“Meditation is the Cosmic Airdrome where everyone changes planes.”
— Thaddeus Golas
When Thaddeus Golas wrote The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment in 1972, he had no idea that the book would become an underground sensation. Still in print, the Guide has been translated into eight languages.
In October 1990, The Sun published an excerpt from Golas’s unpublished book The Cosmic Airdrome, a collection of thoughts from his essays, journals, letters, and manuscripts.
At seventy, Golas says he is “in good health, but with a touch of arthritis.” He recently sent us another selection from Airdrome, which appears here.
— Andrew Snee
I AM ALWAYS delighted to read something really intelligent. But reading must be considered an experience perpendicular to practical life and not anything useful for physical existence. My relations with other people have often resulted in shocks for which art and intellect are no preparation.
THE FURTHER ONE goes in trying to understand reality, the more it looks like a problem the universe doesn’t need to have solved — certainly not by human beings!
GIVE ME A few new shirts and I am full of wise detachment from the human dilemma.
ONE SOURCE OF human problems is that we believe that words are effective and real, that they govern reality, that statements we make become law.
We have a neurotic fear of the power of words. We are astonished at Dostoyevsky’s willingness in Notes from Underground to say negative things about himself.
Once I said to someone, “If you won’t agree with me, then I’ll agree with you, because love is more important than anything we are talking about.” But it made me uncomfortable to “lie” by agreeing with a statement I knew to be wrong.
THERE IS CONSCIOUSNESS that has no physical reality or connection with it, but there is no physical reality in the absence of consciousness. Indeed, physical reality is only a perception of what is real. What is actually happening is something else entirely.
All that we see and experience, to put it in scientific terms, is translated into electrochemical signals in the brain that we then experience as consciousness. That is to say, it is all real only as idea.
When we talk about ideas, we think of our usual mental wanderings; we think ideas are very light, that they can be taken up or dropped easily. Therefore, when we are told that the world is “all conceptual,” we assume it should be easy to change those concepts.
But concepts are not that easy to change.
I AM NEVER impressed by those occasional few who pile up achievements in an effortless manner. No matter how difficult it is for the average person to, say, learn fifteen languages, it is no great achievement for the genius if he or she can do it easily. Only when we test ourselves with the difficulty of a task is there reason for true pride.
It’s not that I’m a believer in suffering or hard work — that’s not the point — but to achieve anything really great, we must transcend ourselves, see beyond ourselves. The brilliant person is more likely to think that he or she has done enough.
A person might be able to excel without trying, but doing so does not build character or suggest wisdom. People love to talk about such achievers, but when I hear of one I feel only compassion, for I know that their true trials will go unnoticed, and that achieving anything original will be a severe test.
SoME GOOD LINES by Rosemary Dinnage: “In the end, whatever one makes of the story, there is something chilling about philosophies of the will rather than of the heart, like Gurdjieff’s or Castaneda’s: a sound of brass and tinkling cymbals. Neither spontaneity, humility, nor compassion has much place in them.”
How MANY OF us, in moments of doubt or stress, reassure ourselves quickly with some reminder of our status — say, that we live in New York City and therefore partake in its glamour; or that we live in the country and are therefore superior to those in the city.
I do not say this is wrong — as in everything else, the question is whether or not we are conscious of what we are doing and can control it. We often see people moving about in a bubble of self-conception — seeing themselves as spiritual, kind, generous, etc. — with no real perception of their effect on others, or their shortcomings in other directions.
I’VE BEEN DOING an experiment during meditation: thinking without words. What concepts can I have with no language at all?
IN DEATH, WHAT we find most difficult to credit is, not giving up our earthly pleasures, but leaving behind our pains and problems, our woes and ills and conflicts.
Good Lord, why should anyone want to survive death as a particular personality?
A QUESTION TO repeat: What is the degree of greater consciousness from which I am presently retreating?
IF IT’S NONSENSE, then expending your time and energy to object to it is nonsense. Where do you want your consciousness to be?
ANYONE CAN FEEL euphoric by inventing a theory, or writing a book, or starting a movement. That euphoria is not proof that the theory is correct, the book is reliable, or the movement is beneficial.
I have always been skeptical of the pleasure of invention. I have not been interested in being “creative,” but in being accurate and useful.
AFTERTHOUGHT ON A dream:
The material world glows with beauty when you are leaving it. It seduces you, draws you back. (“I could have loved it more.” “Why didn’t I see it that way before?”) As you expand consciousness, losing contact with the material world, everything looks beautiful!
But if you reverse direction, contracting to be more involved with matter, it gets uglier and more confusing and painful the closer you get.
The goals we pursue in life are best decided when the object of our desire is still at some distance from us.
I THINK WE will learn from the anonymity of postindustrial culture what the Chinese learned long ago — that an enduring sense of personal worth is best nourished in a clan or family.
NoTHING IS OF more importance than a physical reality while it is happening, and nothing is of less importance once it has passed. All we really want from the past is information relevant to the present and future. The rest is dreams, nostalgia, and forgetful fantasies that gloss over all the disadvantages of past reality.
ONE WAY TO know something is true is that you cannot back off from knowing it. You cannot go slumming in ignorance. You cannot pretend not to know what you have experienced. It is a sin to doubt it.
I realize as I write these words that they might seem to fall within the definition of fanaticism. The only way I can answer is to say that one is never fanatic about a truth. A truth is known with your whole self and soul. It is not a feeling of knowing a truth, but rather knowing a truth even in spite of your feelings.
Knowing cannot be faked, just as real love cannot be faked. Once you have experienced truth (or true love), you can go through life (or eternity) with no impatience about returning to it. You know it is there.
WHEN PONDERING MY mistakes:
Once is an accident.
Twice is learning.
Three times is stupid.
WHEN I LOOK up from my narrow writing, I am amazed at how varied and complex the world is.
IF ANYWHERE IN these hills around me there is a dreamer, or two dreamers together, looking at the sunset or listening to the rain on the roof, with no words, with no idea of what the next day will be — that’s where ecstasy is, and not in any of the forms we cling to as we try to identify what cannot be named.