#1722 - Friday, March 5, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
Here is an excerpt from Spiritually Incorrect
by Jed McKenna. Visit the following link for more
There is a controversy about whether or not Jed McKenna, as depicted in his
books, exists. The author of the books exists. Whether events told are
completely true or not, I don't know for sure. Nothing I've read is so
unusual that it is unbelievable. If these books were pure fiction
I would expect something a hell of a lot more off-the-wall and poorly
written (because pure fiction is very hard to write) than what is
delivered. These writings, in my opinion, come from plain and simple experience.
But like I say, I haven't read all of Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, so
maybe someone levitates and spits out all four guilty charges against
Martha Stewart. I don't know.
Excerpt from Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, by Jed
Since one of the things I'm trying to do with these books is hold the
awakened state up for display, I should mention one of the more peculiar things
about it, which is that I have nothing to do. I don't have any challenges left,
and I can't just make one up. I can write this book and maybe stay involved with
communicating on this subject in some minor way, but the fact remains; I have
nothing to do. I like being alive, but I don't really have anything to do
while alive. I like to sit and be, I like to appreciate the creative
accomplishments of man, especially as they involve his attempts to get his
situation figured out, but appreciation is a pretty flat pastime. I'm not
complaining, just expressing something about this state that most probably
aren't aware of. I am content, and contentment is overrated. I have no framework
within which anything is better than anything else, so what I do doesn't
particularly matter. I have no ambition, nowhere to go, no one to be or become.
I don't need to distract myself from anything or convince myself of anything.
There's nothing that I think isn't as it should be, and I have no interest in
how others see me. I have nothing to guide me except my own comfort and
discomfort. I don't seem to be too bored or unhappy about it, so I guess it
sounds weirder than it is.
Stinkpig bastard Henry has sandbagged me by dragging us to a friend's house
for a dinner party. There are five or six couples as well as Christine and me,
who are not a couple. It's a spacious Spanish-style house surrounded by others
like it, overloking a valley of dirt and scrub and, if you turn the telescope on
the balcony far enough to the left, I'm told, a glimmer of the ocean.
The East Coast dinner parties of my youth were pretty formal affairs.
Everyone arrives sevenish, drinks for an hourish, seated eightish, finished
nine-ish, more drinks until two-ish. This doesn't look like that. Less formal,
less uptight; this is more like an indoor picnic. Everyone comes and goes.
Children with sitters or nannies stop in and leave, the occasional teenager zips
in, consults with a parent about car keys or cash, and zips out. A neighbor pops
in to discus on-street parking and pops out. People are chatting in four or five
different areas including the driveway, the balcony and the kitchen. There's no
one making introductions, no proper young gents taking coats and drink orders,
no enchanting hostess gliding through the scene, no one smoking, no dresses or
ties, no cocktails -- mostly wine and some beer -- no soft chamber music, no
candles because the house is flooded with sunlight.
Henry has pulled me aside and is continuing to batter me with details of
Operation Fizzle. These people we're dining with are all a part of it, he tells
me. It's something they're creating and discovering together. The dinner party
is an example of it.
"Sometimes we get together just to discuss a single topic," he informs me.
"Have you ever done that? It usually has to do with social responsibility.
Sometimes we discuss a book. There are a lot of us, not just what you see here.
It's really gaining momentum. We're creating a whole new paradigm."
Okay, too much.
"I have no idea what you're talking about with this new paradigm stuff,
Henry," I tell him. "The paradigm I see here is denial and petty self-interest,
just like anywhere else. You might spin it differently, but it's the same
life-structure that practically everyone is living in. Is there something I'm
not seeing? It looks like you're all half a block off Main Street living
perfectly ordinary, self-gratifying lives and going to a lot of trouble to
pretend you're not. How is this different from what anyone else is doing?"
Henry is unflappable. "Do you think we should consider a less self-centered
approach?" he asks, rubbing his chin with a judicious air. "That's something
I've been wondering about. We participate in quite a few charitable projects. I
think we're all volunteers in various organizations. We all recycle, of coruse,
and we're very conscientious about the environment. I guess we could be more
giving, if you think..."
"I don't think anything, Henry," I interrupt. "You're the one talking about
a new paradigm. I'm just saying I don't see it."
On the one hand, these people, Henry and his friends, are
clearly very pleasant, very successful Americans living the American dream of
freedom and abundance. On the other hand, I can't help but see them all as
self-centered, self-important, self-righteous assholes; in other words,
youngsters. But they're not, not really, or, at least, not particularly. No more
or less than anyone else at any other dinner party, certainly not those of my
early years. It's just another sign taht my good humor is wearing thin. How do
mature, intelligent people manage to go through their lives in a state of
such diminished capacity? And what do I care if they do?
In reality, there's only one thing going on. There's only one
game being played in life, and these people have arrayed their mental and
emotional forces expertly so as to convince themselves that they're on the field
in the thick of it while actually standing in line at the snackbar. The American
dream of freedom and abundance is just a child's rendering of true freedom and
abundance, and serves only to convince people who haven't gone anywhere that
they've already arrived.
To the awakened mind, the unawakened can be a source of frequent
dismay. The distance between awake and asleep is so infinitesimal that it'shard
to remember they're a universe apart. Zen parables about instant enlightenment
seem suddenly probable, as if just the right event -- the whack of a stick, a
poignant non sequitur, an overturned bowl -- could suddenly snap
someone into full awareness. The unawakened mind sees an enourmous barrier --
the proverbial gate -- between itself and the awakened mind.