Here are four items written by William T Hathaway. His first book, “A World of Hurt”, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new one, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns the environmental crisis. Hathaway’s most recent title, “Radical Peace”, gives voice to a loosely united network of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists, and the actions they have personally taken to end war, and create a peaceful society. We found the chapter we have seen to be a riveting, well-told story. For more about that book, please direct your browser to media.trineday.com/radicalpeace/
Hathaway was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A full selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.
The first item on The Zoo Fence by William Hathaway is a consideration of death, why we fear it and why we needn’t. To jump to this article now, please click here.
The second is a report of a visit to an ashram built by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the central point of India, known as the Brahmasthan, about 60 kilometers northeast of Jabalpur. In the Vedic tradition, brahmasthan marks the central point of any location, including, for example, a home, a building, or, in this instance, a geographical area like India. It is said that from this central point, energy flows toward and into the entirety around it.
To jump to this article now, please click here.
The third item is a brief consideration of the Vedic tradition articulating the indelible interrelationship of the Creator and creation, the idea that God on the one hand, and you and me and everyone and everything else on the other hand, share a Single, Self-Same Identity. This perspective is perhaps most succinctly expressed in the Vedantic mantra Tat Tvam Asi, meaning “thou art That”.
To jump to this article now, please click here.
An additional selection from this novel is posted at http://www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. William T. Hathaway’s other books include “A World of Hurt” (Rinehart Foundation Award), “CD-Ring”, “Summer Snow”, and “Radical Peace: People Refusing War”. A full selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org
The author describes this book thusly, “The time is 2026. The earth’s ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Water supplies are shrinking. Rain is rare, and North America is gripped in the Great Drought with crops withering and forests dying. In the midst of environmental and social collapse, an old woman and a young man set out to heal nature and reactivate the cycle of flow by using techniques of higher consciousness. But the corporations that control the remaining water lash out to stop them.
“In the novel water is analogous to consciousness. People are out of contact with their own inner wellsprings of consciousness, so their lives are withering. And their ignorant actions have driven the earth's water deep underground, so nature is withering. Human life and the earth's life are trapped in suffering. The story shows the two main characters evolving their consciousness to a level where they can sense the water and restore its natural flow for humanity and the earth. A blend of adventure, ecology, and mystic wisdom, WELLSPRINGS: A Fable of Consciousness is a frightening but hopeful look into a future that is looming closer every day.
“It’s also a love story, which is of course also good for our consciousness.
“The book begins with the narrator, Bob, getting ready to leave his hometown in California after graduating from high school.”
To read these excerpts, please click here.
Death. The very word casts a pall of doom. Why is it so upsetting to us? Perhaps because it conflicts with two different ways in which we know the world. We know intuitively we are immortal beings, an essence deep within us is eternal. Our sense perceptions, though, tell us we die and cease to exist. We see that the person we knew is gone. The body lying there is not them at all. Where are they? Where are we going to be when we die? How can an immortal being cease to exist? This contradiction between two kinds of knowing creates an epistemological crisis in us. What is really true?
This contradiction is bridged when we reach the state of samadhi while meditating (my experience has been through Transcendental Meditation). In samadhi our brain waves, breath rate, and blood chemistry change, and we enter a fourth state of consciousness distinct from waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Our thoughts fall away, our mind becomes silent, and we transcend, go beyond, our everyday relative self. We leave all that behind, analogous to dying, and leaving the body, and we shift into the transcendental Self, the field of consciousness that manifests and animates the universe. As our individual ego fades, we merge with this unified field where everything becomes one. But paradoxically we’re still us; we don’t disappear into it. Instead we experience this field as the interface between God and the universe, God and us, filled with divine love, energy, and intelligence. But we experience it usually for only a few moments; it’s too overwhelming for us to stay longer. We think How wonderful! and are pulled out into the relative again, back into thoughts and boundaries. But our minds have been infused with some of the qualities of that field, and we bring those into our activity, making our life more energetic and enjoyable.
The divine energy of transcendental consciousness heals our nervous system of stresses, or karma, that we’ve accumulated in the past. As we progress through many experiences of leaving the small self, and merging with the big Self but still maintaining an individual identity, this state of samadhi becomes familiar to us, and we can stay there longer. We no longer fear death. We understand that just as we join with the transcendental field in meditation, and then return from it again, we join with it in death, rest awhile, and then return in a new body filled with desires to experience relative life. But once all our desires are fulfilled, and we are clear of karma, have achieved the state of enlightenment, we don’t take another body. We stay there with God. Why go anywhere?
