I had a series of useless, jerkoff jobs while I was married to Echota, my third wife. The most significant was the first, which set me on a course of spiritual discovery. The job was a six-month contract as a technical writer/editor for the Post Office Department.
Like the armed forces, the Post Office Department has a school system for its executives.
This system is satellited onto the University of Oklahoma, which made the PO a good deal on some dorm buildings it had overbuilt.
The dorms were X-shaped highrises, not unlike the ones Howard Roark blew up in The Fountainhead. There was a lot of room in these dorms, and I had a private office, with its own bathroom, connected to an empty room on the other side.
Very soon it became clear to the Post Office people that I was not on their wavelength. They weren't comfortable with the fact that I kicked off my shoes and padded around in moccasins. But what really got them was my tie, or lack thereof.
At that time it was generally accepted, or I thought it was, that a turtleneck sweater was the equivalent of a shirt and tie. Not at the Post Office Department. From army days I was used to unequivocal candor from my superiors. If someone had come down the hall and said, "Hey, Watson, the deal here is you wear a tie," I would have bought one.
Instead I found in my in-basket a memo, dated months prior, which recorded the minutes of a meeting of some management council at which it had been moved, seconded, and carried, that everyone in an executive position should wear a tie.
I puzzled over this for a bit and it occurred to me that, cheesy as it seemed, it might be someone's oblique way of telling me to conform. I went to my boss's office and asked about it. He was a pretty good guy, a young Ph.D. in history who couldn't find a teaching job, but had latched onto this convenient boondoggle.
If my office was good, his was magnificent. Out on one end of an arm of the X, big windows on three sides, and about the size of my apartment.
"Yes," he said, "I'm pretty sure a copy of that memo was put in every in-basket on the floor as a means of telling you to wear a tie."
"Okay," I said, "come payday I'll buy a tie." I got up and left his
office. Payday was two weeks off, but true to my word, I bought one on payday. In the deplorable fashion of the time it looked like a kite made of wallpaper.
They may have noticed that I wore the same one every day, that I left it on the handle of the door to my office when I left the building--
including for lunch--and that when I departed their employ, six months
later, it was still hanging there. In the meantime though, I padded
around their halls in moccasins, and my tie.
My job was to edit a manual called Introduction to the Zip Mail Translator--an optical scanner for zip codes that allowed mail to be
sorted automatically--into programmed instruction, in which each section was followed by a quiz, allowing the student to grade his or her
progress as he or she went along.
I was allowed six months for this task, and completed one-third of it by noon the first day. I was going to have to slow down.
To finish in time I needed to work for a half-hour every day. I would have to find something to do that looked productive while I sat there.
Anyone seated bolt upright at a desk, reading a hardback book, looks like he is working. The book can be pornography or science fiction or anything else, as long as the lurid dust jacket is laid aside. And there was a library in the building.
A week after I started reading my way through the library, a dust jacket in the window of a bookstore on Campus Corner caught my eye. It was the strange Rene Magritte-like, American Indian influenced cover of Carlos Castaneda's A Separate Reality.
Being now among the employed, I went in and bought it.
The book fascinated me. Over the next two days I read the story of the Peruvian anthropology student and the Yaqui brujo.
Monday I went back and bought the first book, Conversations With Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.
In the following week I read them both again. I'd never been
particularly interested in Indian "medicine" before, but this stuff caught me, perhaps as much for the beauty of his descriptions of the desert as anything else.
But, also, Don Juan, the old Yaqui brujo, called his teachings "The Warrior's Way". Having been a warrior, having loved the life, that appealed to me.
I bought a copy of Journey to Ixtlan, the latest book in the series.
By then the PO Feds were giving me a wide berth, and I read them in total isolation.
For me Ixtlan is the key book in the series. In it Castaneda says that the purpose of the "power plants", peyote and Jimpson Weed, was to wake the apprentice from the torpor of normal human thought, to, as so many sergeants have phrased it so eloquently, "Pull your head out of your ass!"
I immediately saw the value of the disciplines; lose self-importance, erase personal history, use death as an advisor, and accept responsibility for your own acts. There's much more, but it's
I had become aware in Vietnam that the clockwork model of the universe we are taught in school was inadequate to explain what happened there. Vietnam is a haunted place where I found it impossible to deny the presence of spirits, or of synchronicity, or precognition.
As a pattern emerged in the teachings I began to wonder if it might not be possible to isolate them from the descriptions of the scenery and Carlos' neuroses. I began by typing up the instructional passages and cutting them into paragraph strips, to see if the teachings alone could be assembled into a coherent narrative.
I now had my real project. I'd come in of a morning, put on my tie and force myself to deal with programmed instruction for half an hour. Then I'd read Castaneda for a while, underlining the relevant passages. Once I'd underlined the instructional passages in the first three books I started typing them out. I could have Xeroxed them, but I wanted the memory practice of actually typing the words.
Sorting them afterward was the critical task. Don Juan just talked to Carlos on subjects as they arose in their rambles in the desert, on the night roads of Mexico, in Don Juan's shack.
Tales of Power came out and expanded the scope of my work.
Sometimes something he said in one book would relate to a passage in another book, and in my sorcerer's manual--for that is what it became--would fit into a complete chapter on, say, "Accepting
Responsibility For Your Own Acts."
Much of it made perfect sense to me, and much of it seemed to be gibberish. Some of the gibberish cleared up after several readings, but much did not. There were many topics I was confused on; seeing, the allies, how Don Juan made Carlos' car disappear under a hat. Some of the time I was relating passages that made no sense to other passages that made no sense, fitting them together in ways dictated by their internal relationships.
Once I'd sorted the strips I taped them down and read them through several times, moving strips as seemed appropriate. Then I retyped them all over again into the completed book.
One day, when I was almost finished, I picked up a copy of Psychology Today with an article on Sufism by Idries Shah. The terminology was new, but the concepts had become very familiar over the past few weeks.
So while editing the last of the sorcerer's manual I bought some books on Sufism; Idries Shah's book introducing the tradition, a book of Sufi stories, some of Rumi's poetry. It was great stuff.
And I began to see the confluence between what Castaneda
called ally spirits, the Sufis called djinn or genies, Christianity
called angels and demons, and Jungian psychology calls archetypes.
At that point I thought it might be helpful to compare Castaneda's work with books on other Indian medicine men, so I bought and read Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, and Black Elk Speaks.
Their vision of the medicine man's life was very different from Castaneda's. From the beginning there has been a controversy, the poles of which are that everything Castaneda has written is literally true, and the other, that he sat in the UCLA library and made it all up.
A major clue is that Castaneda's spirit animal is the coyote, the
Trickster. I think his trick is to speak in metaphor, but as though the metaphor exists in physical space.
The Japanese martial arts talk about the hara or center, just below the navel. When one is centered at the hara one can sense ki, the flowing vital force of the universe, and use this flow to defeat one's opponent. Castaneda says that at the center of the will, located just below the navel, a bunch of long fibers emerge with which one can touch anything one wants. Same idea, concrete metaphor.
But in truth what gives power is not precise metaphor, but practice.
I started doing some of the Don Juan exercises. The
first was what Castaneda calls dreaming, also called lucid dreaming, in
that one is fully awake in the dream state, and can manipulate it at
He has a scene in which he dreams of going into a local diner near the UCLA campus. It's about three in the morning. One of the local characters is there drinking coffee when Castaneda enters, invisible in his dream body.
This guy is one of those slightly deranged pseudo-intellectuals who hang around every campus. He sees Castaneda's dream body, or at any rate he sees something, because he gets up and leaves the place, and after that, when he encounters Castaneda, he flees the scene.
The implications of this are pretty stupendous. Our consciousness is not tied to our bodies. To put it another way, when you're thinking about someplace other than where you've parked your body, that's where you are.
But, I didn't remember my dreams, much less have conscious control over them.
Maybe, I thought, what I do when I write fiction is guided dreaming. I project myself into the consciousness of an imaginary protagonist, and experience his life for a while.
I kept a dream journal so I would remember my dreams.
Results were spotty. I have a difficult time trying to read my own
writing under the best of circumstances; notes written while half asleep were hard to read, and frequently made no sense.
I also followed the first steps in what Don Juan called Setting Up Dreaming, which was to try to find my hands in my dreams.
The idea is that if you can do that simple thing, while dreaming, you
are well on your way to conscious control. It took several weeks to
accomplish, but finally I found my huge cartoon dream hands, rather like the Incredible Hulk's. But I never got to the stage where I was
regularly wandering in strange new lands in my dreams.
