Elwood Decker Elwood Decker: A Path to God


THE DUNES

By Elwood Decker

In April of l979 I called Elwood in Oklahoma City, and talked to him for the first time. We had a long conversation and I asked him many questions about his life in the dunes. That same month he sent me a letter that included some of these details about his life and about the time he spent in the dunes. -- NRH * * *

My first impression of the Dunes was so vague I cannot remember any details. I had no intention of ever living there. It was during an overnight visit with Mrs. Varian in Halcyon. I do remember the large harp in the corner of the living room. Her daughter Sybil had married my dear friend in San Francisco, Herman Allen, an art dealer.

Another friend and I were on our way to Mexico before racing to New York. He shipped out from San Diego and I hitch-hiked and rode open and closed boxcars, mail cars, and once, a locomotive. I slept mostly in the open, once in the rain, and managed to scramble into New York before my surprised friend. When he arrived I introduced him to a lovely girl. They married and went to Italy. I never saw them again.

After eleven months, homesick for California sunshine, I hitch-hiked back to San Francisco. Two years later at the home of Preston and Helen McCrossen, I met Isona, Rudy Gerber's stepmother, and a 'Sanduner' poet Hugo Seeling, who invited me to be his guest in the Dunes. He was an intellectual like Gavin Arthur, another 'Duner.' Both were outstanding socializing influences who invited artists, writers, and dancers to the Dunes and, in a three mile stretch at least, transformed it into an amazingly Democratic, mixed society where talents destined to be nationally famous shared fish, potato, onion, and butter with chronic bindlestiffs holing up for the winter...where an ex-gunner for the Equadorian Navy, Arther Allman, discussed his deepest religious experience with a young immigrant from the Hindu Temple in San Franciso... and both would be seated in a dune grass- roofed shack on stilts where Arthur carved Geisha girls for sale.

Two or three years later I joined Hugo to live in the Dunes for the first time. This was in l930, at least six years after I had briefly seen the place. Before even that I had a strong favorable reaction to the Oriental Quality of San Francisco. I tried to eat and paint like the Chinese and Japanese, meditate and worship like the Hindus. I learned to eat with chopsticks in five minutes. A year or so before accepting Hugo's kind invitation, I had a life-transforming Religious Experience.

Sva Mudra is a mysterious Hindu term describing the Universe as a Divine Gesture of The One Supreme SELF... IMMEDIATELY ACCESSIBLE in everything and everybody if we know how to make contact. This is what attracted me to the Hindu Faith. God is not far away. It is we who are seemingly far away because of our ignorance. To know the TRUTH is actually to BE FREE Here and Wherever we may seem to be Whenever we can muster up what it takes to penetrate the illusion of separateness. Samudra is an ordinary word meaning 'the sea.' Both Sva Mudra and samudra are pronounced 'shamudra' in Bengali. The meaning, whether Divine or ordinary, depends on our intention. For me, both words were intimately related to the Dunes.

One evening in San Francisco, with a friend from Mill Valley and my sister who lived in Oakland, I went to see the great Hindu dancer, Uday Shankar and his lovely partner Simke, give a beautiful performance of religious dances with their troupe. The gorgeous color, exotic sound, and graceful movement were charming. My companions were delighted, but my heart was not satisfied... because I knew that every movement and gesture had a special religious meaning, and I did not know what that meaning was. I went home with my sister with an empty feeling, convinced that I had missed the most important part of the performance.

However, I was fortunate. Though unaware of it, my INTENSE LONGING TO KNOW had stirred up a deeper power of intention than I had any idea of. Fulfillment, uniquely on its way, was to become more surprisingly satisfying than anything I had dared hope for... yet the only extraordinary element was its life-transforming depth. Otherwise, everything about it was as humdrum as humdrum can be.

The next morning in Oakland, in a small restaurant near my father's apartment where I had stayed overnight after taking my sister home, while my father and I were waiting for our breakfast, the greasy cook and fat waitress moving behind the counter suddenly Appeared to me as GOD AND NATURE, THE FATHER AND MOTHER OF THE UNIVERSE DANCING THE DANCE OF EVERLASTING LIFE. It was over in a flash. No one noticed my Spellbound Ecstatic Instant. I said nothing, yet I'll vividly remember It as long as I live. My sensebound conceptions did not permit me to immediately give up all my sense indulgent habits, but I was never quite the same afterward. I wanted a lifetime like that inspired moment.

Hugo graciously initiated me into the fabulous conveniences of the life of a Sanduner... how to sink an apple box a foot or so under the surface of the sand in an already low place and tap fresh water draining from the lakes of the Gun Club a mile inward, on the Mesa... how to cook outdoors with a Dutch Oven when you don't feel like cooking inside in the summer. How to patch cracks with tar to keep out the winter cold. The rest was up to me.

Then I moved into the former cabin of a dwarf, whom I later met in Santa Barbara and thanked for the unique privilege of living in such a convenient place. It was 6' X 6', had a skylight and a west window, both about 6" square. It was just big enough to hold a single mattress, a small stove, and a spare applebox to sit on. It was an ideal place to meditate. On the nearest Dune bank facing north and somewhat stabilized with shrubs, the dwarf had arranged an inspiring sign in clamshells, GOD IS LOVE. I believed it and loved the Dunes for almost a year, then decided to settle some obligations to the outside world, and left in l931.

Once while gathering dry brush for kindling and facing west I heard an unfamiliar sound behind me. Quickly turning I watched seven large white wild swans fly directly overhead toward the ocean... awestruck with their majestic beauty... a never-to-be-forgotten Hint of the Seven Planes of Vedantic Knowledge.

Five years later I returned to the Dunes and stayed for l0 years. Klem, a good natured Bavarian carpenter from Halcyon, was building a cabin in Moy Mell, Gavin's place in the Dunes. I became his helper. Carl Beckstead, a close friend of Gavin, who lived in one of the four cabins in Moy Mell, took me to an abandoned cabin about a mile south. The walls needed repair but the roof was good. Rudy donated a 6'X 6' magnificent window so I could watch the dawn from the east while having breakfast. It was sectioned with thin strips into nine panels.

Later, during the war when the beach was patrolled and no one was allowed on it at night, I was visited by a lieutenant, one of his soldiers, and the county sheriff, Ed Pearl. We all had coffee and talked things over, and the outstanding subject of conversation was the big window. Outside a windstorm was in progress and the big window bent in like it was made of rubber… but after l0 years it was a good as ever.

Klem gave me a lesson. I stooped to pick up a perfectly good nail. 'Ach! Ach!' exclaimed Klem, 'A good carpenter's time is too valuable to pick up a nail!'

So, after hours, with my own construction problems in mind, I knew a good place to look for nails or unusable lumber beneath the notice of a good carpenter.

Years later I worked on another construction job for Gavin in town. My boss was Mr. Wheeler, a conservative New Englander, the father of Helen who became Carl Beckstead's wife. Working for Gavin was never dull. Mr. Wheeler and I had finished what we thought was an attractive three story tower attached to the kitchen of his large home in Halcyon. Gavin looked at it a minute or two and said, 'Move it out another foot.'

Mr. Wheeler looked at me and I looked at him with dispassionate calmness. How we ever did it, I don't know, but we did. The lower part became an attractive dining room I painted different tones of red. Upstairs became a library, and at the top I expanded my range of colors in a study where Gavin pursued his favorite subject, astrology, with passionate intensity.

The more sociable dimensions of my new Dune house, 6' X 18' were determined by the usable roof, allowing ample room for an upside-down washtub stove, wood box, double mattress, and a large table-like storage place built out from the north wall, where I could draw and paint with good light from a north window. There was a smaller east window, a foot or so north of the one and only door, in the center of the east wall. Underneath the big window south of the door were built-in drawers for clothes, and a slot that my plywood one-piece kitchen 'table' slid into, needing no support. This supplied enough leg room for a guest.

Two overhead shelves at each end took care of food supplies at the south and provided a space for sculptural arrangement for Art's sake at the north. The double mattress folded over into a 'couch' in the daytime.

