Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 6

A reply to: A letter from Seth


Dear Seth,

I reread your letter again. I have read it at least five times. It’s a sacred text.

I enjoy the Spice Festival, too. I live near the plaza, close enough that it’s an extension of my living room, and I visit often, sometimes even during the festival.


I’m not a spice hound, though I love saffron.

You asked about how I became friends with Bjorn and Raj. I met Bjorn at the meadows one afternoon when we were both young–he was a student; I was a young professor. We started talking about Bach, and the conversation continues to this day. We don’t talk about much else besides Bach, his life and his music, and maybe that is why we are such fast friends.

I met Raj… how did I meet Raj? He’s a neighbor. I see him in the plaza. We take morning coffee together. We don’t talk much, and maybe that’s the secret of our friendship.

I don’t have a good understanding of how I become friends with others. I seem to find myself in friendships with nearly everyone I meet. My wife told me that it was because I have no expectations of my friends: I don’t expect them to agree with me or do things with or for me or to meet specific conditions. I simply know that I like nearly everyone I meet–and those I don’t like, I learn to like. Somehow, that leads me into friendship with them. I don’t know if they like me, but then I don’t expect them to.


Perhaps I know what you mean when you write, “There is meaning and notmeaning, and I always have too much of both,” and  also, “The hell of it is that the notenough is just as beautiful and infinite and painful as the toomuch, and I cannot contain either one.”

Yes. This brings to mind your question about how many Jaspers there are. My answer is connected with the experience of meaning/notmeaning, notenough/toomuch.

In the lifetime before Bess passed, there were many Jaspers: Professor Jasper, Scholar Jasper, Rebel Jasper, Iconoclast Jasper, Barefoot Jasper, Bess’s Jasper, Bearded Jasper, Bard Jasper, Uncle Jasper, Brother Jasper, Jasper with an awl in his hand, Jasper with a book in his hand, and Jasper with a beer in his hand. I didn’t even attempt to integrate them.

When Bess became ill and through the years after her passing, there was no Jasper. It was as you write, and I became lost in the infinity of both notenough and toomuch, sometimes bouncing from one to the other, sometimes stuck in the delta of both. In the pressure at the center of meaning and nomeaning, I dissolved.


I surfed the oceanic oneness. I thought I was experiencing attainment, enlightenment in this anatta that devastated me.

Now, I am finding bridges back to myself: doors don’t work, but bridges do.

What was that that John Lilly wrote in Center of the Cyclone?


I am a single point of consciousness, of feeling, of knowledge. I know that I am. That is all.

Lilly found this single point when he was out-of-body: I find it when I am fully in-body, embodied.

I agree with your definition of freedom: “an escape from this finite universe.” The only escape I know of comes through the finite universe: through the bridge to the infinite that is created when we are fully embodied. When the attention of conscious awareness sparks the consciousness within each cell inside of us, we light up. A light-bridge joins inside and outside, and we are both. Yet we are also fully and completely here, aware, and in our bodies. That’s freedom. That’s the bridge I traveled to become One Jasper.

Feel for a moment that one of your cells gains awareness. Imagine they all do. Each cell, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of the body that makes up the existence of you.

Now feel that you are conscious. Imagine that each of us is. Each one of us, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of a cosmos that makes up the existence of all-that-is.

When I realize that this single point exists within each of us, just as it exists within each of our cells, then this brings me to individuality within unity.


Yes… it’s the space between the toomuch and notenough where I strive to dwell. I’m not there always. Sometimes, I’m in the toomuch. Sometimes, especially when I wake, I’m in the notenough. But when I can feel the spaces in my body vibrating with that hum of electricity that is life energy, then I’m here, in the in-between.


When I am with my friends, I see that same unity of being–both individual and universal bridged within them–and maybe that is how I am able to become their friend.

My editor friend is actually a collector of doors. He loves old handmade Spanish colonial doors, preferably carved in mesquite. He is a very linear person, my editor friend. And he has a good many selves. I am fortunate enough to know at least six of them.

My editor friend takes his press very seriously. He says, “Printing is a holy act. And rebellious. It’s holy and rebellious.”


He prints books designed to restore people, to help them find and recover the broken up bits or, even better, to develop flexibility and resiliency so that those pieces never break in the first place. He’s a good man, my editor friend.

You say you’re wondering about the differences between bridges and doors. A door lets you cross between space that has been divided. A bridge connects a gap.

It takes, generally, one step to pass through the door. To cross a bridge takes many more.

I asked my editor friend what he would do if he were on a trestle and it began to hum. He says he would hum along with it, in a resonating key.


You asked, “How do you know when you’re bound to someone else in the same time and space?” Ah, but I am not bound to them: We are both bound, individually, to the same time and space–but we are not bound to each other. We are able, in that moment, to connect with each other, because our individual binding, for that moment, to the same time-space/space-time forms the bridge which allows us to exist, at that moment, in shared reality.

I was speaking of music as having that bridging power. But any shared experience can do it.

You ask if my self works the same way I say music works. I have never considered this before. I am tempted to say that the vibrational energy of music and the vibrational energy within my cells operate on the same principles, but I will need to give this more thought.


I think there’s something to your speculation that “perhaps all the different Seths are different notes, and if [you] could find the relation they have to each other then [you] would make sense to [your]self.”

As for me, the answer to your question regarding the “relation all the Jaspers have to each other,” the answer is not profound. All the Jaspers were various suits of clothes for various occasions , that’s all. Simply the dressing over this changing form that is me.


I once asked a friend who is a yogi, “How do I know what is me when I don’t know who I am anymore?”

He replied, “Breathe. Just breathe. Is that enough?”

It wasn’t, not then, when I had lost myself entirely. But it is now. In fact now, to breathe is enough.


Wishing you peace and space, my dear friend.


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Shift 14: Birthday


In a lot of ways, this is my best summer ever.

Ted’s really cool. He’s teaching me woodworking. I’ve been making sculptures.

He says most kids don’t have patience for it, because it takes so much sanding and chiseling to wear away what’s not wanted.

He says life is like that. If you want to be art, you gotta let life wear away and chisel all that gets in the way of your true form.

I think about that sometimes when I work the wood. Life has sure worn away so much from me. I don’t think what’s left is art. I don’t know what’s left. Just a body and a spark inside.

Ted says that’s what art is: the form and the spark.


I spend a lot of time alone because Ted heads off for days or even weeks at a time. He always takes a trip into town first and comes back with enough groceries to tide me through until he returns.

He was gone on July 15. That’s my birthday. Right now, I’m the only one on the planet who knows that July 15 is my birthday. Everyone else who ever knew is gone. Well, my uncle knew once, but he probably forgot. Or even if he didn’t, he doesn’t exist for me.

I decided to bake a cake.


I was turning 15, and I was gonna celebrate my quinceañera.


The cake turned out perfect. Even the icing looked perfect. There were chunks of wild strawberries in the cake. I thought of how proud Gran would be of me, baking perfect quinceañera cake.


This was the first birthday I’d ever spent alone.


Last year, Gran had teased me about the quinceañera.

“Next year, mija, you wearing a dress for the party? Frilly pink and flowers? Or a suit?”

She was sick then. She was really sick. But she still joked about this year, like she thought she’d pull through and be here.

“I’ll wear a suit,” I told her, and she laughed until tears came out of her eyes. But maybe she was crying because she knew. “I’ll wear a suit,” I said, “but I’ll wear a pink carnation in the top button hole. That’ll be my pink frills!”

I didn’t feel like eating cake anymore.


I headed out. Some luna moths circled over the meadow.


I walked towards the crags. The sky grew dark.


I sat on a boulder and watched the stars appear.


Some stars are suns of other planets.


It’s vast and silent. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your birthday.


I watched for hours. I watched in silence for eons. I fell away.


It isn’t personal, that’s what the vastness told me.

Nothing that happens is personal.

We live on a planet with billions of people. With so many, of course some will die. Many will die. It’s not personal.

It has nothing to do with me, that Mom and Dad died when I was eight, and Gran died last August. It just happened. It’s not a vendetta. It’s not fate. I wasn’t marked.

It simply happened. With billions of beings, some will die. It’s not personal. It just happens.

It’s not personal that I didn’t get to run track this year. It’s simply how it is.

It’s not personal that I’m alone on my birthday. It happens.

What’s personal is me.

Inside me, there’s something. Something that watches and feels and sees. That’s not personal, either. That’s the same as what’s out there, in the infinite.

What’s personal is that this spark is inside of me, and that I know it. I am it.


And what happens doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that I am this spark inside, inside my own particular self, and I am watching and witnessing and experiencing what happens.

It’s like I had two streams: the personal and the infinite, and within me they join to become one river, and that’s the same river that connects me with all that is.


I stayed out most the night, watching these two streams connect.

When I got back to the cabin, Ted was still gone. That means I get to sleep in the bed, since when he’s home I sleep in the sleeping bag on the porch.

It’s not personal that I got to sleep in a warm bed on my 15th birthday. It’s just what happened. I had the best sleep of my life. And that is personal.


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Three Rivers 30.1

Thirtieth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

30. The calm still pool


The writer shut down her computer.

“I’m heading out for a walk,” she called.

“Kill-ill-ill-ill or be ki-ill-ill-illed,” chanted her boyfriend in his best Vincent Price imitation from his own computer. Click, knock, clack. The interface for the online chess program registered his moves in rapid succession. “Prepare to meet your maker, potzer!”


An automated voice said, “Check mate,” and she heard the chime of a new game starting as she closed the door.

Across town, at that very moment, a man came home from his meeting, counting 229 days of sobriety.


The writer walked beneath clouded sky, searching for stars that might peek out.

A husband and wife shared a meal, each privately calculating how much longer they might continue to share a life.


A family celebrated a daughter’s award-winning botany project.


The Green Party candidate, when no one watched, picked up a bag of trash, simply for the joy of making the world more beautiful.


The writer paused to watch moonlight on the pond.

A nurse grabbed a cup of coffee before tending to her next round of patients.


The painter carried her easel to the upstairs deck, where the same moon that shone over the desert sparkled silver light on the tops of the leaves.


A man without a home found a steak dinner, grilled and left for him at the picnic table.


The moon kept shining, and clouds seemed to be made of silver light.


A child slept.


Her cousin played with bubbles while pretending to wash the dishes.


A big sister listened to her kid sister–not childhood secrets, anymore, but the talk that women share when a kind word is the only balm for a hurting heart.


Another woman, in solitude, became lost in a novel while the crickets chirped.


The moonlight traveled over the bay where the sailboat tucked in its sails for a good night’s rest.


A girl told a story for the hundredth time, and her mother felt more surprised by the ending than ever.


An old novelist finished her run, remembering when she’d walked these same cobblestones beside her lover, wrapped in his arms and smelling the muscatel on his breath.


A man wondered if cheerfulness were more resilient than accusations.


A son watched his mothers and hoped that maybe, someday, he might find a way to speak what he felt in his heart.


The mothers rested in their own shared feelings, which were broad enough to absorb all misunderstandings and even, the greatest mystery of all: another person, with his individual perceptions, ideas, and responses.


Light traced its mystery along the meniscus of the pond. Whose eyes saw this sparkle? The writer’s. A moth’s. A minnow’s. An owl’s.


Shimmering water touches more than our retinas–the light reaches deep inside our minds. Do we remember, in that flash, where we came from?

It all exists within; it all exists without.

The writer shuts off her computer.

“I’m heading out to say hi to the moon!” she calls to her boyfriend, playing chess on his computer at the kitchen table.

“Say hi from me,” he calls back.

The door closes on the house, and the universe spreads outside.

The earth turns slowly. The cosmos breathes. Through the galaxy, trillions of beings experience life through perceiving consciousness, individual in form and connected through the calm still pool at the center of each.

Author’s Note: And maybe, this right here is what Three Rivers is all about: