On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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Ron Tabor says he spent the first 17 years of his life in New York City, watching The Three Stooges and eating pizza.
Her hands are graceful, forceful, certain. They move through the air like swift, impassioned birds, emphasizing her words, as she explains about medicines of flowers and fruits for craziness, diagnosing pregnancy by feeling the pulse in the ring finger, the difficulty of curing heart disease when there are evil spirits, the importance of the doctor’s own dreams before the patient arrives, and, with the same matter-of-factness, about cancer. She is sitting cross-legged on the pillow, her eyes dark and active, her voice calm: why tumors grow; karma; the presence of evil spirits.
I remember my visit last November to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. This is the Stephen Gaskin commune. Until three years ago, Stephen, a former college teacher, was mostly known for the weekly sermons he gave in San Francisco, known as “Monday Night Class.” He spoke the language of many young people who have turned away from the soft, delightful comforts of their fathers, in their search for a different lifestyle, and attracted a large following.
Some of them moved east with him, to The Farm, located about 50 miles south of Nashville. More than 700 men, women, and children live there now.
Work on yourself first, before you work on something else. That’s kind of the basic idea. The Zen people say wash your bowl. The Sufis say clean your mirror. It’s all the same thing. Work on yourself first, then those other questions answer themselves.