Denver Airport, again.
This place is close to everything, as the owl flies. And who are we kidding: that’s by design.
I’m sitting in a rented Prius a mile from the tectonic circus tents that shelter the terminal. In the holding lot. You park and wait for your loved ones to text from the tarmac. There is nothing out here except long, low piles of dirt and the first horse of the apocalypse. Today the sky is huge as always, even though a layer of ash hangs up under the flatbottom clouds. The fire in C-Springs is still burning. And Jayashree is chanting the Heart Sutra in the back of my mind.
My brother is in-bound from the west coast. We’re here for a funeral, for the reckoning of a dried-up estate, to pay respects to the rubble of three leveled homes, and to affirm love for everyone that’s left.
Avis power-washed the never-rented Prius after I declined creepy efforts to get me “in to something a little more comfortable” (like… a Tahoe), but there’s still a veneer of soot on the dash. There will be more ashes this weekend.
Two Denver airport visits—and seven blog posts—ago (God, I’ve written almost nothing in the 12 months since the shala incorporated), Denver TSA pulled me off the screening queue when scanners detected carbon dust. Two hours earlier, as we’d emptied my grandmother’s remains into the ground, the wind had dusted her over my body. In the TSA interrogation cube, one of the officers cried a little when I explained. Now I realize why she’d suspect mischief of a small white woman: off-profile people do bad things around here. I will explain after my brother and I see C-Springs.
This scenario – people from opposite coasts converging out here on these empty plains when the fit hits the shan – is a miniature of DARPA’s plan. The high desert is where America’s power-paranoia-mass destruction trifecta really runs amock, from the Manhattan Project, to N2S2, to Yucca Mountain. Let’s not be naïve. What’s up with this giant airport filled with freaky art in the middle of nowhere? Think Dick Cheney.
If your inner eye has come online, learn to drop your reception a quarter-mile into the earth below. Next time you lay over at DEN, tell me what you perceive here. (If you’ve been practicing daily for over 7 years and that weird Fourth Pada language makes no sense, well… I dunno… I can't understand that. If you don’t practice every day, don’t worry about getting weird like this. The default lifestyle of wilfing on electronic devices and running away from pain will keep your consciousness safely denatured. Vrittis are noise in the channel. They weave a choke-chain that's locked on manomaya kosha.)
Anyway. I would submit that there is a city out here. Underground. Maybe it's lined in something dense and thick – concrete, or something. Inside that, maybe it's almost air tight, like big bubbles trapped underground. Maybe there are some long spaces, and some cube-shaped spaces, quite full of stuff. Attempting to perceive in this direction makes my nose hairs prickle.
Approaching again with my logical-abstract mind (which used to react against the extending-sensing mind, and try to repress it), I'd note this is a good site. We're far removed from coastal missile targets, or the wandering survivors of any imagined apcalypse. As if America will ever need an underground command center like this. It won’t.
But maybe the big bunker’s existence is consolation for the officials who have to hold state secrets the rest of us will never hear. Secrets about nukes, UFO’s and local fluff, and the worst-case scenarios of climate change. Poor POTUS. It must be awful to spend your life scaling the political food chain and find at the top all those bizarre files and dirty laundry. How to hold power over such a moral void? The people most committed to the idea of civic decency end up with the job of knowing all about its inner fragility. Apparently, realizing that reality is fragile makes presidents want to build bunkers beneath the fruited plain.
DEN is so deadpan. Looking around, I gather that the myth committee consulted the end-of-the-world literature, or at least some phony psychics. Of the airport's many visual jokes, most known are the white terminal tents, which seem to be jutting every which way, constantly in motion. They evoke slabs of an iceberg, or earth crust, buckling upward from an explosion under the surface. They’re a direct reference to the Rocky Mountains – specifically, the Teton range 500 miles to the northwest — but the movement in them says cataclysm. It gets me in the gut (and stops my heart) every time. No matter what the big sky is doing above the DEN tent city, this circus is an awesome sight.
The funniest element—the one that takes the whole project just a shade too far—is the horse statue at the airport entrance, massive and rearing, with red, electric eyes. He's a menacing silhouette on the horizon, for miles. On the last glimpse as I speed by, his curled lips look more canine than equine; and the flared nostrils are so big I imagine folding my body into a knot and squiggling up them like a human sutra neti. Hey buddy; maybe this will help you clear your pingala and pipe down already.
The horse blends Seventh Seal with Blood Meridian so well that usually he fades into my background myth structures and I take him seriously—as predictive, maleific art. That’s when I miss the joke. But like everything else in 2012, the apocalypse narrative carries itself just a little too far, and then I see it for what it is. Another epic freakout. Maybe the Heart Sutra rhythm in my system creates a negative space in which the joke can be seen more clearly: in this way, meditating on emptiness might make some of my inherited cultural-political garbage a little bit transparent.
For me, the horse jumps the shark every time someone re-tells the story of how he killed his sculptor– something about the artist being crushed by the fall of a massive steel testicle. This is such a good piece of Kali Yuga kitsch. Bikram Choudry, and other minor avatars of Shiva, would be proud.
Maybe it seems to you like this ajna chakra perception stuff is the same kind of BS as my preacher’s-kid obsession with apocalypse. But there is a difference between intuition based on yoga, and "intuition" arising from unconscious buy-in to our culture’s big myths. The first kind of experience comes about in the central channel of my body. It drops in in through a hole on the far horizon of my visual perception, or sometimes through the back of the head, at the three-way junction of puzzle skullpieces. The hole on the front horizon frayed way open the last time I saw Pattabhi Jois – six weeks before he died – and I’m guessing it’s the place he and other mystics are looking when they seem to be only half in the physical world.
The second kind of experience – the one that arises before I remember the apocalypse is a collective joke—lives in the fear center: for me, that’s a line from the bottom left pit of the stomach, shooting up through the back of the heart, to the fold where my lizard brain knits up under the occiput. When the fear center lights up, an acid taste drops off the mercury in my top molars.
If some spiritual authority or politician were to control me, they would harness that line of the fear body. Taking advantage of a lifetime of buy-in to the end-of-the-world myth, they’d wire that line in to their political party or their conspiracy theory. Or merely to their in-group. Any us/them system. And they would do everything they could to take my central channel offline. The hungrier I got (for food, or approval, or whatever), the more trauma I experienced, the more brimstone that seemed to bubble up from below, the easier it would be to toss me around on that leash.
But here is something surprising. The more that I can normalize—and integrate—experiences in the central channel, the more grounded I am in the everyday world. The less I mystify, and get freaked out on, the shared stories and fears. And the funnier everything gets.
If knowing about the fragility of civic reality made me feel helpless –made me want to run off and build bunkers—than I’d rather be ignorant. But what if a bunch of us could actually get ok with the fact that we are fragile –that the whole reality we run on is fragile—and use that to become less helpless?