Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stopping the Gulf Oil Leak

Taking the most simplified problem, British Petroleum has actually quoted that the oil is coming out of a 10.5" radius pipe at 30,000 psi. Put that in international SI units, and you have:

r = 0.2667 m
P = 2.068427E+8 Pa

Now, we can solve and find out why this is a major problem. First, find the area of the pipe's exit point, assuming that it's a straight cut. This is 6th grade math.

A = π * r^2
A = π * (0.2667 m)^2
A = π * (0.7113 m^2)
A = 0.2235 m^2

Now using the given pressure and the calculated area, find the force of the oil coming out of the pipe.

F = P * A
F = (2.068427E+8 Pa) * (0.2235 m^2)
F = 46,220,607 N

This gusher is basically like a rocket engine flipped over. 46 million newtons is a full order of magnitude larger than the thrust of the early rockets that NASA sent into space. So you have to overcome that force. Doesn't matter which way you try to do it, you have to overcome this force, and that's obviously a huge problem.

To try to put things in perspective, look at it this way. If we were just to drop a single, solid block of mass into the pipe to stop it from flowing, the *minimum* equalization mass would be, according to Newton's 2nd Law, where a = Earth gravity:

m = F/ a
m = (46,220,617 N) / (9.81 m/s^2)
m = 4,711,582 kg

I imagine you want that in Imperial units, which comes to about 10.4 million pounds. In other words, 5,200 tons (short). So what does 5,200 tons (short) "look like"? It's the equivalent mass of *seventy-seven* of the US Army's front-line M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks fully outfitted for combat with fuel and ammunition. Then you have to have them all stacked together in a single mass, because if you tried to just plop them down one after another, they'd just be blown aside by the oil "rocket."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life as a Yagna or Sacrifice

In the middle of the fourth chapter of the Gita, certain instructions are given on the performance of different kinds of sacrifice, known as yajnas. The word 'yajna' is a very significant one throughout the Bhagavadgita, perhaps through most of the scriptures in India, indicating that the principle of life consists in sacrifice of some sort or the other. The philosophy of India may, in a way, be summed up by the word 'yajna' - sacrifice. Every moment of our life is a sacrifice that we perform in the direction of a higher fulfillment, and a sacrifice is therefore a gain and not a loss. In ordinary language we praise a person who has performed a sacrifice, thinking that sacrifice involves a sharing of one's joy with others, in a sense a sort of loss which one has voluntarily incurred for the welfare of other people. "Oh, what a sacrifice he has done," thus we ejaculate. This is our point of view - whenever we give something, we feel we lose something. Sacrifice, no doubt, means giving something, but it does not mean losing something. In giving, we do not lose. Give and it shall be given back hundredfold. It is difficult to understand the meaning of sacrifice, and a knowledge of it is absolutely necessary to understand the teachings of the Bhagavadgita. The whole of karma yoga, or any yoga for the matter of that, is centred round this principle governing all life and existence - the principle of yajna, sacrifice.

In the fourth chapter, indications are given of the possibility of performing different kinds of sacrifice. A purely philosophical and spiritual touch is given to this description of the different forms of sacrifice here, because the Bhagavadgita is pre-eminently a spiritual gospel, a gospel of all life, and thus very comprehensive in its treatment of the basic values of life. Dravyayajna, yogoyajna, tapoyajna, jnanayajna are some of the terms used in this connection. Without going into the verbal or linguistic meaning of these terms, and without confusing you too much with the academic interpretations of these enunciations of the forms of sacrifice, I can clinch the whole matter by bringing you back to the process of cosmology, evolution - a thing we can never afford to forget throughout our studies because the story of creation or the procession of the cosmological event also suggests acutely the position we occupy in this world, our status in this universe, without which we can do nothing correctly, nor can we know anything properly. Yajna - sacrifice - whatever be the form it may take, is a summoning of the higher power into one's own self, and a consequent surrender of the lower self for the higher dimension of one's own being, known as the superior Self.

It is also not easy to understand what this higher Self means; nor can we know what the lower self is. Though we may repeat these words again and again, and to some extent know their literal meanings, their practical suggestiveness is hard for the mind to grasp. The higher Self is not a spatially located, ascending series, but a more intensely inclusive and pervasive nature of our own self - something like the superiority of the waking consciousness over the dream consciousness. The waking mind is not kept over the dreaming mind, as one thing kept over another thing. The superiority, the transcendence of one thing over the other, or one thing being higher than the other, should not and does not suggest a spatial distance, but a logical superiority which is to be distinguished from spatial transcendence as someone sitting over another person's head. The cosmological scheme, to which we have made reference earlier, enlightens us into the fact that we as individuals or human beings are basically inseparable from the whole of creation, the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether; the five tanmatras: sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, gandha; and the whole of space-time itself. We are not outside this large complex of the expanse of the universe. Though this may be the fact, this also seems to be the conclusion that we are driven to by a study of the cosmological process.

We, in our daily life, seem to be totally ignoring this fact; and by a complete violation of this principle, asserting our individuality, seem to be totally disconnected from everything else as if we have nothing to do with anybody else. We have various types of selfishness - attachment to one's own body is the grossest form of it, and it has subtler forms of egoism, such as psychological self-assertiveness. Attachment to anything that is connected to one's self also comes under the purview and the gamut of selfishness. Anything that would not accept the basic organic relations of one's self with what is external to one's self, should be considered as a form of selfishness, whatever be the height it has reached; it may be a national egoism, or even an international one, but it is nothing short of it. One cannot easily escape this predicament because of the perception of the world by the senses. The yajnas or the sacrifices mentioned here in the Bhagavadgita in the fourth chapter are, to some extent, gradational attempts on the part of the seeker to overcome selfishness and increase their dimension of one's self by attuning one's self to the larger Self, which is nothing but the establishment of an en rapport with a wider area of our relationship than the one to which we are limited at the present moment, due to our sensory outlook. Physically, psychologically, and even intellectually, we are somehow connected to other people and even the five elements, the tanmatras, the ahamkara, the mahat and the other things we have mentioned in the Samkhya cosmological scheme. So sacrifice, yajna, should therefore mean an inward transmutation of our consciousness in its apprehension of relationship with these layers or levels of cosmological descent and ascent; and there are, perhaps, as many types of sacrifice as we would recognise layers in the cosmological scheme. If we say there are infinite series, there can be infinite types of sacrifice. It depends upon our understanding of what the universe is and how the creation process has taken place.

