Part One: Dodging Bullets Isn’t for Every One
Leave the Toolkit
Since I have to start somewhere, I will start with two recent email exchanges with Dave that occurred between the last Sunday Oshana event and this latest blog post. First up, Dave’s comments about the last podcast, “The Invisible Payload,” which he referred to as an “extremely close imitation”:
You very much held court for over 40 mins and unbeknown to all (tho’ Brian might have a clue) you riffed and riffled through rollodex of Daveisms. I think to try them out for size on yourself and the others, a test at recreating a familiar ambient field. It’s reminiscent of the Papaji crowd. Jasunisms were curiously absent. It makes me wonder if you are ever unrehearsed . . .
A few days later, Dave wrote:
A substantial percentage of your engaged audience are appreciating your qualities and style. As much as, and possibly more than your content. They mention your voice and fearless (s)elf-exposure.
Some of the content drones who post on your blog are lost in their own thoughts, connecting through concepts to concepts.
You might consider this when you present your-SELF in interview, your style/method more than “the man the writer.” Certain qualities endure after contemporary fads pass away.
[This email is] an attempt for you to re-appraise yourself
Me: Aren’t I always?
I have a sense of déjà-vu; my original response was to confirm your impression that I would rather leave my toolkit at the door, even if that means facing a dissatisfied housewife with leaky pipes.
“Let’s start with nothing. . .”
Since nature abhors a vacuum, in steps “Dave”?
Hellgate: What Comes Next?
No one said leaving Hell would be easy. You might think that, once you have a working map and have identified the entry point, exiting would be a breeze. But that would still depend on how far away the exit is. Is it easier to move through Hell once we know where we are, or is it harder? Maybe both.
I experience this hardship as a form of incompetence, amateurish-ness—perhaps even impotence. I have a plumber’s outfit still, but seem to have misplaced my toolkit. Astrologically, this entails a 180 degree shift from my South Node (the past) to my North Node (the future), from the intense Plutonian depths of Scorpio, to the earthy, sensual simplicity of Taurus, from Hell to Heaven, or at least Earth. (After Hell-world, natural Earth can seem like Heaven; maybe it even is Heaven?)
This current blog post continues to map an uneasy transition from plumber (master of the underworld) to carpenter (wordsmith to blacksmith), forger of simple, functional tools by which to harmonize my existence with Nature. It maps an internal struggle within me: an ongoing effort to let go of the struggle, and enter into a life of ease. When and how did this transition begin?
The Man Behind the Seems
Over the years, I have been trying to tell people what Dave Oshana is and does. This dates all the way back to 2012, when I wrote “The Disillusionist,” which appeared at Reality Sandwich, as well as a Spanish version for Pijama Surf.
I have said recently that, if you are interested in my work, then you are interested in Dave Oshana, whether you know it or not. I will go a step further: if you like what I do, and especially if you appreciate the changes in style and content, the deepening and the softening, of my output over the past few years, then, whether you know it or not, you are benefiting from Dave Oshana’s influence.
In those early days, I tried to tell you about Dave in a methodical fashion. More recently, I have been trying to show you Dave by doing “cover versions” of his tunes and passing on that butterfly effect. In order for this not to end up as “monkey see, monkey do,” this has required a merging of our energies, of both our styles and our content, as attempted in the last blogpost.
Curiously, I realized recently that this is something that I have been experimenting with through my last few books: merging with my brother with Paper Tiger, with Jonathan Lethem in Seen & Not Seen, with Whitley Strieber for Prisoner of infinity, and with Aleister Crowley (and my brother again) for Vice of Kings. More curiously still, it was the theme of Dave’s last event “Merge Point 2020: The Deepest Way Possible to Come Together!” about humanity’s merging back into a single ball of energy, awareness, and purpose.
For this to be effective, an actual merging is required, beyond style and content, a merging of essence. A merging that begins in the invisible dimensions, behind the scenes set by all the podcasts, articles, and blog posts. Is this merging e-mergent, pre-existing, immanent in the nature of “Dave” and “Jasun,” and perhaps in all sentient humans (though human sentience may not be a given)? Or is it more along the lines of an alchemical “happening,” a transmutation, such as when two hydrogen molecules bond with an oxygen molecule to create water?
