Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven

 

guitar-graveyard-by-gordon-heaney-1

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3AODHOPD9J6BH

The link above is the nomination site at Amazon for Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven. If I get enough nominations, Amazon will publish the book under their imprint (Kindle Scout) and give me a $1500 advance. Here’s the new cover. I think it’s a little easier to read than the red/white gradient I’d utilized before.

Advertisements

Ever Had That “This Is It, It’s Over” Feeling?

maniaA few days ago I started two new meds for a manic episode I had. (Yes, I’m bipolar). People were frowning on the fact that I walked around the streets and parks naked. I can justify that by saying our Digambar monks do it, so why can’t I? Of course, in this society, I could catch an indecent exposure or sexual harassment charge for that, so I told my psychiatrist about it. I also told her I’ve also been climbing the walls and feeling out of control. The meds she put me on were Geodon and Seroquel. I made the mistake of taking two Seroquels on the first day instead of one. I went to bed around 9PM and woke up at 7:30AM. Obviously, two pills were two strong so last night I took just one. It worked fine. As far as the Geodon, I feel a little more balanced, like I’m not going to snap suddenly.

HOWEVER –

This morning I was sitting in the mall playing a game on this here computer, when out of the blue, I got light-headed and started seeing double. It drove me nuts. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get my vision realigned. Instinctively, I reached to palpitate my pulse and felt nothing. My blood pressure was so low that the lack of a pulse put me in panic mode. You know what’s the first, and only, thing I thought? That I didn’t have a chance to finish the new book I’m writing. Once I’m done, then yeah, it probably won’t matter so much. But since I’ve already written 212 pages/77,000 words, I might have only two months to go.

The book’s called ‘Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven’. I’m not sure if I’d posted that before; I barely seem to get the time to create new posts these days. The Jain influence in the book is strong, but hopefully, not so strong that it seems like I’m proselytizing, I think this novel has a lot of potential, so chances are, I won’t publish it myself. I’d like to go the way of an established publisher or try to do that Amazon/KDP Select Publishing deal or whatever it’s called. If neither of those pan out I’ll just publish it m’self.

Do People NEED to be Ruled?

DictatorsMass peopleI just finished reading an interview on Slate about how Islam could never be secular, could never be liberal. The Arab Spring, for instance, was a chance to turn power back to the people. It failed, and those countries are back to being how they were. It said that Tunisia is a promising notion, that they could move towards secularism. But then, you have lots of young Tunisians, the future of Tunisia, fighting with ISIS. In other words, it’s just a matter of time before even Tunisia turns into Libya, Iran, Turkey, etc. That’s the Muslim concept. South Korea is secular and their system works. North Korea, having the same peoples, is a failure. Their people defect every so often and let the world know how corrupt their country is. Here’s the thing: if there is, within us, an instinctual quest for power, like it’s hardwired in our brains somewhere, we will always need to be kept in check lest one party conquers the other with impunity.

I brought this us because I was thinking about a Jain world. I know everyone says their religion is the best, and I’m not claiming Jainism is the best, but the fundamental thrusts of our behavior is vastly different than a lot of religions and, in that sense, governments.

Firstly, Jainism is self-ruled. You are responsible for your altitude, not an imam, or priest, or rabbi, or cardinal, or Pope or, by extension, a president, Party Chairman or royalty.

Secondly, Jainism is non-violent, that means no harboring of ill will towards your neighbors – none, zero, zip. All your guns, your tanks, your whips, your bombs will be placed in a rocket and shot out into space where it’ll float around in space endlessly. Or destroyed in a huge bonfire, whichever is safest.

Thirdly, and this is probably the most important which, by the way, is the most improbable – all Jains are equal. We seek no power over each other. That’s the part I’m wondering about – are we NOT hardwired for equality? I’d hate to imagine a world of Jains at each others’ throats. That’s not even a perversion of Jainism. Plain and simply, it is NOT Jainism at all. You know, in Jainism, we say: Non-violence and kindness to living beings is kindness to oneself. Maybe we don’t like ourselves that much? Just curious.

Caution: Terrorists In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

tarishi23Whenever terrorists (sorry, they’re not freedom fighters) strike somewhere, like in Dhaka, Bangladesh yesterday, a part of me gets sucked out because of the tragedy. I think being an “international” type of person makes me feel the anguish deeply. By international, I mean I can relate to the recent ambush at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando because most of the dead were gay and some were also African-American. It also hurts that a lot of the dead were also Puerto Ricans because their men are some of the hottest in the world. I’ve been with a few myself. In Dhaka, one of the dead was beautiful 19 year old student Tarishi Jain from India. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she was a Jain as quite a few Jains have that surname.

Today should’ve been a day of celebration for me because I published my new book, You Can’t Sleep Here: A Clown Guide to Surviving Homelessness, today on Amazon. Here’s the link. https://www.amazon.com/You-Cant-Sleep-Here-Homelessness-ebook/dp/B01HUKCDO8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1467509819&sr=8-3&keywords=you+can%27t+sleep+here#nav-subnav

You Can't Sleep jpg

The governments of the world really have to put a stop to these extremist, radical ISIS soldiers; the faster, the better.

