Saturday, July 21, 2012

How I Met E. J. Gold (part III)

When we last left off, I had accompanied a group of musicians from IDHHB's 1990 Convention site to observe a mixdown session at the Union Label studio, as it was then called, located in one wing of E.J. Gold's ranch-style home.  I didn't return to the Convention, spending the days assisting Jimmi Accardi with studio chores.  One day saw trumpet overdubs provided by a musician named David, last name unknown, a visitor from Dru Kristel's community in New Mexico. 

The post-convention workshop had been cancelled.   Participants had their money refunded and sent home, however a few people were invited to stay, among them my ex and I. Early mornings saw us out in the California sunshine weeding the large vegetable garden until it got too hot to work.  I was supposed to stay with that small group for the rest of the day but Jimmi  made a special request to get me back into the studio.

One night I recorded Lee Lozowick singing classic rock and blues songs.  Unbeknowst to me, Lozowick was a widely recognized spiritual teacher in his own right running a community outside of Prescott, Arizona.  I just recognized him as not a particularly great vocalist who sang with much passion.  The first clue that Lee wasn't your average Joe came when I approached him in the parking lot after the session and expressed that it was nice to work with him.  Another fellow, I later guessed to be a senior student, began to bristle and look defensive as I approached Lee, like he might be on some kind of security detail.  Lee simply acknowledged the comment and stayed relaxed.  None of those songs ever got used except one, Little Red Rooster, the Howling Wolf classic, which ended up on a compilation album. 

The first one on one conversation I had with Gold occurred in the recording studio.  I told him that I could get into different states  of consciousness but couldn't stay there with any consistency.  He said that what he did was get a job that required higher consciousness to work at it.  I started to ask how he got his job then stopped myself and asked how I could get such a job?  He said that was a good question but that it should be asked before a group.  He told me to formulate the question as best I could then ask it at lunch in the dining room in front of the group.  Then he asked me a question, "Why is God in Hell?  God is everywhere, right?  So must be in Hell, too?!  I am God in Hell, Jimmi is God in Hell, you are God in Hell, etc. etc. so why is God in Hell?"  I had no idea what he was getting at so made no response.  I did recall Robert Anton Wilson writing in his Introduction to Visions in the Stone that Qabalists consider "Hell" to be the space/time continuum.

By the time lunch arrived I had formulated the question as, "how can one get a job that requires the ability to access the waking state at will in order to work at that job?"  I was prepared to ask it, however Gold made it impossible to say anything by playing back some music at a substantial volume and exhorting us to pay close attention to it.  So I thought, ok, I'll ask it at dinner.  Dinner rolled around, and again a space was created where I felt I could not ask the question without interrupting something more important.  I started to get a little antsy.  Every meal I attended in Gold's dining room for the remainder of my time there played out a similar situation.  My neccesity to ask this question kept building and building to a breaking point until I felt that I would be missing a tremendous opportunity if I was to leave California without asking the question.  It finally came down to my last evening before returning to New York.  I resolved that I would ask the question no matter what breach of conduct it required.  I might as well be dead if I left without asking the question is how strong it felt at the time.

Earlier in the week I overheard Gold make an unusual comment to Lee Lozowick saying that he lied about the Work 50% of the time.  This related to something Claude Needham had said when initially addressing the pre-convention group which was to not automatically accept anything Gold or anyone else said, including himself, as true.  They might be wrong, he said.  He then gave a past  example of people spending their whole time out there getting steered down a dubious course by community members with a personal agenda.  I didn't get the sense he was saying Institute staff would intentionally give misinformation but that it might not be relevant to our own course.  This is why I posted the Wilson video where he suggests never fully buying into other people's BS (Belief Systems) , '"I don't care who they are" - this seems very much the spirit of what Claude communicated.  That also relates with the second Wilson video - "every perception is a gamble"  To unquestioningly accept that what you perceive equals reality gives rise to "naive realism."  Don't fully buy into your own BS either.

So why would Gold deliberately lie about the Work?   I don't fully know but would suggest it has something to do with dissuading anyone of the misapprehension of appearing as some sort of infallible Guru figure.  A traditional Guru in the Eastern sense is someone you put your full trust in to carry you to the other side.  It requires unconditional obedience and unquestioning devotion.  You better hope the Guru knows what he or she is doing, and with a plethora of charlatans and out there, you risk some probability that they do not.  In my opinion, fully surrendering to an external Guru indicates the giving up of personal responsibility.  You don't have to make the effort and go through the pain of becoming enlightened, or whatever you wish to call it, the Guru will do it for you.  However true and effective that may be, you still have to go through your own death on your own.

Gold refers to spiritual teachers as schmurus which seems a yiddish way of gently discounting the Guru idea.  Like the joke about a guy going to a psychologist saying, "Doc, I think I've got one of them Oedipus Complexes," whereupon the doctor replies, in a heavy New York  accent, " Oedipus schmedipus, as long as you love your mother."

As I see it, the point is that you have to learn to think and do for yourself.  That won't happen if you're being told what to do all the time.  The realization that every perception is a gamble doesn't appear obvious in the ordinary course of events.  If you're told that 50% of what the schmuru says isn't true, then every time they communicate about the Work you will knowingly make a gamble of whether to accept or reject it as true.  Even accepting the 50% number seems a gamble. 

Gold also didn't want to be referred to as a teacher.  At the early workshop he said to not think of him as a teacher but rather a fellow researcher or a technical adviser.  However, he has been called a teacher's teacher by others on more than one occasion.  The teachers he has worked with include Chögyam Trungpa, Tarthang Tulku, Thich Nhat Hanh, Reshad Feild, John Lilly, Robert Anton Wilson, Claudio Naranjo, Lee Lozowick, Purna Steinitz, Dru Kristal, Reb Zalman Schachter, Andrew Cohen, Werner Erhard, John Allen aka Johnny Dolphin, Timothy Leary, Swami Vishnudevananda, Ricardo Flores aka Koyote, Isaac Bonewits, and Poke Runyon to name a few.  Not to say that Gold was a teacher to them all, for some he clearly was, for most it seems the influence went both ways.  Gold was friends with Jim Morrison who used the patchouli oil Gold sold out of his Compleat Enchanter shop located in the Gemini Psychedelic Supermarket in L.A.  Morrison was a frequent visitor and they would often talk philosophy and other arcane subjects.  This may have been how Morrison acquired his interest in shamanism.

Part IV, the conclusion, should be ready shortly.

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