Divorce, Drugs & Awakening: A Psychic Imprint.

Via on Jul 14, 2011
Shroud of Turin

The only way I know how to describe what you are about to read is through an analogy.

Are you familiar with the “Shroud of Turin?” It is a cloth that many people believe is the cloth Jesus was wrapped in following his crucifixion. I doubt the shroud belongs to Jesus, but that is beside the point. The shroud bears the imprint of the person who was once wrapped in it. The following is as if I doused my mind with ink and wrapped it in paper—it is my psyche’s imprint.

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Eulogy

 

Like a mist that drifts across the start of new day,

A vision of me emerges from before I lost my way…

Life living life,

Space begetting sound,

Light pouring into light,

All roots nourished by a single ground.

Truth meeting truth,

In truth,

As truth was the place.

A whirling flame,

A heart with no face,

I was truth set ablaze.

All words were a song,

As the earth was a praise,

The dance never started,

So the end never came.

A door slams shut,

And the mist slips away.

Dried up and desolate, this earth

Not a praise, but a curse.

Rooted not in reality, but my head,

Nourished by nothing, before I was born I was dead.

Consciousness a craze,

A thought filled maze,

Sustained by noise,

The voices within shatter all poise.

“I,” a corpse in time and space,

Merely a thought in search of a face.

Distant and broke,

In pain I soak,

The world a bed on which I lie,

Butt-naked, wondering why.

Sifting through the recesses of my mind,

I look back and remember a time.

At the center I saw a home,

A structure secure and strong,

Behind its walls within his bed,

A child lies down to rest his head.

Closing his eyes preparing to dream,

His sleep is cut short by an awful scream.

The voice has spoken,

“The house is broken!”

He will always remember this day,

As the moment appearances gave way.

As his sister and mom walked out the door,

He lied motionless on the floor.

Battered and bruised,

Sad and confused,

The child pleads begging to know why,

‘Not for your ears’ is the only reply.

It is easy to see this ignites his fears,

As his eyes are filled with tears—

A flood that would continue for years.

With no relief to be seen,

He has to dream a dream.

One family with two dens,

He is forced to inquire within,

Two spaces but one face,

Trying to find its place.

Built by him,

The vision is grim.

Both shattered and tattered,

Across the stage his memories are scattered.

The blood stained walls scream and shout,

So from the ruins he sets out.

Just past the horizon he spots a tree,

He inches closer to look and see.

Then he heard the voice of a spirit with no name,

It said, “Those who eat this fruit acquire power over pain.”

His mood is destructive,

So the fruit appears seductive.

Reluctantly he plucked from the limb,

A fruit that had no stem.

Listening to what it had to say,

These words were how he lost his way:

“There are always two from which to choose,

You deserve one, but the other you should lose.

Guard what’s yours with all your might,

Avoid pain and to pleasure hold on tight.

All of this is no doubt true,

Since that is “that” and you are “you.”

A man is an island—you’re all alone,

Separate and apart from—solid as a stone.”

The fruit, a thought denying its source,

Outlined a strange and rebellious course.

To the child it gave direction,

Established and governed by recollection.

Unaware, he is now trapped in this night,

He sealed his fate with one absent minded bite.

In an instant all color vanished from sight,

The whole spectrum reduced to black and white.

Good, bad, happy, or sad

These were the options the child now had.

High or low,

He tried to choose which way to go,

But the decision made was by decisions from the past,

He was a puppet on the hand of the decision made last.

This line traced back to the tree,

When he chose to live in a dream.

The effect of the only choice he would ever choose,

Was that freedom he would lose.

Thought imagined a me,

An island amidst a sea,

A servant to this self thought pledged to be,

Revolving around the island with unquestioning loyalty.

In its first act of servitude,

Thought told the self it was nude.

Overwhelmed by self-consciousness,

His vulnerability he must address,

So he set out to build a shell,

Little did he know he was building a hell.

In a dream within a dream,

Things are never what they seem.

Thought assigns the roles to play,

Subject to change on any day.

People become variables in motion,

Ingredients in a magical potion,

Pathways to gain,

Solutions to pain,

Images of an internal stain.

Every woman transformed into Persephone,

An image of lust and anxiety.

An attempt to keep at bay,

The re-occurrence of that fateful day,

When the feminine pillar of his tower fell,

Rendering his face sad and pale.

As he looked over the wreckage scene,

A single pillar remained to be seen.

Upon this pillar he rebuilt his tower,

Within it he enshrined all of his power.

Over the boy he could speak life or death,

And did so with nearly every breath.

Damaged by the fall in his own sad way,

The boy still hung onto every word he would say.

Either absent or high strung,

The boy was wise to bite his tongue.

Nothing at all or “Boy are you dumb,”

Just to save face he had to go numb.

Though damaged the kid knew he would stay,

So he tried to push him away.

All of his power invested in the Old Man,

There was no courage to make a stand.

Unable to say enough is enough,

He felt as though his hands were cuffed.

The only hope he was able to muster,

Was to be found in a deeper slumber.

He dreamed a dream about this scene,

In this realm he was a fiend.

The pathways had shortened, the walls closed in,

New elixir in hand he set out in search of oblivion.

This elixir came in many forms—

Powder or pill, but liquid was the norm.

With these forms he filled his face,

Until all the shadows had left his space.

Not an answer, but a distraction,

Not a response, but a reaction,

Returning from his high,

The demons he dispelled were waiting nearby.

Scarred stiff by their ravenous stare,

Facing these beasts he did not dare.

So in this cloistered world of dreams,

He fell asleep and fled the scene.

He came to standing in a lake of fire,

With every pull from his potion the lake grew higher.

Uncontrollably churning,

Burned not, but burning,

He was reborn as a flame,

In a fire that knew him by name.

Though vague it was a familiar presence,

It seems he was unable to deny his essence.

No where to run,

Back where it all begun,

There remained only one un-charred figure to see,

It was the fruit and that God-damned tree!

There it stood,

For both evil and good.

Its promise now jaded,

As its color had faded,

Different but it was the same tree,

Just subjected to its own subjectivity.

Lying motionless on the floor,

I awake to the sound of a closing door.

Resisting the urge,

To ask a broken man,

With broken words,

It is upon me at last,

The day has come to look at my past.

All my demons come rushing by,

Like comets across the sky,

Finally prepared to let them die,

I sit up again,

Take a deep breath in,

Step out of my tomb,

Returning to my inner-room,

I wipe away the flood from my eyes,

And with silence I ask why.

Not from a word or a voice,

A sound or a noise,

But from the absence of sin,

Light comes pouring in,

Passing between the fruit and limb,

Pointing out the missing stem.

Consuming the fruit I consumed the seed,

This gave rise to the belief in me.

Divorced from its source the fruit was dead,

So it was within my head.

When this elusive ‘I’ was sought,

All that was found was another thought.

Just as money can never be bought,

The fruit of thought can never be caught.

This tyrant always one step ahead of the game,

As it and the game were one and the same.

Through a process of personification,

Thinking had obtained identification.

By a flash of insight on a dark night,

This tyrant’s throat was cut by the sword of light.

Though it happened faster than speed,

It revealed an image that didn’t bleed.

Like the child of a barren wife,

This false-self never knew life.

Then it returned,

But not as a vision or something learned.

I was burning but never burned,

As I was the flame that uncontrollably churned.

Life living life,

Space begetting sound,

Light pouring into light,

Infinite-Nothingness was the ground.

Truth once lost now has been found,

Called back by something greater than sound.

Silence—the greatest song of praise,

Has returned the heart to truth,

And truth is ablaze!

~all illustrations by William Blake.

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About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist & Christian spirituality and politics for The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, The Web of Enlightenment, and is the editor & chief for Henry Harbor--an online magazine concerned with art, culture, spirituality, & politics in the deep South. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Looking for a real bio? Click here to read my story....

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25 Responses to “Divorce, Drugs & Awakening: A Psychic Imprint.”

  1. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Wow. I don't honestly know what else to say…

  2. NicoleaBianchi says:

    brilliant…i felt all of it. peace be unto you.

  3. Libbi says:

    wow, beautiful. I always enjoy your writing. :)

  4. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Beautiful.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  5. Don Boss says:

    I’m with Ben on this one… Wow!! In 21 years of freedom from that nasty ole’ stem-less fruit, this is truly the most amazing and beautiful expression of the journey I’ve ever read. Thank you, Mr. Riggs!! I am in awe…

  6. Lezlee says:

    My first reaction as I reached the end – another Wow! Amazing ~ thank you for sharing something so personal and deep.

    • Benjamin Riggs BenRiggs says:

      It is by far the most personal thing I have written and am glad to share it with everyone. I am glad you enjoyed it. Have a great day, Lezlee.

  7. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    • Benjamin Riggs BenRiggs says:

      Thank you so much for helping me share this article, Tanya. It is by far the most personal thing I have written and am glad to share it with everyone.

  8. Shannon says:

    What makes this extraordinary is the craft and care in expressing the personal. Very inspiring. Elephant is teaching me that so much beauty emerges out of the heart-felt expression of our inner, vulnerable selves.

  9. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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  11. missbernklau says:

    Wow, I've no words to follow that…just, thank you so much for sharing something so personal and beautiful, Namasté.

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  16. Not an answer, but a distraction,

    Not a response, but a reaction,

    Returning from his high,

    The demons he dispelled were waiting nearby.

    Sheer brilliance. beautiful. raw. painful. real. hopeful. LOVE.

  17. Sunfish says:

    Thank you for this Ben – I particularly liked these lines, towards the end:

    Just as money can never be bought,
    The fruit of thought can never be caught.
    This tyrant always one step ahead of the game,
    As it and the game were one and the same.

    Like you, I also view the seductive malignity of the 'monkey mind' as a kind of tyrant and so this really struck a chord with me. I will have a look at your blog to see if you've written elsewhere in more detail about what you call 'the sword of light'. I think I'd like to get one for myself!

    I don't know if you chose the illustrations as well (are they all by William Blake?) but whoever did chose well – they really suit the narrative.

    Thanks again and I hope all is going well with you.

  18. Sheer brilliance. Unfortunately I don't own a small press because if I did I would immediately suggest publishing this. It is exceptional: wise, clear and true and resonant as a high bell struck on a summer morning. Truly inspirational!

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