Inside Out



The first thing Arnold saw with his torch when he crawled into his bender was a plate of cheese, bread and tomatoes, all produced at the Ashram. After he lit some candles and his oil lamp, he noticed there was a piece of paper under the Ashram-made blue plate. The wood-burning stove had been well stoked by someone. It was almost glowing. After making himself a sandwich Arnold sat beside the stove and munched away whilst reading the note left for him.

‘Arnold, discovering a crossroad is the opportunity to make a decision. Decision is the opportunity to develop the soul-seed. In a real decision one moves out of the old mind. The false teachings on spiritual enlightenment pivot on the desire to liquidate the ego. These teachings are the projections of those egos who are burdened with bad karma. Those souls who have awoken to their true nature, know that each soul is here to develop its moral character. It is a sign of weakness of character to believe different forms of distress arise from one’s situation.


I’ve got to go South. My brother, Lance, has been murdered in Paris. I shall go to his funeral to console his widow and my mother. I’ll be away for about a week. Hope you’ll still be here when I get back. Sorry about our difficulty in the cave. I still regard you as my real friend. Simon’

Arnold put the half finished letter down as there was a long P.S. Lance Mathews murdered! Arnold poured some tea from a pale blue thermos flask Simon had left beside the stove. Arnold was in no hurry to read more examples of Simon’s unhinged ‘thinking’. Now… he thought, Simon is going to get really unhinged. Arnold thought he would definitely split before Simon returned. He’d leave a note saying something like ‘Only what is seen sideways sinks deep’. The goat cheese seemed quite sharp, but with the chives mixed in, very tasty. After half an hour or so, Arnold eventually surrendered, and read the rest of the letter.

First of all it is very necessary to be a full blooded intelligent pagan: alive, hairy, soft, strong, humorous and pulsating with the cosmic rhythm. Then, when one is struck by the limited consciousness involved in one’s daily life, one has to stop and wait on this peak of human evolution. One has to stop trying to transform this limited awareness into bliss. One has to wake up to what one really needs. I am a pagan who is preparing himself to meet Christ. Lance’s death has shocked me awake. Shanti may need some help with wooding. God bless you. Simple Simon’

Simple! Arnold knew exactly why Simon had turned his name into this silly concept, but he thought it was wildly inaccurate. It had all started ten or more years ago when Arnold had referred to his own ego activity as ‘Clever Dick’. Soon the whole gamut was dredged up from the English language. Arnold suddenly realized why he felt strong. He did things in his own time. His own pace. He was neither driven or pulled as he saw Simon, and what he’d seen of Shanti, who appeared to be a clone of Simon’s deranged ideas. They marched to a tune which neither of them noticed. A dirge which Arnold had successfully tuned out, yonks ago. ‘Wavelength’ was another way of thinking about it. ‘My time is my own’ he thought, followed by the memory of the time he and Simon had developed the names game. ‘Clever Dick’ was clearly distinguished from ‘Smart Alec’, the latter being unmasked as an example of total un-creativity, the one who makes sure that when you crash, he has access to your wounds, so he can rub it in that he warned you. Clever Dick’s not a junkie on other’s misfortunes. He goes for getting marks or points at every opportunity, not to hurt others but to get their juice. Dick’s saving grace is his style, which is sort of creative. Then they dragged up Lord Muck, Show-Off, Pissed-off-Pete, Creeping-Jesus, Cry-Baby, Speedy Gonzalez, Peeping-Tom, Tea-Leaf Tommy, Billy-Liar, Humpty-Dumpty, Tight-Ass , Cowardly-Custard, Greedy-Guts, Sergeant Major, Scrooge, Shylock, Romeo, Big-Head, Tell-Tale-Tit, Egg-Head, Flash-Harry, Judas, Bully-Boy, Copy-cat, School-Marm, Moaning-Minnie, Sexie-Sadie, Miss-Piggy, Mean Bitch, Cheap Slut, Easy-Meat, Cut-Throat, and of course Simple-Simon. Once the ball had started rolling, Simon grabbed the opportunity to turn Arnold’s little primrose into a full scale Chelsea Flower Show. ‘Flash-’Arry’ thought Arnold. Light without love. Gotta get there. Gotta get there. Speedy