Not a Drop Remains
This is the final chapter of the book Roundabout Zen, a tribute to Richard Baker Roshi, chapter by Paul Lee
When my father died and I looked upon him dead I thought he had drunk life to its very last drop. I was always amused by the association of lees and dregs, the remains beneath the last drop.A robust man who was always in good health throughout his life, he left behind a shell—it had all drained out. I was reminded of the metaphor of the dead, known as shades or shadows, in the Odyssey, during Odysseus’ descent to the Underworld:“after images of used-up men.” As I looked upon my father from the foot of the bed,I also was reminded of Man-tegna’s painting of the dead Jesus. My father’s physique had been developed on a Norwegian immigrant family farm in rural Wisconsin. He especially disliked shocking grain. Barley. The beards got inside your shirt and made you bleed. He managed to escape the farm and sneaked off to high school and then again years later to college and medical school.He was an inde-fatigable doctor and one of the few ecstatic professionals I have known, so happy to practice medicine. During one horrendous snowstorm in Milwaukee, over a twenty-four hour period, he walked from house to house, delivering babies. I can’t remem-ber the count, but his name appeared in the newspaper. He died at l00.
I don’t know why I think of my father in writing this homage to Richard Baker.Richard is not a father fi gure for me,more like the younger brother I never had but always wanted. We met over the phone, which, if you have ever observed Richard on the phone, was appropriate.We both share that “get it on”char-acteristic, welcoming chance encounters of any sort, pick-up artists on the make, but he is less self-conscious about it than I.
He’ll attempt to make lifelong friends with an operator during the interval between the area code and the number.They might meet for coffee if it weren’t for the thousands of miles separat-ing them, which the operator regards as daunting, but not Richard.So when Richard called,somewhere around l965,I can still remember standing in the hallway of our home in Cam-bridge and fi nally having to sit down because I had unaccountably met a friend for life on the other end of the line and I knew that this was going to be a long call.When I was young, riding the streetcar in Milwaukee, I would fantasize about making friends for life,just by glancing at someone standing on the cor-ner. It is an odd personality trait, I admit, and it probably has something to do with Plato’s doctrine of recollection:we recall what we knew in a past life, when we learn something in this life. Haven’t we met before? The trajectory of desire carries a heavy load.
The Greeks called it eros,that arrow of longing,the desire for fulf i llment, reaching for it, anticipating it, even if it takes a life-time; the eros of friendship where the word is philia. I’ve had a few great friends in my life and Richard is one of them.So that day on the phone there was something in his voice and his manner that clicked with me. He was looking for Tillich and/or Erikson to invite to a conference he was organizing at Asilomar.
I think it was on identity.I had been a student of both and knew they were not available: Erikson was in India working on his Gandhi book and Tillich was in Chicago and too old. What about me? But he didn’t have a spot. Come on, if you can’t get Tillich or Erikson, you must have a spot. Okay, he could put me on a panel. Can I bring my wife? He laughed at that and said, sure. So Charlene and I got a free trip to Santa Cruz, California where I was going to teach next, and we hoped to get an impression of the place before moving.Santa Cruz is located on the north shore of Monterey Bay, thirty miles from Asilomar.
Richard and Virginia and my wife and I had a drink in the bar at Asilomar and they told us they were practicing Zen Bud-dhists. I think I looked at my wife and we slightly raised our eyebrows. After all, we were in California. I had met one Zen Buddhist before whose name was Hisamatsu and he was a dandy. He was in residence at Harvard, having discussions with Tillich, some of which I attended. I didn’t follow the discussion but it was fun observing Hisamatsu. He gave off a certain inef-fable glow,which I decided must come from a lot of sitting still.
Tillich had written an essay called “Mind and Migration,”which I liked, where he talked about the affinity of the human mind for the migratory impulse and how it was characteristic of the colonizing Greeks and had something to do with the rise of rational self-consciousness and the talent for self-transcen-dence. I thought with Richard I had a test case for the migrato-ry mind. How was this guy, this New Englander to the core, going to take on a foreign culture, the culture of Japanese Zen Buddhism? What a challenge. I decided to become his Protes-tant Theological Witness (PTW).
So Richard and Virginia were our first California friends.
