Monday, May 25, 2015


Wind Poppies, Mid May, 2015

     Last Saturday, I sat in the aerial gondola again at the North Fork of the Kings River, and I finally understood its significance, for in that forest even an aerial gondola to me is a dreamlike symbol: It represents a way that was prepared for someone, a way that will remain forever locked to me. As I gazed at the cable gleaming across the river, the gondola chained to the post, I understood, as though unlocking a dream, why throughout my life so many ways have remained closed to me.
Path 12
     When, during meditation years before, I envisioned symbols such as the thousand-petaled lotus, the lemniscate, and the golden equal-armed cross, the meaning of which I only later unlocked, I also saw in my mind’s eye black entities attached to me, headless spiders and insidious blobs and polyps. I mentally drained them into the magma below the earth, but I kept encountering more entities as I peeled back the layers of my subconscious mind. 
     One day during meditation I envisioned a black polyp under my arm and drained it away into the earth. The next day, a white growth, the size and shape of a musket ball, popped out through a slit in my armpit. A few weeks later I saw in my mind’s eye a black blob under my other arm. After I mentally drained the blackness away, a boil developed and soon another white ball--the same size and shape as the first one--oozed out. The same process occurred a few months later: I mentally drained a black entity from my armpit, and a few days later, I squeezed out a round, white growth from a large boil, quite painfully I might add.
     All during this process of physical and mental purification, I could clearly see in my mind’s eye what people have personified for ages as demons: insidious, sentient forces. In indigenous societies, shamans have dealt from time immemorial with these invisible entities that cause illness and lack of harmony in their hosts. Even in the bible, over twenty verses refer to Jesus healing people by casting out demons. Rational people nowadays, of course, believe that these so-called demons are simply germs invisible to the naked eye. However, I have realized that shamans, after activating the psychic senses, literally the “soul” senses, through the process of self-purification, can sense the malevolent entities. The demons are not germs but invisible, intelligent beings that latch onto the aura when a person is vulnerable.
(Imaginative Representation)
     A dimension of the psyche developed long before modern consciousness is key to self-purification. This subconscious dimension, experienced commonly at night, processes the internal and external worlds, including unknown forces, through symbolic dream language, personifying invisible sentient vibrations of energy as angels or demons or ghosts or spiders or polyps or monsters. In esoteric terminology, this is the astral dimension of the psyche. The conscious mind can manipulate this astral energy to heal the body and maintain harmony. Anyone who can see into his own dream world has the third eye open at least some of the time. During meditation, the conscious mind can employ the third eye to scan the body and aura to identify negative vibrations. Then the conscious mind can purge the negative forces through a simple act of will, draining them away into the earth so that they are eliminated from consciousness. 
     Through the astral dimension, we can cleanse the etheric dimension of the psyche, which is the foundation of the physical body. But we must begin by cleansing the spiritual level, bringing the pure white light down through the mental, astral, etheric and physical levels and eliminating the dark forces in each dimension of the psyche.

Aerial Gondola, North Fork Kings River
     (If you believe that this is all just new age clap-trap, create a crude pendulum with a thread and paperclip and hold it over your stomach or heart center.  In a few moments, the invisible energy of the chakra should make the pendulum start spinning. If you are like me, you should be able to get the pendulum to spin only in the astral or mental or spiritual levels of the chakra through a mental or verbal command.)
     The negative entities worked their way into my psyche over the years through holes in my aura created by typical childhood traumas, chronic illness, a few horrible love affairs, a few lousy jobs, exposure to toxic chemicals, the usual doses of drugs and alcohol. The more layers of my subconscious that surfaced, the more entities I discovered, as if some of them have clung to my soul for ages. Anyone who has not gone through the purification process is likely to have more than his fair share of them, especially in a society where spiritual hygiene is largely ignored.
Washed out Bridge
     These entities know your thoughts and are influencing you right now to think that I am a scoundrel, an idiot, a kook--in other words, they are confirming what you already believe. The last thing your entities want is for you to be aware of them because that might motivate you to rid yourself of them. In one way they are your most loyal companions.
     You think this is easy, my friend? Speaking my truth is a sure way of losing a job and never finding another one, of reasserting my status as a pariah in this community, but that is the sacrifice I am willing to make to open a channel for the Christ-force into your soul. Whether you believe me or not, of course, is entirely up to you.
     The dark entities nearly destroyed me and could do the same to you or those you love. Unless, of course, they remain dormant. I mentioned in a previous post that the ghost of a recently deceased man, whom I at one time had publicly insulted, attacked me one night. His demons, which in life manifested primarily as an abuse of power, remained at bay because he managed to stay in a position where his ego was constantly stroked. He experienced enough ego satisfaction throughout his entire life that he never faced his demons, but when he died and no longer experienced social constraints, the negative entities took over his psyche and he became demonic, delighting in revenge. I don’t blame him, but if I did not know how to ward off malicious spirits, he would no doubt still be tormenting me. 