Gonzalez. Simon was away that evening. Is away, ‘period’, as the yanks say. Simon saw the encounter with the pie man as an indication of innocence encountering the cold calculating whirld. Simon insisted on Arnold clocking the significance of ‘whirld’. To make his point, Simon excitedly blurted out that the ego lives in the blind spot of the eye, (I), sucking out the light meant to nourish the hungry soul. “Look, I, Simple Simon,” he had said, “see a pie, feel hungry and want one, but the representative of the whirld, the cold, calculating pie-man, is not on the way to the fair to give pies away. He’s out and about in order to get power (money). So innocence is thwarted because it has not yet been tricked into becoming a member of the corrupting whirld. At that point Simple Simon had not yet been dealt into the game. Because he didn’t know the rules of the game, he was ridiculed and generally marginalized, and put down. And when called ‘Simple’, ‘the Clever Dicks etc., mean ‘Stupid Simon’. Simon insisted this all happened to him when he was a child. Bully-Boy, Clever-Dick and Speedy-Gonzalez would set him tasks he was petrified of doing, like they forced him to climb up the face of incredibly dangerous cliffs, and if he refused to climb, he was apparently jeered at and called Cowardly – Custard. Eventually, he said he became so scared of whirldly people, he became Humpty-Dumpty attempting to get above it all, yet of course terrified to make a move, for fear of going mad… going to pieces, and he knew that none of the whirld’s psychiatrists would ever be able to put him back together again. But according to Simon, Wise-Owl put him straight. Apparently Wise Owl is the only character who knows that he is not the Master, the True Self, the real ego. That’s exactly why he is wise. And Simon today thinks he’s following Owl’s advice, and is no longer pursuing what he would call ‘soul destroying goals’. Simon says that Wise Owl wisdom is centered in the concept of no-body. Wise Owl’s Master is no-body. Simon explained that the real reason he had become so brittle and therefore frightened of falling to pieces was because he had thought fulfillment in life came from being some-body. A somebody. And, he said, “if you’re a some-body, the last being you want to encounter is a no-body. Simon reckoned that God is a no-body, Wise Owl is Christ, and the fair: – the false image of reality, the whirld… or the condition which is the result of unfeeling, soul-less calculation. Arnold carefully folded up the letter, opened the wood-burning stove and fed the little square to the flames. No one could ever say that I haven’t listened to Simon’s raps, but has Simon ever listened to me? “Can I come in ?” Arnold couldn’t place the American? female voice as he crawled towards its source, pulled open the canvas ‘door’, and said, “sure… whoever you are?” “Goldilocks,” chuckled Molly crawling into the large comfy bender. (Simon had built it especially for Arnold, although Arnold was not told this, because Simon didn’t want his ascetic friend to feel obliged to feel grateful. Simon had the impression that Arnold was always touchy about any issue where people’s expectations of him were suspected). “Jesus! You’ve got a fabulous pad.” Arnold examined her approach as she took off her damp woolly hat and lent her head back and shook her long blond hair loose. “Sorry, have I said the wrong thing ?” “Probably,” Arnold replied, quietly watching Molly as she stood up and started examining the Indian shawls and lunghis covering the curved canvas walls of his Gypsy bender. (Like a large igloo or Zulu hut in shape, Arnold’s bender had been made by covering bent Rowan branches with heavy canvas). The entire floor was covered with one very big Afghani red and blue piled carpet. “Should I not have called myself Goldilocks?” “I don’t know why don’t you ask yer mum!” “Jesus!” “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong address. He don’t live here.” “Sorry I’ve done it twice now.” “What?” “Called you Jesus. It must be my sub-conscious. I’m sorry.” Arnold broke up some sticks to increase the heat from the black horizontal stove (welded together by Simon out of scrap metal). He then held up a teapot. “Yeah… I’d love a cup of tea,” whispered Molly whilst taking off her green wellies. “Now where are you going?” Arnold sensed Molly experimenting with her sense of panic as he went outside and filled the old iron kettle from a wooden barrel. As he re-entered Molly said, “what sort of tea have you got ? Normal boring rations meaning herb tea ?” “Nope! P.G. Tips or Typhoo. Take yer pick or would you prefer a mix? “ “I’ll go for the mix please and is there any milk ?” Arnold held up a small brown Ashram-made jug and sniffed. “Yep smells OK. No sugar.” “I don’t take it, do you?” “Sometimes.” Molly sitting on a cushion purred, “where do you sleep?” “Why d’ya ask?” “Well, I’ve got a bed in my bender I mean…” “I don’t sleep in beds. I sleep on floors in my clothes with a blanket thrown over me. Is that interesting?” “No, I’m sorry, I’m re-acting to an inner fear that you’re going to kick me out soon because…” “I’m a big bear called Jesus who’s afraid you’re going to eat all my porridge and sleep in my bed!” Molly stared and pulled her black skirt down over her knees. “Yeah, I’m acting on an old program.” “Who isn’t?” “Are you?” “Probably.” “Do you feel fear?” “Now ?” “Yes.” “No.” “I feel fear all the time.” “That’s the body/mind trying to control.” “What?” “You.” “What my real un-realized Self?” “If you like.” “Does the real Self feel anything?” “The Self is a feeling. It’s a feeling which can think. The nearest it usually comes to fear is trying to avoid it. It’s been trained to be afraid of fear.” “Isn’t being afraid of fear the same as feeling fear?” “No. Being afraid of fear is a mental view on the body feeling fear. If the view is abandoned the fear,” Arnold was going to say, ‘transforms itself’, but then he realized he was moving into preaching. He kept quiet and cleaned a couple of Ashram-made dark green mugs. “I think Simon says much the same about viewpoints. Did you know he’s gone South to his brother’s funeral?” “Yes.” “I never knew,” said Molly, “until this afternoon that Lance Mathews was Simon’s brother. Simon never mentioned it…” “Why should he. He had no time for his brother.” “He’s been murdered in Paris by a…” “I don’t care who you think murdered him. God murdered him.” “You really think so?” “What do you think?” “I hate everything Lance Mathews stood for, so I’d be glad to think his death was caused by divine intervention.” “Look what counts is not Lance’s views, or my views, or Simon’s views, or even God’s views, but where you are coming from?” “I’m feeling a mounting panic.” “Yeah? Are you sure you’re feeling this so called panic, or are you trying to not feel this so called panic?” “I’m trying to distance myself from it.” “From where are you perceiving this panic?” “From a place of not wanting it!” “What place is that?” Molly closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on Arnold’s question, but she actually felt overwhelmed by her reaction to Arnold’s presence. Not to what he’d said. His presence was frying her. “Jesus this bender’s like a micro oven.” “Really?” O my God, thought Molly, I’ve done it again, my sub-conscious is projecting like a maniac, I can’t seem to see him in anything but a religious context. And I know that leads to the opposite. Next I’ll be imagining he’s an agent for the devil! God I’m so sick of my paranoid projections. Why am I so scared to call him ‘Arnold’? To hear myself say his name. Perhaps his name isn’t Arnold anymore? Just like mine’s been changed, but he would never agree to that, and in any case he’s not required to do so, since he’s not really a part of the Ashram, he’s only a visitor, and not really visiting the Ashram, but his friend Simon. I wonder if Simon is Simon’s real name or one taken out of a hat like mine? I’m sure that’s how Shanti got hers, she’s not afraid to let her sexuality be seen… sensed… felt? Molly breathed very deeply. Arnold took the cue and also breathed in very deeply before saying very quietly, “Why have you closed your eyes?” “I’m trying to slow down. I always close my eyes when I’m trying to concentrate on my thoughts.” “I didn’t suggest you should look at thoughts but be aware of where you’re coming from?” “Christ man are you trying to mind-fuck me?” “Of course, what do minds like better than mind-fucking?” Arnold shook some P.G. Tips into the Ashram-made cream tea pot and placed it on top of the stove. “Jesus, I haven’t even told you my name.” “Yes you did.” “I’m not Goldilocks.” “No?” “God we’re in such a mess.” “Are we ? “ “Alright, I am, and d’you know why? It’s because you seem so together, your energy is eroding my fucking front, or something