Knowing that he was organizing conferences, I advised him to organize one on LSD, as it was certain to become the Next Big Thing. I was part of the Leary Group at Harvard and the editor of the Psychedelic Review along with Metzner and Von Eckarts-berg.And so that is what Richard did. I came to regard it as my reception party to our new life in California because it took place a month before we relocated to Santa Cruz.The confer-ence lasted a week.When it began to dawn on the people at UC Extension that the conference was a hot potato they tried to persuade Richard to cancel it. Okay, dis-invite Ginsberg, (as in Allen), and move it to San Francisco. Richard rented a house across the street where we conducted a nearly continuous party. I arrived a day before and was told to go to the Haight and visit the Psychedelic Bookstore.Then with Von Eckartsberg to pick up Nina Graboi,who was staying with Alan Watts on his houseboat; and proceed to the party thrown by the Grateful Dead at a mansion in Marin.The drug laws had as yet to go into effect so Owsley, the notorious chemist who made bathtub acid, was in the mansion counting out his pills to anyone who wanted them. He was a character in a pale blue jump suit who gazed up at me and with a lazy stoned drawl, said, “My! You have a friendly and familiar face!”Almost everyone was nude. I watched them pass around joints rolled in newspapers. News-papers! I had never seen anything like that before. And the freaks.Who were these freaks and who gave them permission to look the way they did? We wore button down shirts and Brooks Brothers suits.We were Harvard.We thought we were in charge.We were wrong. I didn’t know what I was going to say the next day during the opening address at the conference, so I decided to describe the party as the “wave of the future.” I called it “Psychedelic Style.” Rolf Von Eckartsberg delivered a simulated acid session riff and for the sheer bravado of it, and perhaps owing to a contact high, got a fi ve minute standing ovation.At a panel discussion, I overhead Sidney Cohen say to Tim Leary that if they blew up the stage that would be the end of the psychedelic movement. Leary said something like, oh Sidney, you know it doesn’t depend on us.
After taking up residence in Santa Cruz, we made a trip to San Francisco at least once a month to check in on the scene and visit with the Bakers.We went dancing. I particularly liked the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Richard danced in a stiff upright way with his index fi ngers jutting up in the air as if he was some displaced Egyptian. Just for showing up you could get a free poster, which became collectibles.
Richard and Virginia and Charlene and I went to the Fleur de Lis Restaurant in San Francisco for dinner and had a meal of a lifetime. It was one of those moments where everything was perfect, especially the waiter; a Platonic essence of a waiter in his tux, all charm and suave fi nesse.We ascended to that place where an ecstatic friendship can take one on the rare occasion when the experience gathers up and sums up all the affection and love shared for a lifetime.We often make reference to that evening and that experience as definitive.
I caught some of the entrepreneurial spirit of Zen Center and all the projects Richard started, and when the Work Com-pany he wanted to organize to provide employment to Zen Center students with local community improvement projects in mind didn’t work,I decided to try one in Santa Cruz,with my co-director, Page Smith, as one of the projects of our William James Association.We eventually found 30,000 part-time short-term jobs for our clients known locally as the Undesirable Tran-sient Element, or Ute’s.That was the obtuse bureaucratic name for Hippies. Thanks for the idea, Richard.
I learned how to sit. I got to like tatami mats and pillows and pads and the whole ball of wax, the bells, the gongs, the ham-mer on the board and its falling staccato music, the chanting, like elephant seals in bliss, the tea ceremony with Nakamura-san and her entourage. And all the luminaries who took up more than all the oxygen in the room: Robert Duncan, Michael McClure, Michael Murphy, Sim Van der Ryn, Stewart Brand, Paul Hawken, Rusty Schweikhart, that guy who wore white silk suits and was such a dude and who was into right livelihood so long as there was a good looking woman involved, the lawyer who became a judge, Jerry Brown, Barzaghi, just to name some of the guys.They always sat in the front row, that is, the psychic front row.Then came Tassajara. Richard picked me up and we drove down the coast. I thought it was perfect. Just when you thought nothing could be there in the depths of those precipi-tous, jade-green mountains—nothing—there it was, an old Native American spa.As they say in Baden-Baden, we took the waters. It became a place of enthralling magical charm.
One day a guy blew in our front door and introduced him-self. He had been sent by Richard.An unwrapped gift.We were to become friends. He was fast; he talked a mile a minute; he told us a Joan Crawford joke—I mean,a joke Joan Crawford had told him about a Long Island duck—he pushed his chair back from the dinner table and fell over on his head, he laughed so hard.He knew Richard Gere,he had dinner with Prince Rupert, he managed the Rolling Stones…but I’m getting ahead of the story. He was Earl McGrath. Here was another matter of aff i ni-ty,linked analogies,secret correspondences,soul mates.He was from Superior,of course,Wisconsin,and later he would drive to our summer home in northern Wisconsin, in a roaring sports car, down the lawn and onto the point in front of our lakeside house and park and wave, to the delight of our daughter, Jessi-ca, who, at three, decided this was her fi rst boyfriend, but for the fact that he was married to an Italian countess.
Richard went to Boston to learn high fi nance.He telephoned from a bed he said he had to jump into, it was so high. He told me about his work and mentioned that the City Hall was for sale, and so I called my pal, Lucien Robert, who ran Maitre Jacques, a French restaurant in Boston, who was looking for a new site and so Lucien bought City Hall,which became Maison Robert.
Then came the High Mountain Throne of the Buddha Cere-mony when Richard was installed as Abbot. Suzuki Roshi was dying. Richard had returned from Japan where he had been sent to chill out and learn how to beg and knuckle under in preparation for the Transmission.The Great Transmission! Now there is a theme the Protestant Theological Witness (PTW) can sink his teeth into. It reminded me of the Apostolic Succession in the Christian tradition and the laying-on of hands.The trans-mission of spiritual substance is not an oxymoron. Suzuki had gone to Japan to transmit to Richard.What I understood from hearing about it secondhand was that, in effect, you steel your-self on the track and then a locomotive comes full throttle and hits you head on. It was a force I didn’t know anyone could incorporate,let alone withstand.Talk about cross-fertilization of cultures and spiritual traditions! And now Suzuki was dying and Richard was called back.Earl and Charlene and I were honored guests, ushered into special seats.Visiting dignitaries had taken their places.We had been escorted in to see Richard for a few minutes before the ceremony. We hadn’t seen him for, how long? Three years? He warned me that he would be changed. It was a rare and awesome encounter. I was preparing myself for the ceremony of a lifetime. My Witness sat at attention and kicked into high gear. Richard started out down the block.
Those of us in the Zendo sensed his movement as he and his retinue drew near. Finally, he entered and took his place on the throne, his peaked hat almost touching the ceiling. Suzuki Roshi entered, pea green in color. Everyone gasped audibly. He was borne up by his son, a burden more than anyone could bear. Suzuki took his place. It seemed he might actually die on the spot. Typically Zen. But he didn’t. Three times Richard offered incense, once to Trudy Dixon, once to someone whose name I can’t recall, and then to Roshi:
“Walking in Buddha’s gentle rain, our robes are soaked through, but on the lotus, not a drop remains. ” The pressure in the room was so intense that I thought I might easily push my chair out through the wall and out into the street. I heard a bus drive by. I thought: there is another world out there utterly different and separate from the one in here and they have nothing to do with one another.We were in a self-enclosed and transcendent place.
Bill Kwong approached Richard and received a nod.“Host or guest?” Richard asked, and then Kwong yelled in a very loud and aggressive voice as though he was taking charge.I thought, my god, Richard is going to decide his authority in this ritual moment. Right now.After the shout, Richard said,“Speak again.
And don’t raise your voice.”The Protestant Theological Witness nodded his head in admiring appreciation. The Transmission was manifest.
Suzuki Roshi died a week later as the bell rang for sesshin.
When my teacher,Tillich, died, his wife, Hannah, was at his side. She said he blew his life away in one last heaving gasp.
Tillich’s great sighs were one of his most striking features. St. Paul characterized prayer as “sighs too deep for words” where the Spirit of God bears witness to our spirit. And then, as though walking in Buddha’s gentle rain, Hannah said, on his forehead, a lotus bloomed.
In 1967, after I started the Student Garden Project, at UCSC, with Alan Chadwick, I realized he had taken no time off from a grueling schedule and so I decided to bring him to Tassajara for a weekend. Richard had come by to pick me up on one of the early visits when Zen Center was considering buying Tassajara, and once the monastery and the guest schedule commenced I knew it would be a perfect retreat for Alan.As soon as we got there he looked the place over for a prospective garden site and started recruiting gardeners to begin to dig. Thus was launched the aff i liation of Alan with Zen Center that eventual-ly led to Alan going to Green Gulch, the Zen Center Farm at Muir Beach, and starting the garden there.Alan was very diff i -cult as he suffered from an old-fashioned form of neurasthenia, meaning his nerves were shot, apparently the result of his hav-ing served on a mine-sweeper during the second World War.