A sliding south wall window allowed me to cultivate a window box that also had a little perch where I could feed the Dune birds out of my hand. The boldest or most trusting were the tit wrens, then the sparrows, bluejays, orioles, and wild doves in order. I learned to coo like a wild dove. They would perch on the roof so I got a lot of practice. Beyond the perch was a large outdoor table made of heavy planks, handy to the kitchen so food could be passed from the kitchen to guests through the south sliding window. Eventually I moved it to a cooler place under the shade of the willows at the rear, providing more adequate 'air conditioning,' during a summer when people were dropping dead in L.A.

In winter a few newspapers between the blankets solved any problems. I suffered from lack of ventilation. The expressionistic cracks in the construction were adequate.

There were times when I thought I was getting too sociable, so in l945 I stayed home in the Dunes for one year. I had l04 visitors. The next year a new life began and the Dunes became a vital inner force, unseen by others but always sharing their powerful Simplicity and Beauty.. as a never-to-be-forgotten memory.

After noting the depth of the at least 50 year old leaf mold under the large willow trees, I cleared and fenced in an area to the north, slightly larger than my house, for a successful organic garden. Then, since my entire living area was almost surrounded by trees, added some barb wire as a protection from friendly cows who were otherwise quite welcome.

I remember only three other 'Duners' who had gardens--all to the north: Moon Mullins, Doggett, and in later years, Bert Schievink. It gave me great satisfaction when Rishi Grewal, the Yogi, ate a carrot out of my garden without peeling it. On the way back to L.A. or Santa Barbara, he carried one of his pupils Marion Shinn across the creek. He told another pupil, a druggist in Santa Barbara, about my drawings. So I was invited by the curator of the Santa Barbara Museum, Mr. Donald Bear, to have a one-man show. He was surprised I did not attend the opening. Oliver Andrews, a nationally known sculptor introduced me to him years later and he just grinned. Oliver was Gavin's nephew. He visited the Dunes often but never lived there. When I first met him he had not yet become interested in Art. He won many honors including first prize for sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum. So did Donald Carpenter, who lived for six months in the Dune cabin I bought from Moon Mullins for $5.00. His mother came to see what he was doing in the Dunes. He brought her protesting, to my cabin in the next cove saying, 'But mother, your car will be destroyed by the high tide unless I take it to Rudy's place. I don't want to leave you alone!'

She looked at me suspiciously. Nevertheless we were married and lived happily ever after.

Howard Bradford also stayed in that cabin and is now one of the most successful serigraphers in America, with a Japanese market opening up for his delightfully free, original designs. I'll never forget when Howard returned to the Dunes after the war, wearing an immaculate, expensive, tweed suit. He calmly proceeded to paint in it day after day, until it was so covered with daubs and splashes of paint, the trousers could probably have stood up by themselves.

Uno Palokangas was a talented journeyman sculptor and was responsible for a number of larger than life size statues in Southern California. We were close friends for years in Ojai and L.A. Uno also came to the Dunes for a visit, with two other friends. One was Hal Berry, an actor whom I had seen in Ojai play the part of an alcoholic with thoroughly convincing accuracy. And no wonder. All of them were alcoholics in what we call real life. They all got lost in the Dunes. Only one managed to reach my cabin. We went back to find the others and get them safely on the way to their own homes before nightfall.

It was during a visit with John in Ojai that I met Pat O' Hara, a very outspoken reporter, who disdained to wear clothes at parties. He listened to my poems and before the war came to the Dunes. After the war he came back. He had a warm heart but a sharp wit. I listened over the radio to an interview between Pat and a dangerous gangster. Pat raked the gangster over the coals.

Once we were walking together on the beach. It was a perfectly gorgeous day. The roaring surf with huge breakers and white billowing clouds overhead were breathtaking. Pat looked straight ahead and walked on, absorbed in his thoughts. I said, 'Wow! Look at those clouds!'

No response. I said, 'You don't seem much interested in the beauty of nature today.'

Pat answered, 'Nah, I'd rather read what somebody else writes about it.'

A long time after I realized that sometimes I felt exactly like that too. I suppose that is why I am writing all this... though my back hurts. I'm not temperamentally a writer, and I would much rather meditate.

Pat's wife Rozzie gave me her paintbox and that's how I got started painting in the Dunes. One of her remarks that depressed Pat, deeply convinced me that Rozzie was capable of deeper levels of consciousness and was ready but had no map. I don't know what happened to Rozzie. Pat was found hung to a tree in Moy Mell. Both were very lovable. The Hindus believe we all have five bodies, the invisible ones keep going until Unlimited SELF Consciousness is attained.

Jim Coffie, another artist pal, came to the Dunes after the war and stayed a few months. I learned more about the war from him than anyone else. When discharged, he was an officer who wisely used his G.I. rights to further his Art education. In Korea Jim was in charge of a hospital, sent there to improve the discipline, a job he did well enough to make him unpopular. That was tough enough but reports kept coming to him that someone was stealing from the Officer's Club for which he was also responsible. He quietly investigated. The evidence unmistakably indicated the local chief of police, who actually had the power to arrest HIM. Jim took a hot shower, put on a fresh kimono, sat down with a clean sheet of white paper, dipped his brush in ink, and made a drawing... deciding that if it was a good drawing he had nothing to fear. It was a good drawing. Jim called in Army Intelligence, and presented the evidence.

They told him, go ahead. So he arrested the Chief of Police, prosecuted him... and probably was transferred so he could relax! That reminds me of so many other things, too many to tell. When Jim left the Dunes he treated me to the best fish dinner I ever had in Pismo. After all, he was in command and he said, 'lobster, abalone, ANYTHING.' I don't remember the details but it was very, very, gratifying.

Other artists who made Dune life memorable were Alberta Von Ottenfelt, Agnes Park, and a friend of Uno named Toni who lived in the cove to the south where there were snakes she didn't mind. She and her child who was a legitimate heir to the Chinese Emperor's throne came over for lunch one day. There were three artists I've forgotten the names of. One stuttered and buried his money in a pipe near his cabin. I used to shake with laughter when I remembered his stuttering description of one of his guests who would not leave as long as there was oo oo wah wuh one l l l la las last dddd ddd dd drink. Wah wuh one l ll l las last ddddd dd d drop dddddd ddddd ddd dd damn ddd dd drop inthuh (censored) b b b bub bu BOTTLE!

John's wife, Emily Wingate, produced more drawings than any of the others. She was a former model for Vogue. She could wear a gunny sack and make it look beautiful. I hated to see them go, but there were problems in trying to rear children in the Dunes.

Another artist whose name I have forgotten is memorable because of a mutual friend from Laguna, Jack Connor, who stayed with me for two weeks. A huge pitch-filled log floated up on the beach. In town I borrowed a crosscut saw, three iron wedges, and a sledge hammer. Jack and I burrowed under the partly buried log, cut it into 7' lengths, split them, and for one whole year afterward my cabin was wondrously perfumed from my wood box, and magnetized by the mellow memory of a most gracious guest. Another was Otis Brown. Both Otis and Jack had a talent for companionship. Both were deeply religious. I enjoyed others, but Otis and Jack were absolutely in a class by themselves. They were so spontaneously unselfish, yet so practical. They lifted one up without trying to. I don't remember asking either of them to do anything.

Other guests I remember mostly in passing, like Ella Young, Peter Churchill, and Ted Conant, who bought one of my abstract drawings for his mother's birthday and we spent the afternoon discussing making a movie together about the migration of birds from the angle of the Dunes. I was to do animations for the titles.

It was a grand idea. Maybe someone will do it in the future. At the time we were not quite ready. In July, l951, when the Museum of Modern Art chose my abstract 16mm film, COLOR FRAGMENTS to show the members of the National Art Educators Association at their Summer Conference in New York, I tried to get in touch with Ted so he could see it. Though his mother Grace had written me a letter, I had lost track of his home address. I tried through a film company he sponsored, but apparently they were not interested in handling his mail.

When as guest of Gavin, Edward Weston, his sons Brett and Cole, and his model, Charis, came to the Dunes I was most impressed that for three days Edward took an average of almost 20 photographs a day, and all were as good as the few that won him a Guggenheim Award. I was also impressed that Brett taught Carl Beckstead enough about photography that he also took some that were equally good.

Carl never became famous, nor did Cole, who was an excellent photographer. Brett's photos won a lot of recognition. I liked his show at the San Francisco Museum very much and visited his studio in the Bay area at the time. I actually enjoyed his work more than his father's because he seemed to me more abstract, somehow more modern. One wonders about fame, and the priority of intensity. 20 good shots a day... that's a lot of intensity.

