While bathing in shallow water at the edge of my cave, a fisherman rowed up with a conch shell. 5 drachmas? No, thanks... Why should I haul a conch shell all over Europe? 3 drachmas? No... He put the shell to my ear so I could hear the sea echo. 1 drachma? No, sorry... He rowed away...



The ennui of the island's summer sun inspires visions and voices. The fisherman could have been a prophet with a magic oracle. If I could imagine an angel or two flying out of the shell to deliver a celestial message, what would it be? A satisfactory answer to the meaning of it all? I remember a graduate seminar where Bill K. asked the perennial question What is the purpose of life?, to which I impulsively piped up To Continue Living! But Bill was not referring to our squiggly squishy dimensions; specifically, he was asking What is the purpose of human existence? In my layover at Patmos, I would not have had an answer, but these years later, I do. And although it has been said many times many ways, the answer to what is the purpose of human existence remains always the same — the purpose for human existence is To Create A Purpose For Human Existence. Obviously, this is not the most satisfactory answer for a Jehovah's Witness, who would prefer something more like To See the Face of God, but interestingly it is equivalent. How can that be?



Every religion has a ready made answer to the question of human existence — do good, serve others, relieve suffering... Some of us try to find the answer ourselves through our science and art, but our findings are always biased by when and where we live. Some look outward to a God, a Universe, or Being itself; but in the mystic's world, there is no inner and outer, so seeing God is the same as being God. Heresy!? Ironically, the aim of all religions is to make us heretics; for to make us indistinguishable from God destroys not only our identity, but God's as well. There is no God, there is but Allah! Such a state of mind may last only for a brief moment, and then we move on to oblivion, or, more likely, return to the normal duality where all living beings reside. However, a brief moment out of time is all we need to see and be for all times for evermore. This is the actual meaning of John 3:16; the promise of everlasting life does not mean that you will live forever, but that you will intimately know what forever is, and experience everlasting life. For those of us who know, it is more than sufficient. On the other hand, the naive meaning of living forever is not very pretty. Lucky we are that immortality, as it is commonly conceived, is not yet possible, except in vampire movies.



Mystical Experience is an oxymoron. Experience implies an Experiencer. In the mystical state there is no experiencer, therefore no experience. Husserl and Brentano were wrong; there are conscious states where there is no object of consciousness. To some extent, all timeless moments are mystical in that they transcend our self and world — ritual, mass, music, dance, art, football, mushrooms, sunsets, mountain tops, milky way, prayer, meditation, enlightenment, nirvana, satori, orgasm, voices, visions. Many folks sincerely believe that every thought that enters their head is a message from God, and must be acted upon. And who is to say they are wrong? Where does this inner voice we call ME come from anyway? Does it matter that it is an inflamed or inhibited part of our brain, more gravy than grave? I have no satisfactory answer. In the end, it is not that we have achieved enlightenment, it is what we do with it afterwards. The usual inclination is to help others achieve the same.



Since ordinary language assumes a subject and an object, it cannot adequately express the mystical state of mind which has no subject or object. Nevertheless, humans can and do know the vanishing of inner and outer boundaries, and thereby they transcend life, for life is that which creates the boundary between inner and outer, but they cannot describe to anyone who does not know what this nonduality is like, because it is not like any thing. It is primordial. You may as well try to explain sex to a six year old. Yet, ultimately, this is the purpose of all religion and art — to express the ineffable. However, since this is impossible, we must learn that our efforts merely witness the indescribable, and these witnessings depend almost entirely on the space and time we live in — as a fossil is a witness to those who follow.


We let the Mystery uplift us,
The magical Iconography, under whose Spell
That Boundless Storm of Existence
Into glass-clear Imagery jells.

—Hermann Hesse
The Glass Bead Game


And so, another awesomeless night on Patmos
dreaming of the boat that marooned me...