Loud noises set him off;he lost his temper at odd moments and over seemingly arbitrary provocations.As a former professional actor he infused his temper fi ts with the full force of his the-atrical training, like King Lear striding on the heath.We learned to take it like the weather.Sunny weather followed storms.Late in life when he developed prostate cancer and needed care I appealed to Richard and Virginia to take him back and give him a place to die, so Alan returned to Green Gulch. I remember seeing then-Governor Jerry Brown,hat in hand,waiting to go in to hear one of Alan’s deathbed talks.
As it was clear Alan’s cancer was terminal, I thought it was important to organize a farewell for everyone to pay their last respects. I used the meeting as an occasion to organize the Chadwick Apprentice Guild, the Chadwick Newsletter, and the Chadwick Society, with Virginia Baker. It turned out to be the day of one of the worst ocean storms in memory as though nature was participating in our grief for Alan’s condition. He pulled himself from his bed, put on his powder blue Good Will suit and charmed us again with his favorite fairy tales about the Nightingale and the Emperor and the angelic forces become herbs—Rosemary and Calendula.
When he was on the edge of death, Richard called to warn me, saying that he thought Alan was going to die because he was kneeling in prayer beside his bed. Richard put the phone down and in a minute returned to report that Alan was dead. I experienced a terrible paroxysm of grief, a force that blew through me like a tornado and carried me out of the house to the front lawn where I felt I was taken up by a skyhook and made to turn a somersault in the air before landing again on my feet.I remembered the words of Tillich:“Nature,too,mourns for a lost good.”
Richard conducted the funeral at Green Gulch. A photo of Alan from his London theatre days was on the altar.At the end of the service Richard gazed up and raised his arms in an awe-some gesture and said, now go, Alan, go, and released him for all of us, as he was carried to his rest.
Some time later, I met Alice Waters at Green Gulch. She was on a produce-buying visit; and she, too, had taken part in Alan’s bedside talks.I am proud to think that Alan played some role in the new California cuisine Waters has championed, and happy that Green Gulch provided the produce for the Green Grocer and Greens Restaurant, in San Francisco, both projects stem-ming from Richard and the Zen Center.
In June of 1973,inspired by Alan and the introduction of Bio-dynamic and French intensive systems that associated organic gardening and farming with land reform, I organized a Region-al Land Reform Conference in Santa Cruz. I was convinced that the next big thing after Civil Rights would be Land Reform.
After all, that was how it had transpired in India, when Vinoba Bhave succeeded Gandhi and initiated the Bhoodan, the land gift movement. I was going to follow in Vinoba Bhave’s foot-steps. Page Smith and I had already teamed up in the William James Association, which we had founded in Santa Cruz after leaving the university.We had sketched out the history of the moral equivalent of war based on the now-famous speech William James delivered at Stanford in l906, one of several def i ning themes for the twentieth century. Pursuing the theme through the twin streams of the civil rights movement and the voluntary work service movement, I believed land reform was next. I was wrong. Almost no one came—except Richard. I had invited him to speak.Fortunately,I had invited about thirty oth-ers to speak as well, and they constituted the audience. We talked to ourselves, in effect.
On one occasion Richard sent an unsolicited $200 donation for the William James Association. It was a generous gesture;
Richard was famous for his generosities. Some time later he asked me why I had never donated to Zen Center. I must have looked blank.“Well, I sent you one,” he said.“You should return the favor.Spread it around.”It was an object lesson I have yet to forget.
I had been denied tenure at UCSC, and after Richard was denied tenure at Zen Center, he looked at me and said,“You know, I didn’t really appreciate what you suffered until now.”
He walked from Zen Center in San Francisco to our home in Santa Cruz.Along the way Heinz and Elaine Pagels picked him up and wined and dined him, which some of us thought was cheating.Arriving at our house, he slept on an old couch in the patio and he did zazen on a deck in the backyard next to a small stream where he could hear the sound of running water.
I tried to console Richard by recalling for him St.Paul’s words regarding his “thorn in the fl esh,” where he boasts of his weak-nesses—typical Paulinian paradoxical language. He prays to God to have the thorn removed, as though re-enacting the
prayer of Jesus in his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, to have the cup of suffering taken from him.God’s answer is good for both of them:“My grace is suff i cient for you,for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul boasts of his weaknesses by way of confessing them,because where he is weak,there he is strong:transparency before one’s weaknesses is the message.
Richard and I would meet in New York and have dinner with Earl.We went to the Russian Tea Room,which was always fun— high jinks and conviviality.Three friends enjoying each other.
The word meld comes to mind, melding in the bond of friend-ship.
One morning at Tassajara I got up to sit, and entering the zendo, I noticed that I was alone. Even though it was around f i ve in the morning I was early. Early? I like getting up at ten a.m. But nobody was there. I sat down to wait for zazen to begin. I felt sort of enlightened when the following koan came to me:“How long do I have to sit here before I have to sit here?”
I was reminded of W .C.Fields,who always carried a thermos of gin to the studio and called it his tomato juice. One day a wag substituted a thermos of tomato juice. W . C. Fields said,“Who put tomato juice in my tomato juice?”
Another experience of near enlightenment occurred when I went to Europe,to follow in the footsteps of the Italian Journey of Goethe, with Rolf Von Eckartsberg, on the trip of a lifetime.
We had visited Graf von Dürkheim, who had brought Zen Bud-dhism to Germany after practicing it in Japan where he had been caught during the war. Rolf and I sat zazen with him. I think it was at Johanneshof;a remarkable coincidence now that twenty years later Richard has taken up residence there. Rolf and I went to the Matterhorn on Pentecost. It was a perfectly clear Sunday and we could see the mountain in all its glory as we rode a cog train up to the observer site.We climbed out and looked around.There was a great scattering of refuse that had not been picked up.Tourist garbage. It was appalling. In a fi t of environmental zeal,we found plastic bags and policed the area.
On the hike back down we separated in order to be alone for a while, and while sitting zazen in a grotto looking out at the mountain a voice said, straighten up your back, here it comes;
and a kundalini experience ensued. I was somewhat discon-certed and tipped my head forward and it dissipated at my neck. I wasn’t ready for the full shot.
Another experience of near enlightenment has been watch-ing Richard fuss with his robes after he enters and sits down for zazen.As he settles in and arranges himself, I was transf i xed; it reminded me of listening to Ravi Shankar tune up and sudden-ly realizing that he was giving a lesson in the history of the sitar. People talked and neglected to pay attention. They thought the concert would begin after the tuning, when it had already begun. From then on, thanks to John Cage opening my ears to random sounds as music, I listen to symphonies tuning up as another piece on the program, albeit unannounced. So, observing Richard fuss with his robes was like a piece of music by John Cage—you had to listen very carefully for the rustle.
I owe my friendship with Kobun Chino Roshi to Richard. I met him the fi rst time at Tassajara where he was the monk in residence,recently arrived from Japan.He had been called in to tighten up the practice.He spoke in the zendo after dinner and every time he wanted to make a point about loose talk and loose morals he would turn up the fl ame in the kerosene lamp next to him and it would shoot up out of the glass cone. Every-one gasped. I considered it a great pedagogical aid. I asked for an audience. Over the weekend three questions had formed in my mind and I wanted to ask Kobun for the answers.I was ush-ered in at noon.“I have three questions for you to answer,” I said, and he asked if I wanted him to answer them one after another, or all at once. I could have quit right there.“One after another,” I replied.
The first was,“What is the dharma?”He spoke about the law of transitoriness and told me a story about a disciple and his mas-ter standing on a bridge and watching the stream fl ow beneath.
Then I asked him,“What is a dharma brother?” He answered by saying that my fellow students under Tillich at Harvard were dharma brothers just as the fellow students who studied under his father with him were his dharma brothers, his father being the head of the temple.That was the narrow sense of the matter. The broad sense was compassionate fellowship and kinship with all sentient beings.
Finally I asked him if he would reveal the dharma to me. So he told me about the death of his father.When his father was about to die Kobun and his dharma brothers had been asked to gather at his side. His father went into zazen, and died. As he said this he imitated his father going into zazen by the posi-tioning of his hands, as if he were drawing the circle that reminded me of the sign of Suzuki Roshi. In that instant he identif i ed with his father at his moment of death. Kobun fell into a brief reverie and then asked me if I wanted some tea.
Richard mentioned that he was going to meet Huey Newton with our old friend, Gerd Stern. I wanted to go along because I had heard of discussions Huey undertook with Erik Erikson and his son, Kai, at Yale, which were published under the title, “In Search Of Common Ground.”So there was Huey Newton in his Oakland penthouse,every bit a black panther,lithe and high strung and eager to engage in serious discussion about inter-communalism and a political vision that sounded a lot like the Apostle Paul. Later, when I heard that he wanted to return to college to fi nish his undergraduate degree and attend the Uni-versity of California, Santa Cruz, where I was teaching philoso-phy at the time,and that Huey had fallen out with his colleague who had been a member of the Panthers, Herman Blake, a pro-fessor of sociology at UCSC, I offered to stand in for Blake and act as Huey’s academic advisor.We were talking about it on the phone and I remember hesitating, wondering if my daemon, like Socrates’ daemon, would say no! During a momentary pause in the conversation I asked myself if I was willing to make an unconditional commitment to someone who was as dangerous as Huey Newton, and I decided that I would. Huey went on to complete his undergraduate degree, many of his classes having been held at my home, a few blocks from cam-pus. I remember one session in particular, with Huey and Nor-man O. Brown, an old Marxist and supporter of Henry Wallace.
