by Robert Wilkinson
It's been quite a period, from the sublime to the horrendous! I finally got home to the high desert after a perfect Mercury retrograde of driving out of burning Southern California only to break down in the desert east of Indio and have to be towed back into the thick haze of an Armageddon-like fiery inferno where the Sun and sky were literally blotted out in a dense fog of gray-brown particulates too thick to see the mountains burning out of control just a few thousand feet away.
This trip started out as something sublime, with a beautiful warm Autumn in the Hamptons along with three days of instruction at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We studied the Diamond Cutter sutra and ways of creating "emptiness" involving extensive discourses on Nagarjuna's "70 Verses on Emptiness." His Holiness cuts a very wide wake, and is a presence which can best be described as "swimming in an ocean of 10,000 compassionate eyes." I gave a talk in Santa Monica where I summarized the teachings which I'll try to edit into a sound file for this site.
While hanging in the Hamptons I also got to see the movie on the life of Milarepa which I recommend to all. Very classy piece of work, and I'm waiting for part 2 where he moves from being a Tibetan wizard with great powers into an enlightened life. I also saw another incredible video of the life of the Dalai Lama's mom, where he and members of his family are interviewed about this amazing woman. Definitely worth the time spent viewing it, since it confirms that His Holiness is a BIG fan of Divine Mother!
Then the back end of the trip. LA was its usual Malthusian experiment in too many people in too small a space, and the fires burning throughout all of Southern California seemed to put an uneasy tension in what is already an overloaded ecosystem and highly agitated population. I set off last Tuesday into a headwind that gusted between 60 and 100 miles an hour, blowing everything in the desert into Los Angeles all the way to the ocean. Once I got east of downtown Los Angeles the air became hazy, until I got to west San Bernardino when I could see the tops of the mountains on fire for about 20 miles.
20 miles of thick smoke billowing out of the top of the mountain range, emanating from fiery volcano-like mountain tops on fire, blotting out the sun and sky with rivers of fire flowing down the mountainsides. It was awesome, eerie, and very foreboding in a cosmic sort of way, since I knew they were burning out of control from Malibu to the Mexican border, whipped by intense winds that rendered all our firefighting efforts useless. When airstrips used to dump water are catching fire and pinetree fires are leaping hundreds of feet at a time, "you know something's happening here but you don't know what it is, do you Mister Jones," to quote the Bard of another era.
Eventually the sky became visible about a hundred miles out from LA. I did fine until getting a ways out of Indio on I 10, where a wheel bearing gave out. Not knowing this was the problem, it seemed safer to be towed back to West Los Angeles to my mechanic who would give me an accurate diagnosis. Thus the perfect Mercury retrograde situation of leaving West Los Angeles, then having to be towed back into the fiery inferno surrounded by a thick haze in a hellish zone where it was impossible to see very far and you knew you were entering the heart of a darkness and breathing things that are not good for you.
It was sunset when I was being towed back in, but I couldn't see the sun or sky anywhere. The only reason I knew it was sunset was from the occasional dips in the mountain range which would reveal slivers of darkened sky with strange hues of orange and gold just above the ridge line. Otherwise the sky was obliterated by smoke so thick I wondered how many were gasping for air and how many creatures were panicked though knowing that humans were powerless to control countless acres blazing across thousands of square miles.
I got back to town, deposited the car at my mechanics after hours, got a rental car and moved my stuff from my car to the rental, and went back to the apartment. The next morning there was a layer of ash deposited on the cars in the neighborhood even though the smoke wasn't evident enough to smell. I then drove off into the haze again about 11am, where instead of 20 miles of burning mountains it had become 30 to 50 miles of flaming, belching smoke pervading the entire southland. The fires were burning, but I couldn't even see the mountains not that far away.
There was no Sun anywhere to be seen in that second time driving east. After about a hundred miles into the trip it lightened up, but left me with tremendously deep feelings about the unfortunate humans and creatures left in a haze of smoke, fire, and uncertainty. Though the headwinds had subsided a little, and we were told ocean breezes were coming in on Friday, that wasn't much comfort, since it meant that all the particulates over LA and the West side would be pushed back into the Inland Empire, as it is called.
So this Mercury retrograde, while a huge blessing on the front end where I reconnected with His Holiness and even got to do a street fair on 6th Avenue along with about a quarter-million people, became a bizarre hellish experience on the back end where I saw a version of Armageddon. It was one of the most eerie experiences I've ever had, and gave me a vision of a version of hell. May God have mercy on Southern California. I've been sent pictures that are beyond belief.
Just in case you were wondering where I've been and what I've been doing lately. Aum Namah Shivaya!
© Copyright 2007 Robert Wilkinson