I’ve been doing Transcendental Meditation for many years and have had wonderful results in my active life — clearer thinking, less stress, more energy — but I’ve had very few experiences while meditating. A couple of times a year I might have a moment when the thoughts thin out enough for me to sense there is a field of silence underlying them. Very rarely I’ve glimpsed a bit of glow coming from that underlying field. I treasure these few moments.
In my first program in the yogic flying hall I felt deep silence as soon as I started meditating. And it didn’t go away as it always had before. It lasted, and it glowed. When I started the sutras, I gradually became aware that the silence had an energy to it, an inner dynamism. As I went on, joy began radiating from it like sunlight.
When I started yogic flying, I could sense this whole field was alive, filled with divine Beings. There was Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and others whose names I didn’t know. There was Maharishi, Guru Dev, and Shankara. As I made great leaps, they told me, “We are bringing you up! We are bringing you up!” They were raising me into the air, but like cosmic parents they were also raising me into the full adulthood of higher consciousness. And amazingly enough, as good parents, they loved me. I could perceive that they weren’t dwelling only in the transcendent but were permeating the whole atmosphere of the Brahmasthan. Then they weren’t just permeating the place but also permeating me. Then they were me. At this, I was totally enveloped in divine love. I was divine love. The unity of creation became a living reality. I had heard this statement before, but now it was no longer abstract. It was me. And this is going on all the time in full glory whether I’m perceiving it or not.
For the next four weeks I didn’t perceive it at all, just my usual mantra and thoughts, sutra and thoughts. Then at the end of the final Vedic chanting ceremony of my visit, I felt a sensation in the area of my heart. It was Maharishi! He was suddenly there, as if he’d just popped in. Then I realized he had been there all along, but I had only now become aware of him, as when a statue is unveiled and you can finally see it. This was no statue though, but a living presence. I remembered the section of the puja that describes the guru as “ever-dwelling in the lotus of my heart”. I could see this wasn’t a figure of speech but a statement of fact. Devotion poured from me to him, and I basked in his approval.
People were leaving the hall, and as I stood up, his presence expanded to become like a hollow tube running from the top of my head to the base of my spine. My awareness was centered inside the tube, and I was perceiving everything from this inner core of silence. This is my Brahmasthan, I suddenly knew. People too have Brahmasthans, a transcendental center out of which activity manifests.
I started walking, but I wasn’t walking. I ate a prasad banana, but I wasn’t eating. Walking was happening and eating was happening, but I wasn’t doing them. I was observing it all like a king on a throne enjoying the activity of my kingdom but not involved in it, totally free within myself. This is delightful, I thought, but what is it?
This is the Self, Maharishi explained. The one great Self that enlivens the universe. You are in the Self now, and that is separate from activity.
That sounds like enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, I thought.
Yes, Maharishi told me. Just a glimpse of what awaits you.
Gradually the glimpse faded, and my real identity became overshadowed by relative activity. Now that I’ve had these experiences, though, I know my deeper reality, and I’ll never be the same again.
The statement “You are God” seems an absurd and presumptuous blasphemy, so it needs to be clarified. According to the Vedic tradition and panentheism, it’s not just you who are God; all of us are God. And it’s not just all of us who are God; everything is God. God is the universe in synergy, the whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
This contradicts mainstream Western theology, which is based on a split between creator and creature. According to this view, God made the universe with us in it, and is now observing our behavior, rewarding us or punishing us based on our obedience to His rules.
The religions of the East and the mystic traditions of the West have a different view: God became the universe, manifested it, is it. Rather than observing the universe, God lives it. The universe is God’s active side, engaged in time, space, and matter. God is more than the universe, but there is nothing in it that isn’t God.
But if it’s true that we are God, why are we in such an ungodly mess? Because our unity with God is a living reality only in a higher state of consciousness. Reality, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said, is different in different states of consciousness. Ordinarily, we experience three state of consciousness: deep sleep, dreaming, or waking. Each has its own reality with distinctive physiological parameters of brain waves, blood chemistry, and metabolic rate.
Waking state is the realm of duality. Here we are bound in the relativity of time, space, and matter, so we perceive separations between ourselves and others. In waking state the idea that we are God is nonsensical. It contradicts our perceptions.
