The Man Turned Inward – A Loose Screw

A Loose Screw


At the age of forty-five, Jorge Onslaught suddenly realized life was passing him by. His health was failing, his eyesight was slowly dimming. He had become preoccupied with death. Though he had no reason to feel this way, his strength seemed to wane, as if life was slipping from his grasp. His medical practitioner, Dr. Degas, assured him that for a man his age, other than the fatigue that consumed him daily, he was in the pink of health. All the tests proved normal and there was nothing medically wrong with him.

Even Dr. Rosen, the psychiatrist that Degas had referred him to, gave the man a clean bill of health. This to the point of suggesting that perhaps it was a loose screw that was at the root of the man’s condition. But nothing definite could be concluded, so that the Doctor, along with reassuring the patient, sent a letter to the referring physician of the obvious—not only was this person healthy of mind, he was also imbued of an astute sense of self and a superb grasp of his place in life, something which very few of Dr. Rosen’s  patients could be said to possess.

With the preponderance of these facts in mind—and an innate predilection toward the extraordinary—the man logically decided to concern himself with other things. He immediately stopped looking to the medical profession for answers and began to look inside himself. Perhaps that loose screw the Doctor mentioned had fallen into some dark recess—a place where probing professionals were unable to penetrate. Perhaps their bewilderment was due not to a lack of cause, but rather to their inability to discover. So the man embarked upon a pilgrimage, a journey through the wilderness of the psyche to find the answer.

He began exploring the realms of those spiritual gray-areas he had once feared to travel. Ignoring his former habit of applying a single approach to life’s complexity, he sought a cure somewhere beyond the reaches of the routine. He realized that things outside himself were not necessarily the absolute material truth, but a manifestation of his inner being. He peered beyond the apparent and saw something else—a window open to a different reality, one that held new meaning. Leaving behind the beliefs of wounded faith, seeking to extract himself from the improbabilities of the physical world, the man turned inward.

Originally published on: Sep 15, 2017


Buddha’s Illusion

Buddha’s Illusion

(Monuments Rise from the Rubble)

Imagine many worlds; the wheel of life encircling | embracing the sun the moon and stars; lives past—and present  ::touch the ground and see the sky; connect | vibrations seek release; visions die in emptiness | light; and darkness.

I have found the middle way! spake Shakyamuni | to a willing crowd; ears hungering | years spent in self-punishment; deprivation—all a vanity! | the Enlightened path made clear; and this is how you do it.

Sit at rigorous attention | breathe and watch; eyes closed—the rhythm of life; compassion—have I mentioned compassion? for there lies the true path | The Way; right down the center | the Four Noble Truths; will lead the way to Understanding  ::and a third listened; and he illuminated the world | and the people learned; their bones broken—healed | and monks shared the wisdom; and taught—and this is how you do it.

::Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha asked the Buddha; but what did you see? | to come to this conclusion? | follow The Eightfold Path; but, what did you see?  ::they say silence speaks louder than words; true | a word spoken in haste proves the fool | the wise man leaves no shadow; and this is how it’s done.

Monuments rise from the rubble; statues bless the poor | garlands and incense; rice wine, sake and soju | money; fake, printed paper | and prayers; lots of prayers | monks beg along devoted avenues | a bowl for rice and saffron robes; a meager existence | the cost of grasping the Inner Light; Nirvana | the poor shall be blessed, for their’s is the Kingdom; it’s been said—and this is how it’s done.

The illusory nature of reality; within our reach—if only it were so | why am I who I am; and not another soul? | of all the billions on this earth; why are you; you? | the many worlds Buddha saw; the images of eternity | Socrates put it best; we practice philosophy to prepare for dying | Jesus spoke; the Kingdom of the Heavens is within you; isn’t it?—and this is how it’s done.

Old men die wise | a lifetime of suffering brought to submission  ::preach from the rooftops; no one’s getting older | but wiser? young men are told; women grow bolder | the power of the talisman is yours; Buddha’s Illusion, their triumph | control the mind; better skill at persuasion  ::Jesus ripens like a fig on the bough | the politics of state consumed by Gospel—govern by faith and pray for Armageddon; because it will only get worse | and that’s how you do it.

Corpses on the River Ganges

Corpses on the River Ganges

streams coalesce; levitate corpses | tunnels navigate conscious channels | bloated fetus floats in mercurial silica reflections | clean the Ganges with antiseptic; kill all the fish | and there you were bathing; drinking it all in

maternal patriarchs ride the caboose | lime and stone calcified gruel hedging bets on survival | fishing lines and clothespins hung out to dry; when all the money’s gone | and we’re too strung out for a ransom

in the courthouses of jurisprudence limousines chauffeur millionaires on drinking binges | President’s Port and Hennessy | inebriation in the aisles of Justice | hung up on red tape and graphite—get to go free

