Tuesday, October 2, 2012


When I went to community college I was impressed by a teacher, Drew Hurley, who taught Social Science 100. He had selected a book to use for his class that deeply impressed me. I can't remember the name of the book now but the whole class really liked it for its look at our society and how it may change in the years that would proceed after te 1970's when we took Drew's class.

Books and their nature have been very important to me in my life. Sometimes I wonder why some books are more difficult than others. Sometimes I am suspicious if a book is easy to read. When I was a high school and even elementary school student I found a lot of books and other reading material very difficult. In 4th grade our class had to read Hiroshima. Was it my playing war or fanship of those movies that always played on WNEW or WOR or even the major networks what stood in my way? I couldn't read the book. Give me books on Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra but keep your true historical accounts of significant happenings in world history. In fact world history itself was difficult for me. Good ol' USA was the thing in our family. My mom had lost a brother to WWII. My uncle had served and saw combat in Europe. America and the myth of its Godlike destiny to set the world free was what we were all about whether we were Yankees or Rebels.

In high school I was asked in a social studies class, an enjoyable class taught by our new football coach who led Kings Park High School to its first EVER winning season and almost undefeated, asked us to read Taylor Caldwell's The Earth is the Lord's. This was about Genghis Khan? I could not relate. And was Taylor Caldwell a woman? It would take a lot of growing up and education before I could figure that author to be a man. My big sister (my step-sister, Barbara) read Jackie Susanne and the like. She was 15 years older than me. I watched all kinds of social network programming in those days. I loved Johnny Carson if I could watch it. Sometimes I would fake sickness having watched Johnny or some other late night show to skip school the next day. Sometimes I went in groggy and in need of more sleep. I appreciated when the start of the school day was changed to 9:00 a.m from 8:00 a.m.

I moved to Hawthorne, Florida and went to school there the  year after but I had one more book that was tough and I needed to watch the movie to report on it. That was All the Kings Men. I did also have to watch the movie to progress at all on Great Expectations. If I had known what a great liberal and progressive Charles Dickens was I might have had more success. I was a big fan of the Kennedys and sometimes would read about them and the issues that were important to them. I only recently have read about Dickens' compassionate views in the intro to A Tale of Two Cities. But in Hawthorne I need to read Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country. I saw the movie recently on satellite TV but reading the book, forget about it. My father never read books. He pretended late in my college career but he had a paper out before him when he had coffee in the morning and that was it for him. He looked like he could read as you would suspect adults could but mom often called him ignorant and claimed he couldn't read or do arithmetic. Mom, who was a working woman putting in 40 hours a week with an hour commute, read your Family Circle and Redbook. Once she let me read an article on masturbation. I was 14 or 15 I think. I think I asked her what it meant and she said in her fair white way, bothering yourself. No doubt she was aware of problems of molestation with children which was also called bothering you.

Oh, dear, in my senior year in high school besides Cry the Beloved Country I had to read British Literature. The Beatles still being a real big thing though they had broken up were my idea of British Lit and I could get nowhere with it. I even got a failing grade in the fall although I think we were allowed to address Beatle music in that class mostly from the standpoint of the lyrics. Fortunately, I did graduate high school an extremely high idea to my daddy who no doubt was embarrassed by his lack of education but pretended to know what was necessary to make it in the world. You gotta get your deeploma.

When I moved to Thorne as some students called it, I had some classes where the material was something I had covered in N.Y. Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea was being discussed in Lu LaFontaine's 11th grade English. I had had to read it for Gerry O'Connor up north. I watched the movie with Spencer Tracy. It was American Lit in both cases, something I would come to really love in community college.

Nowadays I have a conflict withe Shaivism and Vaishnavism. The Vaishnavism seems so easy and the Shaivism very hard. I have chosen to follow a Shaivist Sadguru though and I work hard to understand the serious texts of the Siddha Yoga tradition such as the Pratyabhijnahridayam, the Shiva Sutras and the Spanda Karikas as well as Shri Guru Gita and other chanted works. I think part of the problem is not having personal contact, serious friendship with Shaivists. We have correspondence courses and so forth, satellite intensives, online events and broadcasts but we don't have that personal teacher that we love. No one up in front of us or in our midst who is making jokes and enjoying us as people, though God lives most especially in people. For the Vaishnavas we of course have George Harrison and his great song My Sweet Lord. We have often confused his Lord with Jesus though, another greatly gentle Being though as presented in books and teachings a very different Master.

The Sadguru can show you the Divine within you but without the support of teachers and advanced students it can be easy for That experience to dissipate and even confuse. There is a lot "written" about Kundalini and Her awakening but we don't see many people with a living and breathing experience of it unless we pay fees and often travel great distances to see them.

I started to read political matter when I was an adolescent, evolving out of the sport heroes genre. I loved to read about the Peace Movement. Some of my favorites were Moratorium and The Strawberry Statement. I may go into that further in another post. For now, sadgurunath maharaj ki jay!

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