like that.” Most of Arnold was bored with this type of trip, but not all of him. His acute awareness was embarrassing him. Yet in some inescapable way, she was showing him his own position was a game. What was the point? He could see that that part of him which was already involved, was involved because Goldilocks was manipulating him, and even if that was a misperception, it was safer to think that way. He poured the boiling water into the pot’s black hole. The faint tattoos on his dark muscular arms sent Molly off on another trip. “I’ve got some fresh honey.” “No thanks.” Molly took the hot mug from his hand. “I suppose you have this weird effect on a lot of young women?” “Yep. On middle-aged and old ones as well.” After a very long fascinating silence, he added (whilst imagining he was a big brown bear addressing Goldilocks, whilst mummy bear and baby bear are out looking for more honey)… “most women are more interested in sexual dramas than in enlightenment.” Arnold smiled enjoying the sudden warmth he felt inside, and thought about making a joint. Simon was away, so was that why he was considering smoking dope in the bender, against the rules? “D’ya fancy a smoke?” Arnold asked very calmly “Do you think Simon is a Master?” “He’s not my Master if that’s what you’re wondering.” Arnold replied with a definite coldness. “I know he’s not your Master, but do you think he’s worthy of being regarded as a Master?” “Look I’m split, and my splits are split, and so on, so who are you asking?” “D’you know why you’re so split? It’s probably because you smoke too much dope.” “Dope doesn’t dissect, it reveals something” “Arnold! For fucks sake! You’re obviously at home in this life style. I’m out of my depth, and scared, and I’ve come here to be HEALED, and now my doctor’s split and…” “I never said I was your doctor.” “I wasn’t referring to you. I meant Simon’s my doctor who’s now split.” “He was always split like all of us. So what? The main point is you haven’t answered my question. Do you want a smoke?” Arnold slowly turned towards Molly and looked into her very unusual eyes. The left one clear blue, the other vivid grass green. This he’d never seen before. “You’re weighing me up aren’t you? Come on man what are you doing?” Arnold gently bit the inside of his bottom lip and laughed. “I suppose,” Molly added, averting his gaze, “you’ve been told that there’s an Ashram rule of no dope or tobacco?” “We could walk down by the river.” “It’s cold!” “You’re just scared.” “Yes I’m scared. I told you that. I’m scared of my own mind, of what happens to me when I get stoned. I’m scared to be taken out of my safe habitual little fears, and then get plunged into a mammoth tidal wave which could carry me away so that I’ll not be able to find my feet ever again. Can’t you see Arnold… I need to be HEALED. Yes I desperately need healing, not more shaking up. That’s already be done to me. I trust Simon, I think he’s a good man, and I like what he’s done here and is continuing to do here, it’s truly wonderful. He and Shanti have really created a strong yet gentle healing space, and I haven’t been here long, not much more than you, and I don’t know if I can trust you?” Molly suddenly obeyed an impulse and turned her bewildering eyes onto Arnold and sought his heart. “Who said you should trust me?” “You’re right actually,” whispered Molly in a confessional intonation. “I can see it’s my self I can’t trust. The panic is because somehow you’re dissolving my viewpoint… like as if I’ve already taken some sort of psychedelic.” “So it’s come on?” “What d’you mean?” “I put a tab of acid in your tea.” Molly froze and went dramatically white. Arnold didn’t know what to do? He knew he shouldn’t have done it. Actually he hadn’t put a tab in her tea but in the tea pot, so he knew it wouldn’t be that strong. He had no option since the dice had told him to put the tab in with the Typhoo and P.G. Tips. (Ever since he’d read The Dice Man ten years ago, he’d conducted his life according to the option which the dice decided). He had become a Master at disguising the throwing of the dice. He did it in his pocket. His fingers trained to identify the six dotted faces. The dice now told him to lie. “It’s O.K, I was pulling your leg. Yeah you’re probably right, dope wouldn’t do you any good, you already know what you need.” Arnold didn’t know what he meant by that. After a LONG DIFFICULT SILENCE in