Quest for the Original Face.

There are countless good reasons to take up a daily meditation practice. In my experience, the more you look into it, the fewer excuses you can come up with as to why meditation might not be a profitable pursuit. It takes as little as ten minutes to half an hour a day if you want to be stingy about it, after all, and despite that the rewards are allegedly astounding.

It has been found effective in various clinical applications, among them Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It has been shown to increase the capacity to concentrate, stabilize emotions, reduce rumination, increase pain tolerance and enhance compassion towards the self and others. In the East, meditation was adopted as a means of spiritual advancement, of activating the psi abilities referred to as siddhis and leading one, ultimately, to the very heights of enlightenment.

My interest in “mindfulness” meditation began when I learned of its capacity to reduce anxiety and depression and enhance the ability to focus. I even experimented here and there with it, but never committed myself. When I began reading about the Witness, however, I was sold. This was what I needed to achieve.

I’ve traced it back to a dream I had back in high school. I remembered sitting near a water fountain at night near some trees, desperately trying to get my off-again, on-again girlfriend, Claire, to understand how we all wore masks. Since the time of the dream, the concept has stuck with me. Who one thinks one is, who others think one is has no necessary relevance to who one really is. Behind this false self is where the true inner eye hides. Call it the higher or true Self, what others have often referred to as the spirit or soul, what in Zen they call the “original face” you had before you were born.

The question has always been how we become that true, inner self, and meditation appears to provide a remedy. As it strengthens your capacity to hold your attention on a single target, you also learn to objectify distractions — all your sensations, fantasies, memories, thoughts and emotions. You detach from them, sever identification with them, cease interaction with them, observe them with non-attachment. You experience them as distinct from your sense of self, discovering amidst this process that of elimination that you are not this, not that, spiraling ever inward. Like peeling an onion, you cast off the layers of skin through self-inquiry, getting closer and closer to the true, inner self residing at the core, psychologically stripping yourself down to that naked, attending awareness until you finally find yourself looking out the deep, inner eye of the Witness.

That’s worth at least twenty minutes a day.

Write Anything.

Fixed on the eyes,
I allow myself
to become swallowed
into a warm place.

Why is this so
comfortable?

As I gaze,
her face changes,
reflecting the women
I have been drawn
to throughout my life.

My projections,
my transference
come alive.

Psychic dancing.
Caressed by energy.

My mind reads her lips,
silently mouthing
words in the periphery.
Speaking to me,
whispering,
soothing the subliminal.

Fingers hover.

Just write.
Write something.
Write anything…

Catch & Release.

A rush of black eyes
staring down at me, into my mind.
Cold table at my back.
The twitching goose flesh.

My body is just dead meat,
the mind similarly paralyzed.
So alive yet so dead inside.

More than just a bad dream,
you’re all
a fucking
living
nightmare.

Justify this.
Spare me your propaganda.
We’re so fucked up down here,
but tell me, how are you any better?

Watch us die, watch it culminate,
wait for your window.
Leave me going mad in the meantime.
Catch and then release
me back into the pond of lies.

Pale Sheep Seeking Security.

Preaching reason
yet living in blind faith.
Idolize your chosen spokespersons,
eat from their hands
like domesticated animals.
Live within the four corners
marked by their piss.

Don’t step out of line,
never jump the fence.
Sacred are these limitations.
Clear and ultimate is this path.

Right.

Lucky you, to be one of the chosen
privy to the truth.
With these shackles, these barred cells,
liberated from burdens of free thinking.
Rebellion comes with a price,
sure, but this slavery
here costs you your mind..

Weak pale sheep seeking security.
Terrified of the unknown,
cherry-pick your men on mountains,
christen them the wise,
all others demoted in your eyes
to the status of fools on hills.

Seeking distance
from the sheep and shepherds
you define yourself against,
search for the same emperor,
same herd mentality
in different cloths.

Echo the dynamic,
mimic the relationship:
the pathetic, empty life
of an unenlightened sycophant.

Blinks in the Gap.

Flesh out
from the bones.
Ambiguity gains
definite shape

as I label
the linguistically liberated,
mold to give the formless form,
solidify what has dissolved,

put a wall between
it and myself through adoption
of a symbol,

relinquish identification
with my inner possession,
just an object to observe
and let go.

Eternal recurrence
requires both death and birth.
Forever manifesting ex nihilo,
damned or destined
to pass away,

and I am
nothing less than
the ever-witnessing eye
that validates.

Endings Make the Story.

Reflecting on the hope
and meaning
she had given me
would make the memories
a dream,

if not transmuted
to a nightmare
by the closing scene.

