A falling star. I moved from Tallahassee to Boulder in 1979. In the year leading up to my move I got to be something of a celebrity in the Harmonizing community. After his visit to Tallahassee in early 1978 I became an enthusiastic disciple of TH, aka Marc Tizer, Yousamien etc. He mentored me remotely via long distance phone calls, plus an almost unreadable letter in his tiny spidery handwriting. He wanted me to be one of his pet writers, helping him publish his alcohol-fueled teachings to the world. I'm happy to report I'm not guilty of that, though not because I came to my senses. It just never got off the ground while I was there. I suspect that flight may be permanently grounded.
Rescue operation. My move to Boulder was a lifesaver, literally. My ever increasing salary allowed me to be self indulgent and I got way into it, developing bad habits like eating rich foods, not getting much exercise, and indulging in drugs: slowly increasing amounts of alcohol and caffeine. I was headed for a miserable ease, a bleary self indulgent life not worth living. My connection with Leela was strong through childhood and adolescence, even the early days in Tallahassee, but it was getting weaker and weaker. Being a minister in the new age church had helped a bit, but I was drawing away from that. But Leela could still reach me, and she used TH's cult in Boulder to rescue me and keep me reasonably healthy until it was time for real work to begin. TH had a trick he used on me and many others: he could engineer a high that would make a person feel spiritually powerful. He used that trick to attract and retain students and create his cult, which he used to support and perpetuate his addictions. I was all up in my head, badly disconnected from my body, so he gave me a dancing assignment to sidestep that disconnect. I was to dance in my East Park Avenue living room, twenty minutes every day without music, whatever I felt like. With no music, no art for my dancing to go to, I of course went into thinking mode, making my dance about the mythology I'd studied in school. My mythological fantasies, like all fantasies, were worthless. But dancing let me make a connection between what I thought was sacred and the movements of my body, and that felt wonderful. I got high as a kite. I felt so good I was quickly sold on the idea of giving up my cushy job and moving to Boulder to study with TH. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was my first big act of surrender to Leela.
In the summer of 1978 TH got me started running, part of his addiction trifecta, along with booze and sex. I would run after work every day. I started with ¼ mile and built my mileage the right way, slow and steady. The after-work timing was my own peculiar southern boy kink. Late afternoon was the hottest part of a brutally hot Florida day. I reveled in the sweaty heat; it was my version of a sauna. Now I prefer it cool and gray. I'd be just fine if summer went on permanent holiday. But I digress. That wasn't my first foray into running, but it was the one I stuck with, for the next twelve years or so. I came to love running, becoming deeply addicted. My knees had the final say: quit running. So I did, soon after I took up partner dancing in 1992. It was tough. I went through withdrawal, longing to run to the point of tears for a long time. Running had been a sweet addiction. But compared to partner dancing? Ha.
Glory. As plans were made and my pilgrimage to Boulder drew closer, TH started talking me up there as the golden boy, a model of spiritual progress for all to admire. I entered in a blaze of glory. What could possibly go wrong? TH had me arrive early and hide in his house so I could meet the practitioners with due pomp and circumstance. I walked into the room as he shouted I present to you Scott Cassady! and everyone clapped and cheered. There might've been alcohol.
Bejurin. He put me in a household on Pine Street. My housemates were people in his inner circle of more advanced students who were studyng to become Harmonizing practitioners. Some of them had given themselves new names, like Doña. Harmonizing names to symbolize their new life in what was already beginning to transmogrify into a cult. I was in even deeper than that: I gave up my naming rights by asking TH to give me a new name. He had evidently refused to do this before, but seemed willing to make an exception in my case. He pondered it for a while, and as far as I know made it up of whole cloth. I got a call from one of my housemates, who was acting as his secretary (etc), relaying word from him that it was taking shape, had three syllables, and started with a B; stay tuned. I got another call a few days later, this time from the man himself, but I couldn't understand what he was shouting in his Philly accent. My housemate had to take the phone from him. She said Hello Bejurin very clearly. I can still hear her voice. I let myself be saddled with Bejurin (no, not Bjorn, it's bee-EE-jay) from 1979 till 2004, when I got the gumption to begin shedding my misplaced allegiance to that era of my past.
It's just a name. I've never been one to do things by halves, so I went to the courthouse and changed my name legally from Jeffrey Scott Cassady to Bejurin Cassady, no middle name. My first of three legal name changes. Three because it took me two tries to get rid of Bejurin. In the early 2000s I added John as a middle name, to honor both my father John Tom and my brother Timothy John, who had recently died. It wasn't until 2004 that I developed the gumption to come up with my own name. In those days I was charmed by the pointless practice of genealogy, so I picked a name from the family tree. I never considered changing it back to Jeffrey Scott. I never liked those names, part of the reason I asked TH for a new one.
Camping trip. With that for an opening there was nowhere to go but down. But I kept it together just long enough to go on an intense two-week camping trip, the practitioner trip. Joke of the day: even when we slept it was in tents. We camped beside a monumental medial moraine, a boulder field of house-size boulders. Days we hiked and climbed on the ridges or followed the creek into the Weminuche. Nights we circled the fire. No shortage of Ten High, TH's namesake bottom-shelf bourbon. Two weeks of campfire circles and it never ran out. Talk about your loaves and fishes.
A night of fearless wonder. On the full moon night that graced us midway through the trip, we had an especially energetic campfire circle after a long day gallivanting about on nearby peaks and ridges. The circle finally broke up in the wee hours and we started heading for our tents in a state of drunken exhaustion. At that moment, nothing was more appealing than the prospect of snuggling into our warm down bags and sleeping it all off. But TH had a gleam in his eye and other plans. He started doing muscle testing on his own finger, his main method for getting guidance. A handful of us were called back and given precisely muscle tested doses of psychotropic substances, Psilocybe cubensis in my case. That night I was set free of fear: of falling, of the dark, of death. I ran full tilt across our backyard boulderfield in my hiking boots in the moonlight. I zigzagged across it, flinging myself into the air at the edge of one vast boulder not knowing where I'd land, always landing catlike on the next boulder. The brilliant moonlight created inky black shadows I thrust myself into head-first, ass-first, any way I wanted-first; I was free of fear. In the dawn light I sat on the highest boulder and watched the moon set as the sun rose, sweetly aligned with the ends of our canyon. It was the best night of my young life.
The trademark of my downfall. But the tale has an ominous coda. When we arrived back in Silverton we had some free time to bang around town. I indulged my sweet tooth by buying a bar of Toblerone™, and I was observed doing it.
Just another trick. At the time I was entranced by my night of fearless wonder, not just during but after. I had experienced a higher state, one where I was free of fear, free to dance across the boulders in the moonlight, a moment of enlightenment! But it was drug induced. At the time I had no problem with that. I was an enthusiastic drinker, having recently been taught that boozing it up was a holy sacrament, an important ally on the path to self realization. It would be decades before I began to grasp the truth: to make progress I have to rely on my own deepest self, on Leela, the wisdom in my body, surrendering to her and letting her guide me rather than seeking guidance from anything or anyone outside. Let alone a half-baked alcoholic con artist. My psilocybin trip was just another trick TH played in me, like the dancing assignment, an illusion of spiritual progress to keep me toeing the line there, playing my role as a cog in his plans for fame and glory. Booze and other drugs had to go before I could make any real progress. I did start making a certain kind of progress in 2006 when I began to surrender. But it was remedial work to repair all the damage I did up to then by making poor lifestyle choices and indulging in delusional thinking.
So yes, I got free of fear that night and it felt wonderful. But loss of inhibitions is a common effect of many drugs, including the booze that was still very much in my system all night. Inhibitions are useful. Fear's a crucial ally, a message from Leela helping keep me alive. So I had an entrancing night, and got more entranced with Harmonizing, and stayed in TH's circle through the eighties, which was what I needed to do to stay reasonably healthy until I was ready to begin actual spiritual work. Bottom line, it was a good thing for me, and I'm grateful.
The fall. Things didn't go well for me back in Boulder. My bar of Toblerone™ was seen as a grievous sin, a bad sign of worse to come. I moved into in a house in Table Mesa, Boulder's fatuously named southwest suburb, with four other practitioners. I was supposedly a practitioner in training but quickly became seen as a failed student, headed for compost. That was the word for those foolish enough to leave The Community. I was feeling pretty desperate, and one sunny, miserably cold Sunday I hatched a plan to test myself with a manly march. I decided to march stalwartly due west from the cul-de-sac at the end of our street as far as I could go. Through Boulder Greenspace straight into The Flatirons, themselves backed up by the full weight of the Rocky Mountains. To make this march more a test of my manly mettle I was determined to march in as straight a line as possible, undeterred by obstacles. I put on my hiking gear and pocketed my compass to keep me on track. I bulldozed through some scrubby thickets any sensible man would've walked around, but otherwise hiked along easily in the open country. Then I crossed the Mesa Trail and the going got steep. I scrambled up a dry gully until my passage was blocked by a huge boulder. I climbed around one side of the boulder, and I could see my gully route continuing up around the bend of the boulder. I just needed to make a little arcing jump to get there. But I had no momentum and my footing was precarious. I was barely hanging on, hands and feet starting trembling with fatigue. Reversing was not an option; I had lurched myself into my untenable position and had to go forward. I summoned my strength and made the leap, miraculously landing squarely in the gully, right where I was aiming. But I couldn't stick the dismount. I tottered there momentarily, then saw myself falling backward off the mountain in slow-mo, arms waving futilely in the air. At some point everything went black. I have no memory of the impact.
Opioids. According to the Daily Camera I fell 35 feet; I went back to the spot a year or two later and it looked more like 25 to me, maybe 30 tops. Whatever. It was far enough to break two bony parts I'd never heard of before: the ramus of my right ischium, and the coracoid process of my right scapula. I fell onto a scree slope; that saved my life. Evidently I'd been calling out for help. I emerged into consciousness to see three faces hovering over me, hikers who'd heeded my call and come to my rescue. Eventually Rocky Mountain Rescue arrived, bless 'em. They assessed me, gave me morphine, strapped me onto a stretcher, and carried me down the trail to the ambulance, several miles away. It was a bumpy ride. The morphine didn't do much for pain but it did make me nauseous; I puked over the side of the stretcher a time or two. I got no relief until I got reassessed in the ER and a shot of demerol. It reminded me of my tonsillectomy at age 5. I was given sodium pentathol. I babbled to the nurse that I would come back every year to have my tonsils out. In Boulder I didn't babble nuthin', just eased down into my nod, carried away in the tender embrace of the Angel of Synthetic Opioids.
Aftermath. TH's official interpretation of my fall (everything needed interpreting and he interpretd everything) was that I'd done it to avoid going on the hitchhiking trip. That was the plan he'd come up with to get me back on track, snap me out of my post camping trip slump. He hadn't actually told me about it but he'd told others so the word quickly got to me. As soon as it warmed up I was supposed to hit the road bumming around the country, carrying minimal kit, living by my wits. I was actually looking forward to it: big adventure! Hitchhiking was on its last legs in the 1980s but still doable; I'd done a little in conjunction with hike-through backpacking trips. Backpacking is one thing; wilderness is a friendly camping environment. Hitchhiking would have been mere homelessness. You get picked up and dropped off in a different kind of jungle. To be out there for several months, just bumming? Real bums respond to that quite sensibly, staying drunk and drugged to deaden the experience. Thank you Leela for making sure I would be in no condition to do that. The next plan for my salvation that TH came up with was much better; I had a blast in Jamestown.