In Defense Of Beggars & Begging

SoulI don’t do it, but apparently, many do around the world. You see them everywhere – outside the malls, outside the grocery stores, standing on street corners, sitting beneath the protruding glass and concrete awnings of metropolises everywhere; you can’t miss ’em. They’re beggars. They want your money for food, for beer, for drugs, for a bus ticket back home (so they say), for whatever. I’ve never looked at them with disdain; however, I never did give them money because I felt they’d just use it for drugs and, if they really were hungry, they’d hit up a food pantry somewhere.

Because of Jainism, I’ve come to look at beggars differently. I now see what they do as being a service to mankind. Yep. With a simple donation of food or cash you eradicate some of the negative karma that has built up on your soul. Since you have to do one act of kindness every day, helping a beggar out in his time of need is but one way to accomplish this task. It’s real easy, too. It’s not like you have to go out of your way to help them. They’re right there, under your nose. So give generously, people. The soul you may be saving is yours, not theirs.

My Conversation With Michael Jackson at the Food Bank

michael-jacksonHiya, folks. I was sitting here on the floor at the Wallingford Food Bank surfing the internet when I happened to look up. Lo and behold, it’s my old pal, the king of pop, Michael Jackson. He’s trying to be incognito wearing torn jeans and a grey hoodie but I’d recognize him anywhere. He’s always been a good conversationalist so I’ll secretly now use my laptop to record our conversation.

Me: [I get up and walk over to him] Hey Mike!

Mike: [Puts an index finger to his lips] Shhh! Hey Robin, I’m trying not to be noticed.

Me: [I sit next to him and we shake hands] Boy, a lot of people sure miss you.

Mike: That’s sweet. I miss them, too.

Me: Man, I haven’t seen you since the ‘Bad’ tour.

Mike: Just busy, you know?

Me: Yeah. Of course. So how have you been?

Mike: Okay. Can’t complain.

Me: What brings you to this food bank like us poor folks? You can afford to have steak and lobster at the Waldorf-Astoria every day.

Mike: Well, they keep us on a strict diet in Heaven, so every so often I come down here for something different.

Me: Uh huh.

Mike: Oh, sorry, man. I forgot you don’t believe in God. My bad.

Me: Actually, Mike, this morning I had an epiphany.

Mike: What happened?

Me: I was lying there at the transitional shelter thinking about Anekāntavāda and saw life in a new light, if you will.

Mike: What’s Anekāntavāda?

Me: It’s the Jainism belief that truth and reality can be ascertained from different viewpoints, that there is no single truth.

Mike: I’ve heard of Jainism. Are you a Jain now?

Me: Oh yeah. I’ve been a Jain all my life, just never knew it. A lot of the tenets and beliefs in Jainism I could have written myself because they’re right in step with how I think anyway. A lot of penances they suggest, I’ve done. You know, Mike, over the years I’ve practiced fasting, eating food without seasonings, getting rid of things I like my concert shirts, walking miles instead of driving or taking the bus, sleeping on surfaces other than a bed, etc.

Mike: So you found religion.

Me: Yep.

Mike: That’s your epiphany?

Me: What are we sitting on?

Mike: Chairs?

Me: Why do you call them chairs? Why not footstools?

Mike: [Looking puzzled] Because they’re… chairs?

Me: Says who?

Mike: I guess everyone. It’s common knowledge.

Me: Around the world? They call it ‘chair’?

Mike: Well, in different languages, of course. In Beijing, it’s ‘yizi’. In Mexico City, it’s ‘silla’. In downtown Addis, it’s ‘weniberi’. In Moscow, it’s ‘stul’…

Me: So it is footstool in Russia!

Mike: Nope. That would be ‘skameyechka diya nog’. Where are you going with this?

Me: Where does the word ‘chair’ come from?

Mike: I don’t know. Maybe European or Native American?

Me: And it’s an old word.

Mike: I guess.

Me: Maybe Caveman Og called it a chair and the name stuck.

Mike: Could be.

Me: So now it’s widely known as ‘chair’, not ‘footstool.’

Mike: I guess so. That’s how everyone knows it.

Me: Can I change it to footstool?

Mike: You can change it to grease paint if that floats your boat. It’s still a chair.

Me: The majority of people call it a chair so I may as well, too. It’s ridiculous to refute that, even if Og was wrong by calling it ‘chair’.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, if you want proof, you can always go back in time when Og was naming things. Even if it wasn’t ‘chair’, it doesn’t matter. Just accept it’s a chair. Millions of people have been calling it ‘chair’ for centuries. Even if the word for it really is ‘footstool’, it’s still a chair because they all believe it’s a chair.

Me: Right. And millions of people over the centuries have said there is a God. Even if I doubt that, it doesn’t matter. God still exists.

Mike: [rubbing his chin] I see where you’re coming from. So you’re not an atheist anymore?