Have You Ever Met a 4?
Whatever is emerging or occurring here, your own best gauge is not by observation (which is very limited) but by participation: by observation of your participation. What is happening to you as you merge with what I do/am/am doing, along the way? Because, simply by dint of your reading this, we are merging.
This latest series aims to describe to you some of the ways Dave is helping my inner and outer worlds to become more congruent, coherent, functional, harmonious, and resonant, and how this merging thing allows “me” to become more aligned with the nature of reality, which is also (or primarily) my own nature, which is also yours.
The process continues, does not reduce, diminish, or decelerate, the narrower the divide (or the wider the overlap) between Dave and I—just the opposite. There is an acceleration, the merging-aligning-transformation-surrender-awakening-unleashing precedes exponentially, albeit with hiccups, stops and starts, shudders and jolts, as the vehicle adapts to its new fuel source, and flushes out what remains of the old one.
Meanwhile, you get to come along for the ride. If you don’t like the changes in the “map” (the trajectory), or the wobbles of my amateur driving, it may be time to get off. I expect either to lift off or crash pretty soon.
On the last online event (considered by Martin Jolly to be the best he has attended), Dave introduced a simple metaphor:
Imagine you are on your way to being shot, with only twenty minutes left to live. (This actually happened to Dostoyevsky: he was spared at the last minute.) Do you follow orders and put up no resistance so you can “enjoy” your last twenty minutes on Earth? Or do you act as someone who is already dead, with nothing left to lose, and do whatever it takes to change your fate?
Like all metaphors, the meaning varies. In the case of Dostoyevsky, the right thing turned out to be to go meekly to his death and experience the existential epiphany of an unexpected reprieve. And although his epilepsy began around that time, he also became a very different sort of writer after that. (How could he have not?) But Dostoyevsky is an exception that proves a rule. In most cases, the story ends with a bullet.
Every Body is a Vacuum
On the subject of merging, Dave asserts that the work is not physical, mental, or emotional. At these levels, our identities generally keep others out: we are avoiding the shadow, identifying in the other everything we dislike, that we refuse to merge with. But what disgusts us today, and alerts us to avoid that soul, may not be there tomorrow. Our sense of them as an identity prevents us from seeing that, however.
We think we have everyone’s number as soon as we have their name. But a name is not a number.
On the last event, Dave offered a new definition of enlightenment: being able to tune into a guiding intelligence. Much of the focus was on how we can be receptive to these cues that tell us how to move through life, whether they help us to avoid or to embrace death, or both (to avoid it by embracing it, perhaps). The body (that would be Taurus) is an instrument that is continuously receiving sensory data, both from the physical domain and the nonphysical, the “death-like zone” (cue Scorpio).
The more my attention is on this sensory data, the easier it becomes to follow it into form, to articulate these mysterious impressions, and—to keep this “in the room”—to write this blog post.
This means, not following Dave, but mirroring him sufficiently to begin to follow my own impulses and impressions, which aren’t “mine” at all, but are more like internal responses to that guiding intelligence, responses that cause “me” to come into existence, via my body’s expression, in each and every moment of creation.
The paradox of physical impressions with nonphysical sources (life and death) creates a vacuum of meaning that almost demands filling, with words like spiritual, extraterrestrial, divine, interdimensional, or ancestral. These are just words, metaphors, maps. And a map of the invisible lands is always changing.
Part Two: Waiting for God?—Oh!
The Mass Psychology of Fascia
Let’s be clear. This isn’t about Dave. It’s about me. It isn’t about me. It’s about you. It isn’t about you, it’s about . . .
You do the math. Maybe you are starting to feel the freedom of something beckoning? God’s will: what it might look like, and feel like, in action? Like enlightenment?
