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Fin-De-Siecle, Like You Wouldn’t Believe, Part 2

(Fin-de-Siècle . . . )

Finding Your Own Way Out Finding your own way out! Now there’s an interesting concept. Emotionally, it has a reassuring ring to it. We like to believe we’re masters of our predicament. We like to believe there’s a resolution to the muddle. But what exactly does this mean? Finding our own way out of “WHAT”? A draining job? A bad relationship? This World of Suffering? Separation from God? Our Death? And who or what exactly does the finding? You? We? The Self? (Which one? The BIG SELF or small self?) The Soul? A Benevolent God? And what exactly gets found? The Means of Escape? Immortality? Absolute Truth? Eternal Salvation? And finally, how do we know we’re out? For sure? When we get a Certificate of Graduation? When it doesn’t hurt anymore? When we can walk on water? When we ascend as rainbow bodies into Heavens? The whole process can become very problematic, very ethereal, very elusive, very fast. It’s easy to understand how people become discouraged, disengaged, or choose to avoid the process altogether.

Before I continue, I should clarify the nature of the vocabulary I’m using: Existential Paté, Outright Intensity, Hum of Transformation, Collective Being, Cosmic Recipe. Next, you’ll be expecting me to ask to have my Crystals aligned. If you know me, “NEW AGE” is not the label that first comes to mind. These capitalized phrases do not point to some ultimate, absolute realities. I’m a firm and jaded disbeliever in such declarations. Not because they don’t exist, but because of the silliness they induce in their promoters.

These phrases are only placeholders—symbolic markers for experiences nearly impossible to talk about. Experience of Outright Intensity is disruptive enough; attempting to explain it can drive you stark raving mad. That’s why those familiar with living this Intensity resort to Mantra, Yantra, Dada—means of expression that transcend the limiting structures of logic, language, culture, and sanity. Don’t try this at home folks. They’ll call the Cops! Or worse, you might end up in the care of your friendly neighborhood Shrink who makes a living pushing drugs more shamelessly than a pool hall hustler.

Wonders on Belmont I should further clarify what I mean by experience of Outright Intensity. Although it would come in handy if I gave workshops I’m not talking about seeing the sky split apart with Chariots of Fire Descending. Nor have any bushes in my yard burst into flames revealing rules to live by. I'm talking about simply walking up Belmont Street to have a cup of tea, with a crescent moon over my left shoulder and setting orange into greens of West Hills. When the tall dark firs on Mt. Tabor, my eyes, their function, and the seeming atmospheric distance between, dissolve into nothingness. Into Outright Intensity!

There’s absolutely nothing special about this disappearance act. Really. It only shows that the transformative experience we’re all seeking doesn’t wait for us in some Himalayan Temple, or up a flight of steps in Machu Picchu. It’s waiting for us here, all the time, right where we live. Waiting for us to truly inhabit the self we hardly know because it’s not there, in ways we find difficult to understand. Any awakening, any revolution, any transformation that begins from somewhere else, doesn’t begin at all. Pure Outright Intensity, born of a neurotic, insecure, insensitive slacker! Will Wonders Never Cease?!

Paul Gauguin kept a most remarkable journal during his stay on Tahiti at the fin-de-siècle of the last century. The pages of NOA NOA burn with the experience of Outright Intensity. “The nearly naked man was wielding with both hands a heavy axe that left, at the top of the stroke, its blue imprint on the silvery sky and, as it came down, its incision on the dead tree, which would instantly live once more a moment of flames—age-old heat, treasured up each day. On the ground purple with long serpentine copper-coloured leaves, [there lay] a whole Oriental vocabulary—letters (it seemed to me) of an unknown, mysterious language.”

If this potential to transform is always so close at hand why don’t we experience it more often? A simple question with a not so simple answer. Or maybe the answer is so damn simple it’s difficult to find the courage to act upon it. Sometimes, I feel I know how to make this Outright Intensity happen. Not in the sense of being its author. More in the sense of surrendering into its presence. If it’s always there the question becomes, “Where are We?”

The remedy most commonly offered to alleviate this dilemma is to find the Right Path, the Right Teaching, the Right Teacher. While sounding simple enough, it’s easier said than done. Even those absolutely sure they’ve found The PATH, often report years later less than fruitful results. Does this mean they made the wrong choice? Didn’t follow through? Had unrealistic goals? Who’s to decide? Compare these to the few who find the Perfect Path, make the Perfect Effort, and Graduate with Highest Honors, and you still may not have an example of Perfect Liberation. After seeing a few of these Graduates, I sometimes wonder who’s better off.

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