I am not satisfied with the Awakening part of Seeker Story so I am going to do it.
My first real awakening was firstgrace in upheaval, but there were glimpses before that. The first was Captain Zed, Rosenella and Bub. I had an angry relationship with my English teacher, N. It began in the 3rd year (9) when I hadn’t done homework, borrowed a friend’s book, and copied the homework during registration. My form teacher saw me, took both books and gave them to N. N then gave my friend a public dressing down intentionally reducing my friend to tears, he hardly focused on me. At the end of the dressing down, early in the term, he made us sit in score order where my zero placed me very low. My lazy accomplishment in maths gave me a science bias in school, my writing was never there. I always felt this N was vindictive after this incident, but that could be just a kid’s thing – my English results were low. I thought N was popular – he went on TOTP recorded in Manchester at the time. In the 6th form I was forced to do English for scientists, and N set a creative piece of work as an assignment. I wrote Captain Zed, Rosenella and Bub that ended up with their finding ideograms in a cave on another planet – leading to the racist conclusion that Chinese were aliens. Pretty racist – sorry, fortunately no Chinese in the class. Apart from the racism the story was on genre, and the class were amused and enjoyed it. It had a good result because no-one else had done the assignment, I was surprised. I asked and they all said N was a dickhead. As a teacher I always remember what N did – a bullying teacher shaming my friend to tears because he was weaker. The dressing down deeply upset me at the time, and I was found outside my next Latin class (#1 in Latin) being comforted by the Latin teacher – I recall blubbing mainly because N had victimised my friend. Top stream in grammar schools! My first writing. But academic maths all came too easy so there was no genuine effort in learning until uni exams – failure in year 1, avoiding failure in year 2, and disciplined effort in my finals. II(2) was satisfactory but was clearly screwed by the stats department moderation, I got a II(1) in maths and was allowed to do stats postgrad; any year 8 maths student would tell you that in a joint degree a joint II(2) would mean a likely 3rd or a weak II(2) in stats. Stats department moderation was a serious problem in my postgrad year as well – many hard-working undergrads were getting 3rds and there were failures. The prof was some guy from industry taking over from Kendall – a famous statistician. I have mentioned this learning experience before, I had the conviction to know that my stats was better than that after all my exam revision. This is a diversion in awakening, the awakening was the scifi story that I got immersed in when writing.
Next I remember the party in Peckham. There was a Hyde Park free gig – I think Edgar Broughton, not the gentler hippy music I liked. I think it was year 1 holidays, I went from Sale with a schoolfriend I had hardly known for years. After Hyde Park we went back to Peckham, my first experience of travelling in London – it took ages and I was waiting to party. For me party meant drinking; at my uni mostly we didn’t have parties, it was the pub and uni discos. But in London it was weed. I of course headed for the booze but weed was pushed on me. There was this “psychedelic” poster; I started banging on about the esoteric meaning of this poster as a boozy lads’ piss-take and my friend said people were seriously into what I was saying. I have no idea what I said but accept the assessment that what I said had meaning simply because the incident stuck. But apart from addiction to alcohol I was never attracted to drugs.
I now see both of these glimpses as path - nibbana-dhatu, but the blocks of academia and booze were very strong even though the conditioning wasn’t.
Nothing to recall until upheaval. At the early stage of upheaval I had blown up my job, and returned to stay with my parents. Whilst there I went for a walk around Manchester and found myself outside a Xmas office party in a pub, I looked at it and felt that it was fun but it was not for me - that office lifestyle was not for me. But the real meaning of upheaval were those bells and banjoes awakenings in the Chiswick loft. I don’t recall how they started because meditation was not part of my life. But as part of the upheaval period there was a building up - pressure had increased because I had run to to gthe abeyance of my parents. I do recall sometimes rushing home from work just so that I could sit and feel the bells and banjoes coming.
Somehow I had reconnected with W. She had taken me under her wing in my 1st job, God knows what she saw. I recall nothing of interest in me in my 1st job – just enjoying being UpWest and the football at the weekends. I accept that there was something to see because of W’s wisdom, but I have no idea what that was; even if I was doing wise shit I wouldn’t have known at the time.
How had I reconnected with W? When I was in Sevenoaks my most interesting days were nights out at the UpWest pubs of my 1st job, I guess once in Chiswick I went back there and must have met her. I do recall a rare occasion later being in an UpWest pub and hearing comments about me and Morphon. But by that time UpWest pubs meant nothing, so why was I there? W took me to the Arts Centre – a life-saver, such a place had never previously been a part of my life and in truth after was never a part either.
The art (writing) of bells and banjoes began with Martin Smoothchatter. I would rush home, sit still and the guys of meditation (bells and banjoes) would come. As they filled the small loft space, I would write about Martin Smoothchatter - there were other characters but I have forgotten them; the Arts people liked them. They encouraged more writing and I began Morphon with the Chiswick guys that was serialised in the Arts Centre magazine.
I went to Belgium and had a Summer of writing in a cottage; that was an awakening. The 1st awakening of that Summer was in the Ardennes with the getting lost in the forest that was Castaneda. But the real awakening was the writing – the early z-quests, where I would get any book from the British Council library and just bang on about some crap. I felt the guys in that cottage but not the full-blown bells and banjoes of Chiswick. The guys were with me almost at will at that stage.
Returning to the UK I started at Ealing, where the booze took over. Compassion was there with the kids’ home, the memory of Muse experiences was always there to anchor me to who I was but 2nd childhood started to distance me from the path. I was anchored to the path, but daily life was mostly not connected. Three of the key Arts people now had bedsits in the same house in Coldharbour Lane. But the Tooting talks gathered around a small housefire deep into the night had gone, there were Coldharbour talks but mainly with W. After upheaval I had started work in a Manor Park kids’ home and spent off-days at the Elephant, hanging around the Arts Centre looking for something and feeling in the way, taking people for a drink and then all-nighter Tooting talks – that became Coldharbour talks just before I went to Belgium.
I saw W occasionally for several years but the initial togetherness that had consolidated my upheaval into path was gone, my immaturity mainly and the booze took care of that. Over that time meeting her was bringing me back to my writing, but she was losing to immaturity, the compassion decision and the booze. My 1st school was near where she lived but my personal infrastructure became teaching and boozing for experience; the path was always there but not awakenings, the Muse or even intuitions and insights. By then through experience I was trying to link path, compassion and teaching but never managed it until after the Centring Summer that became part 2 of Matriellez.
W typed up the Parables of Hexoto that I sent off – I think to Gollancz, they returned it with a polite No. I liked Hexoto but now when I read it to put on Zandtao I find much writing structure to change. Even given that improved quality of writing I don’t know whether any of my scifi stories are commercial. I would kind of like to know it was but am not willing to put in the time and lifestyle. By the time I submitted Hexoto I was teaching and that was a 100%-job when you add booze to it. Creativity and jhanas just left my life as I compromised with teaching and booze. Lidors happened as I left my 1st school, there was still a possibility of a creative life then as I gave up teaching for the magazine. But then romantic love got a grip and ended the connection of art to my 2nd childhood life. Once the cosmic had gone, there was just politics and then travel interspersed by Kirramura that ended my 2nd school but still kept me connected to the Muse – with the strong relation to the guys when I was writing Kirramura. Writing had gone when I travelled except for voluminous education stuff. As discussed in Viveka-Zandtao my Summers had become my solitude, often through holidays and the binge Doris Lessing Summer in London. Awakenings during my 2nd childhood were the solitude that was the centring of holidays – interspersed by the very occasional scifi book.
I doubt that writing could have become a living but you never know - if there had been a necessity? Upheaval gave me some worldly strength and resilience, there was the ill-fated world trip following Ealing. A few hundred pounds in savings to start me off, I was going to work bars or whatever when that ran out. Instead I lost the money – or it was stolen, and I returned to become a teacher. No real conviction for the writing life.
During my 2nd childhood I did investigate some paths in different forms. One intense year I “did” theosophy. I attended a course North of London in a huge house somewhere (I regularly spent weekends at Camberley). At this course there was a shared meditation in which we were asked to follow a light, I remember that meditation awakening fondly. Perhaps surprisingly meditation has not produced awakening events. When the meditation was erratic there were sometimes awakenings, but grander awakening (bells and banjoes) in formal meditation did not happen. At upheaval they happened, during writing esp Kirramura they happened; please don’t associate awakenings as happening during meditation. I see formal meditation as a preparation for awakenings.
Occasional awakenings re-emerged towards the end of my 2nd childhood with the mid-life review as meditation came back to my life a little. Writing as M Ed returned but not creatively. Conversion to Buddhism after leaving Africa brought meditation more formally into my life but awakenings only happened as insight and they didn’t start fully until I retired.
Sometimes I have felt the guys but not powerfully, there is none of the downward sinking into the bed and the almost leaving-my-body that I felt with Kirramura. But Prajna is much more as a daily presence ending the bells and banjoes (which I remember fondly) - meaning I am in a much better Prajna state. The guys came to me a little with the mid-life review because meditation then was erratic. Once it became formal the jhanas developed on from bells and banjoes and life was less of a helter-skelter, even with the meditation it was still far too up-and-down in Botswana; leaving Botswana was the end of the playing of 2nd childhood – end of relationships. It was then the travel that became the experience of 2nd childhood - the awakenings of being in nature. Walking had always taken me back to the path esp during the ending of cosmic love through the South Downs. But I was also centring from teaching as I walked the coast paths many Summers as well as Ireland. Botswana was very much about getting back to nature with Shashe Dam and the camping, and the later travel gave that natural aspect variety. Nature was awakening but in a kind of grounding and anchoring way. I can remember the Castaneda walk-routine – similar to walking meditation. My 1st day of a walking holiday was still full of school, instead of walking in nature my mind was chattering as I walked on top of nature. I curled my fingers into the Buddha fingers and thumb position, and then I watched where I put my feet. It was a gesture to walking discipline, didn’t last long but by the end of that ritual I was walking in nature, my mind was with me in the walking and the chattering about teaching had gone. I could have used walking in nature so much more for grounding but booze and then tiredness meant I had no weekends when I was working. Apart from solitude summers I was 100%-teacher. When I was young and active weekends were ended by booze (until I was 36). During politics weekends were political – either organising work or demos, at least in Botswana they became Shashe Dam esp with the M Ed. I lost weekends because of my compassion decision to become a teacher, lost in the compromise that started with booze and ended with tiredness. Even with the overseas teaching jobs weekends were rest even though marking and preparing for marking was always there as part of that time.
Now there is Prajna and writing, Prajna is mellow but true, an equanimous presence without bells and banjoes. After the writing there is rest as there is preparation for more writing but usually only one session a day. But when Zandtao tells stories the writing is longer and sometimes more than one session.