I arrived at Steve’s house early in the morning. Our plan was to hit the lake early, catch some fish, and get out before the wind gathered up and froze us out. On the drive we counted four cars sporting Jesus stickers on their bumpers.

No Jesus? No peace. Know Jesus. Know Peace.

He died for me…I’ll live for him.

Got Jesus?

Have a Nice Day with Jesus!

I was raised Catholic and the first chance I got to ditch Father Lopez, his unholy stink-eye, and his evil band of moody Sisters I did. I was in the 5th grade. After three years of fear sermons I’d seen and heard enough and told my parents that I quit. Even at that early age there was something about Christianity that didn’t jibe with me. I found it depressing. I found it negative. I found it cruel and unsettling. And the people that packed Our Lady of Guadalupe on Sunday mornings with their cut-out smiles and scripted greetings? I thought they were professional hypocrites and full of shit.

Despite my skepticism towards the credibility of his followers I liked Jesus and his message. As a kid I prayed to Him constantly. Prayed that my family lived peacefully. Prayed that my father would stop drinking. Prayed that I’d finally kiss Anna Hernandez.

“And Jesus maybe tomorrow you’ll allow me to kiss Anna. Just one kiss. You know how much I like her.”

That prayer never was answered.

In fact, a lot of them were never answered.

I told Steve about my Christian background. That I went to some old church in LA called Our Lady of Guadalupe. That I hated it and wanted out. That the people that attended the church judged and fucked people over for six days and on the seventh day they clutched their worry beads and mumbled like babies. I told him that over the years I’ve mellowed my feelings towards Christianity. That I tried not to think of their bloody history or their blatant hatred of all things non-Christian. I told him that religion rarely crossed my mind but when I think of Christianity these days I think of Jimmy Swaggart, the insular musings of Rick Warren. I told him I think of naughty Ted Haggard and Stephen Baldwin.

“Baldwin? Isn’t he an actor? The one who called his daughter a pig?”

“No, that’s another Baldwin. There’s like ten of them.”

Steve and I have a system when we go fishing. It’s very simple. He fishes and I sit on my ass looking for wildlife. When I grow bored of that I read. And when that runs its course I take a stab at writing some fiction that’s void of plot and structure—all that technical business I learned in the stuffy English rooms of UNLV. At that time I was putting together a collection of creature stories. Snakes. Insects. Dogs.

A giant hog named Benny that lives in Barstow and dreams of eating.

A rattlesnake that kills a bartender.

An aging flying squirrel that takes his last flight.

Two stinkbugs that get pissed on by a dog.

A donkey that shits money.

A scorpion that sings.

Steve is a master fisherman. Has all the gear. Has a beautiful boat loaded with gadgets and blip machines. He reads the water, knows all the tricks. On this day he’d catch five beautiful big-mouth bass. Gorgeous fish painted in greens and golds. This was our first fishing trip since my return from my spiritual retreat where I ditched my cell-phone, truck, the Internet, all that. I was to pay attention to my damaged heart and soul and not my addictive mind that wanders in bad places. So that’s what I did. I hunkered down and returned to the desert bright-eyed and clear. I returned to the desert a better man.

Sometime in the middle of the day the Dr. Peppers got to me and I had to piss. Steve pulled us into a cove. After I was done I walked around lifting fallen tree limbs and rocks looking for lizards and whatnot. Then something caught my eye. It was a knotted sandwich bag that contained two stones and a folded piece of paper that had Bible passages typed on it. I picked it up and read the typed messages. I’d never seen anything like it. Whoever put it together wanted someone to find it. I was that person. I looked to see if anyone was around. Nothing. Nada. I raised my eyes to the sky. Just like I did when I was a kid. Blue skies running from the San Bernardino Mountains to Barstow.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. John 1:12

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12

I showed it to Steve.

“Seems like Jesus is always around,” he said.

I sat on the shore, memories spinning up and over the mountains and sloping down into Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario. Here I was again. Back in California, my birth state. Here I was again twenty-five minutes from the desert where it all began. I came full circle. Jobs and girlfriends. Old songs and new ones yet to be named. Dog-eared books and divorce. Poems and rejection slips. From Jesus to Buddha. Sand and scorpions.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8

I came home and put the bag next to my Buddha and my jade Trickster. They make a good team and look beautiful on my desk. The Buddha and Trickster a gift from a beautiful friend with a big heart. The “Jesus bag” a gift from a stranger that I will keep forever. Everyday before I leave the house I smile their way and open the door with the best of intentions. It’s easier that way.