Pleasure and peace
become so haunting
in the light
of the transience.

Trust grows and blossoms
from the fertile soils
of naïveté.
Awaken me from sleep,
then abandon me.

Higher the climb,
harder the fall.
Get the blood
pumping,
then cut the jugular.

Endings make the story.
They deliver
the ultimate
message of the narrative.

Given the pain,
then,
why don’t I
just close the book?

Under the Influence (Dream Themes).

People I know often tell me their dreams — oftentimes even before they know that dreams in general tend to fascinate me. Occasionally they would tell me that I had been in their dreams, typically as someone off in the distance, just watching. That was an odd consistency, but I neglected to collect any written examples.

I noticed something else more recently, however — the dreams of others in which I am more involved seem to carry a theme, too, and these are more unnerving.

A friend of mine who I’ll call Elizabeth has remarkably vivid dreams and damn good dream recall. She doesn’t even need to write them down despite how long they often are, a talent which I am rather envious of.

In a dream she told me recently (3/22/15) and which I had awakened her from through text, I noted the theme. I did not have the chance to take notes on the dream and she has yet to write it down herself, so some of this is likely to be in error. As I remember her telling me, more or less, her, a young girl (a Mexican sex slave, specifically) and I were hanging around when a humanoid praying Mantis ran by, looking rather terrified. He had an exaggerated mouth of cartoon-like teeth superimposed over where its mouth should be. She said she vaguely recalled him saying something about masks and how we will never see what the mantis-beings really look like. She also seemed to understand that these superimposed mouths were used to express emotion, as their faces were incapable of doing so.

A female mantis then arrived, with the same superimposed teeth, and this was likely what had frightened the male. We fought it. It stabbed me in the chest up by my neck but that was all, though it tore the shirt partway down my chest.

Elizabeth finally killed it by stabbing it in the back of the head, but mantis blood sprayed on me and the girl. I suddenly became paranoid and explained that we had to get it off, as the blood was toxic. The effect it had in the girl was interesting: a horn or barb grew out of the pupil of one eye; a knife grew out of the other.

Elizabeth found me hiding in a closet with one of the superimposed teeth on me now. I seemed to be straining to smile, as if to fool her into thinking I was all right when this was clearly not the case. She could tell because unlike the mantis brings my face could express emotion.

I recalled two dreams that stemmed to carry on the theme of me being under the influence of something. One had been told over the phone and I took notes on it. The other a girl I knew had emailed to me some time ago. I managed to find them.

The first was from a girl I’ll call Savanna, who had emailed me in response to an email I had sent to her earlier that same day (11/7/03) in which she wrote:

It’s funny that you speak up today. I had a dream about you last night. It was really rather strange. I came looking for you at your apartment. Bear with me, this was a dream. I was standing outside of your apartment door, and I heard some giggling. So, I go to open the door and some boy is already opening it for me. He smiled, and I smiled and said rather cheerfully, “Well, HI!! Is Benny here?” He chuckled and pointed up to the ceiling. Which meant to me that you were on the roof.

So, I started walking down the hall and passed a set of double doors, or at least that’s what I call them. I heard your voice from behind them, so I opened them. The room was kind of like a banquet hall, but smaller. Chairs lined the walls, and there were tables set up kind of like a bar in the back. And there was a guy dressed like a bartender at a wedding setting up something behind the table. There were windows, too, that let only a dim light show through the dusty, particled air.

You and a girl with longish light brown hair had pulled two chairs away from the wall and were sitting there, in the fading light, talking. As I entered you both looked up at me and both smiled. I felt odd, needless to say, and the girl gave me an overly enthusiastic smile and wave and said, “HI!”

Instantly, I was sitting with you guys and you were both telling me about how you had this lingerie party at the suggestion of some guy she had met on the street. He had hosted the party. It was for both men and women. Kind of like a hosted orgy, as you two explained it. As it turned out, the guy that had hosted the party was a convicted murderer or serial killer, I don’t remember which, but I had been investigating the case earlier that day. (I was an investigator in this dream. I’ve never actually had a memorable career in my dreams). So, you told me more about this “party” and told me about the drugs that he had given you. “Like we were floating, up, up, and away…” is how the girl explained it to me. You sat next to her shaking your head, agreeing.

It seemed very odd to me that the two of you would be sitting in this room talking when your apartment was just down the hall. It also appeared to me that you two were still pretty intoxicated from whatever drug he had given you. Kind of like “New-age hippies”. That’s all I can remember about it. I made myself keep repeating the main parts this morning in my head so that I could remember enough to tell you about it…

Then there was a dream a girl I’ve called Eva (who is one hell of a story herself) which irked me as much as Elizabeth’s dream. The notes I took on the dream as she told me it (on 2/20/10) is as follows.