in soup kitchens and meth labs | on road trips to Reno | we heard the last of the errant mater pater entrepreneurs | too far above the summit to be concerned with the articles of faith | the doers of good works and the lame | the second act of the Apostles | written and sold to the bookmakers at the House of Poggio

lucre’s nickel-plated dimes spin on platforms | gendarmes just off the train from the Palais de la Cité | handcuffed and shackled irons and leggings; yoga pants and stirrups | lambs to the slaughter in woolen balaclava | dragged across Portland tiles and mop water; to the juggernaut | the High Priest of the Righteous—and the Law

suspect prescriptions go uncontested by local authorities in Trial of the Century | a pharmacist arrested while performing due diligence | in other headlines: the druggist prescribed the coke; parents plant bad seeds in children | medical cannabis drives dementia patients wild

seductions awaken in the night | ensnare the naïve in hospital beds; sent home prematurely | to cold water flats in Soho—uptown to Harlem—before the sonic boom of gentrification | eyes closed and pregnant | nostrils intoxicated by the smell of grease in hallways | just this side of Purgatory | fabricated crime scenes; doorways to the morgue | a doctor’s declaration precedes birth—Cause of Death: Poverty | corpses on the River Ganges | mission aborted


The Man Turned Inward – The Reincarnation of a Prehistoric Spiritual Man


The Reincarnation of a Prehistoric Spiritual Man

Under the circumstances in which he found himself, after a lifetime of extraneous activity of the psyche, and being then at that vulnerable middle age—given the opportunity to ask anything he desired (and I swear this is true), any thinking man would have asked for the very same thing.


From the time he was a little boy Jorge Onslaught had prayed to God—the one we pray to deep in the night; free from the influence of religion. As a youth he might have simply asked for better grades, or to get along with his brother and sister, to learn to ride his bicycle. But now, with the tumult of advancing age on him, he found himself confronted with a larger issue.

It was not long after his many quarrels with the High Priests of Medicine, in a moment of despair, he imagined a voice in his intellect petitioning him to make a request. “Anything,” the thought assured him—reminding him of the wise man whose request for “wisdom” made him the marvel of his age. Likening himself to the reincarnation of a prehistoric spiritual man, he seized the moment and made his request.

But what he asked for was something quite different: What he asked for was not Wisdom, but Understanding. For though Wisdom is the ability to apply Knowledge, Understanding is the ability to answer the question Why? And wouldn’t it seem that if one possessed that most illusive condition of the intellect, being able to absolve the shadowy arena of Doubt, then everything else should follow?

Now, I’m not speaking of understanding how-things-work but, rather, the ability to understand why-things-are. Why it is that we dash so madly through life, with the berserk ambition of mad dogs, only to have death follow with such rhythmic ease? Why, even in the confines of undying faith, we are not spared the pain that death of a loved one brings? Why the belief that with death one goes to a ‘better place’ doesn’t lessen the fear of dying? And why those convinced of a resurrection hang on to this life with such tenacity, dreading the inevitable when death is at their doorstep?

These questions had always lingered on his mind, perplexing him, causing him to live life in a confused uncertainty. And it was not until his “prayer” was answered that he felt some measure of relief.

But how can such a “prayer” be answered, you ask? And aren’t these questions humanity has battled throughout history, filling tomes with great spiritual mandates and directives, rules and rhetoric to answer the doubts of even the most ignorant? One would think so. But as I tell you (and again, it is true) those very questions that once formed stubborn clouds on his horizon soon began to dissipate like a summer rainstorm blown out to sea.

It was not the answers that were perplexing, he realized, but the questions. The questions could not be answered, so why ask them? Relieving himself of that burden, he immediately found one could leave life for the living instead of clinging to the words and thoughts and deeds of the dead.
His request was granted.

But how can one be sure that this was an answer to a prayer and not just some metaphysical coincidence? Again you question! Because, upon awaking one day (although all this did not happen overnight, but gradually. Only it was upon awaking on that particular day that it became clear) everything he once believed now took on an air of the absurd. The things he’d once held sacred, even revered, suddenly became primal, given to the realm of idiocy. He came to understand that all this time he’d been duped. The very beliefs that once suspended him in their web of ignorance were a trap from which he awoke.


The Man Turned Inward – The Bleeding Placenta Eyes of the Womb


The Bleeding Placenta Eyes of the Womb


At this point it would be fitting to make this single fact clear: With “Understanding” comes a price. Yes, by having unraveled the threads of logic and reason, the very understanding he’d gained now unwittingly caused him to become a child as to perception. He began looking at life in the raw, through what could only be described as the bleeding placenta eyes of the womb. He was left to grope. In fact, he had to re-teach himself to perform as simple a function as breathing deep his surroundings.

All his life Jorge Onslaught had enveloped himself in a shroud that restricted his ability to feel the world around him. Everything triggered rejection. The sight of naked women caused him shame—a repression of sexuality. A sky, darkened by overcast, portended doom. A large uncontrolled body of water threatened death by drowning. Trees blighted by drought reminded him of the firestorms of holocaust and destruction. The earth poisoned by pesticides and lead, brought anxiety about his health. Why, even the food sold at market teemed with deadly bacteria. A campfire in the woods, or a backyard barbecue served only to remind him of parts per billions of hydrocarbons being spewed into the atmosphere. Everything seemed, in his eyes, to hasten death.

