Sunday, September 26, 2021

SB NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: EXILED IN MONTECITO

 










Royalty, as an institution, always wins in the long run. And its strays always lose.


Just summon the spirits of Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Windsor, exiled for almost four decades in France after the Duke, then King Edward VIII, abdicated his throne (in 1936)—supposedly for “the woman he loved”—and this is what they would probably tell you: Money improves your style of misery but won’t bring you happiness.


Truth is, they (especially Edward) were homesick for Blighty, which, for the rest of his life, would no longer tolerate their presence and whose rulers (the Royal Family and government alike) strove to keep them both at arm’s length.


Notice I wrote “supposedly” about Wallis Simpson’s involvement in what was a huge drama a century ago but was actually a whopping red herring that the populace swallowed hook, line and sinker. That is because there was a far more important reason for evicting King Edward VIII from his throne, if much less known, except, that is, by those who had a need to know as war clouds began to darken over Europe back in the mid-1930s.


Before World War II officially commenced, Edward, while still heir apparent as Prince of Wales, was partial to Nazi Germany and liked to point out to his friends that 100% Teutonic blood ran through his veins. A little context: The British Royal Family’s last name is Gothe-Saxe-Coburg but during World War I the British Cabinet found it unseemly that a family imported from Germany with a German name should be ruling the waves of Britannia while tens of thousands of British lads were being mustard-gassed in the trenches by German soldiers. (All boiled down, World War I was a royal family squabble whose hapless subjects paid the ultimate price.) Thus, the Cabinet compelled the British Royal Family to adopt the name Windsor, chosen because it sounded, well, so quintessentially English.


And then, upon being crowned king, Edward VIII put his misplaced sympathies to practice:  he shared British state secrets from his dispatch boxes with the German Reich’s leadership.


British Intelligence chief Robert Vannistat, whose officers kept a watchful eye on the new king, dutifully reported Edward VIII’s duplicity—it ran contrary to the government’s anti-Third Reich stance—to 10 Downing Street where Stanley Baldwin, prime minister of the day, was as flabbergasted as he was horrified. 


Something extraordinary had to be done.


And thus, Prime Minister Baldwin and his spy chief plotted to de-throne the king. 


Their ruse? Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee detested by many in British political and social circles, whose ongoing but trivial romantic relationship with the king they, with skillful manipulation of the media, elevated into a national catastrophe. This subterfuge worked, not least because Edward was said to be as thick as two planks and focused the little mental energy he possessed on dandifying himself (with a valet’s assistance, of course), leaving his legacy with little more than the dubious distinction of having invented the Windsor (tie) knot.


Thus, Edward was jockeyed off the throne and replaced by his younger brother, George VI, who, while seriously unprepared and is remembered for his stammer, had no interest in assisting the Nazis.


Re-titled Duke of Windsor, the ex-king and his new wife went into what they were told would be a “temporary” uprooting to the continent. It soon, however, became apparent that Edward had been duped; that he (and she) would remain distanced for quite some time. This left him (and his wife) deeply embittered—and vengeful.


The Nazis followed these events with great interest. They strategized and tracked the ex-king to Madrid and followed him to Lisbon where they cut the dim-witted and disgraced duke a deal: Work secretly for us and once we occupy Britain we’ll put you back on the throne to rule a UK Reich.


Ms. Simpson truly wanted to be queen. She badgered him into accepting this deal like she badgered him about everything. And he signed on, metaphorically penning his permanent exile warrant.


 

            SECOND TIME AROUND 

 


Which brings us to this century’s version of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor:  Prince Harry and his strong-willed wife Meghan, who resettled themselves to mellow Montecito a little over one year ago, after stints in Canada and LA, to escape an apparently restrictive if very privileged existence in Harry’s native Great Britain.


The real questions are these:  Did Prince Harry flee? Or, like his great-great-uncle, was he duped by bigger brains into departing his homeland into exile?