Things you’ve said under your breath.

Things people have said with their last dying breath.

Things that drive people to drink.

Things that made Jesus think, “Maybe I’m in the wrong line of business…”

Things you can only find in Detroit.

Things that make you jump for joy.

Things that make people jump from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Things that get stuck between your teeth.

Things you’ve stuck in your ear, up your nose, or up your butt.

Things that change from ugly to beautiful.

Things that frighten you.

Things that enliven you.

Things to help raise your credit score.

Things to help lower your cholesterol.

Things organisms have done to adapt & survive.

Things that make certain men become priests.

Things that make certain women wrestle alligators.

Things serial killers think about.

Things you find in a dead man’s pockets.

Things you find in your own pockets.

Things named after Greek Gods.

Things people have done in the name of God.

Things that cause acne.

Things that cause cancer.

Things to consider before having a baby.

Things to consider before joining the French Foreign Legion.

Things you’d do if you had wings.

Things you’d do if you had the Green Lantern’s power ring.

Things to help clear your aura.

Things you can clear out of your orifices.

Things you should always buy generic.

Things you’ve always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

Things associated with winter.

Things associated with summer.

Things you’d do if you only had a week left to live.

Things you’d do if you were President.

Things the atom bomb thinks before going boom.

Things the flower bud thinks before going bloom.

Things they put into processed meats.

Things you do during the five stages of grief.

Things you’ve learned from the Bible.

Things you’ve learned from the National Enquirer.

Things to say while sexting.

Things you should never say to someone who’s depressed.

Things you forget.

Things you desire.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of drugs.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of love.

Things that make you go “Hmmm…”

Things you see when staring up at clouds.

Things your pets do when you’re not around.

Things you can smoke.

Things you can recycle.

Things behind the sun.

Things to make your car run better.

Things you find alongside the road

Things you find washed up on the beach.

Things you build.

Things you compete for.

Things you do when you’re alone in your room.

Things Van Gogh thought just before cutting off his ear.

Things that go in one ear and out the other.

Things you can burn.

Things you can save.

Things to say to get a girl wet.

Things to say to get a guy hard.

Things to say to get kicked off jury duty.

Things you can carry.

Things you can hide.

Things that decay.

Things that rejuvenate.

Things made of plastic.

Things made of corn.

Things put into time capsules.

Things put into compost piles.

Things that live under your skin.

Things you find around Jim Morrison’s grave.

Things that remind you of Buddha.

Things that remind you of Judas.

Things your doctor won’t tell you.

Things your parents won’t tell you.

Things your lover won’t tell you.

Things your best friend won’t tell you.

Things the major corporations won’t tell you.

Things the government won’t tell you.

Will never tell you.


Click here to see the author recite this piece.

Graham is one of the students who had invited Andrew Cohen to teach in Boston. He was used to quite a materialistic lifestyle before meeting Andrew, and a last remnant of this is a beautiful Saab. He is notorious for his attachment to his Saab. In Boston Andrew had already pressed him to sell the car. Graham promised to do so, but kept postponing it. Now Andrew presses him to sell it a second and third time. But again Graham hesitates and tries to renegotiate. He desperately wants to keep the car.

It gradually turns into a battle of wills: Andrew is battling Graham’s ego, trying to wrestle his attachment away from him. We speak with Graham in the men’s meeting, trying to get him to give up his attachment to his car and everything that it stands for. But although Graham says he’s on our side, we feel he doesn’t really want to let go. As the drama continues, the pressure mounts. In the end Andrew radicalizes the situation, just as he did with Juliette. The standard of enlightenment is black or white, so if it isn’t white, it will be black. Andrew calls Graham and tells him he’s going to solve the dilemma for him once and for all. He will go with Graham to the junkyard and have the Saab crushed. After his initial responses of disbelief, panic, rage and desperation, Graham eventually agrees. We all hold our breath collectively. We can’t believe it. A $20,000 car is going to be destroyed for the sake of Graham’s spiritual evolution. It’s the ultimate act of renunciation, like in the classical stories of the scholar who threw his beloved books into the Ganges or the Buddha who left his wife and child behind.