Native American Site next to North Fork of Kings River

     In many cultures, people instinctively fear that ghosts will come back to harm them. The ancient Romans called these malevolent spirits “lemures.” Republican and Imperial Rome dedicated May 9, 11, and 13 to their placation in the ritual household practices of Lemuria. The head of household would rise at midnight and cast black beans behind him with averted gaze, hoping that the lemures would feast on them and be satisfied. These rituals, now considered sheer superstition inspired mainly by guilt, have a basis in spiritual reality that we ignore at our peril. 
     Because I have experienced the process of self-purification, I am able to sense and sometimes see with my mind’s eye these entities in other people. Because I am aware of the entities and therefore pose a threat to their existence, the entities cause some people to subconsciously fear me, making those people dislike me almost instantly. Woe is me if I encounter a person with some power or authority over me who is controlled by one or more of these demons. John Blackmore is seething with them, so much so that if I am even in his vicinity, I sense that he experiences an overwhelming homicidal impulse. Because I have activated my soul senses, his silent malice practically screams at me, but nobody else, not even his wife, seems to notice. Unfortunately, even if I could find a shaman to exorcise his demons, negative thought-forms would continue to attract the entities back to him unless he radically changes his thought-processes through self-purification, similar to the way that maintaining any attitude, negative or positive, attracts people of like mind.
Harvest Brodiaea
Mid May, 2015
     The ancient philosopher Plotinus says that the souls of men are demons. Because of what I’ve experienced, I have a more generous view: I believe the souls of humans can eventually become demonic because negative entities attach to us when we are vulnerable. The good news is that the soul can be healed through mental and physical purification.
     Other ways to avoid facing your demons include binging on TV or the internet, working yourself to death, shopping till you drop, using drugs and alcohol. In fact so many ways exist in this society to avoid them that it is a wonder anyone faces them at all. This is all fine and dandy until someone plagued by these entities tries to murder you or gets his hands on a nuclear arsenal. I only faced them because I hit rock bottom due to chronic illness, a condition that even some of my closest friends and relatives don't really believe that I have. (You see, I’m used to people not believing me.) The entities remain your closest companions unless you experience a break through to the soul, which usually includes a fair amount of suffering and upheaval, enough pain at least for you to question established belief systems, even those that on the surface appear rational. 

