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I’m originally from Kansas, and that’s why the name has stuck. A guy I met when I first hitchhiked to the Mountain started calling me that, and I liked it, and so on Shasta I became Kansas for keeps. That was my first time up there, 1976. I came down from the Mountain when Rinpoche arrived in the Bay Area, and there I made some new friends and we all stayed in the same house with him in the hills near Orinda. A lovely, friendly little town in those days—I wonder what it’s like now?

Shasta never changes—no, it actually changes constantly. When I went back, there was a completely different set of people camping in the Rocks. Eventually, I would meet my wife Tara up there, and that’s quite a story in itself. But what I mean is that its frequencies are always changing, the Sympathetic Waves, as my friend Doggy used to call them. It’s like they come up through the soles of your feet—or maybe it’s more like breathing or bathing, just being in those vibrations. I think the Mountain is like a big receiver for them, or else their generator. Okay. Enough of the New Age sounding stuff.

Back then, when we first met the Renegade Rinpoche, we all stopped smoking pot and taking LSD because he asked us to, but the Rinpoche really liked alcohol, which we thought was cool, and so we drank “Shiva’s Regal” with him. He said, “Don’t be stupid when you’re drunk. Basic, basic.” I still use that expression with my students: Basic, basic. If you don’t have the basics you can’t really get very far.

He had us build a tree house, a tree house, up in the branches of a giant oak. Its first limbs were so far off the ground that we had to construct a scaffolding just to haul materials up into the arms—that’s what he called the branches, and the way he said it sounded like “aums,” and soon enough we were all saying “aums,” and would crack up on our break times while we drank cold hibiscus tea in the oak tree’s shade. After a while, he would smile and jut his chin toward the sky and whisper “Om,” and we knew it was time to get back to work. A lot of it was hard work, on hot days, and a lot of the time we didn’t know what we were doing, figuring it out as we went along, like nailing the frame together on the ground and then finding it wouldn’t fit on the tree, and then banging the two-by-fours apart and starting over—bang. There wasn’t a plan—actually, there were various plans, but they kept changing because Rinpoche wanted the house one way and then another. Thinking back all those years ago, I’m not sure if remember what we actually built, or the various versions that at one time or another we thought we were constructing.

He must have been around 60 years old then, but he’s always seemed ageless, and he never talks very much about his past. We know he lost everything when the Chinese overran Tibet: his family, his monastery, his entire country. I always wondered if that was why, when he came to the West, he seemed a little mad—I don’t mean angry, but slightly crazy, like some of the yogis in the old stories who don’t give a shit what other people think. I liked it that he wore jeans and sandals and Western style, long-tailed plaid shirts with pearl snap buttons—untucked!—so that his chubby belly looked like it was going to burst free. When he laughed, you saw his beautiful, strong, white teeth. When he took off his straw cowboy hat to mop his head, you saw his cool crew-cut.

As his students worked together, we became better and better carpenters, banging our thumbs less and less often. We built a free standing stairway on wheels so that when we were done, the Master would be able to get up there easily. Of course, we called it “Stairway to Heaven”— in those days we were as irreverent as we liked and he condoned it, and surely that was one reason why so many hippy-trippy types gathered around him. The Renegade Rinpoche. Finally, we finished the tree house, or at least it was as done as we could do it with our meager skills. (But it must be said here that one of us, Luke Lebatte, went on to become an architect, and that it was Luke who eventually designed the temple in France.) There was copper roofing on two spires, pagoda-like, cut and bent and coaxed into shape by many hands and shined and coated with special stuff so that when the sun was on it, the scene truly was fantastical.

But this is real, we used to say at such moments. This was made with love for the Master. I still sometimes spring a few tears when I see it in my mind’s eye.

Finally, the day came when Rinpoche was to climb up into it. We had glass in the windows and hand sewn curtains, and on the floor a beautiful Persian carpet. The main room was detailed with trim work carved from the tree limbs that we’d had to lop in order to nestle the building into the aums. Selena Vourette led him by the hand up the stairway; for the occasion he was wearing a silk, saffron-colored robe, holding the hem high enough so that he wouldn’t step on it, and I remember he had on a pair of turquoise blue running shoes that I’d bought for him in Berkeley. It’s too bad we don’t have any pictures, but people didn’t take pictures of every single moment in their lives back then, and anyway, if you were there, you’ll never forget it. He looked like he was floating up into a fairytale castle.

When he went into the sitting room, we were clumped together behind him, trying to see it through his eyes. He appraised every detail, nodding and smiling. But he didn’t sit down on the gorgeous chair that Luke had fashioned from peeled limbs and studded with crystals I had brought with me from Shasta; spars of clear quartz arranged around the chair’s backrest like sunrays. Rinpoche smiled and made a little bow to everybody, and then he turned around and Selena took his hand and he went back down, and as far as I know he never went up into the tree house again.

I don’t know what became of it. The people on whose land it was always hoped he would come back to it someday. Maybe it’s still there; I’ve often thought how far out it would be if you were a kid and happened to find it out in the hills in the middle of nowhere. Anybody would have wanted to stay there: kids or hippies or homeless. But not the Master. He went back to France shortly thereafter. I went back to Shasta.
To say I was disillusioned is not accurate. But I was confused. A wise man from the East had had his fun with us—and we had had our fun with him, too, and none of it drug induced, although there were those nights carousing with Shiva’s Regal and on the mornings after having to meditate with big headaches. He said such experiences would help us to learn about the traditional prohibition against alcohol, whether or not we ever took formal Precepts. Don’t act stupid. Basic, basic.

Then he’d gone and left us on our own.

We hadn’t built him a gompa like the students of some other masters, or a retreat center, or an entire university like the Trungpa people did. There were several Americans who went to France with Rinpoche at that time, but there were also quite a few who thought they’d gotten all he had to teach them. People have many different ideas about Dharma practice, and to be sure, your particular Dharma—your way, your truth, your practice, whatever you call it—really is up to you. This means you have to live the karma you create. One way to test whether or not you’re a true practitioner is to look at the things in your life, not only your sense of satisfaction, but also how you manage the obstacles that arise for you. Everybody has obstacles at some time or another, and they can be useful to your practice—that is, if you have the basics.

I ran into Selena not long ago and she told me that it was soon after they went back to France that things began to change. The serious people—there was always a circle of them, pressing as close to the Master as possible, and if you ask me, missing a lot of the humor—they got very serious, but Selena said in general the people who stayed in the community all started to grow. Some folks learned Tibetan and got advanced academic degrees so that they could do translations of important texts. Some students eventually became certified as lamas, that is, as teachers in Rinpoche’s lineage. Many people worked on building the temple.

As I said, I went back to the Mountain to think things over. The Mountain was home, and I needed her, like I needed the Milky Way streaming over my bed at night when I slept in the open. I didn’t ever believe he was fraud like a few people said, or that he was a lunatic, or a cult leader looking for converts to support his trip. Having to abandon that glorious tree house, which we thought was more than a whim or folly (as such useless but decorative creations are sometimes called) and the memory of the work and money we all put into it, and afterwards having no claims on it, and Carrie and Arnold deciding that no one should be in it unless Rinpoche came back and told us exactly what to do—hell, that was a hard lesson in nonattachment. I really do wish I had a photograph, or some pictures of us while we were building it. We were all so happy. Our house in the sky with its shining spires, and inside a gorgeous Persian carpet Carrie had brought with her all the way from Tehran, and sitting on that, Luke’s handmade throne sparkling with my crystals, but empty of Rinpoche.

When I went back to live in the Rocks I was using a little backpacking tent most of the time, about two years, sleeping under the stars whenever the weather permitted. I wasn’t exactly solitary, but I lived alone and practiced solo. Well, sometimes, I didn’t really do any formal practices at all, but simply tried to feel my way forward. Once, while following a deer that kept looking at me over its shoulder, I twisted my ankle so badly that I thought it was broken. Instead of getting to a doctor, I made a splint from some branches and eventually it healed. That was something—though maybe just another form of youthful folly. Maybe it turned out okay because of where I was at the time: a place of power like Mount Shasta can help you in all sorts of ways, and it’s why seekers are drawn to such locales. Still, the energy can be overwhelming, and it magnifies your obscurations as well as your capacities.