The British royals, as described to us by (UK) Member of Parliament Chris Price decades ago in a university class he taught, are of “mediocre intelligence” i.e. not terribly bright (think Prince Andrew, known as “Randy Andy” in his own country until it was no longer funny due to his licentious relationship with the late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein). They depend on the very bright Buck House bureaucrats (master manipulators, be certain of that) to look after what they call The Firm’s interests.

 

Prince Harry (who some believe—due to an eerie resemblance—was fathered by calvary officer James Hewitt, with whom Princess Diana had a passionate affair) holds, with some justification, the media and paparazzi responsible for his mother’s untimely, shocking death 24 years ago.  He may also harbor some suspicion that, due to circumstances of the time, Buck House may have had an interest in ensuring that Diana’s very visible presence was, shall we say, somewhat diminished. He admits publicly that this loss, at age 12, caused him great emotional turmoil and instability, leaving this fragile young man extremely bitter toward what he might regard as his cold-hearted family which, aside from brother William and Diana’s side of the family (the Spencers), moved on from the tragic event far less troubled.


Meghan has already been vilified in the UK press as the consummate gold-digger/opportunist who seems bent, one way or another, on becoming the world’s most famous woman. (A knowledgeable source in London told The Investigator that perhaps, not understanding the line of succession, Meghan may have thought she could be queen—or at least a princess—and was further disappointed when she became neither the center of attention nor, in the media’s eyes, the “new Princess Diana.”)  


Although Meghan may be adept at weaving a tight web, she, ultimately, is no match for a royal court and those who run it. Meghan plays by Hollywood rules, mentored by the likes, at best, of Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King; British royalty as an institution, on the other hand, is infinitely more sophisticated and steeped in the tradition of strategy and tactics; they draw inspiration from Machiavelli before breakfast. (We don’t know for certain but suspect that Meghan has not read Niccolo Machiavelli’s treatises and may also not be aware of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson’s dismal decline into oblivion.)

 

Harry, who seems to be (or appears to behave like) a rather inconsequential sidekick to his wife’s oversized ambitions, has allowed his betrothed, in a very short period of time, to seriously damage both his royal and military status along with his relationships with nearly everyone within the Royal Family, most notably his father and brother. (If public reports are to be believed, Meghan has done the same with her own family, suggesting this may be a standard cult-like defense mechanism to alienate friends and relatives for the purpose of maintaining maximum control.)


 

            HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF



Portrait by Papa Duke

The fate of Harry and Meghan seems sealed: Quite likely, they are destined to become outcasts in the mold of Edward VIII and “the woman he loved” (both of whom, over time, became caricatures of themselves) with little hope of ever returning to the mainstream.





This may not matter to the young rebellious couple this year or next. But it will matter much in time when the public becomes weary of their relentless PR excesses and loses interest in their trendy, politically correct endeavors. In fact, this may already be happening.  Time magazine’s recent assessment of “influential couples” notwithstanding, according to Hypeauditor, a company that analyzes data, Harry and Meghan’s Instagram account this year lost 700,000 followers.


In other words, as it quite often does, history will repeat itself: Because not unlike the Duke and Duchess before them, Harry and Meghan will, we speculate, ultimately lose relevancy and come to deeply regret having detached themselves from the world’s most venerable institution and, without its support, morph into just another Hollywood North couple craving the next attention fix.  (Or, put another way, from famous to fatuous.)         


Meantime, the money they bring into their coffers exploiting the titles they’ve been allowed to retain may, when all is said and done (and upcoming books remaindered), serve only to improve their style of misery.


Memo to Harry: Grow a pair; make amends with your family before it’s too late (assuming it’s not already).


 

            A NEW SCANDAL

 

            

And whilst we’re on the subject of royalty (British royalty in particular) a new payola scandal has emerged that revolves around royal favors for cash. In this instance, it features no less than Harry’s dad and heir to the throne Prince Charles. It appears that the Prince’s Foundation offered Saudi Arabian businessman Dr. Mahfouz bin Mahfouz not only UK citizenship but also a knighthood in exchange for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to this Royal charity (leading one to wonder if Mahfouz paid for his “doctor” title too). A letter in evidence of this resulted in the resignation, at least “temporarily,” of Michael Fawcett, chief executive of the charity and reputed to be the future king’s “closest aide.”