As Page Smith and I sat on the side,simply listening to the char-acter and tone of the conversation, a fl ower bloomed in the room.Later,Huey had to fl ee to Cuba in order to dodge charges that he had pistol-whipped his tailor and murdered a prosti-tute.After his Cuban exile he returned and took a PhD in the History of Consciousness Program, at UCSC.
His thesis con-cerned the war against the Black Panther Party waged by the Establishment, and his documentation was provided by mil-lions—millions—of pages acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. He struck me as the most hounded man in the history of the human race, and the hounding was thoroughly documented by the hounds themselves. Of the many with whom Richard and I shared a friendship, Huey Newton was the most tragic.
Zen Buddhism has influenced my interest in negative theol-ogy, a particular form of thought associated with a little-known f i gure in the Christian tradition, Dionysius the Areopagite, a convert of St. Paul’s. On his visit to Athens, St. Paul strategically positioned himself before the altar Dionysius had established on the Areopagus to commemorate a mystical vision he had had when Jesus was crucif i ed, the content of which he did not know, but for an eclipse of the sun.The altar was inscribed: To an Unknown God. In his address, Paul makes known the con-tent and Dionysius is converted and becomes the fi rst Bishop of Athens.Late in life,he journeyed to France and was martyred in Paris, beheaded on Montmarte (Mount of Martyrs), after which, it is said, he gathered up his head, washed it off at a fountain and walked some miles before he fell dead. It was all downhill. A wag said: the fi rst step was the hardest. The fi rst gothic cathedral in Europe was erected on the site: the Royal Abbaye of St. Denis (French for Dionysius); St. Denis became the Patron Saint of France.There is another one, if you count the fi rst one as two, (the Athenian and the Patron Saint, whom tradition identif i es).The third is known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who lived a few hundred years later and wrote under the name of the Saint. His mystical tracts are known as Apophatic, or Negative Theology, not unlike the Zen logic of negation. Pseudo-Dionysius makes it clear that language tran-scends itself in sentences about God, who is basically unknow-able and beyond everything we can think or say, so simply negate and keep going.Reason in ecstasy is what it takes to talk about God, as in Augustine’s Confessions. I went to France on a kind of pilgrimage in honor of St. Denis and found a l4th cen-tury granite sculpting of him holding his head and dressed in priestly vestments. I bought it for my 70th birthday and it stands in a small alcove next to my front door. Instead of wear-ing my heart on my sleeve, I hold my head in my hands, in the tradition of St. Denis.As Kierkegaard said, set reason aside.This tradition in Western Christian theology is my link with Zen.
My wife, Charlene, and I were invited to the wedding. I was asked to give a prayer.It was a great moment and everyone was appreciative. I felt I had hit a home run before the crowned heads of Europe.A soft rain fell and everyone was given a pur-ple umbrella while exiting; a lovely sight, all those purple umbrellas.
Richard insisted I visit Crestone. I was born nearby and wanted to make a return trip to my place of birth,LaVeta,locat-ed in a remote area of Southern Colorado where my father had started his medical practice. The name itself—LaVeta—struck me as amazing, because I am a Neo-vitalist, and it seemed as though my birth place had prepared the way for my philo-sophical orientation. LaVeta is rather mythical in its geography.
The main street looks out onto the Huajatollas, or Spanish Peaks, meaning “women’s breasts,” two snow-capped peaks of spectacular beauty. I was born in the cleft, a rather nurturing place to begin one’s existence on earth. So Richard and Gerd Stern and his friend, and I, took a trip to LaVeta and we stood in the room where I was born.When we had fi rst arrived, the lady who now runs the place as The l899 Inn, once our home as well as the town hospital, came to the door. I said,“I was born here.” She said,“You must be Dr. Lee’s son.”
And now I remember why I was thinking of my father. It was that last drop, after which there is no more, like the lotus, blooming on the forehead of death, life drunk down to the dregs, when not a drop remains