which they both reviewed their separate merry-go-rounds, Arnold decided to not hold Molly’s hand, that enticing long fingered, ringed fingered… yes rings on every finger, on both thumbs and rings in both of her ears, three in one ear, four in the left one, everything made of silver and each piece had the sudden ability to amplify the silence… yes the silence was becoming extraordinary… like Molly felt it was becoming substantial… like it had already become a third member of their new game? Yes, thought Molly, silence has at long last befriended me… me? She looked into Arnold’s shining face. No, the silence is befriending us. Maybe silence is the emanations of the Cosmic Christ which Shanti spoke about after Simon raced off to Lance’s funeral. Maybe this is why I’m here, to be healed by silent emanations, to be healed by Arnold’s presence? And then she realized the essence of her merry-go-round, thought about it and said, “what sort of dope have you got?” “You don’t need dope.” (Arnold said this because he was feeling very worried about the effect L.S.D. might have on Goldilocks). “I could maybe have just a toke on yours.” “OK. Where? Down by the river?” “Yes Arnold. I don’t want to betray my word.” It’s a question of how many people you are.” “Arnold are you trying to drive me mad?” “I’m always on the look out for what’s unusual.” “Arnold, I feel I’m moving into that Magic Theatre Hesse describes in Steppenwolf.” They were now walking through the pitch dark…about half a mile from the swift flowing River Kyle. Every now and then a bat would flit by and give Molly the horrors. “Remember,” said Arnold very softly, “the price for entering that Magic Theatre is your mind.” After they smoked the joint in the dark, on the damp bank of the restless river, Molly took the plunge and rested her head on Arnold’s lap. (He was sitting crossed-legged on his jerkin). “Why is it Arnold that with some people you can do nothing but love them?” Molly was waiting for Arnold to politely ask her to not rest her head in his lap. Instead he placed the soft palm of his hand on her forehead before running his fingers through her long, damp blonde hair. “I don’t know anything about love,” Arnold said softly. “I’ve been caught by the image of love many times. The whole flower power movement got led astray by taking the image of love to be real. So I’m wary of your question.” “OK, maybe it’s not love, but I have this urge to be close to you. To open my heart to you. To have no resistance to you.” Arnold was astonished at how Molly didn’t notice that she was tripping on the acid he’d definitely put in the teapot. He was glad that he’d only put one tab in the pot, because even so, it was pretty strong. He was tempted to tell her what was going on, but the dice decided against it. She seemed happy enough to think her euphoria was due to the joint they’d just smoked. “The point is,” said Arnold still running his fingers through her hair, “the flower power movement was born of a real vision of freedom. And to maintain that vision the courage to be absolutely honest with oneself was an absolute requirement.” “You said ‘was’. Is absolute honesty not required any more?” “The flower power movement no longer exists. It was destroyed by the agents of the State. By fear. By violence. By mindlessness. Make no mistake, the flower power movement was the beginning of a massive social revolution, like the dawning of Communism in Russia. But it was not a left wing revolution, its roots were in the eternal reality of spiritual Truth, which is why both the Right and the Left clubbed together to defeat its growth.” “I think Simon agrees with you completely on that point. Did you know that he’s gone to his brother’s funeral? “ “You’ve asked me that before. D’you think I’m asleep?” “I’m sorry… I’m very… very stoned. It’s incredibly strong hash. Like acid.” Arnold hesitated, then said, “Yes I did know he was dead. Simon left a note for me. Lance Mathews was an absolute bastard. One of the leading agents against the flower power movement. A murderer of the spirit. The world will be a slightly better place without his poisonous presence.” “Arnold, I’m feeling cold. Shall we go back to the Ashram and warm up in either your bender or mine?” “OK Goldilocks. I’ll follow you.”

Inside Out by Neil Oram is published in print and ebook editions by Barncott Press:

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