Why hadn’t he wanted the tree house after all the effort we put into it? I thought about the Tibetan teacher Marpa who made his disciple Milarepa build and then destroy a stone tower many times over in order to prove himself a worthy student—was our karma so negative that it needed to be expiated by the rejection of our gift, and never a word of explanation? Was it all a form of collective madness?
Living on the Mountain during those years, I used to dream about UFO’s quite often, and after one of those dreams I scared myself wondering if Rinpoche might be from another planet, and if in fact I was lucky to have escaped him. I’ve always wanted to be meet the Space Brothers, hoping they might teach me to help the people of Earth, and I’ve seen quite a few unidentifiable flying objects—a lot of folks on Shasta have. And there have been stranger things, things that are more important to me: like when I knew by watching the stars that he’d returned, and that Tara, who had never even heard of him, needed to come with me to the Bay Area and meet him. The first ride we hitched took us practically to Rinpoche’s door.

Basic, basic.
Rocks, bones, stars, sky.
Having the View, recognizing
your own Real Nature.
Bang, and the Universe blinks on.
Bang, and everything changes.
Or nothing like that at all.

Peter Fortunato, MFA, CHT, is a poet, painter and hypnotherapist.
His website is www.peterfortunato.wordpress.com.
He as at work on a collection of linked stories, three of which have
now appeared in Metaphysical Times.

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Places of Power
an Introduction

by David S. Warren, Editor

Here is a map showing supposed lines of force, or connection, or power transmission, or something simply mysterious called “Ley Lines”. When they intersect, Ley Lines are said to create places with a special power - typically the habitat of Bigfoot or powerful spirit beings, the landing place of aliens, or serving as portals through which one communicates with other worlds or other states of being. Spiritual centers, sacred places, and locations of political power...
(Go to Story)_______________________

Places of Power

by Tarka Wilcox PhD

Reply: Have you ever seen a small chunk of pure sodium metal burn, shriek, and tear itself apart when dropped into water? The energy release during the extremely rapid oxidation is impressive. It’s not the same as the earth, but in some ways it’s analogous - earth is burning (slowly), and tearing itself apart constantly - as a result of trying to cool off.
(Go to Story)


by David Rollow

At this site on top of a rocky outcropping a castle once stood
that was the main stronghold of the Cathars, the heretics who were systematically wiped out in the Albigensian Crusade. At the time, I knew nothing about the Cathars. I went to Montsegur because
a friend put it on the map for me... (Go to Story)


The Brook
by Franklin Crawford

The most powerful place I've ever known isn't there any more except between my ears.

It was a flat swampy wetland with a brook flowing through it that once fed a shallow lake that Mom said she had skated on in long ago winter times. I imagined Mom skating in a mental newsreel, black and white and shaky; not a memory of my own at all but of something else I never knew but wish I did. (Go to Story)________________

(more "Fish Eye" cartoons by Mark Finn)


Water Power
by Georgia E. Warren

It seems that humans can’t resist following water. I am sure that it didn’t take primative peoples long to know how much easier to get from one place to another perched on a fallen log and then a hollow log, a canoe and then finally a boat.

If you get tired going down the river, you pull to the side and stop. If there is a waterfall too steep or rapids too rough, you pull to the side and stop. Build a hut and eventually it becomes a community. (Go to Story)

"Collector's Luck
in France"
review by
Josiah Booknoodle

It seems that humans can’t resist following water. I am sure that it didn’t take primative peoples long to know how much easier to get from one place to another perched on a fallen log and then a hollow log, a canoe and then finally a boat.

If you get tired going down the river, you pull to the side and stop. If there is a waterfall too steep or rapids too rough, you pull to the side and stop. Build a hut and eventually it becomes a community. (Go to Story)

The Stone at the
Old Same-Place
by David S. Warren

The Old Same-Place, as we called it when we lived there in the seventies, was a nineteenth-century farm house next to a small, unmowed cemetery under tall White Pines as old as the stones where Blackcap Raspberries thrived in a couple of patches. Wild Morning Glory vines hooded the tomb stones and climbed the old pines to their first branches twenty or thirty feet above the ground. The old Pines had grown so large that their sprawling roots tilted the vine-hooded tombstones so that they seemed to be running away

One morning I was poking into the cemetery with my dog Kasha to check on some ripening BlackCap berries in which Kasha had no interest, she lay down in patch of Morning Glory vines near a stone I had never noticed before. It was mostly obscured by the vines but the thing was bigger than a bowling ball and glowing red. (Go to Story)


