the work on al bonk's pottery studio was finished. before the fall rains the roof rafters and beams were placed and a quick layer of plywood and tyvek would keep the water out. flagstone now covered the shale floor. one elegant arch of stone formed the exterior doorway. the other led to the kitchen.
al bonk was then s.'s guide to cool, the expert on all things indian and mexican from serape to peote. s. was still reading 'the trilogy' and in his thoughts he now equated 'gandalf' with gurdjieff, and saruman the soft spoken white wizard was timothy leary. dr. mishra's ashram in monroe, the fairytale land of the elves and tall heroes.
it was mid october and the red maples, yellow birch trees, light green aspens ruled the landscape with their brilliance in the crisp autumn air. s. fell in with the men on the grounds crew. he shared a room with jean pierre. it was barely a garret with two cots but it was cozy.
"Nobody is a fool and nobody is wise. It is the space which makes you foolish or wise. If you have space within your mind, then you become wise, and if you have no space in your mind, then you become 'otherwise'."
– Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (dr. mishra)
bill haines was left in charge of the country estate of ananda ashram. dr. mishra had taken a slow boat to australia just a few weeks before s. moved in.
but there were plenty of amateur gurus and everyone loved to teach. bali ram coached s. in hatha yoga. Bali had a large room at the west end of the second floor where he could practice his dancing free of distractions. this is where he showed s. the asanas of hatha yoga.
s. observed the quietening effect of these exercises and always looked forward to learning more of them. some were very hard to do but some were easy and relaxing.
bill haines was the example of a careless hindu 'boss'. he taught gnana yoga and played the role of beloved for sarasvati and bali (that was bhakti yoga). Every day the play of personalities was a constant joy to watch as sarasvati crouching at the guru’s feet is banished for three days for smiling. Even the verbal attacks and counterattacks between sarasvati and bali ram were comical, they seemed so much to enjoy their mutual hatred of each other all deriving from petty jealousy.
jean pierre, s.’s partner on the wood cutting team was knowledgeable about health, or ayurvedic yoga. he knew the herbs. jean pierre was the most gentle man s. had ever met.
princes from foreign lands, young drifters, intellectuals and reformed prostitutes gravitated to dr. mishra's ashram. there were daily meetings where people complained that it was always the same people who cooked and cleaned while some others seemed to have the right to just bliss out. drugs were commonplace, mostly hash, pot and lsd.
s. took charge of the wood gathering. he was good at it. he loved wood cutting, splitting firewood and stacking in cords. at night he was the self appointed fire maker and tender. that's about all he did at the ashram except read on the floor by the fire. men and women lived on the large estate. then on weekends, the people from the city joined them; they had jobs and if it weren't for them, there would be no ashram.
one day they just simply threw the whole company of 'ashramites' out. leary heard about it and invited everyone to live at millbrook. most of them did. s. did. and it was an easy transition. he did the wood, slept in the 'fish room', philosophised with jean pierre and bill haines and attended the same house meetings about how the same people did all the work.