Again, I wish to bring to your memories our earlier studies concerning the structure of our personality and its connection with the outer world - namely, that internal to the body we have other types of apparatus like the sense organs, the pranas, the mind and the intellect, which have a tendency to affirm the physical individuality of the person, and affirm also all the attachments and aversions consequent upon this affirmation in respect of the outer world of persons and things. So, one kind of yajna or sacrifice would imply self-control, a restraining of the movement of the senses of the mind and the intellect, because an unrestrained set of senses, uncontrolled mind, and unsubdued intellect would mean a personality that is engulfed in a desire for spatial contact with persons and things outside, while really, persons and things are not outside. The reason for self-control arises because of the fact that the usual perceptions of the senses are erroneous perceptions, because the senses have no other work to do than to din into our minds the externality of the world, the outsideness of things, and the isolation of our self from other people. There is a continuous brainwashing process going on in our relationship to the senses; and we have no other relationship in the world, unfortunately. We are totally sense-ridden, and the world that we live in is a sense world. Our thinking process and our intellection also is conditioned by the knowledge provided to us by means of sense perception. There is a total misfortune descended upon us, as it were, considering the state of affairs in which we are now - socially, physically and psychologically. Socially we are in a misfortune because of a wrong understanding of our connection with other people, and psychologically so, because of our dependence, inwardly also, upon what we know by means of the senses, which is erroneous. So, self-control, which includes sense-control, is also mind-control, intellect-control, reason-control - the total control of one's own self. The control of one's self is the essence of yoga. Here a word of explanation may be necessary as to what is meant by control of one's self. What do we do with ourselves when we try to restrain our selves? For that we may need to know what we are.

This again brings us to the point of the cosmological scheme. We can know, to some extent, what we are, by placing ourselves in the cosmological scheme, and we do not require instruction of any kind in this context, because the moment we know how we have come, we can also know where we are sitting. Our duties become explicit and perspicacious the moment we know our condition and the atmosphere in which we are living. The control of one's self - sense-restraint, self-control - is the restraint of consciousness, finally; it has little to do with our physical limbs. It is not tightening the legs, plugging the ears or closing the eyes physically speaking, because our joys and sorrows are the outcome of a movement of a consciousness in a particular way. Thoughts are joys and sorrows; so joys and sorrows are nothing but thought processes, which is another way of saying the whirling of consciousness in a particular manner. Our individualised consciousness, for the purpose of easy understanding - we may identify it with our mind in a more generalised sense - this individualised consciousness is the principle of the affirmation of individuality. The ego, the intellect, the reason, and what we think we are at the present moment - all these are inseparable from this type of activity of consciousness. Thus, self-control would mean a bringing back of the surging individual consciousness in the direction of external things, and enabling it to settle in its own self. This is the whole yoga of Patanjali, for instance, which summarises in two sutras - Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah; Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam: "The restraint of the mind is yoga, and then there is establishment of self in its own self." Here is the whole of yoga in two sentences.

Now, the establishment of consciousness in its own self is simultaneous with and inseparable from the restraint of consciousness from its movement in the direction of objects; and vice-versa - the restraint of consciousness in its movement in this form would be a movement in the other direction, for establishment in its own self. Every perception involves a degree of loss of self-consciousness. Whether we love a thing or hate a thing, we have lost ourselves in that measure and to that degree. An amount of ourselves, a quantum of our personality, moves out of itself towards that which we like or hate, and to that extent we are weakened. One who loves or hates is a weak person, because of the fact that some part of one's self is borne in the direction of that which is liked or hated. So to strengthen one's mind for the purpose of higher concentration, to free one's self from this weakness that has arisen on account of love and hatred, one has to bring the mind or consciousness back from that centre, which is the source of its like or dislike, and then there is a rejuvenation of ourselves. We feel an inner strength arising from a source unknown, due to the mere fact of our coming back to our own selves. Mostly, we are not in our own selves - we are other than what we are. This being other than what we are is the malady of life - we are always conscious of somebody else. There is no other work for us except to be aware that others are and to deal with others - with other people and other things. This so-called 'otherness' harasses us so much that we seem to be living in a world of destruction, death - mrityuloka as it is called - and nothing can be worse than this condition of ours. To be brooding over what is not there, and to be totally oblivious of what is there, seems to be the great business of this world. That things are not totally outside us is obliterated from our consciousness by the vehemence of this surge of ourselves in the direction of things. Yajna or sacrifice as yoga or self-control implies therefore an inner training, a sort of educational activity going on inside, enlightenment as it is, by which we become filled with strength with our inward bond with things - not as the senses tell us, but as things really stand.

The world of sense-perception is conditioned by space-time and the various categories of the psychological process; while the thing, the person, the being, the substance as it is in itself, is behind this curtain of space-time. Our real being also is behind this curtain of the psycho-physical individuality. Thus we are living in a phenomenal world, both subjectively and objectively. The thing-in-itself, as they say, the substance as such, eludes the grasp of this phenomenal process - thus no man can see God, and the intellect of man is not fit enough to contact reality. Unless we develop a mechanism within our own selves to go deeper into this large area of phenomenality - subjectively as well as objectively - the plumbing into one's own self is also the plumbing through space and time. Modern science says the inward, subjective, subatomic philosophy of quantum theory is identical with the spatio-temporal theory of relativity - Tat tvam asi: That is this and this is That. The inward depth is also the outward plumbing of the abyss of space and time. The deeper we go inwardly, simultaneously there is a going deep into the outer cosmos - and vice-versa, the plumbing into the cosmos objectively would also imply a going deep into one's own self. Knowledge of the self is the knowledge of the universe, and the knowledge of the universe is the knowledge of the self. Atman is Brahman.
This is a profound philosophy that is hidden behind performance of sacrifice, self-control, practice of yoga, the control of senses, the restraint of the mind and the stabilising of the intellect and the reason. We have to perform a double process - sometimes mentioned in the Bhagavadgita and also in Patanjali - of vairagya and abhyasa, a dual action of withdrawal and union. The performance of this dual function may be said to be a simultaneous action taking place, as recovering from illness is also the regaining of health and the going away of night is the coming in of day. There is no temporal successiveness in these processes; they happen to be a simultaneous occurrence. Thus, the vairagya that we speak of in yoga, the dissociation of consciousness from erroneous thinking and contact, is simultaneously a concentration of consciousness on that which lies above itself - the lower self concentrates itself on the higher.

Now I am coming to that point as to what the lower self is and what the higher Self is. The lower self is that state of consciousness which is conditioned by the urge in the direction of objects. The higher Self is that which is the condition of freedom, attained by even a single step taken by this involved consciousness in the direction of disentanglement with objects. Thus every ascent is a regaining of one's Self, and an asset on the side of strengthening of one's personality. Vairagya and abhyasa mean detachment and communion. Here, many people may get misguided due to the difficulty in understanding the true meaning of these terms, vairagya and abhyasa - renunciation, abrogation, detachment or non-attachment, going together with concentration, meditation, etc. We have to correctly understand what detachment means in order to know what communion is; and the whole of yoga is this much. If we commit an initial error, then we would be piling error over error in our subsequent actions or performances. Thus, we have to be vigilant at the very beginning.

Detachment is a success that we achieve in freeing our consciousness from involvement in any kind of objectivity - whether it is the form of intense liking or intense dislike, or finally even in the complacency that things really are outside. The initial step or stage in self-control would require us to free ourselves from emotional involvements, either in the form of intense like or intense dislike. But even if we are emotionally free and there is no great passion for things either positively or negatively, we may yet be unfit for the higher requirements in yoga. A mere good man need not necessarily be a fit person for yoga, because while goodness is a great thing indeed, a highly valued thing, it is itself not sufficient because yoga is super-ethical - it goes beyond the morality of mankind. It is not merely goodness, charitableness and a humanitarian feeling, though all these things are wonderful in themselves. So, when there is a freedom achieved to some extent from emotional involvements in the form of love and hatred, we might have attained a great thing indeed - it is a very important success - but yoga is something deeper and more difficult to grasp because, as we make a distinction between abnormal psychology and general psychology or rather, the psychoanalytical process and the study of ordinary psychological functions, we may have to make a distinction between two types of involvement of the mind in objectivity - the one emotional and the other perceptional.

Emotional involvements are studied in psychoanalysis, sometimes known as 'abnormal psychology'. By a deep understanding of our own self, we may be a healthy person psychically, and psychoanalytically we are perfectly hale and robust. But from the point of view of yoga, we may still be an abnormal person - because abnormality does not necessarily mean being a psychoanalytic patient. There can be a 'metaphysical error' as philosophers would put it, apart from a mere social, political or emotional mistake that we commit. Here it is that yoga goes beyond mere human ways of thinking, much less social and political ways. It is a cosmic way of envisaging everything, which will inject a sort of shock into us. We may begin to shudder even to think of the possibility of there being such a way of encounter with things, and this is the reason why sometimes we feel tremor in the body when we go deep into meditation - a shock which the pranas receive by the impact of the mind upon them, due to the intensity of our concentration on a supernormal level, which goes beyond ordinary human thinking.

So even if we are emotionally free and a good individual indeed, well adored and respected in humanity, we may not be prepared for yoga; because yoga is a preparation to embrace a reality, which is not necessarily a human world. This is also touched upon, pithily, in some of the aphorisms of Patanjali, which is not my subject at present - I am concerned with the Bhagavadgita. So, coming to the point of yajna, sacrifice, self-control, we seem to conclude that every sacrifice which is true to its spirit involves a metaphysical injection that we give to the psychological process of the mind, a spiritual adventure more than any other kind of human activity or a religious routine. We ascend into a supernormal degree of comprehension in our adventure of vairagya and abhyasa - withdrawal and union. From what do we withdraw ourself, and with what do we commune ourself? The withdrawal, as I mentioned, is not from the substance of the persons and things or the five elements, but from the way, the manner in which they are perceived by the senses, the mind and the intellect. Our opinion about things is what is important, rather than the things themselves. Our understanding is what is our concern, and not what we are understanding - the thing as such. The world, physically speaking, is not so much our concern in yoga as the way in which we are understanding it, and the manner in which we react to it.

Thus the process of vairagya, or detachment, is more a psychological activity rather than a physical performance. It is something that is happening inside in the mind. So we can detach ourselves from things even in the midst of things. Even in the thick of the bustle of people and the noises of the world, we can be detached, because the bustle and the haste, the movement and the noise are not the things that trouble us; the trouble arises from our reaction to them. The world is what it was, and perhaps it will be what it was - nobody can change it, and perhaps there is no need to change it; but there is necessity to change our understanding of it. It is possible to be free from concern with the external events in the world by a modification or an amendment of our outlook or perspective in life, even in the midst of thick activity. Here is the principle of karma yoga coming again: in the midst of intense activity one can be in a state of deep communion with the Ultimate Reality because of the fact that the mind is in the state of vairagya - completely withdrawn from erroneous associations with the events taking place with persons, with things, with activities. On the other hand, one may be in the top of Mount Everest, yet one may be involved in the world process. The thick of the jungle is not necessarily a safe place for the practice of yoga, because the absence of the presence of things, though it is an important thing indeed, is secondary considering our attitude to them. A deeply involved person may be involved even in the thickest forest - and an inwardly detached person may be detached even in the thick street of a large city. If we are honestly intent upon achieving true success in what is called 'yoga', we should not merely pat ourselves on the back and imagine that we are in a state of yoga or religious activity merely because it appears to be so, and people also say so. People may say anything - the saying of the people is no matter with us; it is another thing altogether that worries us and perhaps is our concern.