The big surprise is that anyone should be surprised. Paying for access to royalty is as old as royalty itself, indicative of how corruption truly goes to the very top.


When I served as intelligence chief to Prince Albert of Monaco years ago it soon became apparent to me that the Prince’s closest aides and confidants were selling access to him for cash; if Albert knew (he did because I told him), he turned a blind eye.  There was a standard rate (50,000 euros) for orchestrating lunch with the Prince—and other price tiers for being invited to a princely party or having the Prince choreographed into a bribe-payer’s event. 


I invited numerous persons into Prince Albert’s orbit—people he truly had a need to meet, mostly senior intelligence officials from other countries. A couple of businessmen (one British, the other French) who became aware of my closeness to the Prince made, in one case, a cash offer for a meeting and, in another, a no-cost-to-me silent stake in his business enterprise, a presumed quid pro quo for my influencing the Prince in his favor. Obviously, they thought my palms could be greased. 


They thought wrong.




Sunday, September 19, 2021

SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: BEANIE BABY BLUES

 






https://newspress.com/beanie-baby-blues-or-ty-warners-troubles/


Note: Not all of this column appeared in the News-Press

The parts edited out (mid-section) are, in this post, given a different font and color.


Judging by the slow pace in which our judicial system trudges along (especially with COVID-19 leaving courts backlogged with more cases than ever before) one has to wonder why Kathryn Zimmie, at the ripe age of 85, has filed so venomous a lawsuit against her ex, Beanie Baby billionaire Ty Warner of Montecito.


This conflict first surfaced last March when Ty and his lawyers obviously thought the best defense was a good offense and filed a preemptive lawsuit (in Chicago, his preferred jurisdiction, presumably after having received a demand letter from Ms. Zimmie’s lawyer) seeking to bar her from staking a claim due to “an implied or oral agreement” that he would take care of her financially. At that time, Ms. Zimmie was apparently seeking a $70 million settlement.


Clearly, there was no resolution. Because earlier this month, two days before Mr. Warner’s 77th birthday, Ms. Zimmie’s gift to him was her own lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court demanding $200 million (said to be half the value of Mr. Warner’s Channel Drive 18,967 square-foot, 6.58-acre oceanfront digs), the return of her artwork and other personal possessions plus punitive damages for emotional distress.


Cases like this can go on for years and years and it will be to Ty’s advantage, in this case especially, to stretch proceedings out as long as possible.


Which means, this may be bleaker for Ms. Zimmie than Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, a novel symbolic of endless litigation.


Unless, of course, resolution and payment is not the true motivation for this lawsuit but, instead, it is about humiliating Mr. Warner in revenge for beating her to the punch and not settling with her (in addition, of course, to the suffering she claims she had to endure—for how many years?  Quite a few as their relationship apparently goes all the way back to 1977). 


Our point being, how can Ms. Zimmie expect her ex-partner to now fork out millions in settlement after she laced her lawsuit, for all to see (and court-protected from libel charges), with the following allegations?       

 

·      She fled Mr. Warner’s Montecito manse without her clothes and personal possessions “out of fear for her well-being and safety.”

·      That Mr. Warner, upon being told by Ms. Zimmie that she was leaving, placed his hands around her neck and told her “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” States the suit: “Warner squeezed Zimmie’s throat so hard that she realized that her life was in danger if she ever left him.”

·      That she was under constant surveillance in Mr. Warner’s homestead.

·      That he berated her and hid the cane she needed to get around on foot.

·      That he committed fraud, using her identity without her knowledge to conceal assets in a shell company, citing 50 wire transfers in 2019 and 2020 to Cleveland Design Consultants, LLC, what they term “a pattern of deceit.”