But it’s possible to experience a fourth state of consciousness that has its own reality and physiology. It’s called transcendental consciousness because it’s beyond the other three, existing at a more fundamental level. Here the duality and materiality of waking state are only surface conditions. The deeper underlying reality is unity, where the separations fade and everything, including matter, is experienced as one unified field of consciousness. Here your individual thinking mind merges with the mind of God. You’re no longer just a part of God. You transcend the boundaries of your small self, and expand into the one great Self, the divine spirit animating the universe. All separations between you and God disappear, and you become One.
In transcendental consciousness you really are God, and you really are experiencing a sacred life. The most effective method I’ve found for achieving this state on a regular basis is Transcendental Meditation (TM). But even with TM, it’s usually a fleeting experience. In transcendental consciousness the mind is without thoughts. It reaches the source of thought, where it becomes pure Being — alert and aware but without an object of awareness, consciousness experiencing itself. This state is so blissful, so all-encompassing, so divine, that we think, How wonderful! And as soon as we have that thought, we’re no longer there.
But as we come out, we bring some of the energy, intelligence, and joy of this unified field back into our waking state of consciousness, where it enriches our life. And ironically, one of the ways it enriches it is by giving us a deeper appreciation of our separateness from God. The sense of separation we experience in waking state is a great aid to devotion. It’s easier to love something external to us, even if this externality is only partially true.
Each experience of transcendental consciousness also heals our nervous system of stresses we’ve accumulated in the past. It is these stresses, or karma, that make our mind unable to stay in that state while we’re thinking and acting. Once those stresses are gone, which usually takes many years, we function in that state permanently.
This is enlightenment, the height of human development in which our unity with God is a living reality, not just a concept. Then we live a sacred life, permanently perceiving the truth of the Veda: I am the Divine, You are the Divine, All this is the Divine.
Pack my rucksack and get out of this place. Like the song says, “I’m leavin’ LA, baby. Don’t you know this smog has got me down.” Taj Mahal, a blues singer. I found his album – one of those old black discs – in a box with a bunch of others in granddad’s garage. Old record player with it, kind that goes around and ’round. Been listening to them ever since – all gramp’s favorites from the sixties and seventies when he was a kid. Great songs 8230; despite the scratches.
He said the smog then was nothing compared to what we got now. They didn’t have alkali smog back then. We’re breathing borax and potash blown in with the dust. Granddad died of emphysema but he never smoked. The doc said some people are more sensitive than others. I got his heredity. Mom and dad coughing, especially when they wake up. Even hear the neighbors coughing. Gotta get outta here. 8220;We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” Another song – The Animals.
Animals now are dying even in the zoos. Birds gone.
Like to take all his old records with me, but no room in the rucksack. They’ll be here when I come back … if I come back. Mom and dad will be pissed I just left them a letter. But if I told them, they’d just pressure me into staying again, like they did last time I told them I wanted to go. No money for college. They want me to get some shit job here. If I’m going to have a shit job, I want it to be at least some place where I can breathe.
Rucksack’s pretty heavy. Outta here.
Little bungalow house like the others. Dust on all the windowsills. Sand in the drain spouts. Hasn’t rained this year. Wind patterns have changed so it rains over the ocean but hardly ever over the land. Grass died, then even the weeds died. At least the dirt won’t die. The Great Drought, they call it. I don’t know what’s so great about it.
Strap the pack on the back of the little Honda 250 bike, spark it alive. So long, Long Beach. Miles of bungalows, fourplex apartments, gas stations, strip malls. Sand on the road, sand in the gutters, sky cloudless but gray. Plenty of water for people who can afford it, but there’s fewer and fewer of those. Outta here.
(Bob meets Jane, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation who is convinced North America’s water has retreated into a deep subterranean aquifer. She is searching for the place where it comes close enough to the surface to access it, and Bob agrees to help her with her quest.)
As Jane drives over the Tioga Pass, the east entrance to Yosemite, the sun is setting over the Sierras, shooting rays of golden light through the haze, shining the clouds pink and violet. With a last gleam it drops behind the mountains and lights them from behind into miles of blue craggy peaks.
We have plenty of time to enjoy the view because her motor home is weak on hills; we’re lugging at thirty m.p.h. It’s dark by the time we get to the campground. I like it much better here than the desert – the air is cool and fresh, and I can pitch my tent under a tree.