When I got more and more into abstract Art I became more interested in making movies and the idea of dimensional progression. I should have said BECAUSE of the idea of dimensional progression. It is more of a coincidence that when I got interested in movement in my Art, I moved out of the Dunes.

One of the first things Ann did after getting me out was to rent a movie camera for me. Her son Don and I had a hilarious time experimenting with it in black and white film. I became friends with the Whitney Brothers and exhibited at James Fitzsimmons' studio with Man Ray who also came to our house to see film. All that is another story, but let's linger a short while in the dunes where it all started.

It was an ex-photographer who taught me how to make my own sandals. He stopped by with a commercial photographer and his wife from Santa Barbara. He looked at my bare feet and said, 'You should make your own sandals.'

I was mildly attentive. He mused, 'If I had some leather, I could show you.'

I asked, 'How much would it take?'

'Oh, a couple of dollars.'

I gave it.

The next day he came and said, 'I underestimated the price. I need two more dollars.'

I thought to myself, 'I might as well be a wholehearted sucker while I'm at it.'

So I gave him two more dollars. The next day he showed up with the leather and brilliantly showed me how to use it. Together we made a pair for each. Ever after I made my own sandals in the Dunes and wore my last pair in town 'till they wore out. After the lesson was finished we had the most magnificent meal I could put together to make up for my small-minded lack of faith.

I often thought how he had walked at least 7 miles every day for 3 days just to teach me how to make my own sandals. If there were enough people like that... let's face it. The world is a different subject, I'll leave it to GOD, it's too much. I never saw him again, he felt freer on the move. Even the Dunes could not hold him. He enjoyed photography, but not as a business, notwithstanding success. He said an attractive lady wanted him to do a portrait of her, in the nude. As he was thinking it over, she asked, 'How much would it Cost?'

He said, automatically, 'Five dollars.'

I asked eagerly, 'How did it turn out?'

He looked at his new sandals and said softly, 'It was perfect.'

There was a moment of silence. Then he added somewhat absentmindedly, 'It was so long ago I don't remember whether she gave me five dollars, or I gave her five dollars.'

Well it seems the more I want to cut out of this verbal movie, the more events come to mind and the more I feel like I'm whirling around with the spokes instead of calmly reposing in the hub of my initial intentions to share inspired moments with the Beneficient Omnipresence of MOTHER NATURE.

Once I shamelessly criticized Walt Whitman's habit of making long lists, but I now realize there are times that it is the only way out. I haven't even mentioned my dearest and nearest friends in town, the Gerbers, the Montgomerys, the Kecks, or Bill Haddox, the friendly farmer and his family, who ran the millionaire gun club on the Mesa, directly inland from my cove.

During the war there was a shortage of labor so I worked with the Mexicans in the l60 acres of sugar beets. Don't ever think Mexicans are lazy, just give them pay for piece-work, then try to keep up with them. I asked, 'Jose, what would you do if somebody gave you two million dollars?'

He gave me a blissful smile and said, 'I'd play and play and play!'

I worked in a Mexican camp outside of the Dunes once. Every night after work they played music, all the more beautiful because it was 20 miles from town, blending in perfectly with the aliveness of the night.

Well, I can't leave out the fantastic funeral of Arther Allman, who was buried in Potter's Field because he 'had no friends' according to the coroner. The next afternoon we gathered around the grave and silently heaped it with flowers and branches of willow buds. Rudy, his sister Isona, and four 'Sanduners,' Marion Thorp, Pete the Finn, Slim the Aussie, and yours truly.

Rudy suggested we all say something. He looked at Pete, who shook his head. He turned to Slim who said, 'The fact we're all here says something.'

Then it was my turn. I spoke a few heartfelt sentences I had carefully memorized during an attack of diarrhea at noon, accompanied by a shiver or two which may have seemed appropriate to the pathos of my now completely forgotten speech, but it was Marion, who climaxed the occasion with a single gesture. She was emaciated to begin with. In addition she had a slightly bulbous forehead, so as she slowly stretched forth her skeleton like arm and lifted her bony hand in blessing over the grave, while reciting in a hollow voice, 'Requiescat In Pace.'

