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STEPHEN GASKIN, RIP


Today, I heard the news from the NYT ( www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/stephen-gaskin-hippie-who-founded-an-enduring-commune-dies-at-79.html?emc=eta1 ), informing us of the death of Stephen Gaskin.  I was one of those who had the privilege of attending the “Monday Night Class.”  Whatever controversies might surround the life of this very intense individual, one thing is absolutely certain, he walked his talk to his very last day.  It is with great sadness that I received this news.  I held Stephen is very highest esteem.

For me and for many others, he provided a necessary guidance, as we lived out our individual vision quests.  We were doing our best to break free: of the War, the repression, the endless lying, the ever present machine, and to break out into the light of Justice, Peace and Freedom, to know ourselves, directly and honestly, and to comprehend our place in the Creation.  I place Stephen right there in my life with Ram Das, Susuki Roshi, and J. Krishnamurti.  His words of guidance have always been with me, in the depths of my consciousness, in that place I refer to as the Positive Unconscious.  For this, I am forever grateful.  Thank you, Stephen.

Like many others, I stopped by the Farm while hitchhiking across the country in 1972 to help out in the sorghum harvest.  Although the cane cutting is not one of my favorite memories, the lunches brought out to us by the ladies of commune could have tasted no better, ladles of love to the men working in the sun drenched fields of Tennessee.  I can see the vegetarian stew, even smell it, clearly now over 40 years later.  This remains a memory to treasure.  Again, thank you, Stephen.

Stephen was a strong, principled, self-motivated person, who was as loving as he was prickly.  He committed his life to seeing the truth and easing the suffering of his fellow man.  He left an enduring impression on all those who had the grace and opportunity to know him.  One of the most important memories of my life was hugging him during an intermission in the back patio of the Family Dog on the Great Highway.  The energy transmission that coursed between our bodies was in its complete envelopment testament to the consciousness of all that is and ever-was and ever-will-be.

Every Monday Night Class opened with an extensive OM-ing.  If you had to be somewhere else, as soon as the om-ing began, you were right there with the others, who were present in the room on the Great Highway.  The connection was that strong.  Stephen’s insights into the teaching of the East and the metaphysical and mystical experience in general were second to none.  In the Buddhist tradition, they speak of jewels.  Stephen is one of my jewels.

One of the recurring topics discussed during the conversations, taking place at the “Monday Night Class,” was the meaning of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation.  How were these ancient classics related to the psychedelic experiences many were having as part of their practice at that time?  This was of great concern to many.  Stephan was able to articulate the application of the Bardos to the various realms, or levels, of consciousness, as well as their proper sequencing in actual experience in a way unique to all the teachers I encountered.  This gift of vision was only possible due to his personal pioneering courage in experientially mapping the journey himself.  By doing so, he provided an essential preparation so that the novice pilgrim could complete his venture, tasting the full fruits of consciousness, without becoming diverted into the grips of fear and attachment.  I pray that his wife, Ina May, was there with him whispering the needed prayers in his ears, to assure his personal transition into the Timeless Moment.   

In closing, I am drawn to the sentiments expressed by one of the Kritan’s notable devotees, Donna de Lory, who puts my wishes for Stephen’s transition succinctly in these lyrics, which she often sings with the song, “In the Sun,” from her album of the same name:

“Om Mani Padme Hum,

Om Mani Padme Hum,

Om Mani Padme Hum,

Om Mani Padme Hum,

May God’s Love be with you,

May God’s Love be with you,

May God’s Love be with you,

Always, with you.”

In Gassho,

Clayton

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