The following is an excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away”:
While in therapy at the Transpersonal Psychology Institute in Menlo Park, California, my therapist felt that I would be a great candidate for past life regressions. He thought this might be helpful to my growth and healing. I thought it sounded interesting and we began. After getting me into a very deep and relaxed state, I experienced several very clear visualizations. They were vivid, similar to High Definition movies.
In one, I was a Japanese Buddhist monk, a very old teacher. I wore the usual ochre robes and carried a long walking stick. I lived in a small hut between a dirt path and a vast series of rice paddies. After going out with my bowl to receive the simple food offerings of local villagers, I would return, eat and meditate. Occasionally, I would take on a student.
One afternoon, I heard a great commotion coming from up the dirt road. Horsemen attending to a young man approached. He dismounted and was announced as the Shogun’s only son. He proceeded to place to kneel in front of me on the tatami’s of my little hut, placing his sword next to him. He stated that he was here because his father had ordered him to receive my wisdom. He then demanded that I quickly give him this wisdom so he could be on his way. He had much more pressing matters to attend to.
I noted his arrogance and dismissed him immediately. This did not please the Shogun’s son. He had fire in his eyes as he rode off in a huff with his entourage. No one had ever had the temerity to speak to him like that and he vowed never to return. Apparently, his father thought differently.
He returned several times. I dismissed him each time. Each time his father sent him back. I told him he didn’t have enough humility to be taught anything by a cockroach, let alone a buddhist monk. I wasn’t going to waste my time on him. Each time, his anger grew.
Soon after our last encounter, I was returning home with my begging bowl full of the day’s offerings. I came to a fork in the road not far from where I lived. To my right was my hut. To my left was a road that led out of town. I knew that the arrogant youngster was waiting for me, sword at the ready. If he got the same response as usual, it was his intention to cut my head off and leave it at the entrance to my hut.
I had no belongings. I knew that the road to the left led to freedom. I could simply walk away and be down with all of this silliness. There were many wandering monks. I would be just be another faceless robed priest, begging bowl in hand, on the road to wherever his meditations might lead him.
I chose the road to certain death.
The Yucatan Peninsula. That name has always conjured up romantic images of the road that runs around the world; the road I have found myself moving along many times in my life. Like many places along this road, I’ve had to see it for myself. At last, I’m here.
In some ways, these images have been shattered by this trip. As I experienced upon my return to Bali after 40+ years, time has left it’s mark once again on what was once pristine and uncluttered. The Yucatan Peninsula is now the “Mayan Riviera.” Where there were once locals, a few Western travelers and a simple way of life, there a resorts, locals hustling tourists and a Hard Rock Café. Time marches along to the beat of capitalism’s “Disco Dollar” theme song.
Still there is much for me to enjoy in this beautiful place. I feel so at home here in the jungle. I awaken to a sunrise symphony of birds singing and cawing out their good morning greetings to each other as small creatures rustle through the underbrush, the wind singing through the leaves of a diverse array of greenery. My hotel is also an eco-friendly game preserve. There are animals everywhere. Just up the road is a rescued deaf black panther and a blind spotted leopard. The panther paces and the leopard points his unseeing eyes at me, wondering if what he smells might be on the menu. I met “Nala” the baby lion and was warned that, though the cub was very cute, I could lose a finger.
I was chauffered around the pre-Columbia ruins in Coba on a bicycle powered by a Mayan who huffed and puffed me up and down hills that would have given me a coronary.
I had a “tipico Mexicano” dinner in Tulum.
where you can swim with the giant turtles and view coral reefs and tranquil fish,
Playa del Carmen was so crowded with tourists and resorts that I stayed just long enough to eat on the beach. I couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t think there’s enough tea in China to tempt me into living in an over-developed resort town like Playa del Carmen.
I’ve only been here two days yet I’ve seen so much already. Tomorrow begins phase 2 of this excursion: the chill phase. This phase doesn’t include much activity. Hammock, reading, writing and, well…chillin’. In the meantime
Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”