Pounding Stone on Cliff (Mortar in Foreground)
     I struggle with celiac disease, always have, probably always will. Recently, when mentally scanning my body, I have seen black energy filling my entire torso, which I have drained away into the earth again and again, but it has always returned. Last Saturday, however, as I sat in the aerial gondola, I mentally scanned my body, and I could see my entire torso filled with light. I had finally purified my aura and body enough that the blackness was gone, at least for a little while, replaced by healing light, which I associate with the Christ-force. At least now I have some hope that it might go away completely.
     Then I returned to a stream above the river that I had begun to explore a few weeks earlier. I hiked, mindful of snakes, through long, dry grass and harvest brodiaea in a clearing with streams on each side.  In the forest, a clearing on a gentle incline between two sources of water usually indicates that people once settled there. Searching for artifacts, I found what resembled a house pit before I turned and glimpsed in the canyon far below a Native American site near a washed out bridge. I couldn’t, however, find any pounding stones so I kept going higher on the ridge next to the stream. I found several indentations in the ground, what appeared to be house pits, on the hillside, but I could not find any other evidence of a settlement. Since the slope above the clearing was so steep, I concluded that the soil over the past century must have slid down the hillside, hiding any proof of a Native American presence. On my way down the hill, just as I had given up hope of finding artifacts or pounding stones, I discovered a few shallow mortars in a rock beyond the reach of sliding mud or eroding soil on a cliff overlooking the stream.
     I used to think that I needed to find the right job or help the right person get elected or fight evil-doers in my spare time. In other words, I believed that I needed to fix external circumstances. As I stood by the pounding stone, I realized a simple truth: Some things outside of me do need to be fixed, but I am the only person who can create harmony in my own sphere of influence through my thoughts and feelings and actions.
     I can do good things for other people, but I can’t control them. I can’t keep people from thinking or saying horrible things about me or ruining my career or trying to kill me. I cannot recreate the past or keep someone with me who no longer wants to be in my life. I am only likely to help stem the tide of ecocide and genocide by healing my own mind and body and helping others do the same. It’s a vicious cycle, I realized: the more I keep fighting external circumstances, the more negativity I feel, and the more I attract negative people and entities that feed off of negative energy. 
     As I lounged on a stone in the clearing, I had an epiphany, one that I might never have experienced if other ways had not been closed to me. Throughout the centuries sick people have twisted the meaning of the Christ, torturing and killing and exterminating whole tribes in His name. But the Christ is not a man, not a He--the Christ is a cosmic force of harmonizing love and understanding that induces spiritual exaltation, leading ultimately to the Vision of Harmony, the understanding that all things are fields of energy within one consciousness. It is a healing force that leads to physical health and emotional, mental, and spiritual balance within the soul. I have often unexpectedly experienced an inexplicable exaltation of the mind, a feeling that I am able to reproduce through experiences in nature and the arts, but without self-purification I would not have healed myself nor would I have fully experienced the magnificence, abundance, and harmony within the human soul.


Monday, May 4, 2015


Wind Poppies, Chinese Houses
(All Photos, May 3, 2015)

     I quietly closed the door, sprawled face down on my bed, then rolled over, staring straight up at the ceiling. Then I closed my eyes and pictured wheels of light, a rainbow of energy centers in my aura, each wheel a vortex which sometimes resembles in my imagination a cyclone and other times resembles a turning margarita glass. I imagined removing impurities from the wheels with my fingers and cleansing each one with water and a white cloth. The first one, in the groin area, was red and contained no defects or impurities that I could envision; I had imagined washing away all of the brown ooze the day before, and the wheel had remained clean. The second, in the stomach area, was primarily orange but, in my mind's eye, was covered with a light blue film. The juxtaposition of complementary colors seemed odd, so I rubbed the blue off with my white cloth. 
     When I had first visualized my chakras, to my dismay most of them had been soiled or tainted in some way, so I spent hours in meditation eliminating the negative energies from my body and mind, imagining the blackness draining from a hole in my back down into the earth. Occasionally I had visualized the bodies of people who had harmed me slipping through the hole in my back and turning into dolls when they hit the ground beneath. 
     When I felt satisfied that I had again sufficiently cleansed the second chakra, the center of emotion, I began cleansing the third. Because it was always bright yellow, I left it alone for the most part, feeling just a tad uncomfortable because it was so very bright. I went to the heart chakra and cleansed it in my mind as thoroughly as possible, again finding a little streak of black and wiping it out. After what seemed like hours of draining the negative energy from my aura, the heart chakra finally appeared green to my mind's eye.
     Impurities had never appeared in my throat chakra, either, for
Root Chakra
some reason. It was the color of the baby blue eye flower, soft and intense and sweet all at the same time. The third eye chakra was a different story. I had read that it was indigo, but I could only imagine it as violet. Once, when I was cleansing it, I had pulled many black blindfolds from the center of the vortex of the chakra. I had just kept pulling them out, one after another. The last blindfolds were white. After I had pulled them all out, I expected to see something significant with my third eye, but nothing happened until I visualized the crown chakra. For two days I had been imagining during meditation that I was dumping trash from my crown chakra, so much that I almost gave up believing there was anything but trash in my head. But when I envisioned my crown chakra after pulling out all of the blindfolds from my third-eye chakra, I saw an odd flower with four skinny white petals. Most of the petals seemed to have been plucked from the flower. 

     Innumerable brilliant white petals were suddenly packed together. The flower then resembled a stunning white rose, but the word "lotus" kept popping into my head, and a bright white light appeared from above as though a lamp had been switched on, but I couldn't see the source. A voice in my head told me it was the light of God, which I at first doubted because I had always considered myself either an agnostic or an athiest. I allowed the light to bathe the lotus, and the light grew in intensity, and the lotus kept growing larger. Then suddenly, after cleansing all of the chakras, I imagined a small lotus flower hovering just above each wheel and each chakra bathed in white light.
     After only a month of regular meditation, critical voices in my head vanished. The images of people whom I had hated also disappeared, usually after I imagined the people slipping out of the hole in my back and turning into dolls. I felt at first that "pooping" them out of my back was a little mean, but they were all now, thanks to that act in my mind, people completely separate from me. I once asked out loud during meditation how to keep the people in my past from bothering me. The white light had revealed almost immediately to me that I had to forgive them. I tried, often unsuccessfully, to think of my enemies with love from then on, to bathe them in my mind with white light, realizing that each one had helped me to grow in some way, and they did stop bothering me almost completely. In fact, at times I began to visualize a place of perfect understanding where everyone would love each other no matter how terrible they had once been to each other, perhaps even loving each other more because they had--with or without intending to--helped each other to grow in some way.
Wind Poppies, Tarweed
     I began to read more about the wheels of light. I found out that the third-eye chakra is actually violet and the crown chakra is white, uniting all of the colors of the chakras, as I had visualized. I also discovered that my second, orange chakra was covered in blue because the throat chakra was dominating the emotional chakra; in other words, the chakras of complementary colors regulated each other. Since I live in a society that encourages the suppression of emotion, and since I do not want to consider myself an "irrational" person, I had injected blue energy into my orange chakra as a way to dampen emotion, which caused me, of course, to feel "blue." Also, I discovered that my third chakra, related to the intellect, was indeed way too bright. The auras of the vast majority of people in the West are predominantly yellow instead of containing a balance of rainbow colors.
     I began to suspect that each chakra is the center of an energy body corresponding to a different vibrational state of being or awareness. In other words, through meditation, I came to believe that the self is multi-dimensional and that each "body," or vibrational state of being flowing from each chakra, corresponds to a specific spiritual plane. I began to imagine that the energy bodies of the chakras could actually separate and visit other planes of being. In other words, astral projection was, I began to believe, the use by the mind of an energy body as a vehicle. During a successful projection, the energy body, fully conscious, would travel to the plane corresponding to its vibrational frequency and return with awareness of the reality of that spiritual realm.
     Perhaps most amazing was my discovery that the crown chakra was often referred to as the "thousand-petaled lotus." Several days after visualizing the white flower with innumerable petals and hearing my inner voice strongly refer to the flower as a lotus, I found a description of the crown chakra and learned that a popular mantra meant, translated, "Hail to the jewel in the lotus." From that point on, I visualized a jewel with many facets in the flower. At first, I thought the jewel had a thousand facets to correspond to the thousand petals of the lotus, but then I realized that the facets kept changing as I visualized the jewel, that in fact the facets were countless--the jewel was not static but ever changing. Not only did I visualize the jewel as a diamond, without knowing that the diamond is traditionally associated with the crown chakra, but I quickly understood that the jewel symbolized my soul, or what I began to believe was the part of my spiritual being that I might consider God, or "the divine spark." After awhile, I could gaze into the jewel or from the jewel.     
Blazing Star
     I discovered that the first chakra contained an energy force associated with the "kundalini," the life-force that thrills through every level of being, if allowed. If the kundalini awakens, two snakes of energy, one masculine and one feminine, rise upward around the wheels of light and reach the third eye, and powerful energy also rises through the central channel associated with the spine. (When I encountered a caduceus, symbol of the healer, I realized that it symbolizes the kundalini energy.) The snake represents the male and female nature of being, a symbol of both the phallus and the vagina (the swallower). As a creature in the habit of shedding its skin, it is also a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. If a person awakens the kundalini energy properly, he or she is fully awake spiritually, operating on many channels instead of only one. The kundalini, I discovered, is the life force that grounds us in the physical world and opens the higher spiritual planes if the energy is channeled properly. 
     (I had, in fact, periodically throughout my life experienced what I thought of as a "ballooning" of consciousness. At those times I had felt inexplicable joy, and my mind had seemed a hundred times "larger" than it normally was. One time, a simple moment, which had been boring and filled with anxiety when I had originally experienced it, came back to me clearly, in what almost seemed like 3D, accompanied by a feeling of intense joy, the memory totally eclipsing everything in my surroundings. Another time, my mind ballooned at two A.M. while I was working at night, and I looked down at the top of my head; I was so startled that my consciousness had immediately returned to "normal." Memories of those moments of "ballooning" consciousness, of course, were soon lost in the daily grind.)
     I genuinely felt reborn after cleansing my chakras and experiencing the thousand petaled lotus and feeling the kundalini energy rising. I realized that my spiritual life was extremely visual; my insights were almost certainly coming from the astral plane, the realm of imagination and spiritual insight, and I strongly desired to experience all dimensions of the self, but after awhile I realized that healing myself was perhaps all I could hope for in my current circumstances.

Pretty Face, Chinese Houses

     I’m not special. No one really is. Each human being is a miniscule spark of consciousness in an unbelievably vast cosmos where everything is inextricably connected. My mind is unique due to my personal experiences, but I am not superior to a spider or a snail or a dog or a fish or a tree or any other human being. I know the savagery that lurks just below the surface of so many relationships in modern civilization--within individuals, races, and nations--yet after my long process of purification I have no desire to harm anyone--even someone who is trying to kill me, which places me at a distinct disadvantage. I have no desire to be a martyr either.
     I have, of course, thought long and hard about how to deal with John Blackmore, who, despite his charm and generosity, would at any moment attempt to ambush me if he could get away with it. The only reason he doesn’t on a regular basis, of course, is that his reputation would be ruined if anyone found out. Thank goodness John, and so many other people like him, spend so much time keeping up appearances.
     My intellect insists that the only reasonable solution would be for me to eliminate the problem, in other words, kill him first. What does a moral person do if another person is trying to destroy him? Try to talk the killer out of it? Blackmore might understand intellectually that we are all connected, but he apparently does not comprehend the meaning emotionally or spiritually. How do you get another person to make an emotional or spiritual connection? Through a story?
     The list of people who have attempted to destroy me, by ruining my chances for employment, for instance, or in some other equally nefarious way, is long and strangely diverse: friends, lovers, teachers, activists, coworkers, politicians, businessmen, yada, yada, yada. Blackmore is simply the most extreme case. All the while I have been at a loss to explain why. Because of the survival instinct, which includes the desire to dominate and crush anyone who gets in the way? Because I sometimes interfere with their chances to succeed at the expense of others? Because I foolishly insist on being myself? Because I am chronically ill? Because they can? 
     What follows is a description of what, during meditation, I imagined might happen if I ever verbally confronted Blackmore--in other words, fiction

Harvest Brodiaea
     The creek babbled along near pounding stones, threaded between some rocks, and crashed thirty feet to the valley floor, then gurgled about another hundred feet and vanished underground, emerging in a hole fifty yards away, still flowing at the same pace as before. Then the water disappeared into the earth again and didn’t re-emerge for over a half a mile. I had once hiked along the creek, and where the bed was bone dry I couldn’t believe that the water would trickle forth again, but it always did, and at those points where the water resurfaced, I would often find more pounding stones, some with pestles abandoned at least a century before.
     On the ridge, I tried to make myself comfortable on a pounding stone. Broken in half by the roots of a buckeye tree, one mortar sprouting grass, another brimming with black water, the pounding stone commanded a view of the valley below where once herds of deer and tule elk and antelope had roamed. The creek disappeared in smog about a half mile from Wildcat Mountain. Cows dotting the floodplain were the only beasts I had to worry about now, not grizzly bears or wildcats or wolves.
     As a young boy, my friend and I had chased each other around a "fantasy island" theme park, just a hill near a larger amusement park, where the proprietors had nailed logs and branches together to look like monsters and wild animals. As I ran I would enter a state where I was no longer merely in the present, as though I had tapped into some memory deeper than my own. Now I realized, after exploring the creek near my home in Fresno, those trails at the theme park were very much like the trails still connecting the pounding stones throughout the Sierra Nevada foothills. Some of the trails webbing the ridge and beyond, I suspected, were thousands of years old.
     At the theme park, and occasionally on the ridge, I had felt an absence, not a conspicuous absence, but one that could only be experienced by immersing oneself in the sense of time expanding until it no longer could be measured or defined. I knew, deep in my soul, that many tribes had vanished, human and plant and animal alike. Oddly, though, on the ridge for seconds at a time I felt a kind of freshness, a surge of innocence, the same that I had experienced as a child running around the park.
     I could barely see the tallest buildings in Fresno even on a clear day. An ancient culture was now air, but on that ridge a person would have had trouble convincing me that Fresno ever existed. Odder still, I would sometimes hear laughter, especially when I was sitting on a pounding stone, and I would have to force himself to remember that the tribe was gone from that place forever.
     I decided to ask John Blackmore to go on a hike to the pounding stones on the ridge. At that point, I felt sure we would solve the problem, one way or another.
     After I arranged the outing, I wasn’t so sure. The day of the trip, I slid my buck knife, a birthday present from John, onto my belt and packed a lunch and an unopened bottle of water in my backpack. John picked me up in his white pickup around ten in the morning, and we took the long way into the foothills, with me pointing out where to find all of the Native American village sites along the road. We held an interesting political discussion all the way to the creek about the numerous attempts to build dams in nearby public parks, how they had been stopped in the past and what we might need to do to stop them in the future. I showed John the best place to park the car and where to climb over the barbed wire.
Ten of Swords
     After a short hike, I showed John all of the pounding stones and house pits on the ridge. Then we sat down together and ate lunch, gazing at the smoggy valley. I soon grew uneasy, sensing John's hatred, which had grown suddenly almost palpable.
     "We can’t do this anymore," I stated.
     John gave me a puzzled look and mumbled, "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean."
     "We can’t keep destroying each other like this," my arm swept the ridge and the floodplain below.
     John frowned for a while. "Very few people, unfortunately, can see the wisdom in what you’re saying," he mumbled bitterly.
     "It only takes a few. Have you heard the term ‘morphic resonance’?"
     "Can’t say that I have," John smiled.
     "It suggests that we are all connected--that when a few people learn a difficult, new concept or method of doing something, suddenly a lot of people can understand it more easily. It just takes a core group of people to internalize it deeply enough."
     "The question is, I suppose, what do we need to internalize?"
     "It’s not a new concept."
     "And that is?" John grinned.
     "Everything is connected. All life is sacred. Divinity exists within everything."
     "Excuse me, but that seems a little naive. Genocide and ecocide are still ravaging the world. How can you consider that ‘divine order’?"
     "We can choose to act with love and forgiveness instead of lust and hatred and anger. We can open our hearts and recognize our connection to all things."
     "That strikes me as a very old idea, indeed. A little cliched, perhaps? How well has it worked so far?" John smiled again.
     "I don’t think enough people have internalized it yet. It's not resonating enough, but I think we are reaching a tipping point where we must make it start resonating or we will destroy the planet and ourselves in the process."
     "You are telling me this because?" John shook his head slightly.
     "We, you and I, have to internalize it. I’ve understood recently that we are alike in many ways, perhaps too alike. I have experienced a lot of anger and hatred and pride and lust and envy. It’s boomeranging back to me now, the karma I mean, and it will come back to you, probably sooner than you think. We can choose to give that all up and turn things around. We can purify ourselves completely by eliminating negativity from our minds."
     John gave me an angry, quizzical look, "Now I’m really not sure what you mean."
Path 23
