TRACEY FLAGLER’S YOGA
FROM TRACEY FLAGLER – A SOUTH BEACH NOVEL BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
WITH PSEUDEPIGRAPHIC EXCERPT FROM OPRAH INTERVIEW WITH LORD KRISHNA
The evidence of birth is made more public than that of death; we see many more babies than we do corpses during our lifetimes. Medieval people made no bones about the public display of bones, for instance celebrating All Saints Day in ossuaries, but we moderns manage to keep the most obvious fact of death more or less private, hidden away in hospitals, morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries. Although I was not familiar with my neighbor Stacey Flagler, when I discovered her beautiful body decaying on her bed on Thanksgiving Day, lying there as if it were an offering to the gods of this world, I was profoundly affected.
I worked as an hospital orderly in my late teens, and I saw and handled several dead bodies during the course of my duties – I noticed that deaths came in bunches, shifting from one wing to another. Making money seemed to be the purpose of human life, so when I counted the pittance I received as pay, which was less than a dollar an hour, I told myself that I had better hurry up and become a millionaire before it was too late. But I was really in no hurry, and I soon forgot the corpses I had seen, for I believed in my heart that my own life would go on forever one way or another, that I had all the time in the world to do anything I wanted to. Now that I am well over the hill, so to speak, and feel myself slowing down and going to pot; now that my contemporaries, friends, and family members are dying off; now that my bank account is short by nearly a million dollars; – I confess that I have serious doubts about my perpetuity.
Indeed, I am moved to admit that my body will undoubtedly perish. As for my soul, I do not know what that might be other than the “I” that I refer to as mine, the elusive unity or apperception and phantom pilot of the ghost within my machine, a selfish mental field that will most likely perish along with its platform. The thought that my self is merely software, the notion that I am an epiphenomenal ghost that did not exist in the first place, is comforting when not appalling. If I were never born, then how could I ever die? Still the machine does not want to run down, wherefore I cling to this self-conscious life in between nothing and nothing.
Stacey Flagler let go of hers. She had a terrifying craving she could not satisfy, an inability to relax due to an insufferable energy impelling her frantically forward at all costs. Witness this small portion of her handwritten confession to Abraham, the psychic entity that she adopted from Esther Hicks and then channeled for her own consumption:
“I feel like I have never translated my desires into a recognizable life that others could identify with. And why do I want that? So I can relax. Then I would feel like I had succeeded. Success would make me relax, because that would be my joy, and I want to be an example of joy, to teach joy. If only I could relax and let joy and passion and well-being in. But if I relax and find relief, then I don’t believe anything will have meaning! I might as well not have a body. I want to have a specific meaning in this minute, and what I want that specific meaning to be something I asked for and created. I want to know that I am powerful and can create security while I’m here, security for me, Tracey, the human being. As I look back I have always been looking for security even though it doesn’t seem like it, the security of easy joy and of more and more joy. It has all been about finding and keeping joy, choosing love, and love choosing me. Nothing is wrong with me – I’ve actually been attempting for seven or eight years to create my own reality and to accomplish that on a certain scale would be the ultimate security. At the same time, I’ve always wondered if something was wrong with me, if I should abandon my search for joy, to give up my commitment to stability in a physical sense. I think that creating my own reality puts me at a disadvantage. I believe I am unsure of it because just being happy, focused on love, having fun, and feeling contented will not inspire me to be that productive. I work harder discontented. So what does security feel like? It feels like I have to change external things to be secure, so to be secure I have to be insecure, to move from insecurity to security. To be secure I have to focus on my personal preferences, focus on things that matter to me. What do I want security to feel like? What matters to me? Non-resistance, keeping my body and mind clear of resistance, being in a state of joyful grace. Having physical things to focus on here can bring me joy. But then I will transform into something non-physical, and so why do any of this at all? Why does any of this matter? I am to fulfill my reason for being by just being here and being on the leading edge and having my personal preferences, but how do I get in on it? What is it that I wish to experience in the meantime, until I am fulfilled? I want the relaxation and joy that allows me to focus. Why? What is the point of anything? Do I really believe the point of life is to focus on and obtain my personal preferences? Yes, I do, but I just don’t know what they are anymore, or if I can even handle what I’ve asked for, or why they continue to included alcohol and drugs when that is clearly self-destructive! I just want to connect, but then you say that I need to be so connected that they are irrelevant to my connection, and then I can feel the greatest joy. You say I can find that connection on my own. But I think I need a partner to relax. I feel I must have a reason to love, someone else to love besides myself, and then my problems would be solved. But I know from what you say, Abraham, that what I am really longing for is the connection to Source, to my inner being. But if I am looking for my source, which I had in the first place, then why did I come here to look for it? Why have these circumstances with all of the fear and worry and insecurity that goes along with them? What is the point, then? It just doesn’t make sense! “I want to love someone who loves me back in the same way and it is mutual and they see that potential too and they hold onto that potential.”
She had turned to the popular postmodern culture for advice, to the splendiferous effusions of Oprah Winfrey; to the contradictory conversations of Neale Donald Walsch with his super-egotistical god; to the pronouncements of Abraham channeled by Esther Hicks; to the big Secret that must be kept in order to be believed in instead of laughed at – small secrets are leaked from time to time to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. She was told that the purpose of life is to have joy, that death is just a myth, that everyone can create their own planets in a universe that loves them. Since she did not feel the joy and love, since the reality she wanted to create was not obtained at will, and since life had no specific meaning for her, she chose the myth, perchance to be incarnated on another planet if not reincarnated on this one.
The risks attending such a fatal leap are mortal indeed, and I was duly mortified by Stacey’s premature departure. She took too big of a chance, I thought; that is, I thought so until she contacted me from the so-called “Beyond” the other day, from that place referred to at funerals as the Better Place – more on that later. I thought she might not have taken her last life if she had fallen into the right hands. Not that I blamed Oprah, the new high priestess of the New Age, or the postmodern gurus she or her guest celebrities endorse, nor did I blame their crowd of sympathetic sycophants, for elevating Stacey’s expectations and then letting her down when she reached out to them and discovered they were too busy creating their own realities to attend to her desperate needs.
We like to believe that our social icons are really special, but we should realize that, in order to attract the average person and be orthodox and politically correct enough to be popular, one has to specialize in mediocrity to a certain extent. Attractive models are not famous for their brains but for the looks or power or money we would like to have. That is not to say that every model is superficial, or that the spiritual world is really deeper than the supposedly shallow material world. Stacey was confused by the supposed relationship of the spiritual and material; she thought she needed stuff or the million dollars to buy it in order to make matter and spirit one and the same; then she would supposedly be completely relaxed, well loved and joyful, but she preferred the spiritual over the material, and to that extent she was not on the wrong track, she just needed a better model to keep her train on the right track to joyful love and eternal bliss.
To that end, I mused after Stacey’s early end, Bhakti Yoga would have been a much better vehicle for her than the claptrap jalopies haphazardly slapped together from Sixties’ New Age leftovers. She was right: There was nothing wrong with her, at least not for wanting the security and joy of loving and being loved. Untold millions of people are spiritually dissatisfied: there is nothing abnormal about that. Stacey might have been able to tolerate and even love the world with her self in it this world if only Krishna had appeared on the Oprah show, as in the unauthorized depiction below, and Oprah had plugged the Bhagavad-Gita. The wheel has been turning for eons; it is a terrible waste of time trying to reinvent it.
Stacey would have loved Krishna, I opined, so much so that she might have blissfully devoted her every action to the Supreme Personality without consideration of worldly reward. Chanting Hare Krishna, singing praises, dancing and cooking delicious food would be fun. Krishna is playful, by the way, so she would have had some of the fun she yearned for. And she would not have to worry about piling up a bunch of stuff to be happy. On the other hand, loving obedience to authority might not be her cup of tea, although some of that would be useful on a part-time basis. She loved and hated the same men, was conflicted over her objective relationships: she wanted but at the same time rejected love objects. She had to continually tell herself how much she appreciated the little things of life, and I doubted if the big things she thought would gain her respect from others would be good enough for her. In fact, no particular thing or person seemed to be good enough for her. She wanted to be connected to the source of everything, to be at-one with the infinite, yet it is extremely difficult to love an abstraction. Wherefore I imagined a synthesis of Bhakti Yoga, or love yoga, and Raja Yoga, or mystical yoga, would have suited her best; she might do both at the same time. Karma Yoga, or productive work yoga, was out of the question, for she really did not want to work for things, and Jnana Yoga, or philosophical yoga, would probably have flown over her head, for she wanted to get to the point.
OPRAH INTERVIEW WITH KRISHNAPSEUDEPIGRAPHIC EXCERPT
OPRAH: Glad to have you on the show, Krishna.
KRISHNA: The pleasure is all mine, Oprah.
OPRAH: I have been reading about your pastimes. I see you made the National Inquirer again, just last week.
KRISHNA: Don’t believe every scandal you read. I like to have good, clean fun.
OPRAH: Clean fun? What do you mean?
KRISHNA: I always take plenty of soap with me.
OPRAH WINFREY: I understand that you like diary maids.
KRISHNA: I love them with my flute.
OPRAH: And you slay demons.
KRISHNA: That’s what they say.
OPRAH: How many lovers do you have?
KRISHNA: Billions if you count my many forms.
OPRAH: Wow! And you love them all back? How can you serve and be faithful to them all?
KRISNA: I can be everywhere at the same time.
OPRAH: It’s like television broadcasting?
KRISHNA: Sort of.
OPRAH: I feel blessed and graced with so many eyes on me, so many people adoring me. How do you feel?
OPRAH: Is that a feeling?
KRISHNA: It is your bliss if you are my devotee.
OPRAH: Bliss? Do people love you for the joy of it?
KRISHNA: Many of them do, especially my bhakti people.
OPRAH: And what is bhakti?
KRISHNA: Loving devotional service.
OPRAH: Why bhakti?
KRISHNA: Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the grinding wheel, the cycle of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge. The ultimate goal of bhakti yoga is to obtain a feeling of pure bliss.
OPRAH: Oh, yeah. Joy is the key word, right? People devoted to you feel splendiferous, feel blessed and graced all the time, true ? I mean they feel really good about themselves, experience a lot of joy.
KRISHNA: Well, yes, all of that and more, but that kind of joy is just the beginning. Bliss is the ultimate state, and is far better than what you call joy.
OPRAH: But isn’t bliss joy?
KRISHNA: By bliss I mean something similar to what some of your Stoic gurus called apathy.
OPRAH: Oh, no, that doesn’t sound good. It sounds depressing.
KRISHNA: Bliss is actually an indifferent feeling. It transcends good and evil feelings. My devotee is ultimately free from joy and depression and the dread of harm. She expects nothing. She is pure, just, impartial, devoid of fear, and could care less about profiting from the results of her action. She is most dear to me and to others, for she is not afraid of them nor are they afraid of her. She who does not rejoice, find fault, complain, or covet stuff, who is not interested in good and evil results, is most worthy of my love.
OPRAH: OK. I guess. Is there equality?
KRISNA: My beloved servant is equal-minded to friend or foe, the same in honor and dishonor, in cold and heat, in pain and pleasure. She is satisfied with whatever happens: she not anxious about what might or might not happen in future. Praise and blame are the same as far as she is concerned. She pretty much keeps her mouth shut because she is content and therefore does not have to talk much. She is blissful everywhere, and may be what you call homeless, for she does not need to live in the same place all the time. I am her home. Her heart, full of devotion to me, is secured by me.
OPRAH: But she must get mad sometimes.
KRISHNA: Of course. But again, my devotee who is free from enmity, well-disposed towards all creatures, merciful, wholly exempt from pride and selfishness, the same in pain and pleasure, patient of wrongs, contented, constantly devout, self-governed, firm in resolves, and whose mind and heart are fixed on me alone, is dearest to me.
OPRAH: Okay, but is she immortal?
KRISHNA: This religion as I explain it is the sacred ambrosia, the very religion of immortality. Those who come to me full of faith, intent on me above all others, and united to me by devotion, are my most beloved.
OPRAH: But what about people who don’t want to bow down to a personal god, don’t believe in things they can see, and think stuff is vulgar. What about those who can’t stand the thought of a definite god and want to love the unbounded and infinite being, the unseen?
KRISHNA: There are many ways to skin a cat.
OPRAH: Please. I love cats.
KRISHNA: I spoke figuratively so that your audience might better understand me. There are several ways to the same goal. Those who worship me as a person, with constant zeal, with the highest faith and minds placed on me as a person, are held in high esteem by me. But those who, with minds equal toward everything, with senses and organs restrained, and rejoicing in the good of all creatures, meditate on the inexhaustible, immovable, highest, incorruptible, difficult to contemplate, invisible, omnipresent, unthinkable, the witness, indemonstrable, shall also come unto me. Yet mind you that for those whose hearts are fixed on the unmanifested, the labor is greater because the path which is not manifest is with difficulty attained by corporeal beings. But for those who worship me, renouncing in me all their actions, regarding me as the supreme goal and meditating on me alone, if their thoughts are turned to me, O Oprah, I presently become the savior from this ocean of incarnations and death. Place, then, your heart on me, penetrate me with thy understanding, and you will undoubtedly dwell hereafter in me. But if you should be unable at once steadfastly to fix your heart and mind on me, strive then, O Oprah, to find me by constant practice in devotion. If after constant practice, you are still unable, follow me by actions performed for me; for by doing works for me you will attain perfection. But if you are unequal even to this, then, being self-restrained, place all thy works, failures and successes alike, on me, abandoning in me the fruit of every action.
OPRAH: That is a mouthful. Can you sum it up for us?
KRISHNA: Sure. There is something for everyone or nothing if they prefer. There are four ways to supreme unity. The ways of knowledge, practice, meditation; and renunciation. Knowledge is better than constant practice, meditation is superior to knowledge, loving renunciation of the fruit of action to meditation; final emancipation immediately results from such renunciation.
OPRAH: You mean to have stuff is bad? Can you have sex? What about drugs?
KRISHNA: You can have nothing but the clothes on your back, a bowl of rice and a flower, and you may also have scrumptious vegetarian feasts for me, but take no drugs, and you can study and dance and chant all day, and have sex at night, but only for procreation of more devotees, and you can do lots of other devotional acts as well. On the other hand, you can meditate a lot, be driven around your ashram every day by a different beautiful woman or handsome man in a different Rolls Royce, and you can have a little laughing gas during your dental appointments, if you like. Just say no to drug use in general, including alcohol and tobacco and marijuana, without a special prescription from me, and don’t allow your disciples to traffic in drugs even if they don’t use them. Worshipping me is the greatest natural high of all.
OPRAH: So I can keep my $2.5 billion?
KRISHNA: As long as you devote yourself to my service, you will be immortal and blissful regardless of your wealth – remember, the Lord Himself is Opulent, and he loves the poor. Whatever is rendered to me is returned with compound interest, or, if you want less, then you will get less, and if you have faith in nothing because nothing is perfect and permanent, then nothing shall be yours for the asking, but it’s best to ask for nothing at all because nothing is infinite and nothing really works. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you have or do in my favor, for all things are mine and should be devoted to me anyway. When you are mine, when you love me, the universe loves you back and is yours no matter what you have on hand at the time of devotion.
OPRAH: I think I like the loving yoga you mentioned best. How do you do that?
KRISHNA: Here, I brought you some anklets. Please put them on. And here’s a bracelet with some bangles.
OPRAH: Oh, thank you! They’re beautiful. Listen to the little bells tinkle when I shake a leg! And the bangles, here, how they jangle so wonderfully. Very exotic!
KRISHNA: Yes, please stand up and shake a leg with me. Take this tambourine and jiggle it in the air. Good. Now take my hand. Let’s do some hip hop dancing and chanting. Repeat after me, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Got it?
OPRAH: I wish Ellen were here. Okay, here we go…Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna…. I feel blessed and graced. I think I love you Krishna.
KRISHNA: The feeling is mutual. Here’s a pouch full of my books, and you will find some flowers on top. You can carry it over your shoulder. My favorite book is the Bhagavad Gita.
OPRAH: Then I shall recommend it to everyone! Oh, this is fun! Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna….. We’ll be right back after this commercial….