In satsang the next evening Andrew tells the whole story to a disbelieving crowd. Graham and Andrew went to the junkyard with the Saab. The operator there initially refused to crush the car, thinking he was dealing with a pair of nutcases. But Andrew and Graham insisted. To maximize the effect Andrew had Graham push the button that turned the car into pulp. Andrew says it was a momentous cleansing ritual, a powerful boost for Graham.

He points to Graham, who indeed seems to have undergone some kind of transformation. He’s beaming with self-confidence because he has taken such a firm stance against his ego. We’re in awe. Andrew had the guts to take this to the extreme, and he was right—look at Graham sitting there beaming! So this is what it takes to do battle with the ego.

and when you see the Buddha
his eyebrows will be comprised of deer moss

and his belly shall contain the sadness of a river
floating with dead tree branches

and when you see the Buddha
he will appear to you as priest of the invisible

slipping from his lips shall be a mute poetry
summoning one true moment in the highlight of a house chamber

and when you see the Buddha
his ears will resemble antennas and ferns

picking up a melodious frequency
from the gateway of emasculated stars

and when you see the Buddha
he might take the form of a pregnant lady

who used to be a disgruntled man
who now holds the secret to everything deep down inside

and when you see the Buddha
he might tell you that there is no blessing

and that there is no sin
but squint you must through the interlacing leaves of the Bodhi tree

and when you see the Buddha
ask him if he’s ever been hit with a belt or had his nose broken by an envious fist

ask him if he’s ever had his heart punctured by the spike of a high-heeled shoe
or gone hungry for four wicked days in a row

ask him if any war is worth the casual loss of limbs
and whether humans have the legal right to construct laws

ask him if we all wallow through this terrible tide of shit
or whether it’s all just a state of mind, state of mind

ask him if the homeboy in the wheelchair will ever fuck again on the beach
or gain any real sense of unmitigated peace

ask him if the flowery narcotics are a benefit to our elevated heads
or whether they are representations of the lacerations to our true aspirations

ask him if the ivy vines ever lose their direction along the way
and if you get to the top of the mountain, isn’t it just a different place to be?

ask the Buddha if he ever wears socks and if so, what color are they
and were they manufactured in a sweatshop in the Philippines
by 9 year-old children smoking cigarettes?

ask him if women are inherently a cruel, cruel breed
or whether they are wisdom-filled angels

ask him if actual wealth is actually possible
or is it all just a disillusioning illusion of a mockery of a sham

ask him if Everything in this life is sacred
or that Nothing is really sacred and Nothing really matters at all

and does there really exist a Buddha within the center of the iron bell
or is it just thick forged metal sitting in a darkened lump?

there does exist a Buddha, there does exist a Buddha
there is no Buddha, there is no god

there is no wisdom, there is no knowledge
there is no god, except for god

and when you see the Buddha
he will know absolutely Nothing but he will be the thinker of all things

and his eyes will light with the flame of eleven thousand candles
tended to and puffed on by silent Chinese dragons

and his legs will cross like licorice in a jar
and he will embody the lines in all things

and by the way, when you see the Buddha
tell him that I said hello
and that I really miss my baby


I didn’t look at a clock or my watch all day. Time ceased to be of any consequence. But not too long after the sun had risen, and well before it hit that point in the sky that said it was midday, we set out to see what Kelly called “real Korea”. When she said those words and showed some optimism I never doubted her for a second. Usually my cynical side kicks in and I laugh silently at anyone when they grow enthusiastic about something I dislike, but I trusted her fully.

We stepped out into the cool morning under the calm sun and walked along the street holding hands. We took a bus to Dongdaegu station and then transferred and took another north towards the mountains at the top of the city. During my time in Daegu I’d merely stared at the mountains, thinking of them as walls holding me prisoner in this awful place. I’d long since stopped thinking the beauty they might have held.

We stepped off the bus among smaller, older buildings on a steep road. Old people milled about in North Face gear, marching up towards the tree line. Everyone was dressed as though they were ready to climb Everest. Kelly and I stood out in our shorts and t-shirts and sneakers. People stared at us but we didn’t care. We were both smiling, lost in each other and in the fresh air that clouded the mountain.

Find the angry dog

The dying houseplant
The noncommittal monosyllabic babbling idiots having a tailgate party
In your first chakra

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