     "There is something in the Qabalah called the ‘Mysteries of Sacrifice.’ As an activist, you probably have some sense of what it means already. Let’s say we do speak truth to power and take on the Ag industry to stop the construction of a dam. If you commit to that position, you are probably going to lose a job or two or whatever career you think you have. That sacrifice has a tremendous impact on the collective consciousness of humanity on the spiritual plane. The sacrifice opens a channel for the Christ-force--the force of harmony and balance--to manifest in our world. That sacrifice alone might be enough to save the day, to inspire people spiritually to do the right thing. The sacrifice itself is the true achievement even if everyone treats you like a pariah afterwards. 
     “Whatever you try to accomplish, you have to make a commitment, which involves sacrifice. If you are trying to kill somebody, for instance, you need to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice yourself. If you don’t commit yourself completely, you’re probably not going to succeed. 
     “Do you want to commit yourself to saving the world or to killing another person? The commitment to evil cancels out any commitment to do good, so you can’t be conflicted."
     Blackmore squinted at me.
     “You have a choice. I’m pretty sure that you’ve been trying to kill me. You need to make a commitment now, one way or the other. I’m not going to the police unless I have to. We can resolve this one way or the other right now. 
     Still, Blackmore didn’t move.
Wind Poppies, Chinese Houses
     “You love my wife, don’t you? It’s pretty obvious to anyone who pays attention, but there’s something more, some other motivation. Am I right?"
     "What the hell kind of crap is this!" John yelled as he jumped up and turned toward the car.
     "If I’m wrong, just let me know," I blurted out.
     John’s right hand went to his belt. "You’re right about one thing," John mumbled, unbuttoning the leather strap over the handle of his buck knife. "I should make a commitment to kill you, you little prick." He lunged at me with the knife.
     I leaped up onto the pounding stone, quickly sliding my buck knife from its sheath. "You’ve got to do better than that! I’m not going to sacrifice myself for something that’s just stupid and evil! By the way, my wife knows everything. If I don’t return this afternoon, she’s calling the cops. Are you going to kill her too?"
     John glared at me some more.
     I shouted, "You’re a practical man. What are you going to do? You are going to destroy yourself if you don’t stop. It can end here. Just drop the knife. Commit yourself to something a little more positive."
     John sheathed his knife and trotted back toward to his truck.
     I remained on the pounding stone until John went down the slope toward the creek. Then I dashed toward a lookout point from which I could see the pickup truck and most of the trails in the area. In a few minutes I could see John opening the door of his pickup and moving the seat forward. Then he grabbed his rifle, locked his truck, and rushed back toward the ridge.
     Down below on the ridge, John waited. He stared at the floodplain from the pounding stone. Finally, he dashed back to his truck and drove off, perhaps fearing that I had called the police.
Ithuriel's Spears, Chinese Houses
     I took out my cell phone and called my wife. "Meet me in half an hour." Then I followed a trail along the ridge down into the floodplain, trying to avoid open spaces as much as possible. I had just enough light left to find my way to the road. If John were still out driving around looking for me, it wasn’t likely that he’d pass by just when my wife happened to be driving up. I made it to the road two minutes before my wife arrived. She drove by once before I could run out to the road. A minute later, she came back, and I jumped into the car.
     "I told you I could prove it," I blurted out.
     "Did he admit it to you?" my wife asked.
     "He tried to kill me, first with his knife, then with his rifle."
     "Did he shoot at you?"
     "He had to go back to his truck for the rifle. By that time, I was already hiding. He never saw me after that."
     "Are you sure?"
     "He hasn’t shot me yet, has he? It’s a good thing we arranged to leave town for a couple of weeks. Either he’ll turn himself in or he’ll take off, I bet."
     "Or he’ll be lying in wait to kill us when we get back."
     "He won’t even think about trying to kill you, believe me. I’m almost one hundred percent certain that he won’t be there when we get back, at least not in our house, if that’s what you mean. But if he wants to talk, we can talk, all of us together, and you know what? I don’t think he will. He’s proven that he’s a coward. At least, he won’t fight fair and he won’t be reasonable. He has to try an’ kill me when he knows he won’t get hurt, like when I’m sleeping or when he can put a little poison in my water bottle or when he has some kind of advantage, like a rifle. He won’t want to talk to us anymore. He’s been found out."
     "But he’s so practical. He won’t leave this unresolved. He’s too good at solving problems."
     "He hasn’t been too good at solving this problem, has he?"
     "Don’t be so arrogant. This isn’t over yet."
     "You’re right. The last thing I need to be right now is arrogant."
     "There would be only one thing worse than seeing him again, and that would be not seeing him again."
     "Do you want to go to the police?"
     "No. You’re right. I don't want to get the police involved; I don't think we even have enough evidence."
     "Are you sure?"
     "Yeah. I just don't know who to trust anymore. We just need to start moving as soon as we get home."
     When we got back from our two-week trip, we moved everything in one night, and John was nowhere in sight. Since we only moved across town, we always wondered if we would ever see John again.
     I continued to meditate, draining the black energy out of myself. One session, I suddenly remembered running around searching in the crowd for my friend in the "fantasy island" theme park, and we both accidentally ran into each other.
     "I got you first," I shouted.
     "No, I got you first," my friend shouted back.