I wake up several times in the night to the sound of little things falling onto the taut nylon of the tent. Raindrops! I go back to sleep with a smile.
In the morning everything is still dry. Instead of rain, the tent and ground are strewn with pine needles. The tree above me is shedding needles and small branches as it withers. Its bark is gray and flaky, limbs limp.
After breakfast we take a walk to the nearby Tuolumne River, which turns out to be a meandering creek about six inches deep. The meadows on both sides are brown.
We stroll in the Sequoia grove among trees soaring over two hundred feet towards the sky with massive trunks as wide as a house. Some are over a thousand years old. But they won’t get any older – an army of dead soldiers left standing at attention.
We drive into Yosemite Valley, the main part of the park. I remember the pictures I’ve seen of it, taken before the drought: Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls with tons of white water cascading over granite cliffs, crashing down into deep pools on the canyon floor that’s covered with verdant grass and ferns.
But now the glaciers have melted and snow and rain are rare, so the falls are thin ribbons of water spilling over the cliffs, then trickling through brown grass into what used to be the Merced River. We hear an occasional bird, but we don’t see them or any other animals. Jane finds a blue jay feather, which she sticks in her hair –– but the jay is probably dead. We’re very quiet as we drive away from the park – as if we’ve been to Mother Nature’s funeral.
(Jane teaches Bob to meditate, and their visions help them find the cavern that connects to the water.)
Jane and I drive around to the north side of Mt. Shasta, hoping to be able to sense the subterranean springs from there. In the moonlight the mountain looks like a silver pyramid soaring up from the horizon into the starry purple night. The ancient volcano is lord of all it surveys. Veils of clouds are blowing around its peak.
We find a grassy glade in the forest, but the grass is dry and brittle and the tree branches droop from the drought. As we are spreading our blankets out to meditate, motion on the other side of the clearing catches our eyes. Out of the trees steps a black-tailed doe. She sees us and pauses, one foot raised, sniffing, listening, looking. Jane and I stare enthralled. As the doe gazes at us, our eyes join across the space, across the species. Communication flows between us: cautious curiosity about a fellow creature. She breaks contact, begins nibbling, then looks back at us as if saying, As long as you stay on your side, it's OK.
We watch her in delight until she trots off, then we close our eyes to meditate. At first my mantra goes with my heartbeat then slows and goes with my breath. The sound stretches out into a long hum floating through me. I seem to be beyond my skin, filling the whole clearing. I feel like I'm sinking into the earth. I want to hold on, to keep from disappearing, but something tells me to let everything go. I free-fall through space, then realize it’s impossible to fall because there’s no down. I’m hovering … like a dragonfly over water. The sound fades away, leaving me without thoughts. I seem to expand beyond all space and boundaries to unite with everything. For a moment I know I am everything, the whole universe, but as soon as I think, I’m everything, I’m not anymore. I’m just Bob Parks sitting on a blanket over cold ground.
I start the mantra again. Its whisper clears my thoughts away, and my mind becomes quiet. Part of me is watching the quietness of my mind and enjoying it. I never knew I had this watching part before. It doesn’t need to think. It’s just there, aware of everything but separate from it … a wise old part of me.
I realize I’m off the mantra, drifting on thoughts, so I pick up the sound again and follow it as it gets fainter and finer until it becomes more visual, pulsing light behind my closed eyes. It seems to shine into something, a big cavern that’s inside of me but also outside of me. The boundaries between me and everything else disappear … no difference now between inside and outside. I can see dimly into the cavern. The walls and ceiling are crystal, its facets glinting in the mantra light. Below them in all directions stretches a vast dark sea of water, its ripples gleaming. It’s deep, deep as the earth, and I want to plunge in and dive all the way to the bottom. I’m sitting above it. Down there beneath me, beneath these rocks and dirt, rests the water.
I can sense this sea’s immensity, stretching from California under the Great Basin of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, the parched American desert, the last place the corporate drillers would’ve looked. We’re sitting by the tip of it closest to the surface. From here it goes deeper and deeper, soaking through strata of sand and porous rock, a huge aquifer waiting to be freed and flow again.
I want to jump up and yell, “I found it!” but that thought makes it disappear. I take a deep breath, and am back sitting cross-legged on my blanket. Too stunned to say anything, I lie back, and feel the ground under me, this dry ground with all that good water under it.