In my best lucid dream I willed myself to my parents' house at three in the morning. I found my mother sitting in her robe, on the couch, drawn up in a worried knot. I put my dream arm around her shoulder.
When I asked her about it later she confirmed that she had been up at that hour. I didn't ask her if she'd felt my arm. She worried about me too much as it was.
I didn't pursue dreaming beyond that. It didn't come easily to me, as it does to some people.
In his books Castaneda divides sorcerers into two kinds; Dreamers, and Stalkers, who derive their power from recollecting every detail of their lives, which is what I'm doing now.
I think writers, most artists, are sorcerers. They have a
Vision, and they must convey it. Writers can also be separated into
those who work purely from the imagination and those who work from
memory, Dreamers and Stalkers.
Another Don Juan project was to capture an ally spirit.
The ally, as defined by Don Juan is much like the djinn of the Arabian Nights. The way Castaneda describes capturing an ally is also similar to the vision quest undertaken by Plains Indians.
In Castaneda's system one goes alone into the mountains. There is an elaborate ritual, which I will spare you, but when the spirit comes, the apprentice must grab it, and hold it. The ally's power will pass to him and make him a brujo.
The Plains Indian version is somewhere between that and a Bar Mitzvah. When a young boy reaches thirteen or fourteen the medicine man takes him into the wilderness and leaves him for four days, without food. I'm not clear whether he has water or not, is allowed to sleep or not, tends a fire or not. This probably varies from tribe to tribe, and shaman to shaman. But the boy is to receive a vision, which he will use to guide the rest of his life.
Friends who have attended the Army Ranger School, where students routinely patrol for three or four days on one days rations, and little or no sleep, speak of hallucinations as a normal part of the
day's experience. Hallucinations are to be expected from starvation and lack of sleep, and if one so expects, he will hallucinate a vision that will reveal his subconscious motivations.
Once I had learned the instructions for capturing an ally I went out to get one of my own.
It's pretty flat throughout most of Central Oklahoma, flat and dusty, big sky, great sunsets. But there are some small outcroppings of mountains. Surveying what was available I decided on the Wichita
Mountain Wildlife Refuge, near Lawton. For one thing the Wichitas were an old Indian medicine ground.
So, early on a Saturday morning, I turned my Mustang toward Lawton, and the Wichitas.
The Wichitas are home to a large herd of American bison, the buffalo that Buffalo Bill, and his fellow hunters, almost exterminated. Fourteen buffalo were re-introduced there during the Thirties from the Bronx Zoo; this herd was descended from those.
All over the park there are signs telling tourists not to approach or pet the buffalo, and every year a tourist or his Buick gets gored.
I parked the Mustang, got out my old jungle rucksack with poncho, poncho liner, and two one-gallon jugs of water. I moved south into the mountains and used Castaneda's instructions to find my spot. It was on an outcropping overlooking a beautiful valley. Even though it was in the part of the park where tourists are allowed, it was over the hill and far from the trails. Occasionally I could hear people talking. But I didn't see anyone.
Then I heard a long, high whistling shriek overhead, followed by a huge crashing explosion. The Wichita Wildlife Preserve is adjacent to Ft. Sill, the artillery center. I had camped next to an artillery range. Then another roar entered my hearing, more familiar this time. Jets, fast movers, jets and the crash of 500-pound bombs. The Air Force had a range out there too.
I had envisioned an afternoon of quiet contemplation, followed by a night of looking into my subconscious, but this wasn't it. Or maybe it was.
I spent the night, fasting, and hiked out the next day. Even though the artillery and bombing died out after five o'clock, and there were no more voices, no visions came and no spectral beings lurched from the brush to confront me.
I was back in my office Monday, much more alone than I had been in the Wichitas. By that time I was a pariah to the Post Office schools system, something that I--if I had thought about it at all--would have taken as a compliment.
In my readings of other mystical systems I had come to see that Don Juan's sorcerers viewed much that our culture places in our heads as outside in the landscape. The ally spirits were simply projections of our neuroses, which once recognized and understood, can be reversed and become helpers.
An incident, which confirmed this belief, came toward the end of the week. I called my friend Shelley Hargis to invite her to lunch. She couldn't make it.
I had met Shelley on my first acid trip, and had thought her all but unbearably beautiful, the type of long legged blonde ditz who makes my heart flip. I had known her for years now, and never been more than a friend, but I had nursed a yen for her all that time.
Suddenly I found myself consumed with resentment because she had never jumped my bones. It didn't last long. In my isolation, in light of the fact that she had been a dear and loving friend for years, I could see that this resentment was foolish and misplaced. She didn't owe it to me to fuck me.
Besides, I had known the worthless, motorcycle-riding, dope-dealing, cruel and careless shitheads she did fall in love with, and, even for her sweet love, I wouldn't have been one of those guys.
So my resentment was misplaced. After careful consideration I realized it was always misplaced. I had resented my mother, and father, and stepfather, and various wives and sweethearts, and many other people, and many other things, and there was never a time or place where that resentment was justified, or healthy, or useful.
From that day forward, when feelings of resentment arose, I knew to set them aside, that situations were to be handled dispassionately, not for being overwhelmed by a foolish conceit.
As soon as possible I got back to the Wichitas. I had to wait for a four-day weekend. Echota, who was mostly Hungarian, partly Choctaw, and pathologically jealous, strangely never objected to these activities.
The first holiday weekend I was back with my poncho, poncho liner, and potable water. I started my vigil. Nothing came that night, but the next morning I got a very clear vision of a '66 Mustang, so I hiked back out, got in it, and drove away.
An old buffalo bull gave me a very hard look as I walked out.
I obviously wasn't far enough along to capture an ally in the Castaneda way. Later though I remembered the summer of my twelfth year, which I spent on my grandparents' farm. My chore there had been to mow their huge lawn with a push mower.
One afternoon I took a break from mowing. I lay back under a tree and watched huge cumulo-nimbus clouds drifting above. Gradually they resolved themselves into canyons and bluffs of cloud, and I was riding in a buckskin brigade of cavalry, blue pants with a yellow stripe and boots, buckskin jackets and white hats. We rode in loose formation. It was the same feeling I got twelve years later when I earned my beret.
That had been my vision and my quest. I had achieved it, lived it through, and now it was over. I needed another.
In the Castaneda system two brujos are required to bring an apprentice into the sorcerer's world. A teacher is required, as Don Juan was for Carlos. But also a benefactor, another sorcerer who will open the student's mind to the other world.
I have always learned from books, so I thought of Castaneda himself as my teacher. I assumed that when my benefactor appeared he would be a Choctaw medicine man, or some guy in a saffron robe, like the Swami Muktananda, who had come through Oklahoma City, and initiated several people into kriya yoga, through the Lotus Center.
My friend Claire Feld, who, along with her husband Izzy, owned and operated the Heart Chakra Restaurant, had turned me on to the Lotus Center.
I discovered the Heart Chakra during the time, before Echota, after Peggy, my second wife, and I split up, a very black time for me.
The day I met Izzy, there was a truck unloading kitchen equipment, tables, and chairs, in a strip mall on the way to campus. I looked into the storefront and found a strange little dude setting up a health food restaurant. He looked like all three of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers rolled into one gnomish explosion of electric energy.
I introduced myself. We shook hands. We liked each other.
He said I should come back later, and meet his wife. A few days later I dropped in again. A screaming freak of a waiter said I'd find Claire in the kitchen.
There I found a beautiful women, up to her elbows in bread dough. Dark and intense, she had a lean, intelligent face, and a quick smile. She wore jeans and a Mexican wedding shirt, her long, wiry, dark hair gathered into a ponytail.
It was her dark, infinite eyes that held me. She was in a state of grace. More than that. She was a bronc-buster on a beam of light.
During all the madness that went on after Peggy I was an habitué‚ of the Heart Chakra. Sometimes their kids would be there, a seven-year-old dark, wiry boy with a tangle of curls and Claire's eyes, and twin girls, about four, who always seemed to be wiping their noses and clinging to the legs of Claire's jeans.
It was Claire who told me about the Lotus Center. There was a guru of sorts, named Audley Allison, a teacher of kriya yoga, who held forth in the basement of the YMCA in Oklahoma City, on Wednesday nights.
Audley was a peculiarly Okie sort of guru. He had become a millionaire in his thirties, selling tombstones. He had then gone to
India to study meditation, and returned to Oklahoma to teach it. He
wore a saffron sport coat.
He taught in a huge, windowless room with a low ceiling, studded with square support columns, in the basement of the Y. His audience, usually about two hundred people, was a strange crowd of earnest hippies, seated on folding chairs.
Returning from my first trip to the Lotus Center, Claire and I and some others sat cross-legged in the back of her VW van. She asked me how I'd liked the meeting. I'd liked it a lot.
"You think Audley's a pretty high vibe dude, huh?"
I agreed that he was.
But, on subsequent visits, I realized that, high vibe dude or no, Audley wasn't my high vibe dude. Enlightened he might be, but the guy was a tombstone salesman. I was looking for someone to open the doors of perception, and it wasn't going to be Audley.
At the same time I was beginning to see the downside of the sorcerer's life. A cold and lonely existence, it seemed to me.
But, from Castaneda I had learned the power of life lived as metaphor. Magical ritual is metaphor in action. Perception is altered by faith, whether in magic, science, or God, to become self-fulfilling prophesy. Magical ceremony, expressed as a prayer, rather than a spell, subordinate to the perceived will of God, is religion.
But when you accept religion, even as metaphor, it immediately blooms into much more. Infinitely more.
I also saw that, if the Castaneda metaphor was cold and lonely, I already had one that was not. If you stripped two millennia of politics and terrorism from the story of Jesus, then you had a metaphor to live by.
Even as an unbeliever I had decided that since I was a book person, and the Bible was the primary document of Western Civilization, I ought to read it. And I had, straight through like a novel, four times. Taken as a whole, leaving aside the hellfire and brimstone, that mad, sweeping, powerful document leaves one in awe of God, not in fear.
I began to see that original sin was judgment, the second-guessing of God, that salvation lay in maintaining the intellect, but forgoing condemnation.
Castaneda says a man can go further than sorcery. He can learn to see. I saw he could go further than that. He could accept, and find glory in it.
I could see that, but I couldn't do it.
There weren't very many people I could talk to about this stuff.
Echota's universe was her family, sex, substance abuse, literature, and
my, at that point nonexistent, perfidy. My hippie friends were in awe of
the universe, but not analytical about it. I didn't know if it was too
deep or too crazy, but whatever it was, I only had one person to share
Beatrice Turner was my oldest active friend, and she was a born-again Christian. We had met in a writing class when I was nineteen and she was twenty. She was so bright and alive that somehow I found myself having coffee with her, even though she was married, pregnant, and a Christian.
We kept our friendship going through undergraduate days, the Army and Vietnam, four Purple Hearts, three marriages, and grad school, on my part; a mediocre to lousy marriage, two children, and a lot of strange jobs in Christian businesses on hers.
Once I picked her up for lunch at a Christian bookstore where she worked. When we returned, as soon as I left, the lady manager said, "Stay away from that guy! He's trouble."
We laughed about it later.
Bea was not your usual Okie born-again. For one thing she was from Westport, Connecticut. Bea's teenage rebellion found its foci in born-again Christianity and quarter horses. She came to Oklahoma for college, because that's where the quarter horses were.
My own marriages were so bad that I am in awe of a good one. I kept it platonic all those years, actually about thirteen years, until Wilton Turner blew his law practice, gambled away their money, cheated on Bea, and left her.
But, after Peggy left me, I hit on just about everybody. One evening I paid a call on Beatrice and found her blue. It was her birthday, and she was alone. Since I hadn't brought a present I laid her on her living room floor, being careful to take my time and do it right.
She paid me a wonderful compliment, a breathless, "I never felt like that before in my life." But she had only been with Wilton. Neither of us considered the other a suitable mate, but for about fifteen years we were lovers when neither was seriously involved. When we were, we lunched.
It was she who told me that "sheol" was the Aramaic word for the burning garbage pit outside Jerusalem, that when Jesus talked about Hell he was using that as a metaphor. I wondered what 2,000 years of jackleg preachers would have done with the image, if he'd said sin would send you up shit creek, without a paddle.
In the midst of my spiritual crisis, I took her to another of our famous lunches. It was a low period with Echota, with whom I was quarrelling badly. I was in crisis about my writing. I hadn't sold anything for five years, and considered that book a horrible botch.
She said, "I have someone you should meet." The guy was a radio preacher on the gospel station where she sold advertising. He was also a former first sergeant of paratroop infantry. I wasn't much interested in the radio preacher part, but I'm always up to meet a current or former paratrooper. We set up a lunch.
We met in a little restaurant in far Northwest Oklahoma City. A number of fundamentalist churches have staked that area as their own. I thought of all fundamentalist churches as judgmental and life denying, but I trusted Bea and went anyway. The Reverend Jake Lindsay was an enormous man, tough, but with a kind expression. We quickly went through our war experiences. He had been in charge of a mine-clearing detail on major highways in I Corps. Not as glamorous as what I did, but at least as dangerous, probably more so.
He'd been raised in a churchgoing home, but had been a wild kid, a drinker, brawler, and compulsive womanizer.
He'd rediscovered religion when his young son lay dying of pneumonia. Jake had not prayed since he'd been forced to in high school. But he prayed on his knees for eleven hours for his son to recover. He promised to give his life to Jesus if the baby lived, and through all his wildness he had been a man of his word.
The boy lived. Jake quit drinking entirely, immediately. He quit
cursing. Then he started preaching to the troops, which is against army regulations. It soon became apparent he would have to leave the army. He bagged a seventeen-year career, two-and-a-half years short of retirement, and became an Assembly of God preacher.
I found myself telling it all, my despair over my marriage to Echota, and her perpetual jealousy, my despair over my stalled career, my despair over my current meaningless and demeaning job.
Then I told him about my Castaneda studies and the conclusions I had reached about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as metaphor, versus the frightening beliefs and horrible actions of the Christian church.
He gave me a most piercing look. "M'frin, you look like
somebody standin' own the end of a divin' board, lookin' at the water,
wonderin' if it's warm enough ta swim. Come own in, frin, the water's
Something strange, stiff, and intransigent went out of me and I started to cry in a public restaurant, with a few people still eating lunch. I was filled with a tremendous sense of peace. I felt I had never had a home, or known a home, but somehow, in that restaurant, I had come home.
Jake's church was not one of those dour places that didn't allow music, or women to wear make-up. "Y'all keep wearin' that make up," he bawled from the pulpit one Sunday morning, "Gawd wonts you ta look purty."
He stood, in a plaid three-piece western cut suit and alligator cowboy boots, six-three, maybe 220-225, rock solid, face like forty miles of bad road, and a ten-pound leather-bound Bible in his hand that he slammed into his other hand for emphasis, red lights from the Peavey amps of a 23-piece celestial rock'n'roll band blinking in the background.
"Oh, m'frins! Sometahms Ah do not thank we put sufficient forethought into our undertakin's. Now, Ah know mahse'f that AH'M THE TYPA DUUUDE that when Ah git OWNTA SOMETHIN' Ah just wonta put mah head down and CHA-HORGE! GA-LOREH TA GAWD AN' KEEP OWNNN TRUCKIN'!"
It was a tongue-talking church, a shouting church, a Holy Roller church.
But I couldn't cut loose like they did. That music would be blasting and everybody leaping and shouting, and I just sat there, frozen, like an intellectual.
I decided that if I could kiss the Swami Muktananda's empty house shoes, as I had at a gathering at my friend Zork's house, then I could participate fully in Jake's church.
The next time he called for those who were sore and heavy-laden to come to the altar rail, I did it. There were a lot of us and I stood a way back from the rail as he went from one to the next. He laid his hand on them and spoke a few words.
I was standing there, waiting to go to the rail, when this
feverish-looking little wren of a woman came out of the congregation, slipped her arm in mine, and said, "I don't know what this means, but the Lord just told me to tell you, you're going to write that book."
I was so surprised I went into shock. I knew what she meant. Not this book or the next, but the last one I'll ever do.
I went to the rail with chills running all over my body, dazed.
Jake said, "I never thought I'd see Bill Watson at this rail. Okay,
dude, spit it out!"
A long stream of Swahili or Urdu or maybe just nonsense syllables came out of my mouth.
When I told Bea about it later she didn't think it was any big deal. She'd seen teeth miraculously filled in Jake Lindsay's church.
I didn't stick with the Assembly of God, or even organized Christianity. They see their religion as a blueprint, and I think it's poetry. But since then I've used the teachings of Jesus, and Native American spirituality, as a sort of binocular vision, slipping between to a feeling beyond words.
In the end it doesn't matter what path works for you. As Don Juan says, any path with a heart will give you peace, will give you love, will give you joy.