaner, and its citizens have more choice of and access to food, clothing, and shelter by far than here in Cambodia. The folks here work harder, put in longer hours, and yet many get paid so much less that their families don’t have enough to eat every day. Many cannot afford to send their children to elementary school for basic literacy. There is no free schooling here. There are many other factors, such as the brutal heat and humidity, that make life difficult in Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, Cambodians are happier, kinder, friendlier, in many ways healthier, and seem to enjoy life more than the average American. If I had to choose between living the rest of my life in Cambodia or America, I would choose Cambodia.
Why?
There is a feeling of camaraderie among the people here. Families are very close and the entire nation is something of an extended family. America does this at times, but it always seems to spring from an aggressive, combative motivation. Cambodians are not that angry or scared. Their motivation is constructive, not destructive. Cambodia is on the way up, not the way down. It can sometimes seem as if the nation is stumbling in the dark, bumping into things while trying to find its way—but it is moving forward. They are like Americans must have been during the pioneer days, before we became such spoiled little people.
We Americans often take our thoughts and emotions so seriously that meaningless episodes become big dramatic events. Cambodians have the ability to know that shit happens and everything is temporary. They know that very few things are actually important enough to get upset about. More importantly, they know that getting upset under any circumstances usually results in more harm than good. Cambodians work seriously at living well, but don’t take themselves seriously in the way that makes life a trial or burden. They have a sense of the tragic but know that life is generally to be celebrated, not mourned. Southeast Asians have a much better sense of perspective as far as knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around their individual desires. The misguided, artificially manufactured sense of entitlement that America suffers, and makes the rest of the world suffer, is not present here.
Cambodians also seem to have less animosity towards any specific group than the people in many other countries do. They may get irritable with foreigners on occasion and overcharge foreigners regularly, but they don’t seem to have any particular prejudice against Muslims, Americans, Africans, Chinese, or anyone else. The little bit of animosity that I hear directed toward foreigners is directed toward all of them, or at an individual tourist who acts like enough of a jackass to earn an irritable response.
“There is a bondage (humans have) to the Earth, and a release (from it). You don’t have to be quit of your bondage to experience the release. The two go together. This is a great mystical experience, where the individual no longer identifies with the history of his carnal body but rather identifies with the consciousness that informs that body. When you are identified with the consciousness rather than the vehicle, the suffering of the vehicle has nothing to do with the consciousness. You are free in bondage! Mythologically, the shackles fall off without leaving your wrists. (This makes one capable of ) joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. You can’t eliminate the sorrows of the world! Time involves sorrow. And if you are in the field of time, that is the experience of the carnal body. But that which is participating in this has another dimension, the eternal dimension—and it can joyfully affirm this.” Joseph Campbell
Let’s paraphrase and try to simplify this quote a little. We are all symbolically hanging on the cross where life meets time. Everyone alive deals with times of illness, difficulty, loss, trauma, suffering, and eventual death. When we can embrace the inevitable processes of life-and-time, and do it courageously with a smile and eyes open, we accomplish the clarity and grace that are spoken of by nearly all the world’s spiritual messengers. When we realize that in spite of all the bumps in the road, we can hit that road with an affirmative, positive attitude, the life we live takes on a dimension that is heroic. We become capable of joyful participation in our world, although fully aware of the inevitable suffering and death it entails.
“When the ego is capable of taking part in this crucifixion, then you are really in the Imitatio Christi and have achieved, I would say, the goal of the Christian message.” JC
Joseph Campbell spent almost his whole life in America. There are very few people in Cambodia familiar with him, or with the history or even the definition of crucifixion. Yet, so many people in Southeast Asia have a better grasp of Campbell’s message than most Americans do. Why? Is it the severe living conditions that color the Southeast Asian attitude? the Buddhism?
Maybe both. But there is more. The quality of attention paid by a student is in many ways more important than who the teacher is. It may be more important than any other aspect of learning. Maybe as Americans we just have too many distractions available to draw our quality attention away from our better teachers. So many brilliant minds with readily available wisdom and valuable knowledge are ignored. Even Nature itself often takes a back seat to some very meaningless, and in some cases very unnatural, habits and hobbies.
Technology and material advantage have helped humanity accomplish some wonderful things. Unfortunately, they have in many cases become fatal attractions. The addiction to them, as well as the all too frequent overdoses of them, often negate their potential advantage. We Americans so often watch other people living, working, loving, traveling, and so on in our movies and on our TV shows without doing any of that living, working, loving, and traveling ourselves. We recognize life as a fine restaurant but eat the menu instead of the food.The technology that was designed to enhance life has in many cases kidnapped and restrained it.
We are, in addition, distracted from our simple goodness and ability to focus on and enjoy a meaningful life by so much more than technology. Multitasking and stress have never been an accepted part of life in Southeast Asia. Many folks in the materially developed world think that if a person is not stressed out, they aren’t doing anything important. If a person is stressed out all the time in Cambodia, they are thought to be mentally ill, or an asshole, or need a nap. People here work hard, sleep well, and smile often. Neither the sedentary nor pressured lifestyles that often foster mental as well as physical disease have taken a hold here yet.
There is more natural environment and less artificially manufactured phenomena in materially deprived countries than in materially developed ones. In materially developed countries, Nature gives way to concrete and steel in a psychological as well as a literal sense. Concrete and steel are hard, sharp-edged, cold, and dead. Nature is usually softer, curved, warm, alive and welcoming. It is receptive to a human connection with it.
Maybe we Americans are too materially affluent and carnally happy to pay attention to much else besides being materially affluent and carnally happy? Does all that attention we pay to trivial byproducts of material affluence draw quality attention away from our emotional, psychological, and spiritual affluence? Has this all happened at the expense of the happiness we thought it would buy?
I wish I could see the look on the face of that first person who unearths a cell phone, TV, or computer in an archaeological dig of the year 5021. Will they ever figure out our gadgets—or how dearly we paid for them?
***If you missed the Intro to this third book (that the above piece is from) or the several other sections available and would like to see them, go to the Puppy website blog section, or send an email request to jahbuddha13@hotmail.com, or check out fearlesspuppy at WordPress. This is a book in progress. You are seeing it here as I write it! And as it says in the Intro, it is a totally true story and may be the only book ever written by a corpse! I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about either!***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author, as well as sample chapters by, very entertaining tv/radio interviews with, and newspaper articles about him are available at www.fearlesspuppy.info