There was an entity in the house. While it frightened Eva’s mother, it didn’t toy with her, and she warned Eva against involving herself with it. It turns out that I was there, too; furthermore, I was being manipulated by this invisible entity. I was on the floor playing a board game, holding a small game piece, which was green, plastic lizard. Eva would look away and look back, and things always seemed to be changing in the background, one of the things was the closet door, which kept opening and closing. She wondered if I was moving so quickly that I could be doing these things under the influence of the entity. At one point she saw me stand up, game piece still in hand, walking away in an almost robotic manner.

Try as she might to convince others, no one believed her about the entity.

She went to the door and tried to hold it open, it was trying to push it closed, but it could not overpower her. She read a crumpled piece of paper in the closet that said, “You might as well give up.” She believed the entity was trying to discourage her. She suddenly had a flashback of a real event in her childhood; she couldn’t remember what it was, but it was some memory in which she displayed her inner strength. She wanted to communicate to me that I didn’t have to fall under its influence. She took me and brought me to an empty room, assuming that there was little it could make me do in there, but I kept banging my head against the closed door.

Next, we were in the basement, and I was atop a wooden structure, trying to light matches in futility, and she tried to stop me. She then brought me to the elevator, thinking that getting me out of there would stop the entity’s influence over me, but when the door opened the elevator wasn’t there. Her mother’s voice said, “I told you.”

The recurring theme is me being controlled, or in the very least under the influence of — something: a humanoid mantis, a drug, an invisible entity. The fact that one dream involved a mantis being and another more covertly referenced reptiles makes me think, of course, of the creatures I’ve encountered throughout my life and, again, there is the theme of robotic movements, not unlike the “kriya” I have been experiencing in meditation.

I’m not sure what any if it may suggest, if indeed it suggests anything — but it interests and concerns me nonetheless.

Calm Clarity.

Cut
through the cocoon of haze,
race through your sentence,
another day on the edge.
Hearing that voice again,
beckoning: plunge in,
take that mighty leap,
dive on in to the mystery.

Their complacent, lemming ways:
ultimate dissatisfaction guaranteed.
You must push passed this,
learn persistence,
earn back the trust inside
lost in the flood,
the bursting dam
you first first faced
two decades behind.

Feeling restless now,
fully charged,
vacuum-packed for freshness.
Tension stretches,
toes flirt with the edge.
Below, a void
waiting with arms wide open.

Is this a trap?
A game?
Will this be playing
into the hands of the enemy?

Summon courage,
gather strength,
fight with love and reason
certain that in time
the terror will retreat,
anger will ease,
calm clarity will be achieved.

Just embrace
that sweet gravity…

Something Sick and Alien.

Madness.

You know exactly
what you are,
that you can never win.

Just something sick and alien.

Fake it to connect
or be true to yourself
and watch it fall away.
You can’t take
the fiction,
try as you do
neither can you bear
the truth.

Feeling like a sore thumb.
They all know you don’t belong,
they just can’t put their finger
on the central element
of their potential prejudice.

Not pigment
of the skin, sexual persuasion, something deeper, creepier,
beneath the skin,
passed the marrow.

Nightmares, phobia.
Delusions of persecution.
Watch as you succumb
to this again.

They watch.
They whisper…

Keep the fear
or let it loose,
speak your truth
and risk
being heard, believed

and bear the fall out
of the contagion.
History reveals
the pattern, their reaction.

Torches alight,
they will hunt their monster
down, fashion a noose,
hang you from a tree branch.

Difference
for them is either
distinction
or dysfunction.
Equality, diversity,
a fucking foreign concept.

Beneath confusion
and silence, it’s already done.

The enemy
behind the curtain
that set out to divide us
has already won…

Stand Still.

Beneath these waters, all is obscured,
a chaotic, swirling soup of mud and stone,
a violent liquid storm
that always seems to be following me.

My warped and shattered reflection
stares back at me from the ruptured,
mangled water’s skin below.

To mistake it for my true face,
to confuse the state of the waters
for the bed of land it covers:
this is how I know the world,
this is how I see myself
as I meander mindlessly
through the mind.

Clear the medium,
stabilize the mirror.
Just stand still, let it settle,

feel a chill as your energy dances
around your skin, so enlivening,
arising, intensifying,
gathering into a concentrated spot
on the forehead.

Open it.

Open it wide again,
let it spy everything,
burn away all illusion
before raging onward,
before you hide again.