            


Given Mr. Warner’s 2013 guilty plea for tax evasion and resulting fine plus community service, the last item is clearly calculated to invite renewed IRS attention.


Meantime, Mr. Warner is battling legal disputes on two other fronts, one pertaining to noise emanating from an un-permitted redevelopment at his Montecito country club, an action initiated by one Angelo Mozilo, former CEO of Countywide Financial and partly responsible for our whole countrywide 2008 financial collapse (he pled guilty to securities fraud and insider trading and was fined $67.5 million), in other words, no saint himself; the other, a labor dispute involving 300-plus employees furloughed last year from his Biltmore Hotel due to COVID closures represented by a contingency lawyer who knows Santa Barbara’s Labor Commission and courts always side with labor, whatever the facts. 


And this: As with the Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino, Ty’s Four Seasons Hotel New York has been closed since COVID lockdowns began in March 2020 and, according to its website, remains closed “due to substantial infrastructure and maintenance work that is expected to last well in 2022.” This is similar to what local folks have been told about the Biltmore, though no maintenance appears to be taking place. As reported earlier in this column, what we know is this: Mr. Warner will reopen neither his New York City nor Montecito hotels until he is able to sever ties with Four Seasons Hotels (perhaps leading to even more acrimony); the management contract between Ty and Four Seasons is believed to expire in mid-2022, which ties into Ty’s NYC timeline.




Despite these closures, Mr. Warner’s fortune—estimated at $4.3 billion—doubled during COVID (according to Forbes magazine). One might therefore conjecture that Ty makes more money when his properties are closed than when they’re open (especially with real estate prices soaring).

 


    MONTECITO ENTITLEMENT

 

 

Mr. Warner’s Montecito Club dispute falls into this adage of how Montecito folk view building permits: It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.


Just ask Pat Nesbitt, who maintained an unpermitted helicopter pad for two decades on his 20-acre Montecito estate then audaciously attempted to rationalize this unlawful usage as the reason he should be allowed to secure county approval to make it permit-able.  Of course, he should have been disqualified just for flaunting the rules all those years—and fined to boot.  Fortunately, Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne had the good judgment to point out that Mr. Nesbitt’s argument was fallacious and there’s no reason he shouldn’t use Santa Barbara Airport, just 20 minutes away, like every other self-important private-flyer in Montecito. Plus, how can you open the door to whirly-gig usage for Mr. Nesbitt and close it to others who would most certainly seek similar permissions?  You can’t. Once open, every self-important Montecito wannabe helicopter flyer would be lining up to join the club and we’d be seeing and hearing helicopters whizzing out of the Oprah Winfrey estate, among others.


Pat Nesbitt and his extraordinary entitlement issues aside, the real question that begs to be asked is this: Is Ty Warner truly a magnet for legal trouble—or is this the price people pay for being very wealthy in our ultra-litigious, Bar Association-dominated culture?



It seems awfully sad to us that Ty, who revitalized the public Butterfly Beach promenade at his own expense and upgraded the Coral Casino (no thanks to its old-time members who thought they owned the place and tried to stop him) along with spending $119 million to remodel the Montecito Club… it seems awfully sad that he must spend his august years surrounded by multiple lawyers of varying specialties, his own and others’, the latter with teeth bared and claws extended—and with seemingly no end to bad publicity from all directions.


And just so you know we’re not fawning over Mr. Warner, we have a bone to pick with his Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro Ranch: The prices remain sky-high but the food in no way equates. In fact, dining there for a recent birthday celebration, the meals served were far from spectacular (as expected) and at best mediocre. Maybe the chef was on vacation?  



    GOOD BURGHERS OR BAD?

 


Is it a good thing when one wealthy individual owns 50% or more of the bricks, mortar and businesses in town, thereby able to dominate with their presence and reshape community amenities to their own liking?


On the other side of the country, in Maryland on the Chesapeake, half the town of Easton has been bought up and beautified (not to mention foodie and wined) by Paul Prager, a New York City energy magnate. Many fulltime residents adore him for bringing gourmet eating/drinking to this charming town (settled in 1711) on the Eastern Shore about 90 minutes from your nation’s capital; others point out that local merchants, born and bred, cannot compete with the art and flowers with which Mr. Prager infuses his many establishments, including one that celebrates and serves only gnocchi. “I like gnocchi,” Mr. Prager explains, suggesting that he, indeed, is recreating the town to his own taste and to accommodate his own desires. On the upside, because he believes “every town needs a bookstore,” he opened one. So, kudos to Mr. Prager.


Mid-country, in Colorado, one finds hedge fund billionaire Mark Walter, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, buying whatever commercial property he can get his hands on in the authentic wild west town (with ski resort) of Crested Butte (CB). During the past year he has gotten his hands on quite a lot.


Thus, when we visited CB this summer, we witnessed firsthand what can happen when one person holds many of the keys. As I wrote in my journal at the time:

 

The intimacy and sheer authenticity of CB is the high point (9,000 feet-up) of this road trip and engages me as we roll up Elk Avenue in search of lunch. I’d had my heart set on Magill’s (their hearty beef stew) but, alackaday, they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays; a sign in the window says, “Help Wanted,” which presages what’s to come.

 

Cocktails are at the Dogwood and dinner at Wooden Nickel, which, like Dorothy returning to Oz, leaves me wondering what happened to this place, because, in my 10-month absence, a hedge fund billionaire has been buying up the best commercial properties along Elk Avenue, including the Nickel and the restaurant adjacent I had so enjoyed, Elk on Prime, which is inexplicably closed for the summer. Wooden Nickel is barely open with a limited “staff emergency” menu of soup and sandwiches. Gone the elk loin for which I’d been yearning. And gone, as well, its soulfulness, as if a great beast had sucked out all the oxygen and blown back a roomful of carbon dioxide.


Our server is apologetic and tells us the new billionaire owner has nothing to do with the bad vibe and staff shortage; that the chef walked out 3 days earlier for other unspecified reasons and the kitchen staff followed him in solidarity. So, who’s in the kitchen? Turns out, some financial guy (connected to the billionaire) and his father. Which explains the elk stew put on the table in front of me. The broth with vegetables is flavorful. But the chunks of elk are hard and tough, as if having spent the last three years in a deep freeze.


The server further elucidates the crisis going on in CB, a topic that was also discussed at the Dogwood. The labor force is being forced out. Homeowners are taking advantage of the property boom and selling their properties, which means eviction for young renters with nowhere else to go. Crested Butte South already went that direction—and now nearby Gunnison, home to Southern Colorado University, is going the same way. Simply put, without low-income housing, the young adults who would otherwise staff CB’s restaurants and bars and shops can no longer afford to live and work here. 


Which means, unless things change, CB is destined become a community of very rich people with no one to service their needs.

 

(Paul Prager of Easton, with better foresight than Mark Walter and understanding the gravity of balance, has plans to redevelop Easton’s harbor with affordable housing.)



Which brings us back to Ty Warner and Montecito. 

           

We all must endure his personal taste, which, as we’ve seen, first at the Biltmore Hotel and now at with his Montecito Club remodel, is best described as Turkish bazaar-meets-Moroccan brothel. And then, in contrast, at the latter, a drab dining room designed retro-1960s from the TV series Mad Men; very gray, very drab. Ugh.


Even if Ty had better taste—or based his designs on local (perhaps Chumash Native American) not foreign heritage—one wonders what will happen to all of his holdings when he passes without heirs and everything falls into the hands of faceless executors at a foundation or trust for whom the bottom line (as in profits) will be all that matters.


Mr. Warner may have idiosyncrasies and his own taste (however odd), but he is big on aesthetics generally and seems to have the community’s best interests at heart (if focused only on the very rich). On the other hand, heartless financial folks in another state may be much less inclined to perpetuate Ty’s habit of spending without concern for near-term return.


And that will be a sad day for Montecito.




Friday, September 17, 2021

Sunday, September 12, 2021

MINDFULNESS DAY

 



 FORTY REAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS THAT ALMOST ALWAYS ELICIT CULTURALLY-CONDITIONED, ROBOTIC REPLIES

            


Note: This column was "a bit left field" for the Santa Barbara New-Press so does not appear in the newspaper but only on this blog.


This being California—metaphysical central of the United States (especially along the American Riviera)—folks here possess a deep interest in the art of mindfulness. 


So, because today is Mindfulness Day, we look deeply into what this philosophy of experience is all about by answering 40 questions that usually elicit culturally-conditioned responses:


1.  How are you? 

It’s a mystery how I am, still trying to figure it out, though it’s probably as simple as DNA’s obsession with reproducing itself after the universe saw fit to create consciousness out of recycled stardust.



2. How are you doing?  

As serenely as possible under whatever circumstances.

 

3. What’s going on?  
Due to forces at play of which we know little or nothing, far more is going on than your five senses are telling you. So, in addition to using these senses, throw yourself into everything around you (especially nature) instead of thinking so hard and so much about yourself, your past and your future. 



4. Whats up?

My mood. It’s about positive psychology (a bright outlook) meshed with the right balance of nutrients (fresh air, sunshine, the purest water, healthy foods), being in motion, enjoying inter-personal relationships and, as much as possible, being in a state of flow, otherwise known as in the zone or on point/purpose. This works especially well if you’re engaged in designing or discovering something new. “The mind,” wrote Andrew Carnegie, “can be moved from the shade into sunshine.” Or put more succinctly:  Lighten up.



 

5. How are you feeling?

Self-actualized.  “Tell the trees what ails you,” is what Native Americans prescribed as a general remedy if/when you’re feeling less than blessed. (Native Americans strive to lead the third-third of their lives in a forest.)


The Japanese echo this with shinrin-yoku (the “new yoga”), which translates to forest bathing; that is, spending time among the trees for inhaling phytoncides, a natural aromatherapy that heals body and soul. 


 


6. How is your day going?

Moment by moment.

 

7. What time is it? 

Now.

 

8. What do you do? 

Breathe deeply, walk briskly and strive for Eudaimonia (happiness) through hierophanie (manifestation of the sacred) and epiphany (mystical knowledge).  Otherwise, I write, read—and loaf.

 

9. Where have you been?

Stuck in my mind (until I got unstuck).



10. Where are you going?

Following my bliss. Beyond that, same as everyone else. It’s the journey that counts. 

 








11. What’s new?

Everything. Because, like a flowing river, each new moment is transitory and reveals impermanence.

 

12. How was your day?

In the past and no longer worth thinking about.

 

13. What are you doing later?

Beats the heck out of me, haven’t given it a thought.

 



14. How are things going?

Just the way they were always meant to be.




15. What’s the word?

Native Americans believe that special words manifest when you’re alone in the mountains. Or, as John Muir, the 19th-century naturalist put it: “Mountains speak, wise men listen.”  

 


16. Who are you?

The product of my ever-changing consciousness since birth. Which boils down to precisely who I am this moment, not before, because our pictures of the past are rife with false memories and stories constructed mostly by our righteous egos.

 

17. Where is this going?

It doesn’t matter.




18. What do you want?

Cosmic consciousness (what William Blake called “imaginative vision” and Albert Maslow referred to as a “peak-experience,” known in Zen Buddhism as satori—or sudden illumination). This can be accomplished—religiously or secularly—through many different pathways. 


The Contemplative Pathway (choose your religion or none at all): meditation, repetitive prayer/affirmations, yoga, fasting, sensory deprivation, eye-gazing, chanting, singing, dancing and/or drum-beating. 




The Sensate Pathway: a special piece of art that appears unexpectedly or the right bars of music (usually live vibration) at the right moment; others experience this through “adamic ecstasy” (hitting rock bottom) or near-death experience. 









The Naturalist Pathway: a surprise union with nature through transformative triggers such as sunrises and sunsets, starry skies, a crescent moon with earthshine, groves of trees, carpets of flowers and/or sacred sites of natural beauty.


 


Intellectual Pathway: From epiphany through mystical knowledge. 




If it doesn’t happen naturally, there’s always the various “kykeons” (elixirs that bring on alternate or non-ordinary states of consciousness) to help people along: ayahuasca/yage (DMT), peyote (mescaline), magic mushrooms (psilocybin) and ergot/lysergic acid (LSD), though some including ‘60’s philosopher/guru Alan Watts consider these mind-manifesting (psychedelic) substances an unworthy shortcut to true mystical experience (yet worthwhile, in Watts’s opinion, based on his own indulgence, but only if taken under ceremonial, controlled—not casual—conditions). 




Carl Jung boiled down personality types into two categories: sensing (“just the facts, ma’am”—logical positivism) and intuitive (gut instinct). Needless to add, those in the latter category are more prone to cross the razor’s edge toward cosmic consciousness than the former.  Albert Maslow had his own two categories: Peakers and Non-Peakers. Peak experiences are emotional, arrive with an element of surprise and lead to spiritual re-birth. And though peak-experiences are temporary, one can stay “turned on” through what Maslow called a “High Plateau of Unitive Consciousness”—thereby enjoying serenity and happiness on a permanent basis, otherwise known as enlightenment.


 

19.  How would I know if this has happened to me?

A feeling of selflessness, timelessness (entirely focused on the present), effortlessness and richness; heightened awareness, elation, serenity; a sense of revelation and connection to people and nature; personal identity replaced by unity. 



20. What do you do after enlightenment?

Chop wood, carry water. In other words, live life as before and don’t talk about it to anyone because a) few will understand what you’re talking about (especially mechanistic materialists, who will believe you have gone insane) and b) everyone must discover it on their own, through their individual pathway.

 






21. Whattaya know?

Hardly a micro-fraction of anything. But enough to understand that. 




22. May I say something? 

First ask yourself, will your words improve the silence?

 

23. Is that so?

It cannot be otherwise.

 





24: Do you love me?

The ultimate (if hidden) law of attraction: The subliminal smell of your pheromones suggests you have genes different from my own and therefore our offspring would be strengthened by two contrasting sets of immune systems providing them a likelier chance of producing even more DNA. Or put more simply:  We vibrate well together.

 

25: Are you happy?

Ineffably so, the higher end within the context of my natural range.  (The secret to happiness is gratitude. And low expectations.)  

 

26.  What’s shaking?

Everything. Because, to the chagrin of most scientists and all materialists, quantum physics has proven that when anything and everything is reduced to its most basic molecular level (electrons and neurons) there is no solid matter, only vibration. Even that chair you’re looking at is made of vibrating molecules. Human senses are simply too limiting for the brain to comprehend (short of mystical experience) that the tiniest particle is not a thing but a point of energy; that each particle has a field around it that merges with other fields, all of which are part of a unified field.

 

27. What’s the matter?

Nothing. (See above.)



28. What would you like to eat?    

My brain is awaiting an order from the bacteria in my gut. “Gut instinct” is real; your intestines are full of neurotransmitters, which elevate your gut to “second brain” status. Ten seconds before your mind tells you what you feel like eating, your gut has already decided, based on what the microbiota residing therein desire to munch on. “Gee, I think I’d like a cheeseburger, fries and shake.” That would be the bacteria in your gut talking.


 




29. What are you celebrating?

Each day. 

 








30. How do you sleep at night?

In total darkness and complete silence (aside from whatever sounds the animals of the night are making, most welcome), launched into an alternate reality of oneiranautic adventures produced either by the subconscious or portals to other dimensions (maybe both); a place where the rational mind has no control and, as such, due to physical paralysis that accompanies REM (dream) sleep, safely insane. 

