My first spiritual teacher, Oscar Ichazo, died this past week. He started the school of Arica, and taught a body of knowlege about what it is to be human: mystical traditions he learned from his far flung travels, both inside and out. He provided a family as I took my first steps on the Fool’s Journey out of Santa Cruz in 1976. I bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii and stepped into the void.
I got word of Oscar’s passing from Chuck. He’s a Christian cowboy, lives in Texas with a Christian wife, a fine ranch and a lot of dogs. He has grace and a lion’s heart, and can flat spin a yarn. He can carry a city on his back and never say more than, “if I get tired, we can always take the truck.”
I called Kent, whom I adore, his PhDness and his erudite humor. I talked with Shannon, our lady, who called me back and left a message that she loved me.
I texted Laurel who said she’d say a prayer. I called Annie, and started to leave the message that Oscar had died, but thought she’d already know. She picked up and said, “How the hell would I know?” and we gabbed for nearly an hour.
Of all the Arica work, the Rainbow Light is still my favorite. Three months of ritual life: food, exercise, precise meditations, no sex or drugs. It was sparse. And for the most part, I loved it. The last night, before I began the meditation, Lynn, came into my room and offered me cannabis. I hesitated for a moment then smoked it and started the work.
I took a deep breath in, and exhaled the mantra. After a few chants, the universe said “I got this,” and for the next hour she breathed me and listened to the my voice repeat Aham Brahmasmi with every exhale. I’ve rarely experienced anything like it.
The literal translation, from my internet pokings, is I am Brahman, the absolute reality, the supreme existence.
I miss the Holy Work: rituals with candles and chanting. When we had a room full of people and everyone chanted OM, I was home. It filled me inside, from top to bottom and made my space a better place.
Since becoming Covid19 sequestered with my wife, a truely magnificent woman, I found a recording on Spotify, that has brought me great joy. Tibetan monks chant OM and AHH in unison. It’s accompanied by a strong cast of synth, and when I sit and sing along, leave all the news behind, I am in the company of strangers, feeling bigger than this body.
I feel the OMs up and down my body, and the Ahhh into the greater space where it seems to collect other sounds, as a harmonic appears, that wasn’t there before.
If you’ve never done this stuff, it might seem weird or down right wrong, so it may not be for you. But if you want to trade in the news for a bit of inside time, close your eyes, and with ear buds in, listen to the monks start the song. If you’re inclined, sing along. I’ve even done it in the living room with my wife, our son, his lady, and our four year old grand daughter.
When I’m done, I transition back to my life here and now, with a song that brings Chuck to mind, called Lonesome Rider, by Alex Cortiz; a twangy tune that moves my dogs.