Me: Oh, yeah. I still am, but Anekāntavāda says there are different viewpoints to truth and reality so it’s a concept I accept. With Anekāntavāda there is space for more than one viewpoint which Jainism teaches us to accept. If people say there’s a God in Heaven, I have no choice but to accept that. That’s my epiphany.

Mike: Wow. Robin, you must be getting old. Years ago you would never have said that.

Me: Yeah. I’m still learning. Student for life.

Mike: You were always inquisitive anyway.

Me: That’s true.

Mike: Hey, Robin, they just called my number. I’m gonna get my bag of groceries and bounce; [points to the sky] get back up there before they notice.

Me: Thanks for talking, Mike. People really miss you down here. You’re one of a kind.

Mike: Thanks. Take care.

 

On Being An Autistic Jain

reincarnation10“I do not know if there is rebirth or not, or life after death. But if it is true, then I would like to be born in India as a Jain.” Albert Einstein, suspected autistic.

One of my interests is human behavior. I am especially interested in how different people interact with each other. I am equally as interested in how a person behaves who has several strands to their genetic makeup and personality. Among other things, I’m autistic and a Jain – autistic by birth, Jain by choice. These two leanings can complement each other and, at times, work against each other. So far, these are a few pros and cons of this unique combination that I’ve discovered.

Pros: The Jain diet is extremely narrow and strict; in essence, I pretty much eat the same thing every day – fruits, peas, beans corn, rice, nuts and granola bars. For an autistic, this is not a problem as they are known for eating the same thing everyday anyway, some at always the exact same time every day.

Autistics tend to eschew modern fashion, so the latest styles at Nordstrom’s or Abercrombie & Fitch eludes them. In fact, some autistics wear the same things day in and day out. I don’t know if Steven Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are aspies, but they do wear the same thing all the time, at least Steven Jobs did when he was alive. Jains practice aparigraha – own little, desire little. That Jain tenet works beautifully with the autistic ‘less is okay ‘ canon.

Cons: Logic. Some autistics are logical to a fault. Seeing is believing, abstract art is a waste of time. Counting, categorizing, compartmentalizing and collecting things are all pluses in the autistic world. Why play with a toy police car when you can take it apart to see what makes it work? These ideas are at odds with the Jain concepts of Heaven, Hell, the soul, karma and reincarnation because they’re abstract. They can’t be seen or felt; they must be simply believed.

Reconciling this dichotomy is a tricky affair, but my approach is this – Heaven and Hell are states of being. If you’re a gangbanger, or you’re full of hate, or you commit crimes often, or break the law often, or lie, cheat and steal or abuse drugs, then you’re living a life in Hell. You don’t have to wait to die to go into the fiery netherworld; you’re already living in it. Heaven is eschewing negative emotions and having compassion, charity and forgiveness in your life. According to the Jaina Dharma, owning and wanting nothing is also Heaven on earth. At least it is to me anyway.

I reconcile the soul as not being able to be visualized but simply detected. Can I prove that? Not really. I’m just going off the observations I’ve been privy to by animals. Some animals approach certain people without much trepidation, as if they see something good in or around these people, as if they have a positive aura which only the animals can see. Same thing for negative people. Animals avoid them or growl at them because they’re sensing something negative about them. I’ve had animals approach me, and even eat off my hand, when those same animals were too timid to approach anyone else.

Karma probably manifests as coincidence. Some philosophies believe there is no such thing as luck; you create positivity or negativity by your own behavior. If you get into fights a lot, or crash your car a lot, or lose your money from time to time, or trip and fall very often, or always seem to get caught in the rain without an umbrella, then your soul is flooded with negative karma. Since some Jains believe all karma is bad, then your soul is simply flooded with karma. The positivity in your life, then, is a result of the absence of karma.

I can’t prove karma but maybe it’s as simple as “you reap just what you sow/that old saying is true.” That’s Bob Marley and I think he had it right. I’ve been trying my level best to do good, be charitable, eliminate negative thoughts, avoid bad situations, etc. Not easy in this world; all I can do is give it a shot. So far, though, I’ve tended to find things in the street that I’ve needed: gloves when the weather was freezing cold, bottles of water when I was dying of thirst, money when I was broke, a large piece of denim for the hole in my pants, etc. I’ve had someone take off his sneakers, which just happened to be my perfect size, and give them to me because the ones I had had turned to shreds. I’ve gotten a sleeping bag just when I needed one for sleeping in my car. Finding food in the street is a common occurrence for me as well as finding a place to plug this laptop into in public.

Reincarnation, unfortunately, is still a matter out of my grasp. My autistic logical mind says, “Prove it.” Right now the only way I can reconcile reincarnation is the knowledge that all matter is not created or destroyed, just altered in form. A dead body dissolves into the ground or the sea and becomes part of the elements – food for other animals, calcium deposits, carbon footprints, etc. Can my soul find a new life in another’s body? Sounds like a good idea. I wish I could prove it,