It took no imagination whatsoever to be vividly convinced we were in the presence of Death Itself, joining us to pay tribute. Isona said something idealistic and pleasant and Rudy concluded the ceremony by jokingly referring to Arther's old sailor habit of calling a drink a 'stroke.' He paused a moment, then slowly added, 'Well, I guess Arther has taken his last 'stroke.'

It was neat, but Marion had already put it all together, and stolen the show.

So its high time to get back to the hub. I happily realize there is no need to even make a list of such tragic-comic apogees of expressiveness. For every one of us has an original account of keenly felt personal experiences, which are no more than records of sense indulgence and a aversion for the most part.

We came here on earth for a greater reason than merely to laugh or cry. Paradoxically though it may seem, we came to this wildly careening sphere of mud to find Peace. To be truthful and loving is essential but it takes more than that. The search is primarily a matter of directionless intensity deeply sustained. When it becomes adequate within, it is reflected outwardly. Then for an instant or a lifetime, all barriers are broken.

A traditional form for the expression of such experiences is the Haikku of Japanese origin, three lines allowing only 17 syllables. There are more rules and more forms. My friend Senzaki preferred more length, some prefer it shorter. Though there are no limits to ways of sharing, the sharing itself includes whatever is appropriate.

I met a number of Religious Minded people before and after living in the Dunes, highly esteeming several of various Faiths and am convinced that insight and character have no hard and fast forms. However, in trying to share my most satisfying experiences in the Dunes I do not wish to give the impression of having been anything but a fortunate beginner. I definitely did not become a Guru, who could read the minds of others and infallibly prescribe rules for their personal behavior. I sometimes get my icebox defrosted by accidentally tripping the wrong switch in the fuse box. I have no desire to mystify. Where I think additional explanation will be useful, you'll get it and if you don't need it, I apologize now.

                  Lost Near Home
                  When lost in the fog,
                  How Dear is the sound near Home,
                  Of frogs in the well!

This happened late at night. I lived a mile south of Moy Mell, where the few remains of an abandoned pier, about 2 miles south of the approach, made it easy to tell where I was. Beyond there was no such thing. The fog was frequently so thick one could not identify the Dunes close to the beach, let alone the larger Dunes inland we instinctively use to measure distance. For just such an emergency I had counted the steps from the old pier to where I turned in. Once, blindfolded, I walked from my cabin to the beach and back to get the feel of it.

But much time had passed. I hadn't practiced. Only once before had I rechecked the step count. Also, because of unforeseen tidal conditions, the steps could vary. When the occasion happened, by the time I had walked from the approach to the pier I was sleepy and tired. I started counting and would almost start dreaming and catch myself, keep counting, notice something... look around, start counting and wonder whether I began where I left off.

When I reached the number for turning inland, everything seemed quite unfamiliar but I consoled myself. I could get back to the beach and return to town and stay all night if I had to. I lived about 500 yards from the beach, all ups and downs. I didn't recognize a thing, but perhaps my feet were not far off. At least I knew the general direction was inland and maybe I could recognize something, so I kept going.

Then I heard the frogs chirping in my well, which not only gave me great joy instantly, but wiped out forever a former tendency to complain to myself, when I couldn't sleep, that the frogs were making too much noise. More than that it immunized me from any noise from future neighbors in apartment house complexes, even the old lady who checked out radio programs at 4 AM and a young girl that played her turntable all night because she was nervous. All I had to say to my wife or myself was, 'Frogs in the well.'

Another angle to this Haikku: usually our Religious life begins when we begin to believe in the Omnipresence of GOD, GODDESS, BEING, SPIRIT or whatever you want to call IT. So the title could describe almost everybody. 'Fog,' could mean ignorance, 'chirping,' the sound of Truth, and 'frogs,' teachers staying in the well of concentration near Home Reality.

                  Air Support
                  On an air current
                  Swiftly goes the pelican
                  By spreading his wings

You can take it easy with this one:

                  Seedpod
                  Underfoot, the tight-shut seedpod
                  Pop!
                  Two empty halves rejoin the sky

This one had a prelude of persistent attempts to go deep in meditation in my cabin. I took a stroll along the grassy path leading through the sparse brush. Perhaps the jar of my footstep did it. I heard the 'pop,' stopped, and looked. Sure enough there was a small open seedpod close to my foot, without a single seed left. Instantly I felt that the two intrinsically empty halves of my illusion-bound mind of thought and sensation had snapped open... leaving a sense of being at one with all the space around. First I felt it in the cove, but the mood persisted elsewhere, as if the mind could reach out endlessly some day somewhere... nothing conclusive... just a sort of thrilling premonition of Infinite Freedom being very close.

                  Sandbank
                  Hollowing at the top,
                  Overflowing below,
                  The sand cascades so.

The only large black and white litho crayon drawing I saved of the sand dunes illustrates this Haikku. The sand as perfectly balanced moving sculpture, is the tangible subject here. This quality also pervaded the beach where the receding tide carved perfectly matching hollows around every protruding object on the intermediately flat beach. I marveled endlessly at the always perfect sculptural balance of the total environment.

For the suggestion of a more ethereal significance, the sand bank held a special advantage. Its hollow was always at the top and its overflow always below, and the intermediate plane was neither, yet all were equally... sand. See what YOU can make of it.

To push up through a thick crust of hard-packed asphalt is a matter of life or death for a tender mushroom. To pierce physiological time with psychological Eternity is more serious, because we rarely realize it is also a matter of Life or Death... LIFE in Unlimited Freedom of SPIRIT, or Death in the ordinary body-bound limitations of thought and sensation.

                  Floating Feather
                  A floating feather in the sky
                  Gave me an Infinite Message,
                  Fly!

This was a far more extraordinary event than indicated by the Haikku, except to someone who knows just what happened. While walking to the north on the beach with a gentle southwest wind at my back, I was watching seagulls flying overhead, slightly seaward. One lost a feather and I watched the feather, which floated along in the same direction and toward me. I did not slow down or walk any faster. The feather kept my pace and came closer and closer for about 50 feet... when I plucked it out of the air. It was more than a message of ONENESS from MOTHER NATURE. It suggested I learn how to better Relax and Float.. and thus Fly With It.

                  High Tide
                  Coming home at high tide
                  Splashing through stars
                  After forgotten movie

I've also forgotten who the friends were. It happened about midnight. It wasn't foggy. Had it been foggy I would not have even attempted it, for the tide was unusually high and at times I had to dodge in and out of the small Dunes at the edge of the beach, where large phosphorescent pools gathered during each incoming tide. I loved splashing through where I could, but it wasn't always convenient. Though it was a clear cold night with no light but starlight, I could see well enough, but it took me a long time to get home because there was no way I could make it straight. Though it was an exhilarating physical experience, the mental effect of being saturated with starlight for about 2 hours from billions and billions of stars ahead, behind, to the left, right, above AND below... stayed with me for days. I was alive IN the light somehow... at HOME... in the Mind Itself that allowed the sense of sight to divide the scene basically into light and darkness. It was also a kind of premonition of some kind of Samadhi of the future, perhaps Mahasamadhi... GOD knows when... for each and all of us.

We can all think faster than we can write or talk, and live more extensively than we can think. Thus the haikku, a form of spiritual shorthand that leaves one finally to suggest rather than explain. For the reward of sincerity in our search for our Unlimited CONSCIOUSNESS is that our mentally sensebound seeming self is but a very small, helpless child... except in its MOTHER'S ARMS. Another way of putting it is: without Inspiration we are practically nothing. Conversely: with enough Inspiration, including appropriate perspiration, we can Become Divine.

Anyway you consider, a haikku with sufficient expectancy could bring you surprises, perhaps elsewhere. Nothing much will happen by mere reading, but much COULD happen by continuity of concentration. The greatest adventure of Infinite Space is no farther away than a change of attitude, but this requires intensity. I went to see Uday and Simke and in the end I was not disappointed, though I seemed to gain only a deeper discontent at the beginning.

                  Rushing Pellmell In The Dark
                  Oh What Joy To Find Myself
                  In Thy Arms!
                                                                                                   April, l979
                                                                                                   Oklahoma City
                                                                                                   Elwood

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