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The Path of the Poet

To be a poet is to be a man or woman of Divine Imagination. When I was eighteen and studying Humanities at The University of Chicago, I was exposed to two writers who would help shape the spiritual journey of my life. The first was Carlos Castaneda. A professor, after reading an essay I wrote on poetry as an essential means of accessing reality, recommended that I read Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda. One night, I lay alone reading the book in my dormitory room, my life in chaos and disarray, clearly illustrated by clothes, books, papers, paraphenelia and record albums strewn about the chamber as if by tornado. I came to a section in the book were Castaneda's

teacher, a man referred to as Don Juan, asked his apprentice if he felt his academic knowledge made him superior to a Yaquii Indian who had learned his knowledge from teachers and nature, rather than books. Castaneda condescendingly admits that they are equals, secretly feeling contempt for his teacher's lack of academic discipline. Don Juan sees the veiled superiority exuding from the tone and expression of Castaneda's answer. He tells him that he knows his student has intellectual contempt for his teacher. Then he recapitulates some of the ways he has attempted to guide Castaneda to change his life and live the life of a spiritual warrior, a man who remains alert to the presence of Spirit in every moment. He points out the ways in which Castaneda has failed to adopt these practices in his life. He tells Castaneda, "One of us has to change and you know who it is." Then Don Juan becomes silent and motionless as the two of them experience the sunset in the vast expanse of the Sonoran desert in Northern Mexico. Dusk turns to night as both men remain silent for hours. Then, with tears in his eyes, Castaneda goes to Don Juan and touches his arm. He knows he has found a real teacher. I don't know what happened to me the night I read this part of Castaneda's book, but a surge of energy welled up inside of my usually depressed mind and body. I began to whoop and laugh. I literally rolled off of my bed laughing. Something had hit me with a truth I had never before considered. There are real teachings and real teachers. There is a knowledge that exists which is complete and which can guide us to ultimate realities, a direct connection with the universe. There is an intelligence in living vibrations of the life force, which can show us how to live fully as beings of strength, vitality and undefeatable spirit. From that moment on, I sought unceasingly to be guided by teachers of this real knowledge, hidden to people of intellect and reasonable action. I sought real teachers, knowing that I would find them in the most unexpected ways. How do you consciously find a teacher when you know that your rational mind is incapable of recognizing a true teacher? I felt like a dog chasing his tail in frustration, but I knew I had to remain alert and find out what I could. In those two years that I struggled like a madman in Chicago, trying to discover a spiritual knowledge while engaging an academic curriculum based on the cold steel of rational analysis, I found a second great teacher: William Blake. I had been reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception and listening with mind altered rapture to the music of Jim Morrison's Rock and Roll band, The Doors. Both artists had taken inspiration from Blake's line of poetry from "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" about the doors of perception. I took a course from a noted Blake scholar and received as a text a thousand page volume, which contained every word Blake had ever written, including his personal letters, bills of sale and grocery notes for all I could tell. We were required to read all of Blake's major works, a task that would have been daunting if Blake spoke normal English. But Blake did not speak normal English. He spoke the language of poetry and he taught the language of poetry, a language in which everyday perception was completely transformed by imagination, which Blake valued above all human faculties. Through imagination, we enter through the doors or perception and encounter the infinite. We feel. We think. We sense. But most importantly, we create the meaning and significance of every detail in our life. Both Blake and Castaneda taught in normal life this meaning had been chosen for us by our society, our parents, our family and the informal and formal education that was often tyrannically inculcated into our psyche. But Blake did everything in his power to illustrate that with the freedom of poetic imagination, we could begin to perceive a spiritual world underlying all phenomenon, a living, conscious, dramatic realm of demons and daemons, devils and angels, who sought to awaken our spirit and open our heart to the limitless possibilities and experienced realities of a spiritual life. In Blake's Infinite Cosmos, "every thing that lives is holy!" He was a revolutionary, living even unto eternity in the realms of spirit, even right now. He waits, like all spiritual teachers, for us to begin the conversation with a question, a desire, a longing. He sought not to overthrow governments, but "the mind forged manacles" which keep us from experiencing the infinite joy of the creative life. Now come with us through the portals of The School of Cosmic Consciousness and The Tantric Tarot Game and experience this living Cosmos. Join with us in the music of Cosmic ecstasy . . .

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