In our current condition, inside an environment increasingly mediated by human design, the symptoms of trauma and of fried nervous systems proliferate and escalate exponentially. The net result is that we never fully relax, not even when asleep. We are confined to an artificial eco-system (5G being the latest iteration) designed to keep us in a constant, and constantly increasing, state of agitation.
Fear causes the cells of the body to contract and close themselves against existence. The blood clots; the muscles and organs tense and twist. This contraction prevents us from connecting to and merging with others. The fear creates a wire mesh around our nervous system, a coopting of the fascia of the body.
The fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. The word comes from the Latin for “band,” which is also the root for fascism. Wilhelm Reich wrote a book called The Mass Psychology of Fascism that (if memory serves) included his thesis of “body armor.” Is this what happens when trauma impacts the nervous system, so deeply that the fascia becomes fascism, a system of totalitarian defense that assumes an offensive position and ends up as a persecution drive? (This model is similar to Donald Kalsched’s “guardian”—see Prisoner of Infinity.)
Dave describes this as a nervous system that is permanently tensed up in fear, locked tightly shut against life, preventing the free and easy flow, not only of libido but of life force, of love. It is when the cells turn against themselves.
The Grinch: A Body Map of Hell (Intersection # 1)
I know this state. From my very early twenties until my mid-forties, I spent most of my life physically ill. The symptoms were obscure; always present, they traveled a spectrum from almost unnoticeable to intolerable. I called it the Grinch. In my forties, shortly before it was formally diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I took to “grading” my symptoms on a scale of 1-10 everyday, to map the Grinch’s influence.
The symptoms first began while I was living in New York in 1987, and took the form of severe indigestion and extremely dark—actually black—shit. While I was driving cross country to the west coast, at the end of the year, going through Arizona looking for a comic shop, I experienced a weird ball of tension in my chest and a constricted throat that lasted for a day or two. Soon after, on Christmas Day of 1987, immediately after I arrived in Hollywood, I fell ill at the Holiday Inn. I stayed ill for several weeks and could not leave my room.
On returning to England, I read an AIDS info pamphlet and was shocked to discover that I had almost all the symptoms. I was still a virgin at that time, and the only way I might have contracted AIDS was by sharing a heroin needle once in New York. I took the HIV test, the results came back negative. A bit later, I was diagnosed with glandular fever, a mysterious condition attributed to stress, common among students.
My symptoms were centered in the thyroid glands, and included a sore throat, headaches, night sweats, and a persistent lack of energy. I also suffered from indigestion, and in my late twenties, my inability to digest food was finally diagnosed as (or turned into) a stomach ulcer. My condition was always closely tied to my emotional and psychological state. The illness was a kind of “coagulated despair.” Because of this, people tended to dismiss it as “all in my head,” or psychosomatic. Yet for many years it was a daily ordeal: I would wake after a night’s rest, drained of all energy, my body a seething mass of pain and distress and an indescribable feeling of contamination. It was as if the cells in my body were in revolt. The condition didn’t always involve physical pain—it was often more of an energetic condition—yet it was the most intense discomfort possible to imagine.
The physical pain seemed like a side-effect of a greater affliction, one that spread throughout my body, from toes to teeth, as if running through my blood and embedded in my nervous system, like a poisonous spider web. Over the course of twenty years of unremitting misery, I slowly understood that the sickness was the result of pressure, as if some strange energy was trapped inside the cells of my body, trapped by my own thoughts. There was a war raging between mind and soul, and my body was the battleground. Eventually, I named it “The Grinch,” and later, as if it were a corrupt Roman Emperor out of Asterix comics, “Hideous Insidious.”
What Sex (and Humanity) is For
I have observed over the years that Dave’s gentleness is as much a matter of strategy as consideration. Or perhaps it is inherent in the nature of what moves Dave so it can move through him, to be gentle, even while Dave himself isn’t all that gentle. Dave is an East London boy with Mediterranean blood running in his veins: coarse, rude, blunt, ebullient. But whatever he gave his life to, that morning of June 2000, it has other plans for the London boy. Though “Dave” has been saying “Time is running out for twenty years,” lately he is really acting as if he feels it. Not by cutting corners, but by no longer pulling his punches so much. The grinch-removal surgeon takes off his kid gloves. That suits me. And if it doesn’t suit others, that also suits me.
In this spirit, in the context of enlightenment as the ability to respond to a guiding intelligence, Dave raised the question of what sex is for. If we say it is to create more humans, then what are humans for? We are back where we started. Sex, done right, he inferred, is the divine timing of conception. As he spoke, I imagined a flash mob of humans (or sperm), all moving in sync with one another, to a music that cannot be heard and so cannot be coopted, copied, or quashed.
Do things exactly the way you are directed to do them, he admonished. Taken out of context, it could sound like the autocratic decree of a dictator. But Dave rarely, if ever, claims to know what others should do, only what he has to do, and that others may need help finding out for themselves what they need to do. That pressure can be counter-productive, but also productive; it all depends on the timing. Apparently he is being directed to be blunt and direct (and directive) with a new sense of urgency.
When Dave says “Do things exactly the way you are directed to do them,” he is not talking about following any sort of procedure. He is sharing his experience that there is only one right way to proceed in any given moment, and that the right way can never, ever be determined by knowledge. Like honest sex, it cannot be scripted, pre-planned, or mentally formulated.
Dave shares the wisdom that knowledge is useless as a means to base our actions on, even while knowing, I suspect, that this knowledge is potentially paralyzing. It combines enormous stakes—doing God’s will—with a correspondingly unmeetable challenge: to let go of everything we rely on to decide how to move—and then to move.
A Dead Fish (Intersection # 2)
Dave asks what sex is for, then wonders this: if we do not know what sex is for, how should we proceed in a sexual situation? Suppose we got a woman to take all her clothes off and simply stood or lay there, waiting for God to direct us? How might she react? How might we react to her reaction? [What Dave actually said was: “If you have met someone, and now for the first time you have both taken your clothes off, you probably are not with someone who would understand you if you said ‘Let’s take this slowly. Let’s take this reaaaally slooooowly. . .'”] This was an apropos example, almost as if Dave was fishing through my personal history. Except it is not Dave, anymore. See if you can relate to this (I dare you):
In my teens, I had no luck even getting close to the sex act. A kiss and a boob fondle was as far as I got, as well as several very painful and unrequited infatuations with older women. Then, during the period the Grinch first “landed” in my nervous system, at the age of twenty, after first leaving New York to travel west, I had a series of experiences of not having sex. The first two were back to back, in New Orleans, where my parents first met and fell in love. The third one, the clincher, was a few weeks later, in Dallas, Texas, in a downtown bar. I was doing my usual routine of sitting alone at a bar, trying to look alluring. It had never worked before, and it never worked after; but just this one time, it did.
I had been stealing glances at a beautiful waitress for a while, with zero intention of doing anything about it. After a few minutes, she came over to me.
“You’re wonderful to look at,” she said.
“So are you,” I said.
Her name was Brandy E. Hieronymus (if she ever reads this, I hope she will forgive me using her real name, it is just too fantastic to leave out). We arranged a date for the following night. Like an angsty anti-rom-com (After Hours or Something Wild), things went wrong from the start. Brandy’s car got a flat tire on the motorway. I had never even considered changing a tire myself, and this was before cell phones, so we were stuck waiting by the side of the road. Eventually, a Vietnam vet stopped and sorted us out.
I, or God, had set the scene for the failure of my manliness.
We found a bar and we sat opposite each other and had a limp, uninspired conversation. Pushing on against all the signs, we went to a night club for more of the same (few things more depressing than shouting inanities at the top of your voice). Eventually, in growing desperation, I leaned in and kissed her over the table. My heart wasn’t in it, my mind was elsewhere. Why was I failing to enjoy the realization of my dreams? What was wrong with me?! After we finished kissing, Brandy leaned forward and said, “I was wondering if you are as good at making love as you are at kissing?” From that moment on, my only desire was to get away.
Brandy took me back to my hotel with a single end in mind. I still found her beautiful. I still wanted to lose my virginity. I lay on the bed, waiting for God to save me. She wanted to undress me so I let her. She hovered about my naked body, waiting for me to ravish her. I told her in words now lost to the winds of time that she may as well forget it: as much as I wanted to respond, I wasn’t able to. She asked if she could “explore my body” (words I do recall). I could hardly say no. She told me I had a wonderful body, ignoring its inertness, though by this point, I felt less like a man than a dead fish.
Eventually she gave up and left. She told me to call her when I was back in town; the words felt empty and meaningless. Five minutes later, she returned with the inevitable question: “Is it me?” I reassured her it was me and she left again. She came back a third time (note the series of threes in these recounts), demanding to know where her car was parked. I had no idea: once again my uselessness was being affirmed. This final time she left angrily, her pipes unattended to. That last exit just about finished me off.
Destiny without Mercy (Intersection # 3)
Dave offered another metaphor, of a man who missed a train that crashed and killed everyone on board. Without knowing it, he said, the man was responding to the guiding intelligence and allowing it to direct him, and so he missed the train and lived. Like the metaphor of the upright man who chooses God over pussy and risks the ire of a dissatisfied lover, the example of a guiding intelligence leading us to evade a fatal crash had a curious echo in my life, this time inverted. I have blogged about this event already, but here are the relevant points:
I have had several head-on collisions in my life while driving. The immediate awareness arrives out of nowhere that something irrevocable is about to happen. Consciousness goes crashing from future event, to present unfolding, to past deed. No going back, ever. Reality has spoken and what it says can’t be taken back.
Moments before the accident, I had been feeling happy, at peace, in the flow of existence. Nothing truly terrible would happen to me, not without at least some warning, some foresight, some complicity on my part, some deserving? There was no intent, no malice, no obvious irresponsibility or recklessness to my actions immediately before the event. The old man went down, the scooter sucked under the front of the truck with a hideous crunch of unmistakable and irrevocable finality.
The experience stretched my cognitive and empathic capacities to their outermost limits. It brought home the awareness that life, including my own, is far greater, graver, richer, and more meaningful than I am capable of understanding, much less directing. And yet, I have no choice but to experience it, to be in the driver’s seat and to move forward.
The one thing I can be sure helped me through this time was love. Love was the only adequate response, the only thing that runs deep and wide enough to encompass the guilt, the remorse, the regret, the anger, the shame, the recrimination, the despair, the fear, the dread, the sorrow and the pity of it.
I have not been the same since the accident. Something changed in me for good. Maybe something died in me—or maybe it came fully to life. I found out how dangerous my “drive” was, how tragic and irrevocable the consequences of mishandling my power. I have handled myself differently since then. I carry an awareness in my body: the knowledge of having caused the death of another human being. In some ways, this is the most profound knowledge there is.
Sometimes the promise of love leads only to misery; and what looks like a train wreck, isn’t.
Epilogue: Time for Planting Chilies
Sex & Death & Can We Tell the Difference?
My failing to get laid in Dallas that night—and a series of other failed or frustrated couplings that came before and after, until the right one arrived—was a case of my life force not showing up, despite all my efforts to compel it to do so. As God willed it: no man can feign or force his erection (until the devil invented Viagra).
That unfulfilled promise of sex at the age of twenty with the eponymous Brandy E. Hieronymus left me with an imprint, however. The housewife expected her pipes cleaned, but the young plumber had no idea how to get into his toolkit. I entered the tryst filled with angst—my nervous system jingle-jangling—and everything I tried to do only made it worse. But I ignored all the signs and pushed on anyway. What else was a lonely, horny twenty-year-old virgin in Texas to do? If, as Dave suggests, we get to do our lives over and over again, it might be best next time around for young Jake to decline the fruity beauty in the bar, and embrace his destiny as God’s lonely horny man: an incel ahead of his time.
Sex isn’t plumbing, of course, whatever the advertising says. The sexual paraphernalia I inherited was clunky and unnatural, but that didn’t stop me from wearing it. No one told me what sex was and wasn’t for, and I ended up feeling like a failure, trying to prove my manhood for two decades after that. Eventually, I entered the sex-and-death zone of marriage, and now I am waiting for God.0 again; but that’s another story.
When I had my fatal accident on that fateful election day of November 8, 2016, I was in high spirits, relaxed, at ease, expecting nothing. And the catastrophic event, rather than imprinting my fascia with fear, seems to have helped flush out some ancient toxins. I had the worst kind of experience and discovered that it might actually be for the best. Given the chance, would I avoid that intersection next time around, so the old man might not have to die for my sins? I can’t honestly say that I would. I suspect I was intelligently guided into that fatal collision.
The Urge to Merge
Dave’s contention is that we came here to fix something. I do not need Dave to tell me this. My whole life tells me this. Dave applies the metaphor of watching a horror movie over and over, reacting in the same way—our nervous systems contracting in time to the movie soundtrack. He suggests the very real possibility of changing the soundtrack and releasing our nervous systems from generations of trauma.
Enlightenment is the intelligent impulse that guides us. Certain knowledge didn’t make it down that line to us and what made it, what was left, is all messed up, a story full of holes, missing pieces, incoherent, a faulty map.
So be it. We work with what we are given. Restoration—redemption—begins with acknowledging the fullness of the cup even if it’s 9/10 empty. Even when we get it all wrong, our apparent failure provides vital information for those who come after us. It’s more than just alright to fail; failing means we took a risk and tried something different.
Most of the eight billion fragments of the human spirit may be locked into a nosedive of self-destruction. But who’s to say a single passenger couldn’t correct the trajectory, tip the balance, and bring all of humanity back to the lost paradise of our original configuration? It only takes one apple seed to create an orchard.
The urge to merge unfolds in mysterious ways. Sometimes the promise of sex opens onto a wasteland of despair (that may be the norm). But by the same mystery token, sometimes a head-on collision can turn out to be an unfathomable act of union, guided only by the intelligence of love.
 On the last event, Dave suggested observing the content, context, and syntax of our thoughts, and how closely the tuning of our thought relates to the tuning of our breath. Anytime we are thinking, we are also breathing; each inward breath brings with it a myriad of sense impressions. As we breathe out, we become empty again. Life, death, the space between the heartbeats. In a potential infinity of thoughts in each and every moment, only one thought is worth following, articulating, or enacting. Can we isolate it? Stuff of this sort sounds like mysticism, because our idea of science has become less about applying a scientific method (which can be applied to our sense impressions, including nonphysical ones) and more about referring to external authorities. We follow alleged laws of physics and reality in the same way we follow laws of state: not because we have validated them for ourselves as true, but because they have the weight of institutions, and the military force behind them. We follow them in the same way Dostoyevsky went meekly to his execution: because if we disobey them, we risk being shot. And yet we are already condemned by them.
 A couple of years ago I told Dave about my “Grinch” and he invited me to physically demonstrate the symptoms on an island retreat. Since then, he has become more cognizant, or at least more articulate, about this hideous, insidious human condition that pertains directly to what he calls “the false self” or “false identity.” This evolving model of the colonized fascia is, in my view, central to his definition of enlightenment (the luminous numinous), as what prevents it from happening by keeping us out of our natural state. At the same time, my “Grinch” experience has become much more coherent and meaningful to me, even as I have taken crucial steps towards freeing myself of it.
 IT’S TIME TO PLANT CHILLIES, says Dave. The hot chili seeds from two thousand years ago were planted so we could enjoy hot chilies today. There is a lineage of seeds which we inherit. When we eat food, we can thank it for the energy it gives us, not with prayer but actual grace: by using the energy it provides us to do something meaningful. When we pass on puppies, we want to sell them to the best homes, not merely get the best deal, because whatever happens to our progeny, we feel it.
Cat Power’s “It’s Alright to Fail”: