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Everything posted by thelerner

  1. Learning to Burn

    I'm writing this raw, so I'll probably edit it a few times. I'm putting it in the Articles section because Burning Man has a very Tao Bums vibe to it and I encourage others to experience it. Last year. I opened an email account I no longer used and among the 1000 unread messages was 'ARE YOU READY, WE BURN IN 5 DAYS!!'. No I wasn't. I'd joined the Burning Man newsletter years ago. I'd always wanted to go, but life, marriage, kids and a twinge of fear always kept me away. Let me back up try to explain what Burning Man (BM) is. Its an event, an experimental city built in the middle of the Nevada desert for one week. People from around the world come to it (the biggest minority being Californians). In some ways the only rule is there is the Golden One. No commerce allowed, no buying or selling anything (except drinks(nonalcoholic) at the center tent. It is a gift economy and you are expected to generously share with others but also be self sufficient. The book 'Pronoia' writes about it glowingly as the best last bastion of human freedom. A place where people go to build there Utopia' How could a person not want to go there. A few warned me it was a just a place to do drugs, others disagreed, saying it was a place to discover yourself, find and live out your artistic passion. The theme for the year was Evolution. I mentioned it to my wife. She disregarded it. That night I dreampt of Burning Man, woke up the middle and was able to slip back into it. That's rare for me. I spent the next day thinking about the possible trip, fuming that I probably wouldn't go. That night I told my wife I really want to go. She looked at the calendar, said if I was going to go, this would be an ideal time since the kids just started school, but didn't have any activities. This was the end of 4 day (to go). I hadn't really expected to be doing it. I spent day 3 trying to decide if I should and if I did how I'd get there. From Chicago it was about 1700 miles. If I flew I couldn't bring all the camping equipment I needed, and if I bought it there I couldn't bring it back. Driving take 3 days. There were many Must-Have-Lists available on the internet. Most were at least 200 items long. I noticed woman's lists had 4 gallons of water a day, whereas men's had only 2 gallons. Obviously woman were wasting water on such things as bathing. If you want adventure you have to travel. Online I purchased a ticket, $300 to be picked up at will call in Nevada. I bought some camping supplies and headed off half assed with one day to go from Chicago to the alkaline desert 1700 miles away. I left at 5:00 in the morning. I woke my wife up and kissed her goodbye. Walking out the door I felt a little put off that she hadn't gotten out of bed and sat down for a good bye coffee or something. It was a long trip and I'd certainly driven her 30 miles to the airport whenever she'd needed to fly. My bit of anger and its questionable justification would weigh on my mind during the long drive. I'd stopped at the library earlier and took out some audio CD's for the trip. One of them was a long college Philosophy course. I made it through 2 hours of listening to 'What is Proof, before I answered 'What is Boredom' and took it out. I also had 9 hours of Adyashanti CD on True Meditation. This was more up my alley. There were some good concepts in it. He particularly had my number when he discussed how too many meditators would go directly into trance state and bypass the everyday mind, and that is a big mistake. True meditation is not the trance, it has to be found and reconciled within the confines of the everyday mind. I listened to radio, moving in and out of local stations every 30 minutes. Lots of fundamentalist Christian radio, I'd listened, it to give me something to focus and fume at. Driving through Iowa and Nebraska was visually boring. I made good time that day. I made it all the way to the Colorado border where I found a cheap hotel and stayed the night. Waking up I was still 1000 miles away and the BM festival was starting. Colorado was visually stimulating. I turned off the radio and drove with my thoughts, still on the same highway I took out of Chicago. I thought about where I was in life, what I'd accomplished and the mistakes I've made. I called home a few times to let them know I was fine and so the kids could update my location on map. The beauty of Colorado faded as I approached the desertlike scrub of Utah. There was occasional burst of beauty, and I think I saw a herd of wild gazelles. Once on the phone I passed a broken down car. I think it had Burn or Bust sign on it, but I was going 75 mph and didn't stop. That weighed on me. BM is supposed to be about community, joining a tribe, reigniting the caring impulse that civilization keeps dormant. I decided I wouldn't let it happen again. I made it over the Continental Divide, my ears popping from the heights and at times my hands a little too tight on the wheel. With the Sun on its way down I made it to Salt Lake City. I thought about staying there but pushed on, the drive so steeply downwards I coasted at highway speeds in neutral gear and moved toward the salt flats to the east. The flats were remarkable, they seemed like a desert w/ a few inches of salt water on top of it. Flakes of salt flew up like snow as you drove. The water gave way to flat hard desert. With the sunset I made it to Nevada and bill boards screamed, 'Come to our Casino', how could I resist. There were casino hotels and I walked through them and picked the cheapest. I treated myself to an extravagant buffet dinner, then gambled, losing $90 quickly. That bothered me, gambling is a losing affair, but it can be done more intelligently, money management being the key to playing longer. One section had betting on various horse races around the country. One race had 2 early disqualifications so only 4 horses were running, an unusually small number. Two were clearly favorites, but their pay offs were low. Still there's a certain bet where you pick the first and second place winner; that one had a 100% payoff. I made it and won. A little excitement before camping. There were late shows, strip clubs but I called it a night. This was in part a spiritual quest and I'd already strayed too much. I had missed day one of BM, maybe that was a good thing, 10's of thousand of people coming in meant lines of hours. Plus I'm not really into camping, much less in the desert. I got up early and headed out, 250 miles to go. Nevada was scrub and canyon. Ahead I saw a person walking the highway, they looked like something out of Mad Max. It was near desert and I weighed whether I should stop, maybe he was going to burning man? By the time I made the decision I was half a mile ahead of him. I stopped the car on the side of the road and waited. Thinking about it I was still a 100 miles away from BM. Maybe he wasn't heading there. He didn't have his thumb out. The Mad Max look came from a tarp he had rolled up and hitched across his shoulders, giving him wings that stretched out 2 feet to his sides. I waited for him, then got out of the car and walked down the highway to meet him. His name was Michael (like mine), he wasn't going to BM, he was heading, walking(!) to Southern California to spend the winter. He was a bum, maybe I should say tramp since that has less negative connotations. A long time ago I lived out of a back pack for months. I can respect the decision to live a life of freedom. He was in his 50's. He was heading in my direction so I offered him a ride, he excepted. He had few possession but had 4 multi gallon water bottles that must have weighed at least 30 pounds altogether. It was close to 90 degrees and he was hiking through the desertlike scrub with at least 40 pounds of weight. I enjoyed talking to him. He'd been homeless for years. He described how he survived in the desert, mostly eating ramen noodles. He told me about his family whom he hadn't seen in years. Where he'd camp. How the scrub was filled with tender that burned white hot. I told him a little about myself, we shared a dislike for radio preachers and right wingers. He seemed like a good sort. His life style was by choice, much freedom along w/ ascetic hardship. We drove about 60 or 70 miles, then his route went one way, mine went another. I dropped him off at a rest stop where the highway split. He didn't ask, but I gave him some bottles of gatorade and $40. He thanked me, it would keep him in ramen for a while. As he walked away I felt ashamed I didn't offer more. I'd spent that much on dinner the previous night, not to mention losing twice that in the casinos. I had a feeling I'd have learned more following him and his lifestyle for a week then I'd learn at Burning Man. Course the first lesson would be I wasn't tough enough to hike miles in the desert w/ a pack. For me the big question is whether there's a god in control and whether it gives a damn about us. I hope in deep meditation to get my answer. Til then its nice to have synchronicities like meeting another Michael who is so different yet similar to shake up my perceptions. I drove on, an hour later I thought I was at Burning Man but was only at the nearest town. BM was another 60 miles away and it was already afternoon. I filled up on water and uncharacteristically on beef jerky which I'd started to enjoy. I was finally off the highway I'd been on for two days. The rest of the route would be on country roads through an Indian reservation. Along the road were little stands offering churros and tacos that looked good. I was now part of an increasingly long caravan of cars, trucks and RV's and didn't want to leave the road. In the distance tall dust devils spun like mini tornadoes. It got slower and slower as we approached, finally queing up in one of a dozen car lines before the entrance. There was a pull off for people who had tickets at will call I took it. I got out of my car and stepped onto the alkaline flat. It was 90 degrees with hot wind whipping up white dust to near white out conditions. This might not be as easy I thought. Goggles were one of the 100 things I didn't bring from the Must-Have list. I got in a relatively short line, gave a person at the booth my name, and got my shiny ticket and itinerary booket on what was going on (&where) each day. I got back in my car, drove back into line and cued up for the initiation ritual that newby virgins got before entering BM. When I got to the head of the line I was greeted by two men in dresses. They were the volunteers who got people ready and psyched for the BM lifestyle. They asked me a few questions, went over the rules and tried to give me an understanding of the layout of the city I was about to enter. There were free boutiques inside where I could get proper clothes. They told me BM would have about 45,000 people. They asked if I had any drugs in the car. Had me scream a few affirmations, then scream them again louder. Finally I hit the entry bell a few times signaling a BM virgin was joining the tribe. I rolled into Black Rock City, this years BM. The dust storm was still going on. Despite the dust the ground was rock hard. The city was round, shaped like a bike wheel with roads A-Z leading to the center and others labeled with evolutionary names A through Z circling out in rings. Half was the inhabited, the other half was the Playa, open land containing huge art projects, like the giant 3 story Temple and Wooden Burning Man Statue. I had no idea where to go,but spotted a few R.V.'s parked in a U shape. I stopped next to them and asked the people nearby if I could park there. They said no problem. So I did 2 smart things. I used there RV's to protect me against the dusty wind, and when I set up my tent I drove over the bottom tarp so it couldn't get blown away. Setting up the damn tent in the dust, heat, rock hard ground was not fun. I was a poor dust cropper surrounded by fancy folk who lived in RV's with amenities like air conditioning, hot food, water and something called electricity. I introduced myself. The 3 couples had known each other for a while and it was not there first BM. I'm 45, they were a few years older then me and from California. They seemed very nice. We took a group picture. The woman to my side faced me and turned to pose with her leg raised and thigh on my lap. I'm just a simple Midwesterner, and generally we're protective of our personal space, but being a squatter means getting along and I didn't complain. I pulled up a chair and indulged in their wine as a dust storm blew around us. As we talked a naked woman pushing a naked man in a wheel barrow came by. Another sign we weren't in Kansas anymore. One of the RV'ers grabbed a camera and the naked couple graciously posed for them. Not that I'd consider them photo worthy as they were older then we were and perhaps a bit more uh rounded. Still they seemed happy and as long they were smart enough to cover up w/ sun screen god bless'em. The dust died down and I went exploring. There was a post apocalyptic vibe to the place, but an optimistic one. Like, the end is here, lets party. In the vast city there RV's, tents, and fantastic make shift structures. Domes covered with beautiful multicolored clothes, others topped with white styrofoam like oversized igloos. The inner areas had group camps that were little city's within themselves. People were in unusual states of dress and undress. Like my greeters there was a strong contingent of cross dressing around. Later I'd see there were several free shops for picking up colorful garments. As an Aikidoist I've spent years running around in a long black skirts (hakama), but as a man I need pockets, thus never really considered any fancy garbs or going without. The bicycles going up and down the hard clay streets were amazing, decorated as insects or hot rods. There was a group there armed with blow torches who would elongate bikes fronts making them chopper style. One monster bike was a 4 person take off on a Hummer, complete w/ 4 wide tires and orange paint. The mutant vehicles were even more amazing. Many had space themes, I saw star wars hover machines (had wheels), Apollo capsules, a motorized couch run steered by the joy stick on the side. These were amazing, but they were nothing compared to what would come out at night. I walked to the tent at the main center of the city. It was a huge open aired circus tent. They were 3 stages in it, not counting the spacious center. Each stage had couches and chairs around them. The center had a few couches, but mainly pillows of all sorts. In the center was a soft 6 foot ball covered in teddy bears. Not only am I not making this up, but the giant teddy ball is indicatative of the playful spirit of the event. Young kids were roll it around. Older daredevils would leap on top of it and get spun off. The tent had the only commerce around. They sold coffee, iced coffee and a gatoradelike drink. The first few days it wasn't horribly crowded, the acts in the tent were generally excellent. Most of musicians were professional and gave out free CD's after they sang. One talented folk singer said at the end of her act 'I have CD's for $10 ..' and was immediately questioned and booed, til she said 'whoops forgot where I was, I have FREE CD's for you.' The tent was filled inside and out w/ art work. Drawings some of them interactive, some large impressive statues, many w/ electronics, free coloring books and write in books. A third of the time there were classes taking up all or part of the center space. One was tantric dance, I think the group was connected to TantraNova which has a location in Chicago. They showed an intimate circular dance where the bodies are always in contact, rolling around each other. They encouraged people to join in. I was tempted, but I didn't want to scare anyone off by my invitation. It was enough to sip iced coffee and watch. Always the chance being approached by middle aged slightly over weight male is not a girls dream. Though maybe it is, and some girl somewhere is writing now about the fat gent who got away. Later there would be capoeira demonstrations there. Capoeira is probably the most entertaining martial arts to watch, with its music, danceforms and dynamic kicks. There were American showing off what they knew, but when a small South American guy joined in, the difference was night and day. Knowing how to play vs Mastery. I spent the evening walking around. Near the center hub were the big groups w/ special projects. Some had theater, bars (one nudes only), the hang out, which was filled w/ a dozen hammocks. I discovered Black Rock city was only half filled w/ tents, the other half was the Playa, a vast area filled with unbelievable things. Major pieces of art, the giant burning man sacrifice, the 3 story built-to-burn temple, lots of absolutely mind blowing stuff. We're talking full size (25 ft) rocket (which would later be exploded), 14 foot computer controlled rubic cube, giant beautiful statues of woman w/ chains for hair that would burst into flames at night. A freakin sledding hill made w/ green plastic carpet. You'd climb up it helped by rope, then grab some corrugated boxes and use them to slide down, usually into elaborate pillow structures people on the bottom would make. At night the big mutant vehicles came out. Huge galleons based within double decker buses. Many fire breathing custom vehicles of all sizes, blowing fire. Sci fi, fantasy, vehicles of all kinds represented. No cars were allowed, only what was strange and they had to be certified. It was a freaky overload world there. I was tired, went to bed at 12:00, woke up at 3:00 and headed back to the central tent. Lots of people there, one or two musicians playing. In the center court jugglers held sway, many w/ bolo's practicing and working out routines. During the big burns the balls would be lit on fire and they needed to be precise. I talked to one guy who said he'd been up 42 hours cause theres so much to see. I believe him. I'd only seen a fraction of the place and it was amazing. All around the tent were people who were crashed. I headed back to the tent and fell asleep. I was woken a few times by loud sounds, horns, the bright morning light. I tried to keep sleeping but there was no way. The nearest washrooms, portapotties were a half mile away. I had my portable bike and headed to them then back to the main tent. I got the low down on classes and exhibits that were going on. The days kinda ran together. It probably didn't help that I spent so much time in bars. Nearby my tent some guys had set up a small bloody mary bar. I rarely passed them without getting a homemade drink. It only had 5 seats, usually had an empty one. They served one drink, gourmet bloody marys. I've never been into them but I know quality when I taste it. Each drink was made by hand, including real horseradish and bitters, premium vodka, no mix was used. The best part of the drink was the pickled asparagus. For me they tasted best light on the alcohol and spices, two asparagus stalks please. A larger more social bar I liked was the Koi bar, large and beautifully decorated w/ gold fish swirling around on top. Again we're in the desert camping and there's this beautiful bar set up in the open. The bartender and people there were very friendly and they served a variety of drinks and if your timing was right, food!. Again not too crowded. I think it may have been a gay leaning bar, but I have no local sense of gaydar so I'm not really sure. One funny episode happened there. I was drinking and scrounging some bacon sandwiches from them. A few of he guys thought it would be funny to bring them down the road to the PETA group. Note they weren't exactly PETA, but they were very close and had a fairly large campsite and exhibits that you saw as walked past. As you walked past they had pictures of farm animals which read 'I'm a Mother, I'm a Sister, I Feel'. I'd talked to one of the girls there about my son who is a vegetarian, she gave me some good pointers and let me know she'd be spending the night naked wrapped in plastic in a mock food container. She did this to protest the meat industry, god bless the young. Anyway the bar group forgot they wouldn't be heckling simple vegetarians, they'd be pissing off militant vegans. They came rushing back 15 minutes later with stories about how they almost got there asses kicked by the crazies there. I loved it. I later saw the young woman in her performance art display. Naked, wrapped in plastic in a large faux meat packaging. Looking at her you didn't think Meat Bad, rather Woman Good, when do they unwrap her? Another favorite bar was Sharkies. Lots of shade, nice people. Sharkie made only one drink a day, in 5 gallon batches, he had a strict policy of bring your own cup. Good stuff, pretty strong. One day it would be Zombies, the next XXX Pain Killers, though I never thought his drinks were quite as strong as advertised. In the middle of the day, through in sweltering heat, nothing tasted better. And bless him, if the timing was right he gave away hot sandwiches. One afternoon there was an under tone of possible violence. Some of the 'regulars' were talking about a young tough who was threatening and causing trouble the day before, a real asshole. As soon they stopped a biker type walked into the veranda. Bald, tattooed, sleeveless t-shirt, by the looks I could tell this was the guy they were talking about. There was a moment of silence then one the group, a Jerry Garcia type, walks up and says 'How you doing, whats up..Let me get you a drink..'. A perfect preemptive move. Totally defuses the situation and its back to mellow. One of things discussed was people slipping drugs, Mickies, into drinks. I was under the assumption that it was a BM urban myth, but they had some reports of people taking drinks and either passing out or getting wiped out for a few hours. The consensus was these were douche bag pranksters, very rare, but it was a reality. Another concern moving through the bars at the other extreme were police stings on serving the under aged. Apparently some places were being closed down w/ the owners facing heavy fines. This was unprecedented in BM past. Once or twice I was offered drugs, I turned them down. I have enough vices without adding to them. A very cool bar that I didn't visit too often, but was fascinated by was the S & M Wine Bar. They played fabulous funny music. I wish I had there play list, every song was raunchy and hilarious. Before ordering a drink you rolled 3 dice and had to do something sexual and degrading to get it. Things like 12 push ups topless, or bottomless, so many spankings w/ a paddle. I noticed the woman ahead of me had to roll the dice, so did the girl behind me. I was not asked, ah to be old, but I did get my merlot . There were hundreds of organized groups at BM. There was a Jewish group that sponsored meditation, Shabbat dinner etc. I tried to make it to there events but never found them, or got side tracked. In one of my searches for them I found a fabulous Denver group. Their campsite included small wooden houses, a deck for yoga, a nice bar. One of there charities/art forms was free albeit naked showers, it attracted some knockout woman. As I walking past them admiring the set up I was invited in by one of the leaders, another Michael. We talked and drank. They also offered free pastie any woman who cared and dared. The pastie of the day had little propellers on them. Think of nerdy beanie caps for nipples. As we talked a well endowed woman came in and Michael painted her nipple with a latex glue and capped it w/ a beanie pasty. A female Denverite came by and pooed, pooed and said he used the wrong size, a medium when the nipple needed a large. But the woman was happy w/ it or didn't like the thought of it being pulled off. Another Denverite put out a sign that said free hand massages for the next 2 hours. I let them know I had experience (true, 10 week course CSMT) in massage and I'd be happy to act as one of the masseurs. I was accepted. We used moisturizing lotion instead of oil. My third customer was a topless beauty who went by Gaia, she was so appreciative of the hand massage I offered to do her feet. As I cleaned them and lotioned her up she groaned loudly. By the end of the massage she was motionless and her chair was moved away to a shady spot. I can't take full credit but sometimes the right technique at the right time can have that effect. I gained a reputation for massaging so well that ladies passed out. After that business was good. My next customer was a full body paint job. She was sunset and flowers from neck to toe, Gaugin meets tequila sunrise. She was a beautiful hairless canvas. I was thorough, professional and loved every inch. We don't get to do these things in the Midwest. Nearby the Denver site was the Purple Haze a busy bar and dance site. It had non stop misters that cooled off the dancers. It rocked, but I was a little old for it and felt out phase with it. Same thing with the late night Raves they had. A couple hundred people standing close and pulsing. I tried but I wasn't in the same spirit so moved on. One amazing event was the full size Mad Max Thunderdome. If you didn't see the movie it was a post apocalyptic place where people fought to the death. Physically it was a large, a 40 or 50 foot geodesic dome. People climbed all over the structure to see the action inside. If they fell from the top, they'd be needing an ambulance or morgue. Two contestants were strapped into harnesses w/ long rubber cords. They were given a choice of soft padded weapons, swords, two pillowed staffs and the like. A tall leather clad dominatrix was the announcer. The two 'warriors' sometimes guy/guy girl/girl or small guy/ large woman would be pulled backwards til they were stretched out at opposite ends, then let go to smash into each other in midair. Then some not so playful combat would begin. With the bungie cord harness they could do monster jumps and midair flips. When combat bogged down the contestants would be separated and relaunched at each other. Again something we don't have here. The spectators, particularly those balancing on top were at a greater risk then the fighters. Each night it drew a huge crowd. So big it was hard to get a good view. The fighting was fierce, I wouldn't want to be a contestant, not that I was asked. Other Oddities. During the day watering trucks sprayed the streets in an attempt to keep the dust down. Naked people followed them trying to get a quick shower. One night in the main tent a group did the play Godspell. Very professional, great voices and staging; they must have been done it together before. It was unusual to see topless disciples and Jesus bald and covered in blue paint. One group had a theater which showed comically redubbed movies. I watched Harry Potter w/ a hilarious over dubbing. Other places had cunning psychedelic light shows. One tent had giant mega-oversized furniture as there art. There was the naked man bike ride which attracted a few dozen (not me, not enough sunscreen). There was the bunny invasion which had a hundred or so rabbit dressed people rush the main stage w/ signs like down with war up with carrots. One Night in Black Rock. On my third night there was a major burn. Smaller then the famed Burning Man effigy & the large temple, but it was still a house sized bond fire. Before it was lit the area was cordoned off. Fire dancers came out and performed within the restricted area. Most had exotic costumes and used lit bolos, balls of flame on rope. A few used batons. They were daring and talented, drawing arced pictures in the dark. When they stopped the building was lit. The dancers had whet our appetite for fire and this was a 10 course meal. The fire spread and grew and grew. Those of us in the front row were forced to move back. The fire reached up 30, 40 feet. I found the flames on at the bottom particularly fascinating. The intense heat caused waves to ripple along the bottom, as though the fire was liquid. It was like a window into another elemental universe. The intense heat shortened the burns life, it was consumed within an hour. I headed off into dark toward the main tent a mile or two away, in a certain reverie from the event. I stopped at one of the fire art works. An out door fire pit, made of iron and cut to allow light to shine through intricate symbols. It wasn't large and there was a pile of fire wood next to it. I found a log and sat on it and watched the flames. There was a poet reading and a family listening. The man I took to be the father was short, trim, wearing a dark leather vest and an outfit like a subdued bull fighter. The woman was taller, dark hair, open shirt, leather skirt. There were two kids. A boy maybe 11 and a younger sister of about 7. They had an Adams Family jibe to them, the kids less so. The woman was enraptured by the poem being read. Literally swaying to the words as if they were music. I found the poem a bit trite and cliched. Finishing the poet bowed and walked away. The woman was still clearly in awe of it. I told her 'You are the one who makes the poem great. It was was your listening that gave it power.' I meant it, the poem didn't effect me, but watching her reaction to it did. She smiled appreciatively. The man, I assume her husband was doing tai chi inspired movements toward the fire. Like the fire in the pit was a dance partner, pulling and pushing towards it. Franz Bardons descriptions of Fire Salamanders came to mind. The boy emulated his father, but the power of the movement wasn't as evident. It's not hard to fake Tai Chi, but it can't be done balanced on one leg. There were movements he did on one leg that had flow and precision. I found his moves as interesting as his wifes reaction to the poem. When he ended I complimented him on the power of his movements and he bowed graciously. Here and now they were in there element, I don't know how people like this live in the outside world. I hope they had there nitch and thrived. Before they walked away the mother gave me a small leather pouch. I thanked her and wished I had something to give in return. They left and I put it in my pocket without opening it. I continue to sit, the log making a good zafu. A young woman came by. She asked me if I was the Guardian of the Flames? (Sounds like something out of a Ghostbuster movie, but honestly it happened) I said no. Seemingly ignoring my answer she asked if she could throw some rose petals into the cauldron? I said 'Yes'. We talked a little bit and she went away. I threw some logs into the fire to keep it burning. A couple comes by, they begin to kiss by the fire. I stop them and move them away. The woman's long dress was getting dangerously close to the flames. I guess I was a Guardian of the Flames of a sort. Classes. I just found the Burning man booklet that was given when you got your ticket. Here is a sample of classes, Repeating Tues Events. Tasty NOodles 1-5 @ Camp OObleck -Rock away music dancing & cooling Mists. DarWeenie Camp 1-3 New Age fun, food frolic w/ weenies, lemonade & WhoreShoe (??)toss Burning Tarot Readings- Miss Magdalen read better w/ chocolate, wine and Whiskey. So You Want to Tie People - A workshop Energy & Body Work Conspiracy Theory Discussion Group So You Think Your Hot- Chili tastings Bloodade n' Lube Confessional - (no idea) but there were supplies for necro hobbies Sharpie Body Art Salon Spontaneous story creation Bondage Rides (I quote) -Learn to fly! Explore the unique experience of being bound in rope and suspended in md-air. Become a work of art, or just come of the endorphins. Acoustic Rock and Folk Jam. These were pretty typical events. There was lots of Yoga(all types, some nude), kite flying, physics discussions, David Deida's work discussion, 20 or 30 classes a day listed in the What Where When booklet, w/ many more unlisted. I walked by a tent and was steered into a class on Kotodama, sacred sounds. I've always been had an interest in it. Good class, it had about 35 people sitting in a circle, less about chanting and more vowel work. Close to what I've done in the past under the Abulafia kabalic system. The teacher had some interesting points on how to aim sound that I'd never seen covered before. I don't buy into the New Age 'The Secret' philosophy, but there was a course on it, so I thought why not. If you only learn about what you agree with you become one sided. I'd got 3 important lessons from it. The large tent seemed very crowded so I decided to listen outside. The teacher kept encouraging more people to come in, when they hesitated she'd say this is a class on creating abundance, of course there was room. So they walked in and were crammed like sardines. During her lecture a nearby camp site started playing loud music. It must have been interfering with the lecture. I walked over and asked if them to turn it down. They did, but no one in the tent had come out to take action. They were either willing to suffer with it or trying to wish it away. So lesson number one was action is better then wishes. I wasn't the only one outside listening. I started talking to a person who'd just arrived. Soon people were staring at me with disapproval. I'd been creating a disturbance as bad as the one I'd solved. So lesson 2 is, without mindfulness you end up the cause the problems you despise. I would have shut up much sooner if the people around me had gotten my attention w/ a nudge. People aren't mind readers. This brought me back to the funk I was in when I left for the trip. The fact my wife hadn't given me a better send off. I didn't ask her too. If I had said come downstairs, lets have coffee before I go, I'm sure she would have. Too often we expect others to be mind readers; lesson number 3 is don't blame the people for not doing things when you don't ask. The universe requires a little bit of boldness. The night was rule by mutant vehicles. Moving Houses, Pirate Galleons, Fire breathing dragons, all manner of dressed up tricked out vehicles moved around the dark playa. So many it was dangerous to be without several light sources wrapped around yourself. I was able to hitch onto one craft and sat next to a group of overage frat boys who were passing out margaritas. Here's a BM hint, always have a glass available, in many situations its strictly BYOCup. Most of the large floats belonged to groups. I was on one and was asked to leave because it was group only at a certain time. Still, grabbing a ride on one is the best way to view the playa. There was double decker bus parked deep in the playa I climbed on, but it was empty. Maybe broken down. I enjoyed the view from the top. The figure of the Burning Man was like our Sphinx, it was covered with lights now, when its two massive arms were raised it meant the burn was going to happen. The 3 story Temple prominent on the horizon, like the Man it too would burn. As I watched a young woman dressed only in a loin cloth got on the bus and climbed to the top. She danced to the sound of distant music. In the past days I'd learned how to look at naked woman. Not to gawk or look away, but to appreciate them. Show admiration without lust. In the high desert alone on the bus stop, she danced I watched. It was a a magical moment, surreal. After a few minutes she hugged me and went away. For all the amazing moments I still had bouts of loneliness and melancholy. The burn out factor is high, everything get to be too much. Too much sensory overload. The heat drained, the high altitude sun sapped, the cold night air refreshed then chilled. I enjoyed connecting to people, but they'd come and go. I missed my family, my mundania. I left after the morning after the Big Burn. I had enjoyed the smaller one more. There was an edginess I had I couldn't get rid of, it was time to come home. The trip home was filled with suspense, murder and the super natural compliments of Stephen King. I'd taken Duma Key from the library and enjoyed all 15 discs and 17 hours of it. Burning Man may be this nations greatest unknown treasure. I'd recommend people try it. Go there with an open mind. Its a place where you can find or create anything. The gift economy part is wonderful. I was given authentic BM dog tags, various art work, bumper stickers, a vial of playa dust. The Adams-like family I met, when I opened the pouch later in my tent it contained an arrow head. I don't think I've exaggerated my experiences there. I've written about drinking, but in truth it would be rude to have more then 2 drinks at one place at one time, you don't want to over impose on peoples generosity. I'll often nurse a drink for a while. Maybe at times I over imposed, but in most of the time I was a good guest, shared my music via Ipod and what small rations I had with others. I made gallons of herbal ice tea and made it available to all. Tried to inform people of what was going on where. Things to know: Bring a bike, preferably a small cheap no speed. Burning Man is miles wide and you don't want to spend hours hiking. Bring a lock too. For the same reason try to camp in the middle. Closer to the main tent is better. I find tent living sucks, on the Burning Man newsletter there is the name of a place in California that rents small 15 to 21 foot mini RV's. That would be nice. If you have a truck with a commercial name on it, be aware it must be covered up, no logos allowed. Another perhaps more ideal way to experience BM is join a group, the big ones have kitchens (private meal plans), showers, comraderie etc. I was amazed at the intricacy of one cavernous site. I was told the builders were Hollywood set designers. One Burner told me the best way to start out was to sign up as volunteer and stay in Hushville, a quiet region. My area was relatively quiet, but we still had yocals blaring loud music as they sped by in mutant vehicles at all hours. I wish'd I'd brought goggles. I did pick up a sleep mask and air plugs on the way there, they helped a little. You need a collection of glow necklaces, flashlights and headlamps. The night playa is dark and dangerous with moving vehicles of all shapes and sizes. You need to be clearly visible. A few years ago a woman was run over while lying down star gazing alone on the playa. Another dark side was leaving BM. A few miles out there was accident a car off the road onto a ditch. Further down was very bad one, I think it was head on collision by people trying to pass on a one lane road. An hour later on the highway I passed a third bad accident. Michael
  2. Chewing on a dollar

    from James Clear: You are richer than 93% of people. Not in money, but in time. 108 billion people have lived throughout history. 93% of them are dead. You have what every king and queen, every pharaoh and ruler, every CEO and celebrity of the past would give all their wealth for: Today. on the other hand: If you have just $4,210 to your name, you’re better off than half of people around the globe. That’s according to the 2018 Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse Research Institute sadly: If you have a single $1 free and clear, you are wealthier then 15.1 percent of the households in the US. report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York- We estimate that 15.1 percent of the households in the U.S. population have net wealth less than or equal to zero, while 14.0 percent have strictly negative wealth.
  3. Say Something Nice About Someone Chain!

    @Taomeow is brilliant. I've always thought of her as being on the same planet, different world, because her knowledge, experiences and viewpoint are so different then the tic toc world. @Megamind, If I was in a fox hole Megamind would be a great person to have beside me. He's calm under fire, grounded and has years of dedicated meditation experience. Beyond the OP, there are so many people on this site I consider friends. Ones I'd love to visit, have a beer with, invite over. Wonderful people with great insights, knowledge and compassion. There are also people that I've insulted, been rude to and made fun of. To them, I apologize, mea culpa. I get hot headed and stupid, loosing perspective. Please take my annoying and/or Pollyanish writings with a grain of salt.
  4. What counts as Idolatry to you?

    hmnn, I'm not much of a Daoist, other then admire the philosophy (as I see it), ie seeking harmony with ebb and flow of nature. Which I don't do a great job on. I'm not much of a Jew, other then admire the philosophy of trying to see the sacred in the ordinary. Where the most frequent prayer isn't the Shema calling out Gods unity, rather its the brachas. Baruch atta.. which states (to me) The spirit (breath/ruach) of God is everywhere, his mystery infuses everything, Wow- Noun(person place thing event)
  5. Hopefully the long process of gaining siddhis results in gaining spiritual maturity.. thus ones goals change along with it. Without humility and respect for dharma (wisdom teachings) one can go out on dangerous tangents.. paranoia and egomania. <<I did say hopefully :)>>
  6. I hear it and it sets up barriers to having a good relationship. They become the male version of the 'man-eating' feminists they rail against. Complete with long lists of hand picked internet anecdotes that perfectly prove there point.
  7. What counts as Idolatry to you?

    I like to keep things simple, most old school Kabbalah gets sophisticated very fast, though much of the modern 'pop' stuff is on the new agey side of things. Not necessarily good or bad. Thus the Kabbalah I do is Abulafiah, a form of chanting, thus it wouldn't be considered Kabbalah at all, rather sacred sounds. Not dissimilar to the kotodama of Shinto, with concentrations on long vowels. My shower practice is Rawn Clarks YHVH canticle, which is Hermetic, done in Hebrew and has a mantra of the famous Rabbi Nachman Ribbonno Shel Olam (Master of the Universe), within. Talk about a hybrid. Nachman was wonderfully practical mystic. A practice he had and recommended to others was talk to God. Daily. Establish a relationship with him, personal in your own tonque. Tell him your problems, your successes, pour out your heart to him. Not an easy thing to do. Easier to blog
  8. new member having trouble posting

    Or at least an authorized gatekeeper to let people in. (&keep the bots out)
  9. Most everyone wants to be rich but few have the luck, plan, ability, discipline etc. to achieve it. @Heartbreak do you have a plan? Any particular fields of discipline that you're following?
  10. Would it change my perspective? I'd wonder if things would be better or worse then if Humans ran it. then realize- They're mimicking human behavior with its pandering and chaos so well that it makes no difference. so, no. it wouldn't change my perspective.
  11. I like the book 'Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond' by the Ajahn Brahm ( Great teacher. He's a head monk, funny down to earth. He says Siddhis shouldn't take multiple life times. They are available here and now, but take work. Course the low level ones are deep calm.. true seeing. Higher levels ones are possible but not dependable and generally not targets but he lists them. He also tells stories of seeing into other dimensions. People here do too. A world with dragons and other beings. Yet, like the zoo, here they are, there they go. You end up back home where we chop wood, carry water, complain on internet. As to the question- do we want to spend 6 hours meditating or 6 hours making love to a beautiful woman? I'd say 6 hours making love; which would leave me a 5 1/2 hours to grab a bite, catch up on Netflix, meditate a bit and depending if the Netflix was movie or TV show-make love a 2nd time.
  12. I suppose nothing if thats your chosen path. Its got benefits and problems. The end game of the householder path isn't sex, its about leading a good life, being a decent person, raising a good family, working.. having fun.. having sex, kids.. one can do chi gung and meditate.. as serious hobbies but not the 6 to 8 hours daily of the hardcore. The point of life is not to be Osho or Neeson, its to be your best self. Odds are thats not a movie star or guru/cult leader. There are many good role models for the householding path, ordinary folks, millions of them. On the Siddha path, you're kinda hoping to be a rare superstar. A one in million or maybe that's ten million, if you want something big. You're likely to be misunderstood or poor. If you fail due to lack of talent, dedication, attracting the right teacher or picking the wrong sect then you're forcibly back on the householder path. There's probably much middle ground. Seeking a spiritual life; nothing wrong with the road less traveled.
  13. Learning to Burn

    Burning Man is not an ecological event, though there are groups increasingly pushing for that. Speaking of regionals- I signed up hoping to score tickets for the Midwest Lakes of Fire, Burning Man Regional-, its done by lottery. If anyone else cares to share the experience. Degeneration is option but recommended.
  14. I think I've seen enough episodes of Dr. Who and Terminator movies so I could 'Take On' most the AI. My Amazon Echo A.I. smart speaker knows who's boss.. the worst its ever done is order some accessories for itself. lets see if I can encapsulate it in brief.. loneliness, meeting, doing stuff, rubbing sticks, commitment, kids, doing stuff, ups, downs.. days, months, years, score and a quarter..uh and a lovely valentines day dinner on 2/13 because I didn't reservations earlier. That brings you up to date.. on my wonderful/terrifying relation. Concentrating on things within one's circle of influence seems calming. Focusing on things further out, that we have no control over can be very upsetting. Probably best 80/20 90/10 for the sake of ones sanity.
  15. We have a section here that deals with sickness and pain. If you post there you'll probably get more answers- good bad and irrelevant. So use your own discretion. Caveat Meditator, especially for hard long term problems.. which often require hard long term solutions. Still there's a chance someone here has been in your shoes and can offer good advice. How part is knowing which one Here's my usual 2 bits of advice. Before doing anything too strange, make sure your fundamentals- sleeping, eating, exercising, equanimity are sound.
  16. Greetings Everyone

    Welcome. I'm reminded- Everybody plays the fool, sometime There's no exception to the rule I suppose we need to be the whole deck. But being colorful, being foolish, taking chances, laughing.. playing. not taking the world so seriously That stuff should be near the top of deck, imso addon 2/13> Amazing job. After a harsh reception, you won the crowd over. Frickin fantastic. Your calm cool knowledgeable presence is most welcome. Michael
  17. The worst thing about run-on angry threads, the ones that devolve into personal insults is that they form vendettas and cliques where the animosity creeps into other threads.. poisoning them. Lately we've had 2 or 3 of them open. The board needs new members, with new ideas and perspectives. Are these threads and the state of the board, keeping members from joining? Recently a new member wrote about weather magic and was jumped on repeatedly by several members here. As if we're trying to chase people away. Lets be careful. The danger of going moderatorless is that bad behavior becomes a norm. When a few warnings (or suspension or temporary ban) could have stopped it.
  18. Weather Magick

    Just what I was thinking. Lets not jump down peoples neck. Nothing wrong with skepticism but make your point (preferably gently) and let them discuss their's. For good conversation reign in the skeptic a bit. We're not a science forum we're eclectic philosophy. Add your 2 cents but don't squash the more speculative discussions.
  19. Taoist Enlightenment : UG Krishnamurti

    Sometimes the dharma is sweet Othertimes it's a slap
  20. Taoist Enlightenment : UG Krishnamurti

    He always struck me as what happens when a grumpy old man gets enlightenment. Its still 'Hey you Hippies, get off my lawn' but done with such directness and depth you end up nodding in agreement.
  21. Nose breathing tends to be slower and more relaxing. Though in hot humid weather it can be better to breathe in from nose, out thru mouth. Long term, breathing through the mouth dries it and the throat out. For Wim Hof breathing exercises where fast deep breaths are required, I tend to do 20 nose, the last 10 through mouth.
  22. What counts as Idolatry to you?

    Kinda like a Mexican kid named Jesus (Hesus or worst case Jehovah) walking into a southern baptist school. Though worse, the Jewish kid must have had one the many many names for God thus not to be taken lightly but treated with a certain amount of awe. I expect the school ended giving the kid a nickname. The group of Modern Orthodox (type of 'more' liberal orthodox) tend to straddle the olde ways and new pretty well. Traditional Orthodox sects have there hang ups. Like the Amish, there are rewards but also a fair share of oddities and twists getting along in the modern world.
  23. Can anybody scan my chakras please?

    Same here. I believe I met him for coffee about two years ago. We talked, he seemed a nice guy. I don't follow him here, but when I've occasionally read his posts nothing registered as a red flag. I haven't read most of his posts, and I'm not up on the Jeff controversies. What I have is my own experience, where he seems fine. Which is limited and could be wrong. I did a seminar with Max Christenson, ie Kunlun. I found him fascinating and strange; imo he had the juice. I liked the simplicity of his spontaneous gi-gung system, but long term it wasn't my cup of tea. Many liked it, some had bad psychic reactions to it. Very bad.. see Yoda's reaction where his kid and he had some bad visions. So did a few others, but for most it was fine. I'd recommend it but go in aware of possible problems. That's valid here too. My point is..with energetics we may be peeling off parts of the onion/psyche that have rot behind them. Its not necessary the systems fault, though if they were in a traditional student teacher relationship, the teacher would be there to head it off or help handle the consequences but instead its a 'seminar' world, caveat meditator.
  24. What counts as Idolatry to you?

    As dwai found there are many Jews and rabbis involved in various meditative arts that are pretty open to studying other religions. My temple which is reformed, part of the education of the kids was to field trip to Catholic cathedral to listen to priests, a mosque to learn from a imam, etc., My parents temple, like many sponsor quarterly interfaith dinners and lectures with all the religious centers around them. In the bronze age idolatry was real, lots of gods.. tribalism was everything. You lost a battle and your tribe was gone, poof. It happened alot. These days the rabbis who label things like yoga or bowing during karate as idolatrous are really 'fundamentalists' trying to protect the youth from corrupting influence. ie its not about idolatry, imo. Just worry about the modern world corrupting or seducing members. Those less fundamentalist are open to cross culture experience. These days idolatry is more about over emphasis. While realizing the divine in the ordinary world, don't worship stuff, or yourself, or your car..
  25. LOL! Sadhguru on Corona Virus

    Love Sadhguru. Just as important as the humor mixed with common sense steps, are his words after the song. To meet the challenge with grace and intelligence. The sick may require some isolation but also compassion and not discrimination. That working together being careful and vigilant we can beat this problem, course then another one will come along. And with grace and intelligence and compassion we can beat that one too.