 

31. What’s your problem? 

I have 83 of them, like everyone else—and when one gets solved it is quickly replaced by another. (The 84th problem—not worth having—is wanting all your problems to disappear.)  Part of life’s journey is problems—and the joy that comes from solving them. Hence, welcome problems as a challenge, never dwell on them. 

 

32. How do I deal with problem people?

Imagine a shield around you that cannot be penetrated by negative words or thoughts. Almost 2,000 years ago a Greek philosopher named Epictetus pointed out that we all have FREE WILL over how to respond to external circumstances (rather than caving to culturally-conditioned reactions and impulses). Which means this: Just because a ball is thrown at you doesn’t mean you have to catch it. Instead, watch—and smile—as the ball bounces away. And then, before a second ball is thrown, take a deep breath before deciding if it is worth catching. Taoists call this wu wei, which translates to this:  sit quietly, do nothing, let it pass through you. 



33. Penny for your thoughts?

The chattering monkey is behind bars and under observation.  But not ignored because coexistence of soul and self/ego is healthy—so long as you know the difference between the two.

 



34. How you do live in the present moment when it is so fluid?

Define the present as “from now until bedtime,” during which do not dwell upon your past (linked to depression) or fret about your future (linked to anxiety).  Or as the German philosopher Nietzsche put it, “Recover the seriousness of a child at play.” Live spontaneously and naturally with the whimsy and wonderment of an 8-year-old child. After some practice, graduate to a full-on focus of the eternal moment; silence your mind and be one with everyone and everything around you. Time is as fluid as consciousness itself; they were practically made for each other.

 

35. What is the purpose of life?

To keep genes alive (though I don’t rule out the possibility that humanity is just an unwitting tool for parenting Artificial Intelligence, which it may one day regret). 

 

36. Why?

Because, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.”






37. Why do you write? (Substitute “write” for whatever activity that gives your life purpose, whether it be mountain climbing, scuba diving, skiing, marathons, sculpting, painting, teaching, etc.)

It is about yielding your self-importance to a divine experience much greater than yourself; about surrendering your ego to the cosmos and experiencing timelessness from total focus. More important, physiologically, you subconsciously do this to activate the serotonin system (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin) and, even better, if you’re successful, prod your pineal gland (the body’s third eye and “spirit molecule”) into releasing DMT, which produces something we all crave:  the feeling of ecstasy.

 

38. How can I activate my serotonin system for a natural high?

Walk in the sun, stretch, breathe deeply, laugh, cry, listen to soothing music, pet dogs, feed the birds, hug people, give presents (and presence), phone friends, have meals with them, tell your loved ones you love them—and don’t check the time.  Beyond that, endeavor to escape from the box in which you reside (Plato’s allegorical cave of wrongful perception and illusion of separation) so that homeostasis may be disrupted and awareness heightened.



39: Do you believe in God?  

How are you defining God (an oft divisive word with different meanings to the world’s religions and cultures)? I’m an Omnist, believing in religious pluralism i.e. there is some truth (and overlap) in all religions, toss in theosophy, an open-minded inquiry into religion, philosophy, science and the arts to understand wisdom of the ages. The traditional religions from the East—Tao, Hinduism and Buddhism—and the West—Christianity, Judaism, Islam (their mystical factions, anyway)—express the same underlying truth: the spirit of “God” is within us all. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Don’t look for yourself outside of yourself.”  Walt Whitman, a true mystic, put it another way: “I am divine and make holy whatever I touch.”  In other words, you don’t need a middleman to Infinite Spirit (my Godly term of choice); you already have a direct line, which you may or may not have awakened to; a direct line to the divine within you. Infinite Spirit is energy, encompassing every vibrating molecule in every being; it is not localized or timed; it is always and everywhere. So: Do I believe in Infinite Spirit? I don’t believe, I know.








40:  What’s the answer?

Yes.  Also: Surrender. Also: Adopt a dog.