The Poetry and Prose of John Omniadeo

The Poetry and Prose of John Omniadeo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Flowers of Hopelessness

Before I tell what happened on Tuesday, the night of the Full Moon, I need to tell you about an interesting thing I've noticed.

I've noticed it in a few readers who have commented or have contacted me personally about these blog posts, but I can't really put it on them. It happened in me too. In fact it is my fault. It has to do with losing focus on what's important.

Originally my idea was to write about doing prostrations as a modern, Western non-affiliated practitioner of the universal dharma, because I have personally benefited from doing prostrations over the years and I wanted to share this very beneficial practice with others. So I wrote a blog post on prostrations on Ken Mcleod's Unfettered Mind Ning social networking site, “a place for...those whose path lies outside established centers and institutions.” God knows that's me.

Poor Ken. He may not have known just how far outside some of us hopeless outsiders could get and he himself stopped writing on the ning site right after I started. I don't think it's a total coincidence, but I run on the paranoid side and even if it's true, who can blame him? I was sorry to see him go. Ken has been a translator and done two three year retreats and his writings have helped me a lot and he is very interesting.

Prostrations, like the vast majority of Buddhist practices, are basically boring. Only an expert bullshitter like me could write a book about prostrations, because there really is only so much you can say about them. (I manage, though, so buy the book.)

In prostrations you just do the same thing over and over and over ad nauseam, and that ad nauseam is the really important part. Jean Paul Sartre called his first novel La Nausée, and to me it is also boring, but Buddhists don't just write about this stuff, we practice it.

Anyway, with some reservations I decided to make things a little more interesting by doing prostrations in downtown San Francisco, in Chinatown and the Tenderloin where I lived and meditated “outside established centers and institutions” as a young man. I developed a fondness for the people in those places, especially in the Tenderloin, where you might say I spoke the language better, and where la nausée goes on around you ad nauseam, but it's usually pretty interesting if you find humanity in extremis interesting.

That was the idea, but making things interesting was a compromise of sorts and when I first started this series of blog posts I was concerned that I was distracting would-be prostrators from the helpful boredom of prostration and moving their attention over to a lot of entertaining (and self-aggrandizing) stories about Big Bad John in the Big Bad City.

I was concerned. But I guess not concerned enough to stop. I can't help myself. “My name is John and I am an entertainer.” I am powerless over this urge.

I went even further and started to talk about Stealing Fire and Summoning Protectors and Rending the Veil and Santissima Muerte. But the most distracting topic of all was when I started to talk about penetrating the Mysterious Secret Female Place.

Nobody is thinking about boring old prostrations now!

And when I got up on Tuesday the Full Moon of my retreat, I wasn't thinking about them either. All my attention was focused on preparing for that momentous occasion under the Full Moon. It was no longer a Prostration retreat. More like an Anticipation retreat.

But what can I say? This kind of thing happens. Especially when we are in love. And there is nothing to do but work with it. Anticipation may be about the future but it can only happen in the present like everything else.

I had bought the Santissima Muerte candles the night before. They were packed in my knapsack. I had the Silver Monday Moon Earrings (the precious gift of the slimy Tenderloin sidewalk). I had specially selected pieces of the schizophrenic's Candy. (There were some white ones that seemed appropriate, so I chose those. I don't know what flavor they were. It was cheap candy—schizophrenics are not usually wealthy—and it all had the “one taste” of processed sugar.)

Monday's rainy weather was gone, so I knew that a visible fat Full Moon would be provided. Loony John's Heart-in-Love would come up with some suitable poetic sentiment. Everything was in place. What a night it would be! My hopes were higher than a Tenderloin crackhead.

Then I realized I did not yet have a suitable Offering of Flowers. A certain amount of anxiety began to creep up on my high hopes. This is not uncommon with high hopes. More than one encounter with the Secret Female Place has been ruined by high hopes leading to excess nervous energy which leads to anxiety and then failure at the critical moment.

All the experts tell you this. “Don't be goal oriented when it comes to the Secret Female Place.” “Stay in the moment without goals and expectations.” “Open your heart and just let things happen.” “There is no failure.”

It's all good advice but I always wonder, when they are writing this, are they in love? Or just writing books and giving talks.

I was in love.

I left late that Tuesday morning to go down to the Tenderloin with my love offerings. I knew I would be out all night on my date under the Full Moon so I let myself have the extra sleep. I didn't want my energy flagging when I needed it most. I tried to chant the Tara Mantra but thoughts about Hope and Hopelessness drifted in between and through and below and above my chant.

It's funny, but when you are Hopeless, there is Hope, but as soon as you feel Hope—it's Hopeless. Personally I spin around in this conundrum all the time. I breathe and stay in the moment and all that, but I am not going to lie to you. I can be one confused motherfucker at the same time.

I went into St. Boniface's Church to see La Virgen and light the Santissima Muerte Candles.

I offered a dedication: “For my Love and for all my sponsors and their hopeful hopeless Loves, our friends and our enemies and those unknown to us, all hopeless hopeful beings without exception.”

I looked down and saw a drying bouquet. The thought occurred to me that these might be the Flowers of Hopelessness I could offer for my Love.

Hmm. This would be a little different than Stealing Fire which remains behind when you steal it. I am not really a moralist. It wouldn't be the first time in my life I had taken the old five fingered discount. They were just old flowers. They would probably be cleared out soon anyway.

I asked La Virgen what to do and I received the answer by that deep knowing within that poets relate as a voice from without:

“You can have the Flowers, John. But you know these are not the real Flowers of Hopelessness for your Love. You will have to find these yourself and offer them tonight in the light of the Full Moon of Mind. I appreciate that you left your cardboard mat and your donation box behind. I accept your Candles of Death and will send their romance with you. Take your Sweets and your Silver Moon Metal Jewelry and present them and yourself as you are, and see what happens.”

I didn't argue and I didn't steal the Flowers. "What's the use?" I thought.

I left the church and tried to do prostrations on the green grass by the library, but nothing really worked that well that day. My right knee was very sore and stiff and that slowed me way down and distracted me. Great. I will be a limping gimp when I see Her. I had lost my cell phone so I felt like a scattered loser. I was all wrapped up in trying to impress my readers and sponsors and myself so I knew I was a phony. I couldn't stay “in the moment” at all that day. And what's worse, I couldn't get out of it either. All I could do was painfully anticipate my momentous date that night under the Full Moon.

I wanted to call the whole thing off, but I am a proud s.o.b. and that was out of the question. It was hopeless, but I would just have to go on and hope I was dealing with the kind of Female who doesn't expect a guy to be perfect.

Love to All,

John O.


  1. Perfectly disappointing or...
    Mundane tao at its finest.

  2. Optimistically disheartening.