So, the yoga, the sacrifice - which is control of the senses, restraint of the mind, and the stabilising of the reasoning process, which is the yajna, the various types of yajna mentioned in the fourth chapter: prana, manas, indriya etc. mentioned there - all these suggest a single action on the part of our consciousness, namely an awakening into a higher Self. We may wonder why we should go on using the word 'Self' again and again, as if there is nothing else and no other word will connote what is our intention. The word 'Self' is a very important thing, because it suggests the true nature of things. We are not likely to understand the meaning of it because we are accustomed to identify self with our personality: 'yourself', ' myself', 'himself', 'herself', 'itself'. These grammatical words that we use suggest a wrong meaning of the term 'Self'. Self does not mean a person or a thing, though it is associated with a description of persons and things, yourself and others. The word 'Self' actually means the non-objective status occupied by everything in the world. Here is a sentence on which we have to bestow deep thought. A non-objective status which everyone enjoys and everything enjoys - this is called the Self. The Self is that which cannot be externalised, cannot be objectified, cannot become other than what it is; it cannot know itself as an 'other'. It is not an 'other' - it is just what it is. The real 'you' or the 'I' is what we call the 'Self'. This 'I' cannot become a 'you', a 'he', 'she', 'it' - it is just what it is. Inasmuch as this is the condition of everyone and everything, in a way we may say the whole universe is just the Self - Atmai eva sarva. The whole universe is a Self, only to be understood in its proper significance. If the whole universe is a Self and it cannot be objectified, because a Self is a non-objectified status, it would mean the universe is an intense self-consciousness; actually, what you call God is nothing but this. It is a highly enhanced condition of universal self-consciousness. This Self, which is principally and primarily a universal being, gets conditioned, by degrees, into lower forms of experience, until it descends into our personality-consciousness of the so-called physical 'I', the physical 'you', the physical 'it'. Thus it is self-control - I am coming to the point again - self-control means the restraining of the lower experience of the self by uniting it with the higher experience of its own Self. It is not a communion with somebody else. You are communing with your own self only in a larger, pervasive form than the condition in which you are at present. Your connectedness with things ascends in a series of larger pervasiveness until it reaches the apex of this pervasiveness in God-consciousness or Universal-realisation.

So, self-control begins with a little action of restraining the senses, and then becomes wider and wider, by degrees. These are the samapattis or samadhis mentioned in the sutras of Patanjali. These are the seven stages of knowledge. These are the communes attained with the levels of being, the realms of consciousness, the planes, etc. - these are the forms of Self. Gradually we get united with them until we become wider and wider, deeper and deeper, heavier and heavier, more and more comprises us, and nearer and nearer to our own self than we are now. Now we are far away from us. What a pity, we are far from our own selves. In the sense we are not this self we are thinking ourselves to be, as conditioned by this body; there is a larger kingdom in which we are residing, even now, from which we are apparently exiled into this grossness of the prison-house of this body consciousness. These are the fundamentals, and this is the background of all forms of self-control, which is the final meaning of any form of sacrifice - yajna.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Night Visit

One evening, my squadron had returned from a hard day of field training exercises. We returned to our barracks just in time to clean up and "hit the sack". Our barracks consisted of a two story, multi-roomed building, and each room consisted of enough space for only two occupants. My room was vacant -- except for myself -- because I had not yet been assigned a roommate. I finally got done with putting my things in order at about 11:30 that evening. Going over to my desk lamp, I turned it off and went to my bed (which was opposite the door). I was extremely tired and went to sleep without any problems. Sometime after having fallen asleep, I was awakened with a feeling of being in the presence of "something evil". It was a "heavy" feeling (almost like having several wool blankets placed over my body). Having awoken on my back, I found that even the slightest movement of my limbs was impossible, and the best I could do was move my eyes. I was terrified. All that I could think to do was to avert my sight from whatever it was that was gaining entry to my room. I turned my sight to the wall on my left and noticed a dim light (which was reflecting off the wall) slowly appear and then disappear. After the light had gone, I heard the scuffle of what seemed to be a couple of tiny creatures quickly walking around on the floor. Not being able to take the suspense for much longer, I turned my eyes to the foot of my bed. My stomach suddenly tightened. I will never forget what I saw. Standing at the foot of my bed were three distinct figures. Although the room was dark, I could see these figures because they seemed to radiate a "darker radiance" of their own. It almost appeared to be a "radiant black mist" that enveloped each one of them. As I lay there and looked at them, I was able to get a better look at who (or what) was standing at my feet. The three of them were very tall, in fact, I would estimate that they were no less than eight feet in height -- with the tallest one standing in the middle. A dry, bitter cold seemed to radiate from them as they seemed to be whispering something back and forth. I was becoming more and more terrified as I felt that these beings held some form of hostility toward me. The atmosphere in the room was charged with what felt like an "electrostatic tension". Before these "visitors", my room was a warm 80 degrees, but now it seemed almost chillingly cold. The appearance of these three beings seemed to "shimmer" like a heat mirage, and it was at about that point that I fearfully forced my eyes back upon the wall to my left. The next thing that I remember is that the paralysis left my body. The room seemed to be back to the unpleasant 80 degrees and I felt as though I were alone. Slowly getting up from my bed, I cautiously walked over to the light, turned it on and looked around the room. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I went over to the door and opened it. Walking into the hallway, I went over to the Dorm guard (a person who is chosen to keep watch over the dorm) and asked him if anyone had been through the hallway lately. He looked up from reading his book and -- giving me a questioning look -- said that nobody had been through the dorm since he had begun his watch. He even showed me his log sheets to prove his point. I went back to my room, turned off the light and went back to bed. I didn't know what to think about what had happened, but I sure as heck wasn't going to tell anyone in my squadron what had happened. I was, after all, trying to train in the military -- not trying to get out.

Past the Shadows Edge

Every time I think of this story it still gives me the chills even after all these years. I remember that night very vividly...

This happened to me about sixteen years ago right after I had gotten my drivers license and got to use my dad's car by myself for the first time.

My girlfriend and I were excited to go to a dance at our high school that Saturday night - and I was more then a little nervous about driving the stick shift without Mom or Dad in the car with me as I had a habit of killing the engine when I tried to start it.

It was early October, but the air was still warm and the moon was yellow and in a sickle form. There were dark storm clouds looming over the Wasatch Mountains and moving closer into the Salt Lake valley.

My girlfriend and I went to the dance and had a great time - staying way into the night. When the dance was over and after everyone had been sent away by the dance/school staff we moved on. We drove around looking for some place to go - as the newness of being on our own with the car would not wear off for several more months.

I picked the old grade school that we had both gone to when we were children. We were fairly close to where we lived so we felt safe and there was nothing to worry about except the looming rain clouds. We parked in the parking lot behind the school and walked into the huge grass playing field and the play ground behind the school. The field was lit by one huge stadium type lamp that cast a circle of dim light on the playground and playing field surrounding it.

She and I sat on the swings talking WAY late into the night. It started raining a cool mist that was very pleasant. But after an hour or so it was enough rain to make the ground under us muddy - so we were careful not to stick our feet in the mud (this is important in a minute).

It became quite and we were both very tired by then. We suddenly looked up at the same moment... the hair stood up on the back of my neck... as we both felt the need to look back and over our left shoulders. Something had caught the corner of our eye. About two hundred feet or so away there was SOMETHING crawling on it's stomach out past the shadows edge of the light that the giant stadium bulb gave off.

We both stared in horror not saying anything. We watched as the thing MOVED towards us, just keeping on the boarder of the light shadow. It was humanoid looking - a dark color with no clothes on. It was laying flat on it's belly... it's arms down, held close to it's waist.

But what frightened me the most (besides the fact that it had been coming up behind us) was the way it moved and the structure of it's legs... It was inching forward moving NOTHING but it's feet to push it forward. And the legs... If you look at a normal humans knees - the knees bend forward... This things was reverse - the joint bent BACK and away. (Imagine laying flat on your stomach with your hands pulled in at your sides to your waist and your knees are UP OFF the ground instead of against it.)

We stared for several seconds... we both had stopped breathing and the only sound was the rain falling. The head of the thing looked up and I saw nothing but black pools where the eyes should be...
My girlfriend and I JUMPED off the swings onto the wet grass and lunged into the car about 50 feet away. There was several seconds of panic when I couldn't get the car to start - and I was terrified to look up. I didn't want to see "IT" closing on us - I didn't want to see those knees bending in the wrong direction and the black, soulless eyes. I was afraid I would pop the clutch in the car and not be able to start it again. I kept my head down and looking at the steering wheel. The car engine turned and caught - we tore off into the night.

I called my folks from my girlfriends house and told them about what had happened. They allowed me to stay there with her and her Mom until the sun came up in a few hours. We waited and passed the time by telling her Mother our story - which scared her (as well as my parents) badly.

When the sun came up early that Sunday morning - we drove back to see if "it" was still there. This time bringing weapons. But there was nothing as we searched the field. As we poked around the swings we had been sitting on earlier... there were large bare foot prints that had tracked through the mud ALL AROUND the very swings we were on. We both had - had our shoes ON and as I said before, we were careful NOT to get mud on them. And we HAD NOT walked around and around like these tracks had. We found nothing but those bare tracks.

Every once in a while I get brave enough to go back to that field late at night (never alone though). I sit by the school field side in my truck with the high beams on searching the area, but I've never seen "IT" again...

The Little One

I was driving up towards Prescott, Arizona, my girlfriend, Becky, dozing off in the seat next to me. Rolling the window partially down, in the hope that the cool air would keep me alert, I wearily kept driving my Chevy down this narrow highway road, with nothing but a thick forested area on the passenger side of me, and mostly open meadowland, with a few clumps of trees here and there, along the driver's side of the road. I had wanted to leave first thing in the morning on Friday, but Becky was called into work at the last minute, so we ended up leaving at close to eight o'clock that night. Knowing we had to head back before early Monday, I didn't want to wait until the next day to go and end up losing a good chunk of a Saturday to boot.

So here I was, it had to be close to at least ten pm by then. Driving by the light of my dim headlights, with a close to full moon overhead (full enough to see the open expanses of the passing meadow areas, anyway) I noticed some smoke or steam coming up from the sides of my car hood. This, in and of itself, was not unusual as the car was close to fifteen years old, dented up a bit, with dimmer than usual lights and hoses that seemed to know the most inopportune time to break. Add to that, a radiator that overheated during the summer months or when in use for long periods of time. This being early October, I hadn't given the radiator much thought - it hadn't bothered to act up since August, and as the saying goes 'out of sight, out of mind'. But something sure was putting off plumes under the hood, so I nudged Becky and explained in short that I had to pull over.

As I slowed down a bit, Becky rolled down her window and peered out along the edges of the dark wall of pine trees. "Up there," she exclaimed, pointing forward, "about twenty feet or so there's a dirt shoulder of some kind." Slowing to a crawl, feeling safe at the moment as another car hadn't passed us for a number of miles now, I quickly saw the flat, dirt indent, about the length and width of two cars, just to the right of the road. The dirt area, much like that whole side of the road, was lined by a knotted mass of trees, giving it the look of a half circle cut down the middle by the road. I pulled over, and turned the car off - leaving the keys hanging from the ignition. With the headlights on, I got out of the car and walked to the front of it, popping the hood. I had grabbed a flashlight out of the glove box, and so proceeded to inspect the damage.

Sure enough, the radiator had overheated. I bent down a little, to peek between the crack of the hood's bottom edge and the top of the car front, to look at Becky through the front windshield. I was going to call out, to ask her to grab the gallon bottle of water I kept behind the front seat (there since August, at least) so, once it cooled a bit, I could add water to the radiator.

Expecting to see her dozing off, or looking toward me, I was surprised to see her staring wide-eyed, mouth agape, out at the direction of the driver's side window. She was as white as a ghost. "What are you doing?" I demanded to know. She kept staring out at the meadow fields, only raising her arm slightly to point in the direction she was looking. "What?" I said, walking back towards the driver's door. As I did, I looked out into the moonlit meadow. I saw a short line of trees in the distant background, a small pine about 20-25 ft out, directly in line with the back end of the car, and, running about ten feet from that point forward, in a line almost parallel with the road, was a short brick wall, about three feet or so high. A sparse forested area began, about forty feet or so from the wall's edges, in either direction of the small meadow. "So?" I said, "Probably part of an old house, or a fence. What's the big deal about the wall?" As I got into the car, and shut the door to wait for the innards to cool, she replied - slowly, quietly - "It isn't the brick wall. It's what I saw looking at us OVER the top of the wall." I turned to her, "What? Quit screwing around." "Stuff you!" she said, "If I..." Then she stopped talking, and her gaze drifted past me, to the wall.

I turned to look. I saw a small translucent-white stocky humanoid form, just shy of three feet tall, its tiny round eyes from this distance appearing as black as night, standing in front of the wall. It slowly took a step or two towards us, its short chubby arms at its side. I screamed, and tried to turn on the flashlight. I knew the batteries were low, and sometimes had to jiggle it and turn the cap slightly to get it to work, so in my excitement I twisted the cap, the batteries flew out and I just about dirtied by pants. As the batteries were now rolling under the seat and across the floor of the car, I decided to forget that. I looked up, saw the hood was still up, and froze.

"He's going back," Becky then said. I looked out over the moonlit field again, just in time to see this....thing... scamper around the side of the wall, out of view. As Becky quickly rolled up her car window, I said I was going to shut the hood - to hell with the water, if the radiator didn't burn out we'd stop down the road and add water. "Give me the bottle. I'll dump some in the reservoir and shut the hood, you just start the car." Becky replied. As she got out and went to the front, I turned the key. The engine groaned, trying to turn over. I looked from the steering wheel, to Becky pouring some water into the reservoir, to the wall, and back again. As Becky slammed the hood shut, I looked towards the wall - to see the small, white head of the ghostly entity peering over the top of it.

"Get in the car!" I yelled, as the entity's tiny hands gripped the top of the wall, and it hoisted itself clean over - landing on its feet, running. Running towards us. Becky jumped in the passenger side, locking her door. She no longer had the bottle, which couldn't have been more than half empty now, but, under the circumstances, I didn't ask and I didn't care. I turned the key, still it wouldn't catch. "Oh, god!" Becky murmured. I didn't want to look. I turned the key again, still just that tired groan. Becky leaned over, reaching past me, hitting my door lock with one hand while rolling the window up with the other (it was one of those older, manual window knob rollup jobs). "Hurry!" she said, frightened, as she sat back up. With one more turn of the key, the car finally started, and as I punched the accelerator, I looked toward the field. That little thing was only a few feet from the edge of the road - the edge on the OTHER side of the road, thankfully, but close enough that I could see its eyes were, indeed, dark, empty holes, its mouth was open now, in a wide leering grin, and I could have sworn it had small pointed teeth but it all happened so fast. Its skin, or surface, seemed to be rolling, as the entire entity ran at my car.

As we headed down the road, I turned my rear view mirror in such a way I could see "it" - quite a bit back now, turning away from us, walking alongside the road in the opposite direction. I watched the road ahead. Then, Becky screamed. She had been half turned, looking back at the entity too. Now, she was bent straight over, her head buried in her hands. I turned my rear view mirror to and fro, but only saw the road - "it" was gone.

We drove another twenty minutes or so with the car smoking a small portion of the way. The car overheated again as we entered the outskirts of town, only then would Becky let me stop. As we parked and waited at the first gas station we hit, I asked what had happened. "I was watching it, it stopped at the edge of the road." she answered. "I know," I said, "I saw it walking away." "Yeah," she answered "it was walking away. But as it walked away, its head turned all the way around, still grinning, and it watched us drive away." Needless to say, when we headed back we left at 10.00 am, to be sure we'd get back LONG before nightfall.

Ouija Boards and Jungian Synchronicity

You walk into a book store by chance, as your casually strolling down the isles, the book you weren’t looking for , but needed, falls from the shelf practically hitting your feet. You end a bad relationship, and suddenly you meet that special someone, as if it were meant to be. Your thinking about someone you haven’t spoken too in a long time, and suddenly the phone rings, you notice on the caller ID that it’s the person whom you were thinking about!

Your conversing with a total stranger on the subway, when you are overwhelmed with a deep sense of deja-vu, you seem to sense that you had been there before, and had the exact same conversation. You awaken precisely nano-seconds before the alarm goes off. This occurs often, but at random times. You and a close friend are talking when there is a pause, and then you both say a word at the exact same time! These are examples of Synchronicity at work.

The Laws of Attraction hint that thoughts influence chance. That these thoughts influence matter outside the head, either consciously or sub-consciously, and cannot be explained by logical reasoning. The Law of Attraction says that which is like unto itself is drawn.

Skeptics rely on buzz words like Pareidolia, and Apophenia, to debunk most claims of supernatural and paranormal experience. At one time I too rested comfortably on the bending fence of skepticism. It took my own personal experiences to convince me of ghosts, spirits, and the supernatural realm.

Carl Jung had a deep and long-standing interest in the occult, and his esoteric beliefs had a wide impact on his work. Jung coined the term “collective unconscious” to refer to that part of a person’s unconscious which is common to all human beings, as opposed to personal unconscious, which is unique to each individual. According to Jung the collective unconscious contains archetypes, which are forms or symbols that are manifested by all people in all cultures.

The concept of collective unconscious relates to the Spiritual model of living beings consisting of individuated parts of Spirit encased in physical form. Like island in the sea we appear as distinct individuals, but beneath the surface we are all connected.

Jung created the term synchronicity to describe the alignment of “universal forces” with the life experiences of an individual. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidences were not merely due to chance, but instead reflected the creation of an event or circumstance by the “co-inciding” or alignment of such forces.

The process of becoming intuitively aware and acting in harmony with these forces is what Jung labeled “individuation.” Jung said that an individuated person would actually shape events around them through the communication of their consciousness with the collective unconscious.

Jung spoke of synchronicity as being an “acausal connecting principle” (ie. a pattern of connection that is not explained by causality).

The laws of chance dictate that coincidences sometimes occur naturally. However, upon reflection we have probably all had experiences that seem to defy the laws of chance. For instance, what is the statistical probability of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon coinciding so seamlessly into The Wizard of Oz?

Jung used Ouija Boards, Oracles, and helped establish that within the framework of the human mind, there exists parallels that defy scientific rationalities.

The skeptics scoff at the thought of spirit communication thru Ouija Boards, dismissing it as a result of tapping into our subconscious, causing our arms to move the planchette thru the Ideomotor Effect.

Aleister Crowley said that the Demons of The Goetia existed within the human brain. Perhaps the subconscious is aware of demonic forces, and communicates with non-living entities through what Jung described as “archetypes” of the subconscious. One of these Archetypes he referred to as ” The Trickster,” and is capable of marked deception similar to the deceiving nature of the discarnate beings summoned by spirit board phenomena.

I have witnessed Ouija Board participants who were able to spell words very quickly and accurately while blindfolded. The questions asked were directed around the subject of King Arthur, whom the middle school children knew nothing about. They were able to answer questions straight out of an encyclopedia with astonishing accuracy.

Serial killers/rapists often talk about the “voices in their head” that prompted them to commit heinous crimes. Those “voices” I believe, are telepathic messages from sadistic demons in the Spirit; they are not being generated from an area of the brain. The part of the brain where the voices are being “recorded” is only the final receiving end of the transmission. A soul in a body is likened to a radio. Most know that the music does not originate from the box but is appears to do so to those who are uninformed.

It has been demonstrated that thoughts by themselves can create poltergeists, or “Tulpas” that have the ability to disrupt our lives and cause unexplainable phenomena. My research into what I coined The Zozo Spirit Phenomena has taught me an important lesson, to approach all things with an open mind, to help see the forest thru the trees. The skeptics continue to assault me from all angles, and I smile when the phone rings, I check the caller ID, and I see synchronicity playing the mysterious strings within the Violin of life.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mothman - The Enigma of Point Pleasant

The weird events connected to the Mothman began on November 12, 1966 near Clendenin, West Virginia. Five men were in the local cemetery that day, preparing a grave for a burial, when something that looked like a “brown human being” lifted off from some nearby trees and flew over their heads. The men were baffled. It did not appear to be a bird, but more like a man with wings. A few days later, more sightings would take place, electrifying the entire region.

Late in the evening of November 15, two young married couples had a very strange encounter as they drove past an abandoned TNT plant near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The couples spotted two large eyes that were attached to something that was "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six or seven feet tall. And it had big wings folded against its back". When the creature moved toward the plant door, the couples panicked and sped away. Moments later, they saw the same creature on a hillside near the road. It spread its wings and rose into the air, following with their car, which by now was traveling at over 100 miles per hour. "That bird kept right up with us," said one of the group. They told Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead that it followed them down Highway 62 and right to the Point Pleasant city limits. And they would not be the only ones to report the creature that night. Another group of four witnesses claimed to see the “bird” three different times!

Another sighting had more bizarre results. At about 10:30 on that same evening, Newell Partridge, a local building contractor who lived in Salem (about 90 miles from Point Pleasant), was watching television when the screen suddenly went dark. He stated that a weird pattern filled the screen and then he heard a loud, whining sounds from outside that raised in pitch and then ceased. “It sounded like a generator winding up” he later stated. Partridge’s dog, Bandit, began to howl out on the front porch and Newell went out to see what was going on.

When he walked outside, he saw Bandit facing the hay barn, about 150 yards from the house. Puzzled, Partridge turned a flashlight in that direction and spotted two red circles that looked like eyes or “bicycle reflectors”. They moving red orbs were certainly not animal’s eyes, he believed, and the sight of them frightened him. Bandit, an experienced hunting dog and protective of his territory, shot off across the yard in pursuit of the glowing eyes. Partridge called for him to stop, but the animal paid no attention. His owner turned and went back into the house for his gun, but then was too scared to go back outside again. He slept that night with his gun propped up next to the bed. The next morning, he realized that Bandit had disappeared. The dog had still not shown up two days later when Partridge read in the newspaper about the sightings in Point Pleasant that night.

One statement that he read in the newspaper chilled him to the bone. Roger Scarberry, one member of the group who spotted the strange “bird” at the TNT plant, said that as they entered the city limits of Point Pleasant, they saw the body of a large dog lying on the side of the road. A few minutes later, on the way back out of town, the dog was gone. They even stopped to look for the body, knowing they had passed it just a few minutes before. Newell Partridge immediately thought of Bandit, who was never seen again.

On November 16, a press conference was held in the county courthouse and the couples from the TNT plant sighting repeated their story. Deputy Halstead, who had known the couples all of their lives, took them very seriously. “They’ve never been in any trouble,” he told investigators and had no reason to doubt their stories. Many of the reporters who were present for the weird recounting felt the same way. The news of the strange sightings spread around the world. The press dubbed the odd flying creature “Mothman”, after a character from the popular Batman television series of the day.

The remote and abandoned TNT plant became the lair of the Mothman in the months ahead and it could not have picked a better place to hide in. The area was made up of several hundred acres of woods and large concrete domes where high explosives were stored during World War II. A network of tunnels honeycombed the area and made it possible for the creature to move about without being seen. In addition to the manmade labyrinth, the area was also comprised of the McClintic Wildlife Station, a heavily forested animal preserve filled with woods, artificial ponds and steep ridges and hills. Much of the property was almost inaccessible and without a doubt, Mothman could have hid for weeks or months and remained totally unseen. The only people who ever wandered there were hunters and fishermen and the local teenagers, who used the rutted dirt roads of the preserve as “lover’s lanes”.

Very few homes could be found in the region, but one dwelling belonged to the Ralph Thomas family. One November 16, they spotted a “funny red light” in the sky that moved and hovered above the TNT plant. “It wasn’t an airplane”, Mrs. Marcella Bennett (a friend of the Thomas family) said, “but we couldn’t figure out what it was.” Mrs. Bennett drove to the Thomas house a few minutes later and got out of the car with her baby. Suddenly, a figure stirred near the automobile. “It seemed as though it had been lying down,” she later recalled. “It rose up slowly from the ground. A big gray thing. Bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes.”

Mrs. Bennett was so horrified that she dropped her little girl! She quickly recovered, picked up her child and ran to the house. The family locked everyone inside but hysteria gripped them as the creature shuffled onto the porch and peered into the windows. The police were summoned, but the Mothman had vanished by the time the authorities had arrived.

Mrs. Bennett would not recover from the incident for months and was in fact so distraught that she sought medical attention to deal with her anxieties. She was tormented by frightening dreams and later told investigators that she believed the creature had visited her own home too. She said that she could often hear a keening sounds (like a woman screaming) near her isolated home on the edge of Point Pleasant.

Many would come to believe that the sightings of Mothman, as well as UFO sightings and encounters with “men in black” in the area, were all related. For nearly a year, strange happenings continued in the area. Researchers, investigators and “monster hunters” descended on the area but none so famous as author John Keel, who has written extensively about Mothman and other unexplained anomalies. He has written for many years about UFO’s but dismisses the standard “extraterrestrial” theories of the mainstream UFO movement. For this reason, he has been a controversial figure for decades. According to Keel, man has had a long history of interaction with the supernatural. He believes that the intervention of mysterious strangers in the lives of historic personages like Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X provides evidence of the continuing presence of the “gods of old”. The manifestation of these elder gods comes in the form of UFO’s and aliens, monsters, demons, angels and even ghosts. He has remained a colorful character to many and yet remains respected in the field for his research and fascinating writings.

Keel became the major chronicler of the Mothman case and wrote that at least 100 people personally witnessed the creature between November 1966 and November 1967. According to their reports, the creature stood between five and seven feet tall, was wider than a man and shuffled on human-like legs. Its eyes were set near the top of the shoulders and had bat-like wings that glided, rather than flapped, when it flew. Strangely though, it was able to ascend straight up “like a helicopter”. Witnesses also described its murky skin as being either gray or brown and it emitted a humming sound when it flew. The Mothman was apparently incapable of speech and gave off a screeching sound. Mrs. Bennett stated that it sounded like a “woman screaming”.

John Keel arrived in Point Pleasant in December 1966 and immediately began collecting reports of Mothman sightings and even UFO reports from before the creature was seen. He also compiled evidence that suggested a problem with televisions and phones that began in the fall of 1966. Lights had been seen in the skies, particularly around the TNT plant, and cars that passed along the nearby road sometimes stalled without explanation. He and his fellow researchers also uncovered a number of short-lived poltergeist cases in the Ohio Valley area. Locked doors opened and closed by themselves, strange thumps were heard inside and outside of homes and often, inexplicable voices were heard. The James Lilley family, who lived just south of the TNT plant, were so bothered by the bizarre events that they finally sold their home and moved to another neighborhood. Keel was convinced that the intense period of activity was all connected.
And stranger things still took place..... A reporter named Mary Hyre, who was the Point Pleasant correspondent for the Athens, Ohio newspaper the Messenger, also wrote extensively about the local sightings. In fact, after one very active weekend, she was deluged with over 500 phone calls from people who saw strange lights in the skies. One night in January 1967, she was working late in her office in the county courthouse and a man walked in the door. He was very short and had strange eyes that were covered with thick glasses. He also had long, black hair that was cut squarely “like a bowl haircut”. Hyre said that he spoke in a low, halting voice and he asked for directions to Welsh, West Virginia. She thought that he had some sort of speech impediment and for some reason, he terrified her. “He kept getting closer and closer to me, “ she said, “ and his funny eyes were staring at me almost hypnotically.”

Alarmed, she summoned the newspaper’s circulation manager to her office and together, they spoke to the strange little man. She said that at one point in the discussion, she answered the telephone when it rang and she noticed the little man pick up a pen from her desk. He looked at it in amazement, “as if he had never seen a pen before.” Then, he grabbed the pen, laughed loudly and ran out of the building.

Several weeks later, Hyre was crossing the street near her office and saw the same man on the street. He appeared to be startled when he realized that she was watching him, turned away quickly and ran for a large black car that suddenly came around the corner. The little man climbed in and it quickly drove away.

By this time, most of the sightings had come to an end and Mothman had faded away into the strange “twilight zone” from which he had come... but the story of Point Pleasant had not yet ended. At around 5:00 in the evening on December 15, 1967, the 700-foot bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the dark waters of the Ohio River and 46 people were killed. Two of those were never found and the other 44 are buried together in the town cemetery of Gallipolis, Ohio.


On that same tragic night, the James Lilley family (who still lived near the TNT plant at that time) counted more than 12 eerie lights that flashed above their home and vanished into the forest.

The collapse of the Silver Bridge made headlines all over the country and Mary Hyre went days without sleep as reporters and television crews from everywhere descended on the town. The local citizens were stunned with horror and disbelief and the tragedy is still being felt today.
During Christmas week, a short, dark-skinned man entered the office of Mary Hyre. He was dressed in a black suit, with a black tie, and she said that he looked vaguely Oriental. He had high cheekbones, narrow eyes and an unidentified accent. He was not interested in the bridge disaster, she said, but wanted to know about local UFO sightings. Hyre was too busy to talk with him and she handed her a file of related press clipping instead. He was not interested in them and insisted on speaking with her. She finally dismissed him from her office.

That same night, an identically described man visited the homes of several witnesses in the area who had reported seeing the lights in the sky. He made all of them very uneasy and uncomfortable and while he claimed to be a reporter from Cambridge, Ohio, he inadvertently admitted that he did not know where Columbus, Ohio was even though the two towns are just a few miles apart.

So who was Mothman and what was behind the strange events in Point Pleasant?
Whatever the creature may have been, it seems clear that Mothman was no hoax. There were simply too many credible witnesses who saw “something”. It was suggested at the time that the creature may have been a sandhill crane, which while they are not native to the area, could have migrated south from Canada. That was one explanation anyway, although it was one that was rejected by Mothman witnesses, who stated that what they saw looked nothing like a crane.But there could have been a logical explanation for some of the sightings. Even John Keel (who believed the creature was genuine) suspected that a few of the cases involved people who were spooked by recent reports and saw owls flying along deserted roads at night. Even so, Mothman remains hard to easily dismiss. The case is filled with an impressive number of multiple-witness sightings by individuals that were deemed reliable, even by law enforcement officials.
But if Mothman was real... and he truly was some unidentified creature that cannot be explained, what was behind the UFO sightings, the poltergeist reports, the strange lights, sounds, the “men in black” and most horrifying, the collapse of the Silver Bridge?

John Keel believes that Point Pleasant was a “window” area, a place that was marked by long periods of strange sightings, monster reports and the coming and going of unusual persons. He states that it may be wrong to blame the collapse of the bridge on the local UFO sightings, but the intense activity in the area at the time does suggest some sort of connection. Others have pointed to another supernatural link to the strange happenings, blaming the events on the legendary Cornstalk Curse that was placed on Point Pleasant in the 1770's.

And if such things can happen in West Virginia, then why not elsewhere in the country? Can these “window” areas explain other phantom attackers, mysterious creatures, mad gassers and more that have been reported all over America? Perhaps they can, but to consider this, we have to consider an even more chilling question... where will the next “window” area be? It might be of benefit to study your local sightings and weird events a little more carefully in the future!