"Phil, darling, what did you make of the first instalment of Tim's novel?"
"Mary, I think it's an instalment from your novel and Tim is your invention so come off it!"
"Well you're completely wrong Phil darling."
"Of course you'd say that."
"You're accusing me of being a liar Phil."
"Well you're wrong.....silly dick. The novel was neither written by me, nor by Joe but by Joe's dead friend Tim Lawson. So what do you think of the first bit you've read?"
"I don't know what to think about it Mary. The truth is I've been thinking more about why you've contacted me and upset my peace of mind."
"O dear, poor Phil. Are you having wet dreams....is that what's upsetting you?"
"No I'm not having wet dreams Mary."
"Well I bet you suffer from headaches Phil."
"I do get headaches from time to time. So what?"
" Well sweetheart, having a delicious orgasm is the best solution to headaches. Did you know that?"
"I've never made the connection. Look Mary why did `Tim' place Simon's Ashram in the Highlands of Scotland? And why does Molly sound like you?"
"Beats me Phil. The trouble is Tim's dead, remember? There's no way we're ever going to know. And why does it bother you?"
"Because it sounds to me like you've written it as a suggestion that I should set up an Ashram here."
"But that's paranoia Phil. And I'm not Molly.....as far as I know. I only met Tim for a brief spell....when he came back from India....just before he and Joe went camping on Dartmoor. Now was that the work of the gods I ask you? Now Joe's doing fifteen years camping there in a stone cell. And you have the gall to suggest it's all fiction."
"O.K. get Joe to write to me....then I might believe you."
"He's already written to you, asshole!"
"How do I know that was from Joe?"
"O.K. say you get a letter from Dartmoor prison....how will that prove anything?"
"Well it would at least prove that Joe exists!"
"And what would that do? If I had written `Inside-out' I could simply ask Joe to tell you that Tim wrote it....and then what?"
"O.K. Mary, you win. Look why don't you send me a floppy disc of the whole novel then I'd feel....less threatened...."
"Yes by you Mary."
"Phil....have you really become so wimpish as you sound?"
"Phil...darling....there are good reasons for NOT sending you the whole novel on a floppy disc....and I don't think we need to debate the issue. So please Phil, use your poetic intelligence which you once seemed to possess...and tell me what you think about the first instalment? .....which I hope you've read....and remembered and given some thought."
"O.K. I found the bit about there being only three unique viewpoints very boring. Lifeless. I think Molly's understanding that every viewpoint is a trap harmonizes with my understanding.....but she seems to have found this out too late."
"What do you mean?"
"Well she feels numb doesn't she? Dead!"
"Well the point is she can now feel her numbness Phil. That's the point. She's begun to be honest about her actual condition due to the therapy she's undergoing at the Ashram. Have you undergone any therapy Phil?"
"Living here is therapeutic."
"Rubbish Phil. You can't undermine your own game if you're hanging out on your own. You need someone to corner you baby, so your real buried feeling-self bursts out!"
"What are you suggesting Mary....that you're the one I need to work on me?"
"Phil I think you're more uptight than you realise. When did this rampant paranoia start to take over your life?"
"When you first phoned me up."
"O, so I'm to blame for your uptight condition. D'you really believe that?"
"O fuck it Mary.....I don't know what to say. I thought I'd feel peaceful living here on my own....and now I feel......fucked up!"
"Well maybe feeling fucked up is the first step on the road to real peace of mind."
"What are you Mary......a psychologist or...?"
"I'm a born-again pagan."
"You've become a dead end Phil. What's your understanding of the concept of Karma?"
"I've never really given it much thought. Are you telling me that it's sane to believe that what's happened in Kobe is the consquence of those poor victims' previous bad behaviour in previous lives?"
"No one can avoid their karma Phil."
"So the millions of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis deserved their fate?"
"Do you believe the universe is unjust Phil?"
"Yes I do."
"Well that's what Stuart Lawson believed...but his brother Tim, bless his soul, held a very different view."
"Was it his view or was he merely an agent for Oriental Philosophy?"
"God you sound like you're an agent for Stuart Lawson Phil. What's happened to your soul Phil? You really need to read Tim's novel and take it to heart."
"Mary this conversation is going nowhere. You're abusing my right to be myself."
"You don't know your Self Phil. That's the whole problem. Can you deny that?"
"You've cornered me Mary.....I give up."
"But you don't sound like you've given up Phil. You're angry that you can't control me. I'm not going to hurt you baby. I'm a very loving woman. Do real women scare you Phil?"
"I don't know what you mean by a real woman. The last time you were on the phone you told me you're a rampant slut!"
"No different darling. It sounds like you're on an avoidance trip Phil. Avoiding real vibrant passion."
After a very long pause I admitted she was right and I began to sob my heart out. Suddenly I felt the warmth in Mary's voice which I'd failed to recognise before I started to cry.
"Maybe we have a karmic connection sweetheart. Think about it. I'll speak to you sometime after you've received the next instalment. May the force be with you Phil."
(next faxed instalment of Tim's `novel')
Simon felt he was on the edge of abandoning his latest book. He had worked over and over the first hundred pages but he couldn't make anymore headway. He was up against a real moral barrier. The Ashram had come into being as a consequence of acting on a deep need. The need for a safe, nourishing environment whilst one was going through the process of giving birth to one's real self. But he hadn't used the Ashram for this purpose. He'd used it to give birth to works of the imagination. BOOKS. He'd given birth to books instead of his self. Books about giving birth to ones self! On top of that, he'd recently entered a new field of doubt.
Suddenly ... after the funeral, whilst talking to his distraught mother he became totally unsure of the grounds for his own elaborately built cosmology. Up to the time of this sudden earthquake, he was able to give an extremely cogent account of the structure of existence. An account illustrating the actual phases of growth from spirit into matter. Then, using this account, he would often astonish listeners by bringing into focus the hidden relationships forming today's events. But what was the use of this ability to see through the whirld's mask, if he never allowed Truth to see through his mask, his ego-trip, his selfishness ?
He stopped talking and stared at the strings of real pearls around his mother's wrinkled neck. His cosmology was a mask, not because it represented a story different from what he really believed, but because it pretended to be the fruit of experience, rather than what it is - a sketch of an argument. He had closed his eyes...and in that painful silence he pictured his poor mother sat opposite slumped in her old floral armchair. Instead of opening his eyes and speaking...he imagined she knew exactly what he was thinking. Then he fell from his father's battered old leather arm chair and crawled over to her.
She was weeping. It was only then that he realised his virulent hatred of scenarios two and three had drained him of life. ...so much so... he felt he didn't have the complete trust in God needed to fulfil the demands of scenario one. And actually, matters were far worse than even this. The truth had erupted in the middle of a sentence. Why do I pretend to be a completely committed devotee of the first account of reality ... when throughout my entire adult life I've nourished an infatuation for the adepts of the second scenario? Somehow he had always found it hard to believe that the Buddhist conception of existence was completely incorrect. So he had always kept a foot in both camps. And it was easy to maintain this position when one was up against clones of the Lance Mathews cosmology. They had no depth of feeling ... no soul ... so they'd never explored views one and two ... but recently Arnold had arrived at the Ashram and he was a totally committed sadhu. A vehement proponent of NON-individuality. As far as Arnold was concerned, the universe is a projection of Mind and only mind exists.
Simon sat on the arm of his mother's chair and put his arm around her little sobbing body. She held an embroidered handkerchief to her eyes. Before he went to bed he held her bony hand. Arnold had told Simon that Simon's disease stemmed from his identification with the ego. Simon felt split. It was like he was trying to convince himself--of the reality of the ego being a soul-seed--by holding his mum's hand. Simon had struggled to get it through to Arnold, that there is a major difference between ego and egotism. Arnold had stared at Simon and never replied. The absolute silence had done the work for Arnold.
"What confuses me", said Molly "is Simon's appearance. I mean if we were in an Ashram in India ... Simon's appearance would fit the bill of the resident Guru, yet you say he's NOT into all that `turn off your mind, relax and float down stream.' stuff. Sometimes ... despite all that is said here ... it looks like this Ashram is devoted to saving holy relics from the Sixties. And what strikes me as really weird, is the way Simon relates to Arnold. He seems to treat him more like a Guru than a friend ... and why does he call him a sadhu when he looks like an ordinary middle aged bloke from London?"
Shanti - long dark haired, slim, full lipped, with a slight permanent smile and a minor mole on her chin - perhaps in her early forties - had listened attentively to the tone of Molly's delivery. Now ... before speaking ... holding the thought ... she lifted the kettle from off the hook hanging from the black iron stake protruding from the Birch-branch fire. Molly watched her carefully pour the spluttering, spitting water into the elegant teapot. (A pale blue-glazed work of art made by Shanti. Yes, made not far from the teepee ... in a woodfired kiln). Once the mint tea was made and poured into deep brown handle-less cups (also made by Shanti), the silence was broken.
"As far as I'm concerned ... Simon is a mystic ... and what I mean by that is ... he has access to states of being and knowledge which most people have not only not encountered ... but didn't even know exists. He has arrived at his present state of being mainly through his own unending inquiry into the foundations of existence. And he is able to pentrate into the mysteries of Being because from a very early age, he was able to think with feeling. Not think about feeling - but use feeling to think with."
Molly shook her head. "I never knew that was possible," she whispered.
"Well, there you go. Anyway, after he gave up lecturing in philosophy, he formed this Centre for Awakening Cosmic Consciousness and ..."
"Excuse me butting in, but what sort of philosophy did he teach?"
"Oh my God!" Shanti pursed her lips, closed her eyes and clasped her rather bony knees, concealed by a long dark green velvet skirt. "He doesn't like to talk about the past ... so I've only got a scanty notion of what went on then ... but I know he first studied German at University and then read Wittgenstein and Heidegger in the original. Does this mean anything to you?"
"I had a boyfriend once who was into Wittgenstein ... but then he gave it all up and got into hang gliding. He came to the conclusion that all writers are parasites."
"In what way?"
"I don't know. His attitude was 'work it out yourself'."
"I think that's quite in line with what Arnold thinks ... according to Simon. Anyway, Simon came to the point ... where he thought that the problem with Christianity was its fear of Paganism. They - the vicars and priests - all thought a person had to be dead to the pagan spirit before one could become a Christian."
"Sounds like being dead ... period." added Molly examining a split end of her long blonde hair.
"It seems like you have to have a dead soul, a gullible mind and a stale body to qualify for being a Christian."
"Or they'll suspect you of being ALIVE! A spy for LIFE!" said Molly emphatically, feeling a surge of confidence ... like she really had crossed the Atlantic ... and was no longer a dumb American broad.
"Yeah, they like to look down on you from their decrepit viewpoint ... their word, word, word, word-filled-ego position." said Shanti enthusiastically, then paused and sipped her herb tea. "Simon realised ... around the time I came to live with him ... that he was an unashamed pagan ... seeking the real love of Christ."
"Did you make your way up into these hills together?" asked the American artist in her wonderful openhearted North Carolina flavoured voice.
"Yes, we met at the first series of talks which Krishnamurti gave at Brockwood. I was bowled over by Simon's extraordinary energy, warmth and unusual intelligence. He played bongoes, chanted round the huge camp fire and got everyone really groovin. He also gave impromptu talks which were so penetrating, I was rattled in my cage. The officials at Brockwood thought he was trying to compete with Krishnamurti and threatened that he'd be barred from Brockwood if he gave any more talks! We left and made our way up here."
"And you began living in a teepee right away?"
"No, at first we lived in a bender ... a bit like the one you're staying in ... only yours is bigger and has windows."
"And lots of flies!"
Shanti and Molly both sipped from their mugs. Shanti put another piece of Birch on the fire.
"O.K." said Molly, "so Simon realised Christians are dead people who kill the spirit of love ..."
"Yes, but he also realised that most pagans are mentally dead. Their egos, like the Christians', are ill-structured prejudice. The Christians fear pagans and pagans hate Christians ... and Simon - a rampant pagan - finds himself thinking deeply about the real essence of Christ's mission on Earth? Soon he realises it's to save man's ego from egotism ... or at least that's the beginning of it. And that's the basic difference between Simon's view and Arnold's ... and why Simon called Arnold a sadhu when he introduced him to everybody here."
"Meaning that sadhus don't admit they have an ego?"
"No, they admit they have an ego, but they think of their ego as a disease rather than a precious seed of real spiritual life. Both Arnold and Simon understand that what stands in the way of anyone living the Truth ... is his identification with illusions, but Arnold holds the belief that the ego itself is an illusion, whereas Simon's convinced that the ego is a spiritual being, a soul-seed. A soul-seed which is, of course, capable of creating infinite illusions ... about itself."
"I see ... so the ego is the name of an embryonic soul. They're not two different entities?"
"Exactly ... but this embryonic soul is capable of imagining it's already a developed soul. Like a seed in a packet ... with a pretty picture on the outside ... say of wide open sunflowers in a blue sky. Say this seed hears someone describe the picture on the outside of the packet and fantasizes that it's already out of the packet and growing in the sunlight. So it becomes emeshed in a self-made whirld of illusions ... and thereby ... becomes frightened of real life. It fears above all ... the ripping open of the packet ... imagining this to be its end ... death! You get the point?"
"I do. The ego caught in its self-made illusions, prefers to stay trapped and starved of real life rather than encounter the cosmos."
"Yeah, and what Simon saw was that Christianity purposely keeps egos inside the packet of the so-called church. And, of course, to avoid feeling claustrophobic inside the packet ... egos have to be distracted by illusions. Illusions of life after death and all the rest of the guff."
"So Simon's task is to encourage egos to get out of their packets? Is that it, Shanti?"
"That's part of his job, but ..."
"Wait a minute." Molly lit up. "I've just flashed on why Simon isn't interested in the pictures people - embryonic souls - project about themselves. These word-pictures are nothing but graffiti scribbled across their packets."
"Yeah ... it's like the relationship between the real Christ Being and what Christians project. Christians model themselves on the picture on the outside of their packets. That's why they seem so lifeless ... so dry ..."
"Like they're made of paper."
"Exactly", said Shanti, pleased that Molly was on the right wavelength.
"So how do I get into real life? I don't want to live in illusions ... any more."
"It will happen ... if you really intend to live for LIFE. More tea?"
Molly nodded and said softly "I'm so glad I've found this Ashram ... it's a miracle that it exists."
"Things could get tough, Molly. Don't get carried away on the seductive waves of euphoria."
"Tough psychologically, you mean?"
"It's one thing to talk about seeds and all that, but it's another thing to experience the difference between your real ego and your IDEA of what your ego is."
"Go on. I'm listening. I really am."
Irish Shanti looked steadily into Molly's clear blue eyes. It was true that she had been listening. In fact, Shanti had the distinct impression that Molly was completely honest, totally without guile. Could this impression be really true? Is this where Jesus was looking from when he first saw Nathaniel approach him and said he could see no falseness in him?
"Yes, go on." said Molly again.
"O.K., have you ever considered that what you call your 'self' is really your memory?"
"You mean in the sense that one can't think of oneself without thinking of the past?"
"No, not really," drawled Shanti in her soft lilting Clare accent. "That's a symptom of what I mean. What I really mean is this ... a deluded ego ...a soul-seed ...can believe that it's responding to life, when in fact it's really re-acting to a self-made construction created out of memory. This abstraction it believes to be itself."
Molly shook her head. "It sounds difficult to grasp."
"It's complex ... but it can be seen. The point is, the real ego has created a false ego out of memory. When the ego talks of ego ... it's very seldom referring to itself. It invariably is referring to its projected idea of itself. And this idea exists in one's memory. In other words, the ego is burdened with a false memory, which surpresses real memory. Real memory is an accurate account of events on every level ... in thought, imagination, feeling, movement, sensation and atmosphere. False memory is an interpretation of all that. And this interpretation of events includes an interpretation of one's ego. This interpretation of the ego is the picture on the outside of the packet. Arnold doesn't have any pictures on the outside of his packet. His packet is plain. Buff. He doesn't talk about his illusions about himself ... but he has them ... or he has one big one. He doesn't realize he's still in the packet of his belief in 'non-ego'."
They sat in silence for a long while.A silence peppered with twinkling bell sounds coming from the entrance to the teepee. Molly noticed that the smoke didn't go straight up but curled and spiralled as it passed away.
"O.K. Shanti .... what was Christ doing here on Earth?"
"Turning people on." Shanti loved the strange naivety which many Americans seem to exhibit. "Look", she said, "Jesus got out of the packet of the conned - senses -'mind' and embodied the Cosmic Christ principle. All the way through from his ego to his physical body. Every fibre of his being responded to the Cosmic Christ. And from that position he pointed out the means by which an ego can get out of its air-less cultural packet and start to grow in the real Cosmos."
"Which is how?" whispered Molly begining to worry that she wouldn't make it.
"Well obviously .... you have to allow your packet to be dissolved."
"And what does that mean ... in reality?"
"It means that you ... the real ego-soul-seed ... take your body/mind to where volatile forces will eat away your ego-illusions."
"Is that why Arnold is here?"
Shanti could sense the female at work in Molly's question. "Maybe", she replied, than added "unconsciously."
"What does he do?"
"Some time ago he set up a Centre for Creative Living in London ... but I don't think he's very happy with the situation. The place is filled with a dozen strange musicians and would-be writers, poets and sculptors... but ... it seems to him ... that they're all hung up on self-importance."
"And he's NOT?"
"He tries hard not to feed it."
"Is that why Simon treats him with such reverence?"
"I think what you call 'reverence' Simon would call 'love'. Simon loves Arnold for being NO one else but himself ... even though Arnold's philosophical orientation is a thorn in Simon's heart."
"And what does he do in his Centre?"
"Well, basically he tries to stay centred all day. Does a bit of Tai Chi. Plays his sitar and writes a few lines of poetic philosophy from time to time."
"What about ... sex? Does he live with a woman or ...?"
"No, he's not gay ... nor does he live with a woman. I think he sees sex like a game ... of tennis ... a sport. If it's an attractive proposition ... he'll go for it ... otherwise he's quite content to stay centred in his wee room."
"Self sufficient?" Molly imagined Arnold as a Red Indian warrior.
"Maybe. Listen ... is this why you came to see me ... to talk about Arnold?"
Molly sensed an edge of irritation in Shanti's voice. "No", she replied admiring Shanti's sense of her own wholeness. "I just wanted to open myself to you ... so you can see who I am ... and Arnold is definitely an interest in my heart. I'm sorry if I've diverted the stream of thought away from the real issue."
Shanti made no reply. After a few moments Molly slowly got up to leave the brightly decorated red and green teepee. Shanti also stood...then silently they gently embraced.
"Incidently," said Molly, "do you know where Simon is? I've not seen him all day."
"Have you not heard? He's gone South...to his brother's funeral."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know he had a brother!"
"You've never heard of Lance Mathews?"
"The famous scientist! That was Simon's brother!? My God! He's just been murdered!!! Murdered whilst giving a talk in Paris. I heard it on the tape I was more or less forced to listen to."
"Lance was a bad influence . A very bad influence...so quite a few of us are relieved he's gone. That's a fact Molly. And it's O.K...it's real Karma in action." They looked at each other for some time then Molly slowly made her thoughtfull way back to the hall.
(End of fax transmission).
It's still snowing and my sore hands are black....and red. Black tar and red scratches and sores. The stove got blocked up with tar from the damp wood I've been burning. Outside there's another raging blizzard. For hours I tried to dig the tar off the inside of the fourteen foot long cast iron chimney. It was hard like toffee....yet wet on the outside of the "toffee" like oil from a filthy sump. And it burnt like hell. My skin on my wrists, hands and lower arms raw as a squashed tomato.
There I was up on the red corrugated roof clinging to the top of the chimney trying to dig off the gunk with 70 M.P.H. winds wailing through me. Then I got a flash. I immediately dismantled the stove and stuffed a bit of old blue carpet soaked in parafin into the bottom of the chimney. Set it alight and WHOOSH! Inferno. The chimney-pipe roared like an organ played in Hades. Glowed red in the belting blizzard and burnt the whole lot out. Washed my hands eight or nine times....but they're still black....and red. Scratched and burnt.
Back in the cabin I just heard on the radio that three hundred paintings of animals.......buffalo......deer etc. painted twenty thousand years ago have just been discovered in a cave in the south of France. Paintings of life before religious concepts destroyed human innocence. It's more or less full moon. The winds have died down to a whisper. Through the window I can see the stars....vividly clear. I ought to feel quiet but I'm on edge again.......anticipating the phone to ring.
So.....Simon's found out he's not as sure of himself as he pretended he was. It stinks. Mary's writing this about me.....I know it. She's weaving a web around me....or through me. I mean can this really be a coincidence? On the other hand....I never had a cosmology like Simon. So maybe Mary's right....and I'm being paranoid. No...I don't have a worked-out cosmology....but I had something. A fantasy...and part of it has come true! I'm wealthy and I'm living as close to Han Shan as I want...and suddenly we find out that Simon's cosmology is a fantasy. And Lance's cosmology was a platform for his ego.....since Lance is an image of Stuart.
Unbeknown to Shanti and Molly.....who both look up to Simon......their master is crumbling. I don't know if I like Mary or not. I can't deny that she brought up a level of feeling.....a level of honesty....which has awoken a sense of warmth in my heart today. In fact I actually found myself looking forward to hearing her voice when I was on the roof.....hanging on to the chimney in the storm. And I was singing whilst the blizzard raged. So why aren't I feeling relaxed now? It's because I'm a bag of fragments. Different pieces say different things about the same point.
The truth is I don't have to be here...so why am I getting so hung up? Now I've got so much money I could fly anywhere. Fly to India.....be in the Himalayas within 24 hours. But why for God's sake did I think of all places.....India? Who put that idea in my mind? I s'pose Mary could tell me how I could find Kate......though she's probably not really called Kate....in fact Joe....if he exists.....said everyone's name has been changed! So is Joe's name Joe?......and what about Mary?....is that her real name? It makes me wonder if I'm really Phil?
"Phil, darling.....how are you?"