Entering a
Powerful Place
by Davey Weathercock

Connecticut Hill, about the wildest part of Tompkins County, has some reputation as a portal between worlds, a landing spot for space aliens, and the habitat of Bigfoot. I don’t know about all of that, but I have hunted, prospected, and skied for years on that hill, and I don’t get how people manage to come across Aliens and Bigfeet there, and not even notice the numerous Littlefeet: the small yellowish natives who retreated to the Gorges when the pre-Iroquois Algonquins arrived, and left the gorges for the hills when the Iroquois took over.
(Go to Story)


A Note from
Gabriel Orgrease

In the 70’s I was known in Tompkins County as someone that had an interest to play with stones and this fellow wanted to find a particular boulder to set on some property in Ellis Hollow at the northeast quadrant at the corner of Turkey Hill Road and Ellis Hollow Road. He explained there was a confluence of ley lines in the area and that it was full of power. He wanted to place a boulder at the intersection to make it even more powerful a meditation space. This was, as I recall, to be called something like The Temple of Light.
(Go to Story)


by Franklin Crawford

Before Alcoholic Anonymous, or AA, there were Ancient Astronauts, the first-ever AAs. I met some of them when I was drinking spiked Mother’s Milk in a far away Power Place called The Womb and later, after getting deported, at the Friday night Mensa meeting in Halifax.

They were a fast-talking fun-loving crowd but none too clever given they chose Earth as a crash pad. That was their big mistake and a dead give-away that these so-called Ancient Astronauts were on the interstellar lam and just looking for a new place to party. (Go to Story)




We would drive the buggy where
apart from the wheel tracks
we’d left last week
there was no trace of anyone
the land was so very flat
in all directions
we must unknowingly have crossed
one horizon after another

we might have been
let down from an angel chariot
for all the time
that distance seemed to take
your summons uplifted me
when the horse had its head
the prairie just rolled back
as steady as knitting

and in that pleasure
the body takes when it is
inured to hunger
and the fierce desires
in the renewed
appearance of tranquility
in each moved moment
we rehearsed our satisfaction

over and over so that
later I would find myself
repeating it even in my sleep
where there could be no expectation
of sharing it with you
how your call abides
that invited me
to look from that grassy shore

across a blind eye of water
with the ducks returning as
soon as our carriage-sounds stop
in a line that flattens as the surface
approaches beneath it
only to spill apart
and splash into several gratitudes
at the last moment

Chris MacCormick

Wake Me
by Mary Gilliland

In the treeless light of Delos
mullein flowers burn round
and the stone lions
have waited so long
some have lost their smiles,
others their heads.

In Eleusinian bus exhaust
rain beads like wax
drops along a candle
toward the smashed ruins.

In Samaria the temples
are not slabs of stone.
Water cold as fire
channels the gorge.

In the neglect at Dodona
Persephone has burned
to a shade thinner than sorrow
and fled to the caverns
leaving a painted turtle
to stare down the lizards.

'Nice Girl' first appeared in
The Greenfield Review 14, 3/4 (1987)


Places of Power
Mt. Shasta


In the fall of 2016 our prose writing workshop (“Traveling, Thinking, Writing”) read books by Eddy Harris, Linda Grant Niemann, and Robert Michael Pyle. Pyle’s book is called Where Bigfoot Walks and one weekend in early November we endeavored to go out walking in one of the places where Bigfoot is reputed to walk, Siskiyou County in northern California. We drove north for five hours—in a rented van—from Berkeley. (Go to Story)

Places of Power
Mt. Shasta
by Peter Fortunato

I’m originally from Kansas, and that’s why the name has stuck. A guy I met when I first hitchhiked to the Mountain started calling me that, and I liked it, and so on Shasta I became Kansas for keeps. That was my first time up there, 1976. I came down from the Mountain when Rinpoche arrived in the Bay Area, and there I made some new friends and we all stayed in the same house with him in the hills near Orinda. A lovely, friendly little town in those days—I wonder what it’s like now? (Go to Story)

The Texture of Music
by Peter Wetherbee

As a musician, audio engineer, and listener, I would like to define beauty in sound. What is it that makes something sound good? What is my favorite kind of music? If there could possibly be such a defining measuring stick, how would one quantify the magnitude of a given piece of art or music, the depth of beauty, or the absolute weight of meaning in the artistic gesture or statement?

I would like to call this magical sweet spot the location of power in music. (Go to Story)

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