His response to these terrors was to incubate himself, cloister his life in a protective cocoon of fear, so rather than die quickly in the gladness and joy of life, he allowed himself to die slowly, agonized by the fear of his mortality, neurotically holding his breath against the “evils” of a world whose elements, despite his misgivings, have co-existed with humanity since the beginning of time.

So he made a list for himself of all the things he wished to accomplish with his new-found consciousness.

First, what he wanted was continuity. He had already made many drastic changes in his life. His trip to Americas. His Professorship. Now he had to make another, and this one would certainly be traumatic, for it entailed his separation from the world he knew. His relatives, his colleagues. But would the end be justified? Only time would tell.

But more than anything else, he needed to find personal freedom—the freedom to act and think as a man, and not as a child. To become what he wanted to become, and not what others would allow. For he knew now that freedom is something tasted, not with the mouth, but with the breath—one doesn’t speak of freedom, one inhales it.

He saw a vision of life that made absolute sense, though he was once blinded to it by the fears of convention. He found he was able to look into things simply, and reject any ideas colored by former inhibitions. To him it seemed people didn’t really understand the things they believed in, even though they were willing to die for those beliefs. He felt life had been a prison from which he finally found a release.

The Man Turned Inward – The Unspoken Condition of the Spirit


The Unspoken Condition of the Spirit


The sun felt good on his shoulders as he walked the open meadows of his home in Banyuls-sur-Mer at the foothills of the Pyrénées. His mind raced with thoughts that never seemed to end. Always examining, wondering, finding answers that were everywhere around him—obvious, despite the blurring dichotomy of the pseudo-intellectuals he had so avidly read throughout his life; who had sold their thoughts for profit instead of spiritual gain, having to come up with ever newer, fresher ideas to satisfy the constant hunger of the followers conscripted into their armies of hopelessness.

He felt he was being led into to a new way of understanding. There were clues everywhere. In every work that he read: Camus, Mann, Hesse, André Gide. He felt the yearning for knowing something that he felt he should already know, and it bothered him. Every night he’d come to a conclusion, and every morning he’d awake needing to confirm it. But it eluded him. He felt lost, but he was not afraid. He could no longer turn back to the childlike innocence of his former beliefs, though he was a child about Understanding.

Riding these dizzying heights of reason, he exercised his mind in a way he had never thought possible. Drawing conclusions, revising beliefs, allowing himself to be the child who questions all things, viewing them anew. He had become a man full of so many thoughts and ideas, he could no longer contain them in the pockets of his shirt, so he carried a rucksack that held the different articles of his dreams—a pencil, notepad and whatever book he happened to read at the time. A piece of bread and cheese, and a flask of port.

Along the summer lanes he’d walk, with his Van Gogh straw hat and a wooden cane fashioned from a stick found laying in some forgotten field. A blade of straw between his teeth.

“I have tasted the spiritual eternity!” Raising his arms to a sky the blue of summer, trees bordering a meadow bleached by the dry season, the grass beneath his feet yellowed for harvest, he shouted to the wind, “This is pure God—pure understanding!” Ah, that unspoken condition of the spirit. The transcendence of the mind to the astral plane of ideas.

As he bent down to scoop a handful of brook he stopped to think. “There is nothing like drinking ice-cold water from a stream.” He touched a finger to his chin, “But where have all the ice-cold waters gone?”

Maybe he was looking too deeply beyond the edges of reason. Perhaps he was merely escaping into madness. But to me, Jorge Onslaught had reached the point of genius few men attain.





When he walked the Earth, what was it the Buddha understood that enabled him to stand above the stature of Man and become a Spiritual being?

Simply put, spirituality is what we call the state of inner understanding. A spiritual man doesn’t have to prove his spiritual stature, it speaks for him. He has attained a state of calmness that comes natural, through understanding, or Enlightenment. As natural as we may find this state, it requires cultivation. For, just as we must attend to a flower after it has sprouted, we nurture Understanding, maintaining that state of transcendent consciousness, allowing a raised sense of being to bloom after it has taken root.

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? What was it the Buddha achieved that made him a spiritual guide to one-fourth of the human race?

In Siddhartha, Herman Hesse posed a question when the Brahman-turned-seeker explained to the Buddha why he could not become a follower. Siddhartha spoke to the Enlightened One, stating in a most reverent and entreating way, the following:

“I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha. . . You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! And–thus is my thought, oh exalted one. . . You will not be able to convey and say to anybody. . . in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment! The teachings of the enlightened Buddha contain much. . . But there is one thing which. . . these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands.” [italics added]

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? As the Buddha taught, only the one who has attained it knows.



%d bloggers like this: