OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 22
“All life should involve waking from a dream.”
Leigh-on-Sea. Two o’ clock at night. Quietly shutting his front door, the Buddha walked down the small close, towards the recently reopened railway line. He wore two Arsenal shirts, away kit over home, to rebuff the breeze. Scruffy white track suit bottoms and red trainers completed Siddharta Gautama’s attire.
An important task lay ahead, but the cake in his stomach dominated the moment. The offering from Mrs Hudson, his neighbour, was laden with cherries.
He turned left, heading east. Reconstruction still everywhere in evidence. The road changed names continually during the next mile. Cars passed sporadically. Endless ‘For Sale’ boards littered the cliff-top road.
He had not expected his sojourn in Essex, nor its dense obsessions with property, money and sex. He maintained balance by pursuing the ‘middle way’ required of all situations. He mixed freely with the workmen who were amalgamating the six dwellings comprising his spiritual centre. He listened, showing compassion and generosity.
Further ballast lay in deep meditation, the steady intake of tea and cake, and Match of the Day, a television programme each Saturday and Sunday evening. Arsenal were leading the Premiership, but Buddha knew results were transient.
As he walked, a slivered moon lit the roadside topiary, much of it still twisted from the May 12 apocalypse.
His ‘ashram’ was nearing completion. It would unveil ways to explore and control the inner world; and teach healing techniques. He had asked Micky Gaze to install equipment to play music. Buddha collated his favourites, including Awake my Soul by Mumford & Sons. Another choice was Santana’s Put Your Lights On, in which an angel told people to discard fear. The sounds looped while the men worked. Including You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by the Rolling Stones, and All We Have is Now by the Flaming Lips.
He still knew so little about England’s oldest county, whose profile had become inextricably linked to a television show named ‘The Only Way is Essex’, Mrs Hudson said. Yet almost three quarters of Essex was rural, she told him. She insisted there was more to it than girls with fake eyelashes emerging from tanning salons.
The previous morning Siddharta listened to two local decorators malign a Polish plumber grafting tirelessly in the same building. He was “stealing our jobs”, they said. Talk turned proudly to the new royal baby, and Prince Harry’s military tour of Afghanistan. The Buddha had perspective, having descended from the Shakya dynasty. Buddhism stressed the merit in good lineage.
Reaching Chalkwell Avenue, Siddharta turned downhill. The tsunami’s imprint was evident as the seafront came into view. Many homeowners had been unable to make repairs without compensation. Mounting some steps by a closed vending hut, he found a bench, with a view of the Crow Stone in the foreground of the becalmed estuary. It was time to experiment.
Yesterday, astride his Ducatti, Satan had screeched into the close hosting Buddha’s new home, and almost hammered down the door. Leathered, from chin to toe, Sal was grim with anger. “Come in and talk,” said Buddha. He sat him in the kitchen and offered sweet tea, but Satan was beyond creature comforts.
On the bench, back in the present moment, Buddha lifted his physical awareness, lessening his habitually meditative state. His five senses were ready to see if his feelings approached Satan’s. He felt his slightly aching leg muscles, dryness in his throat, and stiffness in his shoulders. Through the jogging pants, the seat was unyielding.
What he had been told was ………..but even as he re-considered the information his smile broke through.
Satan had discovered that Britain’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, would be asking for another increase in her budget. The news would leak out in weeks ahead. Buddha regarded this information neutrally, but the punchline had made him excuse himself, to visit the bathroom. He wet a flannel, washed his ears, used a mirror to ensure their complete cleanliness, and returned downstairs.
“Tell me that last sentence again please Sal,” he requested. Satan had begun to see the impossible humour, green eyes twinkling again. “I said she reckons she is down to her last million pounds”.
Now Siddharta roared with unbridled laughter. Eyes streaming, arse farting as his body tried to expel air through every escape valve. His shoulders heaved. His belly began to hurt. In houses set back, he heard windows opening, and an exhortation to “let us get some bleedin’ sleep”. He waved in apology, noticing several houses still boarded up. The force of the laughter made him pull his Arsenal top across his mouth.
Satan’s incandescence had eventually transformed into cold logic. “Sid, the saddest thing is that her request is likely to be accepted without fuss by an acquiescent public, sold on the notion that the queen is running short on cash, and tightening her belt just like them.”
Karma always paid out for greed, Buddha knew. If you neglected, you would be neglected.
Satan grinned. “Maybe the guys at Southchurch Park can send her a second-hand tent.” He mulled awhile. “Maybe, just maybe, she does only hold a million in cash. But how many billions, or even trillions, does she hold in assets. If you hold assets and you need money, you cash in. End of.” He was boiling up again.
Buddha reminded himself that life taught the necessary lessons, if attention was paid.
“Do you know who acts as the queen’s financial adviser?” Buddha had no reply. “It’s Evelyn Rothschild”. Buddha wanted Sal to stick to the subject. “Has anyone tried to work out the queen’s financial worth?” he asked.
Satan said the lack of clarity in the akashic files had frustrated God. In 2012 Forbes cited £18.1 billion worth of royal assets including art collections, the Crown jewels and palaces. “It would be logical to guess that her majesty has at least a few things tucked out of sight,” said Satan. “You read reports that she owns a huge chunk of Colorado, particularly around Denver, much of Delaware, several Park Avenue blocks in New York, real estate in the heart of downtown Chicago, and land all over California. What she holds in precious metals, stocks and unit trusts can hardly be imagined.”
That’s better Sal, stay rational.
“This is forgetting the Crown Estates portfolio, valued at well over £10 trillion. Crown land in Canada, for example, contains huge mineral and timber resources, but there are indications that the City of London is the real owner of the Crown Estates. That’s another story.”
Greed is divisive, and always one’s undoing.
Buddha stood up, brushed himself, and walked. Pier remnants poked up in the distance. Satan had let off more steam. “Every major UK office of state power – the armed forces, police and judiciary – swears allegiance to the royals. Not the people. Not the parliament.”
Any system of hierarchy is equivalent to acute spiritual blindness.
As he moved, he recalled how the ‘middle way’ had revealed itself in his last and final human life, in the sixth century BC, in what is now Nepal. Siddharta had been born to immense privilege. Aged 29, he had quit his cushioned existence for abstinence and asceticism. His goal, to transcend the five senses, was not unusual. Across Asia, individuals who chose poverty to explore their inner nature were highly respected.
As if it were yesterday, Siddharta recalled his burst of clarity beneath the Bodhi tree after meditating for 49 days: that efforts pivoting upon solitude and self-deprivation were insufficient to counter the cyclical miseries of birth, ageing, sickness and death. The rest was history.
The Buddhist philosophy he developed contained doctrines of karma and rebirth flowing from Siddharta’s Hindu background, although all practitioners were encouraged to question the ‘dharma’, or law. Most importantly, the practices could take adherents beyond the suffering caused by the external world’s temporary satisfactions and pains, and the ‘scientific’ notion that you only live once.
On strode Siddharta, passing the restaurants where Mike Burper had first seen the Big Wave. Most remained closed. The smashed casino, further along, looked like an abandoned shipwreck in light bouncing from the river. Satan’s words echoed on: “Russia kicked out its royals, so did the French. The British were actually the first to depose them, in 1649, after a long and bloody civil war. 11 years later, they were re-established, along with the Church of England, to help squash unruly radicals, like the Quakers.”
Monarchy and church are artifices. Every human is sovereign, able to tune into the highest spiritual levels.
Sal had frothed and fulminated. “Since then Britain has experienced slave trade, industrial revolution built on the lives of poor labourers, empire, world wars, lies and more lies, and now new extremes of degradation and poverty that serve to protect a ruling elite. These degenerates just happen to own the media, which fawn endlessly over the trappings of their wealth. They might look colourful, but so does petrol in a pond.”
Buddha loved the vigour with which Sal trod the troubled path of a fallen angel.
Walking now, along the very mouth of the empire, Buddha considered the word ‘evil’. While not used by Buddhist practitioners, its nearest equivalent in the lexicon was ‘unwholesome’. He thought again of Satan’s view that “many of the landed gits are inbred, psychotic lunatics who are addicted to chasing and killing small creatures using a pack of dogs”.
He remembered God saying that the Queen Mother had placed two of her nieces, Katherine Bowes-Lyon and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, into a psychiatric hospital because they were severely handicapped. On royal instruction, Burke’s Peerage listed the sisters as dead. This was nothing compared to a 1917 cover up, as World War One raged. Fearful of patriotic sentiment, George V changed the family surname to Windsor, disguising descent from Germany’s House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
By the time he stood opposite the destroyed pier, Siddharta decided to let emotion rise again. One of the decorators sat with him recently, sharing tea and lemon cake. The man normally talked about his football team, Southend United, but not this time. His daughter’s boyfriend, on an agency workbook, had prepared for a recent night shift.
“He gets a phone call saying ‘don’t bother turning up for work, there is none’. No notice,” the decorator said. “They have two young kids and a mortgage, and those calls are happening more and more.”
The decorator knew how business worked. “This is a company that made a £4.3 million profit last year. More and more of my daughter’s generation have to take work on very low pay, especially if they aren’t highly qualified. Shed loads of jobs are now temporary, part-time or so-called ‘zero hour contracts’. Is there any hope for ordinary people?”
Siddharta was encouraged by the man’s desire to perceive clearly. “I often wonder to meself if Southend will go bust after the Big Wave, so I started to read up. Detroit just went into bankruptcy, but not before Wall Street nicked half a billion in fees from rolling over the debts.”
These humans were generating hell worlds after their deaths, before they progressed to Satan’s quarters.
Siddharta inserted himself into the mind of the decorator, who was finishing off a room for a Buddhist shrine. A mind filled with dark and stressful worries: overdraft charges, inadequate pension, heating bills, his wife’s health, and his grandchildren’s education and job prospects.
Standing opposite Adventure Island, he looked at the deserted and still traumatised Golden Mile area, at the arcades, souvenir shops, night clubs and cafes eviscerated by the Big Wave.
Images came. From when the Firm had watched a documentary about Princess Diana, made by comedian Keith Allen. ‘The Unlawful Killing of Diana’ was unavailable in the UK due to legal clampdowns, but was freely available on The Place’s screens. It started by showing a letter from the Princess to her butler. “My husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car. Brake failure & serious head injury.” Less than two years later she died, in a Paris road accident.
Amazingly, French CCTV cameras along the crash route failed to record anything. Before the medical examination was complete, the French press were stating the driver was “as drunk as a pig”. Yet the hotel bill showed he had ordered just two Ricards. “Disneyland is never far away,” was Satan’s first comment. It caught Siddharta’s eye how road sweepers were allowed by French police to clean the crash site – and accompanying evidence – within hours of the accident.
From whatever angle Siddharta viewed Britain’s royal family, its treatment of the unfortunate Diana Spencer spoke of untold darknesses. Now Buddha felt his abdomen shake. Bile tingled in his throat, heat spread through his head.
In the October 2007-April 2008 inquest, members of the royal family were prime suspects, but not one was called as a witness. God had rubbed her eyes in disbelief, and again, when Paul Condon, then Britain’s most senior policeman, admitted his refusal to hand French detectives a letter from Diana to her lawyer, explaining fears for her life. Condon was now a Knight and a Lord.
Concluding, the coroner instructed the jury to ignore eye-witness statements and forbad it to even consider the possibility of murder, Allen’s film recorded. The jury defied him, declaring an “unlawful killing”. The film’s last third underscored the monarchy’s huge cost to taxpayers, and included a clip showing Philip, aged 16, flanked by German relatives in SS and Brownshirt uniforms.
Buddha staggered to a bin. He emptied the contents of his stomach, his nose streaming acidic moisture. Innumerable lives had taught him that points were reached where ordinary conceptions of planet Earth were radically transformed. Resets, as happened with Atlantis and Lemuria, when Mother Earth shook off surface poisons.
Purged, he walked. New ideas were forming, about his work in the months ahead, and how to tackle tonight’s task. Opposite the Hope Hotel, looking through the open window of a red car, a young woman was transfixed on the battered pub. He approached, and spoke, gently. “You look a little upset. Did something happen?”
She looked him up and down. A fat Arsenal fan. Traces of puke on his white trousers.
“I could have died in there. Sometimes I wish I had,” she said. He knew to be quiet. Sally related how her married date had drowned. Her sprint along the front. Saving Chanelle’s kids. Still unemployed in a smashed-up town. “I can’t sleep, so I come here. Feels like the memories will never leave. My money continues to go, though. This car will have to be sold soon.”
You will build your own sacred path, of kindness and warmth. And show others how to hold to beauty at all times.
“Have you seen that movie, Elysium?” she asked. “Is that what’s in store, a nice paradise area hanging in space for the mega-rich, and a ghetto down here for the rest of us, with bloody drones and robots keeping us in check? Or the Hunger Games, where the rich watch the poor kill each other for sport?”
The meek always inherit the earth because Forces of Light head naturally to softness.
Siddharta pulled her from the blackness. “It is an impertinent request, but could you give me a lift. I have walked from Leigh, my legs are tired, and I must reach Southchurch Park.” He spoke oddly, but she trusted him. “Why are you going there in the middle of the night? Do you know people there?”
Her interest was pricked. “There were reports about that “community” in most of the national dailies, claiming people there have criminal records, addictions and mental health problems. How do they live without money? I could do with that knowledge.”
He answered her, clearly and truthfully, during the short drive. He told of Gandhi’s presence. She parked up in Kensington Road. Offered him a lift back, and waited.
Burper was manning the southern gate. “Allright Sid,” he greeted. Mike liked it that Siddharta hadn’t crowed after Arsenal’s 1-0 win over the Spurs.
Buddha walked to the bridge at Little Venice, crossed the small lake, and approached the still figure of Gandhi out on the field. They embraced. “Lord Buddha, it is so very good to see you,” smiled Gandhi. “And you Mahatma,” bowed Buddha. They exchanged small talk about their individual projects. Then Buddha explained the course of action ahead, asking to be left alone.
“As you wish. I will be in the textile centre, preparing for the day.” Gandhi retreated into the dark. Buddha cast his gaze at tents and caravans corralling the playing field. This had finally been completely dug over after the removal of its top layer. He walked to an approximate centre, envisaged the ground as a unity, and cast inside for pure awareness.
He chanted softly. “Ong ah hong, ong moni beni hong”. Gently, via a rocking motion, he envisaged a blue spherical object encompassing the unity. He squeezed the sphere with his mind. Back and forth the blue ball swayed, grey wafts of smoke exiting its edges, carrying away salinity. Buddha let the images clear, opened his eyes. He slowly walked back to the gate, dipping his trainers in the lake so Sally’s car floor would not muddy.
“All done Sid? See you soon then.”
“I do hope so Mike.”
Sally was bursting with more questions as they drove away. “I’ll suspend my complete disbelief about Gandhi living in there if you tell me what he’s doing. Is a new civil disobedience movement kicking off on my doorstep?”
Buddha said he could not predict. That Gandhi was overseeing the production of clothing, and the community aimed to grow all of its own food. “I can also say that if we assert our values, we become the change we want. You can do this yourself Sally. Be sovereign. Tomorrow’s benevolence is the fruit.”
Knowing the route by heart, she pondered on one of her psychology modules at university, which had examined benefits from community gardens in Manchester. “The art of agriculture is the first lever of wealth in any person or nation,” she said, remembering a quote. “Have you ever seen an allotment in full bloom?” she asked her new companion. “Flowers juxtaposed with cauliflowers and runner beans, with multi-coloured paths running in and out of structures made from old doors and corrugated iron.”
He told her of the Austrian, Rudolf Steiner, who founded a spiritual movement, anthroposophy in the early 20th century. “You would enjoy his fusion of science and mysticism.” Sally nodded. Her cousin had attended a Steiner school, before building an architect practice.
In 15 minutes they were back at the close, where he asked Sally if she meditated. “You have expressed yourself very passionately tonight. It would help you to know that the highest and most comprehensive teaching of the Buddha was the Lotus Sutra.”
“Oh my days, you know some stuff. I’ve heard of the Karma Sutra. What does the Lotus Sutra teach?”
“The existence of an innate and universal truth known as the Buddha nature, the manifestation of which brings absolute happiness and boundless compassion.”
“I could so do with some of that. How do I start?”
“Repeatedly chant the very simple phrase Nam Myoho Rengi Kyo. The sound and vibration will tap into your full potential as a human being, which leads, eventually, to Buddhahood.”
“Sounds awesome. So are you a Buddhist?”
“Yes, devoted for many years Sally. Please chant those four words. Aloud or inside your mind. You will enjoy the outcomes.”
“Can I see you again,” she blurted out. “Obviously not like that,” she added. “Well, no, not obviously! No offence meant.” She was becoming flustered. “Oh I’m sure you’re wise enough to know what I’m saying.”
“Yes, I would be honoured. Just visit when you wish, or call me on this number.” He handed her a card from the pile printed by Micky Gaze.
She read the name. Siddharta Gautama. “Can I call you Sid?”