Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silence of the Yams

Many philosophers believe that thoughts are deeds. If you project benevolent thoughts, you help create a benevolent environment. Projecting hostility creates hostility, etc. As we sow, so shall we reap.

Cleve Backster, America's foremost lie-detector expert, hooked up a lie-detector to a plant about 40 years ago in an attempt to see how long it would take water to reach the leaves. A lie detector is a sensitive instrument that measures such things as Galvanic skin response, slight variations in temperature, pressure, rates of flow, etc. He quickly discovered that the plant reacted "dramatically" to the experiment itself.

When Backster decided to burn one of the leaves, the lie detector readings went off the charts.

When Backster noticed the "trauma" being exhibited by the plant, he decided not to burn the plant after all whereupon the plant became calm once again.

Backster had not approached the plant with a match; he had only decided, in his mind, to do so, at which time the plant became "emotional." And when he had decided to call off the burning experiment, again only in his mind, the plant returned to normal.

In subsequent experiments, Backster had trouble repeating the results because once a plant had been led to believe something was going to happen and it didn't, the plant would retain that knowledge and not become "emotional" the second time. Thus, fresh plants were required for continued experimentation. This led to the conclusion that plants have some sort of memory and discrimination capability.

In other experiments, it became clear that the plants would only react if the experimenter actually intended to carry out the actions. If Backster was only bluffing to do something harmful, the plant wouldn't respond. Thus he concluded that plants could discern intent (through thought transference) and had a "memory" of past events.

Backster conducted further experiments over the last four decades and has become one of the leading bio-communications experts in the world.

For example, he discovered that an egg would react when another egg was cracked. His work tends to confirm the Gaia Hypothesis which states that the world is one huge, living organism with self-regulating capability.

Dorothy Retallack is another specialist in this field. She exposed a variety of plants to various types of music. Plants that were exposed to hard rock (Led Leppelin and Jimi Hendrix) began pointing away from the source of the music, whereas plants exposed to soothing music began pointing toward the source.

Through further studies, she concluded that being gentle with plants helps them flourish and being the opposite has the opposite effect.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, is a book detailing other experiments done on plant life. Distance doesn't seem to matter when communicating with plants.

For example, a chemist became so attuned to his house plants that they reacted excitedly when he made love to his girlfriend 80 miles away.

In another instance, a philodendron activated by a thought impulse from a technician started a car two miles away.

On a more unscientific note, my ex-wife, who is three-quarters Norwegian and one-quarter dingbat, used to talk to vegetables. She could spend hours chatting with a pod of peas or an ear of corn. She did most of the talking while the vegetables listened politely without too much interruption.

One day she got some financial advice from a zucchini. Two hours later she went out and bought some brand new furniture. "It really didn't cost anything," she told me, "I put it on the credit card."

I chopped up the zucchini and put it in a salad.

One morning my ex-wife got into an argument with a kumquat. It had something to do with her new hair style -- the kumquat thought it made her look fat.

She tried to get a second opinion from a yam but it ignored her, so she decided to snarl at me instead. Apparently, yams don't like to be confrontational.

I never did communicate very well with the vegetables. They prefer to communicate with entities on their own intellectual level, such as fungi, mildew, politicians and dingbats.

Quote for the Day – "Wise men talk because they have something to say – fools talk because they have to say something." Plato

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a dill pickle that occasionally chats about the meaning of life. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Harmonious Whole

Those who are anointed as supreme leaders from birth are rarely tempted to be human beings.

North Korea plans to launch a rocket between April 4 and April 8, a few days from now, under the pretext that it's a test for a future satellite launch. It's designed to carry a warhead as far as Alaska.

Even though the planned launch would contravene U.N. Security Council Rules, North Korea has given international agencies notice that the rocket's planned trajectory will take it directly over Japan, dropping booster stages along the way.

Gee whiz, that's mighty neighborly of them to give advanced warning.

Japan occupied Korea during World War II. When the war ended in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel with the USSR controlling the north and the USA controlling the south. The Koreans were not consulted.

While the Korean people were happy to be liberated from the Japanese, they objected to foreign rule being imposed over the peninsula. To make matter worse, the Soviets and Americans were unable to agree on a joint trusteeship over Korea. Thus, in 1948, separate governments were established in the north and the south.

Tensions and border skirmishes eventually led to the Korean War in 1950 when the North Korean Army stormed across the 38th parallel in an attempt to reunify the country under their communistic political system.

In 1953, an armistice was signed by North Korea, China and the United Nations thereby ending the conflict. A demilitarized zone was established at the 38th parallel, separating North Korea and South Korea ever since.

North Korea was led by Kim Il-Sung from 1948 until his death in 1994. He had delegated domestic matters to his son, Kim Jong-Il.

In 1997, Kim Jong-Il was named General Secretary (leader) of the Korean Worker's Party.

According to the official North Korean news agency, "The Korean people regard it as their most worthwhile life to uphold Secretary Kim Jong-Il and live in perfect harmony with him. He is the great teacher who teaches them with the noblest political integrity and a tender-hearted benefactor who brings their life into full bloom. As they are in harmonious whole with him, they are enjoying a life based on true conscience and obligation."

Gee whiz, North Korea sounds like a wonderful place to live. It's too bad they had to kill an estimated two million civilians and imprison 200,000 "dissidents" in slave labor camps, where they are tortured, starved, raped and murdered, in order to create a perfectly splendid environment.

In a closed-society, adhering to universal truths and seeking individuality become acts of treason. Such is life in a harmonious whole.

Officially, North Korea is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). However, it's anything but democratic. It's a totalitarian state, dominated by the Korean Worker's Party which embraces Marxism-Leninism. Elections are held every five years for members of the People's Assembly. To avoid confusion, in every district voters are offered only one candidate.

Kim Jong-Il has been the leader of the DPRK ever since his father died in 1994. He stands 5'2", four inches shorter than Napoleon, but wears platform shoes and whips his hair skyward to make himself appear taller.

While building the fifth-largest military in the world, he ravaged the economy with political mismanagement, creating famine, fuel shortages, lack of electricity, etc. To make up for it, mass "performances" involving throngs of people participating in parades or choreographed dance routines have been introduced to foster national unity.

To generate income, the DPRK encourages opium cultivation and invested $10 million in an intaglio printing press, the same type used by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which produces $15 million per year in counterfeit U.S. currency. The drugs and counterfeit currency are passed through foreign nations via diplomatic pouches.

As the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-Il has amassed a personal fortune of $22 billion. Although his people are dying of starvation, he dines on fresh lobster shipped in from Japan and enjoys fine cognac. He also loves children's cartoons, especially Daffy Duck, and has one of the largest collections of pornography in the world.

While grooming one of his sons to take his place, he has seized and confined all triplets born in the DPRK in special state facilities to be closely monitored because he believes a triplet may someday topple his regime.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that Kim Jong-Il is an arrogant, creepy, delusional, paranoid, deranged lunatic.

On July 4 of 2006, the DPRK launched several test missiles and made verbal threats against the USA.

In August of 2006, the DPRK pronounced the armistice of 1953 "null and void" and declared war on the USA.

On October 9, 2006, the DPRK conducted a nuclear test in defiance of worldwide condemnation.

In early April of 2009, the DPRK will propel a missile over Japan and enjoy a gigantic choreographed dance to celebrate their supreme achievement.

Creating a harmonious whole on planet Earth is a daunting task these days.

The first step would be to strap Kim Jong-Il to the nosecone of one of his missiles and lob him into the deep end of the Pacific Ocean.

Quote for the Day – "Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception." George Orwell

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and in a harmonious whole with his surroundings. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dare to Fail

Teddy Roosevelt, President of the United States (1901-1909), made a speech in 1910 that included the following words: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Born in 1905, during Roosevelt's presidency, Norman Vaughan lived a life of adventure few could match.

Vaughan, at age 22, joined Admiral Richard Byrd's 1928 expedition to the South Pole. Vaughan was a skilled dog handler and musher whose main responsibility was to move 650 tons of supplies by dog sled to a base camp. Admiral Byrd appreciated Vaughan's effort so much he named a mountain after him.

At age 27, Vaughan participated in dog sled sprint races in the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.

During World War II, Vaughan trained men and dogs for rescues. He had 425 dogs under his command.

He and his crew rescued, by dog team, 26 airmen of a lost squadron off the Greenland ice sheet. He returned to the crash sight solo by dog sled, within sight of the enemy, to salvage a top-secret bombsight.

At the Battle of the Bulge, he organized and led 17 drivers with 209 dogs in an evacuation of wounded soldiers.

During the Korean War, Vaughan served in the Psychological Warfare Department with the Pentagon.

Later, he served as Chief of Search and Rescue of the North Atlantic Division of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a branch of the United Nations.

In 1967, at age 62, Vaughan drove a snowmobile from Alaska to Boston, a 5000-mile journey.

The following year he became the first non-Alaskan to compete in the North American Sled Dog Championship in Alaska.

At age 65, Vaughan returned to Antarctica to climb his mountain, Mount Vaughan. The National Geographic Society filmed the first attempt. It took three attempts before Vaughan reached the 10,320-foot peak.

At age 68, Vaughan lost his business and dissolved his marriage. Penniless, he moved to Alaska where he shoveled sidewalks for food and eventually became a janitor. Over time, he began to assemble a dog team.

At age 72, he participated in his first Iditarod, an annual 1,150-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome.

In 1990, at age 84, he completed the last of his 13 appearances in the Iditarod race.

During the 1990s, Vaughan returned to Greenland over an 11-year span to help salvage a P-38, one of the airplanes that had been downed during his World War II escapades in Greenland 50 years earlier.

In 1997, at age 92, Vaughan organized the Serum Run, an 868-mile dog sled race from Nenana to Nome, commemorating the 1925 event where dog teams were called upon to deliver diphtheria serum to save Nome.

Vaughan wanted to celebrate his 100th birthday, on December 19, 2005, on the summit of Mount Vaughan but was confined to a hospital bed in Anchorage while recovering from triple bypass surgery. A lifelong teetotaler, he told visitors "I told my mother I wouldn't drink until I was 100" as he had his first sip of champagne. He was already planning his next adventure, an expedition to the North Pole.

Four days later, on December 23, he died.

Norman Vaughan's motto was "The only death you die is the death you die every day by not living. Dream big and dare to fail."

Mission accomplished. His next adventure will be somewhere off in the Great Beyond.

The only person who never fails is the person who never tries.

Dare to fail – it's good for the soul.

Quote for the Day – "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Woody Allen

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a long list of failure. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Leonard Peltier

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located in the southwest corner area of South Dakota near the Black Hills and is home to 15,000 Oglala Sioux.

In the early 1970s, the Pine Ridge Reservation broke out into a War. Local tribal leaders were ruthless in dealing with their people. Indian activists from around the country, such as members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), entered the fray.

In February of 1973, AIM warriors seized the village of Wounded Knee, resulting in a 73-day siege by federal and state authorities.

Leonard Peltier, a Chippewa Sioux from North Dakota, joined the action in Pine Ridge. He owned a red-and-white Chevrolet van and was accompanied by Bob Robideau and Dino Butler. They set up camp in a gully on the Jumping Bull Ranch on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

On June 26, 1975, two FBI Agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, were searching for a man on the Pine Ridge Reservation named Jimmy Eagle who had been involved in a fight with a friend and stole a pair of cowboy boots.

Driving in separate unmarked cars, Coler and Williams spotted a red pickup truck that matched one of Jimmy Eagle's vehicles and followed it to the Jumping Bull Ranch.

Soon, the two agents were under gunfire from the occupants of the vehicle.

Other law enforcers arrived, but they spent much of the afternoon pinned down on Route 18, waiting for other law enforcers to launch a flanking attack.

At 12:15 PM, one (or more) of the gunmen approached the vehicles and executed Coler and Williams.

At 2:30 PM, a BIA rifleman shot and killed one of the perpetrators, Joe Stuntz.

At 4:30 PM, the bodies of Coler and Williams were recovered near their vehicles. They had been shot at close range execution style. A total of 125 bullet holes were found in their vehicles.

At 6:00 PM, law enforcers stormed the Jumping Bull compound. They discovered Stuntz's corpse in Coler's FBI field jacket.

The others involved had slipped away into the hills, launching a nationwide manhunt that lasted eight months.

On September 5, 1975, Dino Butler was arrested in a raid on an AIM encampment in South Dakota's Rosebud Reservation. Agent Williams' handgun was found in a vehicle near a residence where Butler was arrested.

On September 10, 1975, a station wagon exploded on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita, Kansas. It was carrying explosives that ignited accidentally. A burned-up AR-15 was recovered at the scene. Among those in the vehicle at the time was Bob Robideau, Peliter' cousin.

In November of 1975, an Oregon State Trooper stopped an RV based on FBI descriptions. After a brief exchange of gunfire, Peltier escaped on foot. Among other weapons in the vehicle, Agent Coler's handgun was found in a paper bag containing Peltier's fingerprint.

On December 22, 1975, Leonard Peltier was named to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

On February 6, 1976, Peltier was apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police near Alberta, Canada.

Dino Butler and Bob Robideau, members of AIM, stood trial on federal charges in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Peltier, who had also been present at the Jumping Bull Ranch at the time of the incident, had fought extradition from Canada and arrived too late to be included as a defendant in the proceeding. He would be tried separately on a later date.

Butler and Robideau were found not guilty by a federal jury on the grounds of self-defense.

Peltier stood trial in federal court in Fargo, North Dakota, where he was convicted of murdering Coler and Williams. In April of 1977, Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences, to be served consecutively.

In July of 1993, after a series of appeals, Peltier's conviction was upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A woman named Myrtle Poor Bear, used in the affidavit to win Peltier's extradition from Canada, enhanced her "firsthand" knowledge of the incident with each telling and was eventually deemed to be utterly incompetent to appear in court.

An FBI Agent testified that Coler and Williams had followed a pickup truck onto the scene of the incident. He later changed his account of events to describe a red-and-white van (Peltier's vehicle). According to the FBI, these radio conversations between FBI Agents were not recorded at the time. According to Peltier's attorney, the FBI did indeed record the radio conversations but deliberately suppressed this evidence.

An FBI teletype stated that the firing pin on Peltier's weapon did not match the shell casings at the scene, thus proving Peltier's AR-15 rifle was not the murder weapon. However, the marks made by the rifle's extractor matched the recovered weapon. The FBI theorized that the firing pin must have been replaced after the killings.

There were contradictory field reports by the authorities suggesting the FBI had gone out of their way to link Peltier to the murders.

Three witnesses testified they saw Peltier approach the victim's vehicles. They later recanted their testimony, claiming that the FBI threatened and forced them to testify.

In 1990, Peter Matthiessen, author of IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE, interviewed a man who claimed to have been the actual killer of the two FBI Agents. A videotape of that unidentified (disguised) man was aired on the TV show 60 MINUTES in 1991.

The unidentified man stated that it was his pickup truck that Coler and Williams followed onto the Jumping Bull Ranch that day, as he and another AIM member attempted to deliver a load of goods to Peltier and Butler. When one of the agents opened fire, he and his passenger fired back. Soon, Peltier and others scrambled up from the gully where they had been camping and began firing at the agents.

At about 2:15 PM, the unidentified man attempted to flee, returning to the area where Coler and Williams were pinned down. Hopping out of the truck, he approached the wounded men, hoping to persuade them to surrender. One of the agents fired a shot from a pistol. "At that point I did not give him a chance to fire again," said the unidentified man who then executed both agents.

The unidentified man hopped back into his pickup truck, with his passenger, and sped away from the ranch. "I did not choose to take their lives. I only chose to save my own," he explained.

Leonard Peltier is not a hero. He had a history of petty crimes and was an active militant within the American Indian Movement. The basic question is whether or not the FBI framed Peltier for killings he may not have committed.

The FBI had extradited Peltier from Canada using affidavits they knew to be fraudulent. Much of the evidence they presented has been shown to be misrepresented or fabricated, and witnesses (who later recanted their testimony) were intimidated.

For 8 years, the FBI blocked the publication of IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE, by Peter Matthiessen.

In 1985, the Justice Department acknowledged they did not know who killed the Agents.

In 2000, near the end of Bill Clinton's presidency, rumors circulated that Clinton was considering giving Peltier clemency. This led to a demonstration outside the White House by 500 FBI agents and their families who wanted their pound of flesh for the murders of one of their own. Clemency was not granted.

Amnesty International has declared Peltier to be a political prisoner.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has joined Peltier's defense team.

Peltier has received support from the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Belgian Parliament, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mendela and many others.

As part of the settlement of a lawsuit in 2003, Paul DeMain, publisher of NEWS FROM INDIAN COUNTRY, issued a statement where he wrote, "I do not believe that Leonard Peltier received a fair trial in connection with the murders of which he was convicted. Certainly he was entitled to one."

It all started with a pair of stolen cowboy boots, which led to the death of two FBI Agents, which led to the death of Joe Stuntz, which led to Leonard Peltier being confined to a cage for the remainder of his life, followed by the remainder of another life.

But it really began when a small group of Anglo Europeans landed somewhere on the east coast and declared it to be a discovery. Through Manifest Destiny, the notion that the Anglo Europeans were entitled to hold dominion over the new land, the native residents were conquered and isolated and eventually presided over by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whose purpose was to sequester the ignorant natives in undesirable locations and train them to adapt to Anglo customs.

The American Indian Movement did not start in a vacuum. It was a manifestation of decades of dominance of a race of people who desired to live a certain way of life by another race of people who wanted everyone to live by their way of life. It's a flaw in human behavior that has been continually repeated since the Dawn of Man.

The caretakers of Mother Earth were the residue of Manifest Destiny, an inconvenience to progress. They are the Trails of Tears, Ghost Ridge, Baker's Massacre, Sand Creek, Wounded Knee, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Black Elk, Red Cloud, Cochise, Big Bear, Jim Thorpe, Ira Hayes and Leonard Peltier.

Every American contains a drop of Indian blood. What was done to them is slowly being done to us.

Leonard Peltier was a Chippewa Sioux in the Sovereign Nation of Lakota Sioux. He was engaged in a gun battle with enemy combatants from another nation, known as the USA, created by Anglo Europeans whose ancestors arrived by boat, conquered the land and subjugated the indigenous people into squalor.

The Trail of Tears continues to haunt this land today.

Quote for the Day – "We will forever be known by the footprints we leave behind." Lakota

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Knights of the Golden Circle

Bob Brewer was born and raised in western Arkansas. As a youngster, his great-uncle introduced him to a mystery that included wilderness paths, hidden symbols, carvings on trees and rocks, and the topography of certain areas. The old man was the keeper of some sort of secret knowledge that he kept to himself.

Brewer went off to a career in the Navy and retired in 1977. He returned to Arkansas and began to explore the mystery of his childhood. Over the next 25 years, he interviewed old-timers, researched documents, studied old maps, made alliances and went on expeditions. He became convinced he was on the trail of lost treasure.

Warren Getler, a former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, has teamed with Brewer to create the book titled SHADOW OF THE SENTINEL which reveals the mystery of the Knights of the Golden Circle and their involvement in a vast Civil War era conspiracy.

The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) was a secret society formed in 1854 by sympathizers of Southern causes, dedicated to supporting pro-slavery policies and promoting the conquest of Mexico. It was created directly out of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and linked to the highest circles of American Freemasons.

During the Civil War, KGC operatives amassed huge quantities of gold and silver through clandestine raids. The caches were hidden in various secret locations, particularly in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, marked by a trail of complicated KGC ciphers. The accumulation of riches continued after the end of the Civil War in anticipation of a second war. Operations ceased in 1922 and the caches were sealed for good.

Getler and Brewer claim that the infamous outlaw Jesse James, a member of the KGC who turned over much of his ill-gotten gain to the cause, wasn’t actually killed in 1882 by Bob Ford as reported. A fellow named Charlie Bigelow who resembled Jesse James had been robbing banks using Jesse’s name. Supposedly, Jesse killed him and hired a prostitute to pose as Mrs. Jesse James to officially identify the body. Others who identified the body were all relatives or members of Quantrill’s Raiders, Jesse’s former comrades.

The real Jesse James then changed his name to J. Frank Dalton (his mother’s maiden name was Dalton) and continued his nefarious life as Chief of the Inner Sanctum of the Knights of the Golden Circle.

According to the book titled JESSE JAMES WAS ONE OF HIS NAMES by Jesse James III (the grandson) and Del Schroeder, Jesse James was indeed a prominent member of the KGC and hid large quantities of stolen riches in various locations on behalf of the secret society. In addition, John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Lincoln, was also a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle and didn’t die as history tells us either.

Booth was smuggled by the Confederate underground to Texas where he became a bartender by the name of John St. Helen. In the 1870s, he began telling folks about his past. When members of the KGC found out, they decided to silence him. Booth fled to Enid, Oklahoma, under the name of David George but was eventually tracked down by Jesse James and William Lincoln (a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln who had spent 14 years searching for the real Booth). James and Lincoln then tricked Booth to drink a glass of arsenic-laced lemonade. James subsequently arranged to have Booth’s mummified body exhibited on a national carnival tour.

In her book titled THIS ONE MAD ACT, John Wilkes Booth’s granddaughter, Iola Forrester Booth, reveals that her grandfather had belonged to the Knights of the Golden Circle and had not been killed in Baltimore as reported in history, but rather had escaped capture through the aid of fraternal brothers.

The Supreme Headquarters for the Knights of the Golden Circle was 814 Fatherland Drive in Nashville, Tennessee. This was the home of Dr. Sylvester Frank James, older brother of Jesse James and high-ranking member of the KGC. Years later it became the Dixie Tabernacle, the original home of the Grand Olde Opry.

As conspiracies go, it’s a whopper. But then again, it’s so bizarre it’s probably true.

I originally wrote this piece as a newspaper column in February of 2004. Not long after publication, a man from Tennessee and a woman from Mississippi, neither of whom knew each other, each sent me detailed messages confirming the authenticity of this story, claiming it had been passed down within their respective families.

Quote for the Day – "A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting." Carlos Castaneda (shaman)

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a multitude of wilderness paths. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Water

Japanese researcher, Dr. Masaru Emoto, has done extensive experiments with water and concluded that it has a consciousness.

According to Dr. Emoto, water has the capacity to perceive and remember. It also has the capacity to communicate with its environment just like any other living organism.

Water is a basic component of all living things on the planet. Two-thirds of the surface of earth is covered by water and the human body is made up of over 70 percent water. It's the essence of our being.

In 1994, Dr. Emoto began research to measure the properties of water by using Magnetic Resonance Analysis (MRA), a technology used in alternative medicine to measure the ability of the human body to resonate (vibrate) at certain frequencies thereby becoming a natural healing agent.

He collected water samples from many parts of Japan, as well as from other places in the world. Each sample of water was placed in 100 Petri dishes and frozen. Utilizing a photographic microscope (magnifications of 200 to 500 times), photographs were taken a split moment before the frozen ice flakes began to liquefy.

After more than four years of observations and 10,000 photographs, Dr. Emoto has concluded that "healthy water will show a complete hexagonal crystal structure while the chipping away and/or collapsing of crystal structures are not good signs." He added that each water crystal seemed to be "trying to purify itself."

Not surprising to most country bumpkins, some of the water samples from urban areas show deformed crystal structures, whereas water from remote rural areas generally appears to have fine crystal structures.

In another experiment, Dr. Emoto placed distilled water between two speakers and played different sounds. Bach and Mozart created good crystal structures while heavy metal music had the opposite effect. The prayer chanting of monks resulted in superior crystal structures. Dr. Emoto opined, "Musical vibrations contain positive and negative energies, depending on the information inscribed into them. Water reflects what it perceives."

Dr. Emoto is convinced that water is influenced by its surroundings. For example, he placed a glass of water in front of a running computer for four hours and no crystals were produced. When he placed water near a television playing a movie with a positive storyline, good crystals were formed. "Positive information results in beautiful hexagonal crystals, while negative information shows otherwise," Dr. Emoto observed.

Photographs of the water crystals and additional information can be found on

If Dr. Emoto's findings are correct, positive thoughts can affect the quality of water in our own bodies, whereas stress (a cause of many illnesses) may be the result of the negativity (bad energy) we propagate in our body's water.

A positive attitude leads to good bodily vibrations.

A negative attitude wears you down.

In many places around the world water has become highly polluted. Dr. Emoto hopes to create an awareness of this problem and believes we can improve the quality of water simply by becoming more grateful of it.

This may sound like New Age nonsense but there was a time when it was believed that the world was flat. Then an astronomer named Galileo discovered that the world was round and revolved around the sun. In 1633, he was brought before the Catholic Inquisition, tortured, forced to renounce his heretical views, and imprisoned.

The proliferation of knowledge is a slow process on a planet where greed is good, more is always better and wars are memorialized. But in reality everything in the universe and beyond is a single entity -- it's all connected.

I decided to test some of Dr. Emoto's theories on my own water. I hired a group of chanting monks and had them perform some heavy metal music. As expected, my water crystals became very schizophrenic – they were both delighted (by the chanting monks) and irritated (by the heavy metal music) at the same time.

Then again, I'm often delighted and irritated at the same time too. But I don't think I'm schizophrenic though, and neither does the other guy who lives inside my body. I deal with the outside world while he hides in the lower left quadrant of my cerebral cortex, snickering at me. Although he usually keeps a low profile, he tends to howl during full moons and Madame Blavatsky's birthday.

Perhaps this could explain why I live alone in the middle of nowhere and talk mostly to trees.

Quote for the Day – "It is wise to bring some water when one goes out to look for water." Arab Proverb

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a year-round spring of fresh pure water. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Path of Life

Life is a journey without a map. You come to a fork in the road of life and choose a direction. When things that once shocked you begin to amuse you, you've crossed the first barrier of true wisdom.

Every time I reach a new age in life, I spend a long day dwelling on my painful past, blessing the present and ignoring the future. Then I wake up the next day, usually a bit hung over, and start all over again.

While everyone follows a different Path in Life, there seems to be a general pattern.

Age 1-3 – You are a mass of human jelly trying to walk across the room without falling on your face.

Age 4-5 – You’re a helpless squirt being cared for by flawless parents who love and protect you.

Age 6-12 – You struggle through grade school, making friends and dodging bullies. Somewhere along the line you discover your parents aren’t exactly perfect and embarrass you with their mere existence

Age 13-17 – As a teen-ager, you stumble into your niche as one of the in-crowd or a jock or a nerd or a greaser or a nobody. No matter which category you fall into you’re an outcast but you don’t actually realize it unless you’re a nobody. You become rebellious of authority and change your hairstyle accordingly.

Age 18-20 – If you’re lucky, you go on to college and party for four years. If not, you marry your high school sweetheart and begin a life of quiet desperation involving employment, raising a family and maintaining a lawn.

Age 21 – You are now of legal age to consume alcohol, so you discard your fake ID’s.

Age 22-29 – You get a job that’s much less exciting than expected and try real hard not to go insane spending five days a week working for some lame idiot. You don’t think much about the future, except to fantasize about winning the lottery or writing a novel or sailing around the world or becoming a movie star.

Age 30 – Your first real zero year. You sense you’re in a rut and consider doing something drastic, like switch jobs or switch spouses or join the Merchant Marines. Instead, you change your hairstyle.

Age 31-39 – You coast along, fairly optimistic about the future. You’ve acquired a bit of money by now and perhaps have the house and automobile you’ve always wanted.

Age 40 – A bad zero year. You ponder deep thoughts about the meaning of life. Material things seem less important and you wonder what went wrong so you change your hairstyle reflecting your contemplative mood.

Age 41-49 – You switch from a fancy car to a practical car. If you have kids, they are going off on their own to screw up their own lives. You begin to read self-help books, buy a treadmill and eat more yogurt.

Age 50-59 – You put on a few pounds that are now harder to take off than when you were younger. You stop eating yogurt and start eating whatever pleases you the most. The treadmill collects dust in the garage.

Age 60 – Another bad zero year. You have now slipped across the line to become an old codger. You begin to worry about your health and change your hairstyle from stylish to whatever is the most comfortable.

Age 61-79 – You have lots of conversations about medical procedures and read the obituaries daily. Your back goes out more than you do and you change your hairstyle one last time, just for something exciting to do.

Age 80-99 – You smile more often but don’t know why, call everyone “Bub” because it’s easy to pronounce, your favorite exercise is sitting and you now have more hair growing out your ears than on your head.

Age 100+ -- You live in a strange world of young whippersnappers who seem to be from a different planet. You spend much of your time trying to remember things, like your own name and where you put your teeth.

Quote for the Day – "As you journey along the Path of Life you don't lose all the other ages you've been." Bret

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a Path of Life that includes many detours. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Monday, March 9, 2009

Saving Daylight

Time is a wonderful invention. It keeps everything from happening all at once.

This week, it took several days for me to realize my clocks were out of sync with the rest of the world. No big deal though, I've been out of sync with the rest of the world ever since second grade when Sue Reichart kissed me after school.

Apparently, I missed another one of those Daylight Savings Time (DST) moments whereby we either spring forward or fall back or whatever we are supposed to do in order to remain in lock step with our fearless leaders.

It all started in 1784, when Benjamin Franklin wrote a whimsical essay titled "Turkey versus Eagle, McCauley is my Beagle" in which he advocated what is today referred to as Daylight Saving Time.

Over the ensuing years, the notion of saving daylight slowly began to catch on with those who would apparently score low on a whimsy-o-meter.

Germany and England first adopted Daylight Saving Time in the spring of 1916, during World War I.

In March of 1918, the U.S. Congress established times zones, which had been used by the railroads and most cities since 1883, and included a conversion to Daylight Saving Time for the remainder of World War I.

DST proved to be very unpopular in the USA and was repealed in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the legislation but Congress overrode the veto. Thus, America returned to normal after the war to end all wars.

In February of 1942, DST was once again reinstated in the USA. Apparently, it's easier to fight world wars if you adjust the time pieces to save daylight. That way, you have an extra hour each day to fight and the enemy can't sneak away in the dark quite as easily.

In September of 1945, the "war time" requirement was removed.

From 1945 to 1966, the U.S. Congress had better things to do than mess with time. States and localities were free to observe or not to observe DST.

But in April of 1966, the Federal Uniform Time Act mandated DST nationwide. However, individual states could become exempt from DST by passing a state law. Then in 1972, the Act was amended to permit states that straddle time zones (such as Indiana) to exempt areas within zones.

The primary benefit of advancing clocks by an hour in the spring and reversing them in the fall is to give people more afternoon sun during the summer.

However, an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon costs an hour of daylight in the morning.

While a time change may benefit some, it can be inconvenient or a burden to others.

1) Sleep patterns are interrupted which generally take up to five days after each time shift to overcome
2) Personal health and work-related productivity suffer with changing sleep patterns
3) Those who must rise with the sun (agriculture) are out of sync with the societal time schedules
4) Studies show that traffic accidents increase significantly during periods following the time shifts
5) Computers must all change their internal clocks in accordance with human time
6) More afternoon sunlight actually increases energy consumption
7) Time shifts cause much confusion with international business
8) All Amtrak trains must stop for an hour in the fall to remain in sync with published timetables
9) In the spring, Amtrak trains become an hour behind schedule and must do their best to catch up

The state of Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time. I lived there in 1987-92 and life was much simpler sticking to a consistent time. I never understood why the rest of the country was so unenlightened.

Saving daylight is a lot like saving a jar of air. Basically, it's an exercise in stupidity resulting in an empty jar.

By the way, the U.S. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has given us even more daylight to be saved. Starting in 2007, Daylight Saving Time was extended another four or five weeks in the USA (except Arizona, Hawaii and parts of Indiana), from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November.

Note to Congress: Daylight Saving Time really doesn't save any daylight -- it only causes irritation, much like most everything else you do. If DST is such a great idea, why not do it all year around and avoid the grief?

When confronted with rules made by nitwits, one course of action is to become a nitwit. When the times change in the spring, show up at work an hour late, complaining you didn't realize the change had occurred. In the fall, show up two hours late during the time change, explaining you were confused. It works either way.

Time is precious. Don't give it away so freely. The only freedom you have in this dimension is the time that belongs to you.


Quote for the Day – "Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save." Will Rogers

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where time doesn't really matter. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Toxic Success

A psychoneuroimmunologist is a psychologist who specializes in the study of the brain’s interaction with the body’s immune system.

In other words, the mind’s affects on the body.

Dr. Paul Pearsall, one of the world’s leading psychoneuroimmunologists, is the author of 15 books, including TOXIC SUCCESS, a term he uses to describe a condition that comes from the notion that to be successful it’s necessary to get things done quickly, to be number one and to win. He contends certain people are killing themselves with success.

Dr. Pearsall conducted a 10-year clinical research project focused on 100 people considered to be highly successful. He discovered that “not one of them was happy.”

They were all afflicted with a pattern he dubbed “Toxic Success Syndrome” (TSS), in which the trappings of success conceal a disassociated personality characterized by someone who is unable to enjoy their success, unable to give their full attention to the present, and incapable of true intimacy.

These aggressive go-getters had achieved recognition for their creativity and daring but seemed unable to reap the rewards of their achievements. The major problem, according to the study, was the constant drive to get more and never be happy with what one had obtained. This leads to a “mass affection deficit disorder, too busy to love, too tired to care.”

This is different than being a type-A personality or a workaholic. It’s a matter of being in the present.

Those with Toxic Success Syndrome were found to be distant, detached and distracted individuals. At work, they felt guilty for not being at home, and when at home, they felt guilty for not being at work.

Toxic success is the kind of success that leaves you drained and tired and sick, where there is always something better around the next corner, as compared to the type of success that makes you feel good and energizes you.

According to Dr. Pearsall, one way to tell if you suffer from toxic success is to ask yourself if the person who knows you the best would consider you a joy to live with every day.

Personally, I’m not so sure that’s a valid test. I know lots of people who aren’t a joy to be with but the only success they could claim would be successfully tying their shoes.

Plus, I'm apparently not often such a joy to be with either. I live alone, with no neighbors, in the boondocks miles from a small town in the middle of nowhere. There's a reason for my self-imposed exile (the serenity of solitude) but it has nothing to do with my overwhelming success in life.

The antidote for toxic success is not to change your behavior but to change your mind.

You must put an end to psychological absenteeism.

You must go with the flow and always live within the present moment.

You must Be Here Now.

I’ve never had a problem with toxic success. I learned long ago that success was basically a function of personal contentment. If you're happy you're successful, not the other way around.

When I worked long hours, full-speed ahead, made lots of money and had lots of nice things, I was mostly unhappy.

When I gave up the rat race, mellowed out, lived a simple life and struggled to become a writer, I was mostly happy. Broke but happy. I was doing what I wanted to do, at my own pace, answering to no one.

Basically, I’m a non-toxic pseudo-success. A struggling writer is a struggling writer, occasionally doing other things to survive such as teaching college computer courses. Just because the rest of the world hasn’t discovered my writing doesn’t make me a loser, it just means the rest of the world hasn’t caught up with me.

In the eyes of the rest of the world, I’m probably a failure. But in my mind, most of the rest of the world is insane and I’m a success. I've followed my bliss and made it work, while the rest of the world is caught in the never-ending trap of credit and consumption, feverishly toiling at an unpleasant job in order to acquire things they mostly don't even need and/or can't afford.

Follow your bliss.

Live within the now.

The sacred journey of the soul across the universe of existence is a journey inward.

Quote for the Day – "My purpose is to be awake in this dream of life; to be free from the unnecessary suffering that arises from compulsive thinking and the limits of the conditioned mind; to be open to the infinite creative wow of every now! I accept this as an impersonal but completely intimate directive from my spirit. This awareness has given my life a sense of mission...." Intiana (Technician of the Sacred Channel of Attunement)

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and enough success to be free from debt. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Memo Miscues

Recently, the director of communications of Taco Bell Corporation was asked to prepare a memo reviewing the company’s training programs and materials. In the memo was a reference to the “pedagogical approach” used by one of the training manuals.

The day after the memo was circulated to members of the executive committee, the author of the memo was summoned to the office of the director of Human Resources and told that the executive vice president wanted him out of the building by noon. When asked for an explanation, the director of human resources told him that the executive vice president didn’t want any “perverts” working for her company.

After further discussion and the use of a dictionary, it was discovered that the executive vice president had mistaken the word “pedagogical”, which means befitting a teacher or education, for the word “pedophilia”, which means something entirely different. Obviously, this shed a new light on the memo whereby the director of human resources promised to take care of the situation vis-à-vis the executive vice president.

Three days later, a memo went out to the entire corporate headquarters directing everyone not to use any words in memos that could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper. Since only about 14 people on the planet know what the word “pedagogical” means in the first place, this is probably a good idea.

When the director of communications quit a month later, he created his resignation memo by pasting together words he cut out of the local Sunday paper.

Just because a person is high on the corporate ladder doesn’t mean they aren’t a couple of slices short of a full loaf. The following quotes are phrases from actual corporate memos recently submitted to a magazine contest to prove it.

General manager, Lykes Lines Shipping – “What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter.”

Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service – “This project is so important, we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it.”

Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation – “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.”

Legal Affairs Division, Microsoft Corporation – “This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above.”

Director of security, Microsoft Corporation – “As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.”

Business manager, Hallmark Greeting Cards – “If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!”

Transmission supervisor, AT & T Long Lines Division – “We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with employees.”

Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company – “E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should only be used for company business.”

Research & Development supervisor, 3M Corporation – “Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.”

I once had a manager approach me while I was eating lunch. He looked at my tiny bag of potato chips and asked me if I wanted more of them. Naturally, I said “yes.” He then smashed my bag of potato chips with his fist, turning about six chips into a hundred chips. “There,” he said, then walked away.

Oddly enough, he was one of my favorite managers.

Perhaps that’s why I no longer have managers.


Quote for the Day – "Don't use a big word where a diminutive one will suffice." Woody Paige

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and an absence of upper management. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Beyond Democracy

When it comes right down to it, democracy isn’t fair. It allows the majority to dictate to the minority and creates an atmosphere whereby the most fervent advocates can get their way.

The United States of America was created by a small group of male property owners who felt a democracy should consist only of male property owners. Over the ensuing years, others such as non-property owners, women, freed slaves and so forth were also allowed to vote and hold public office.

In a democracy, the majority rules. This is why it was necessary to add so many legal conditions, such as the Bill of Rights, to the paperwork.

Since a specific religion could become the majority and insist that their principles be the norm, government and religion were separated by legal decree.

Because a specific ethnic group could become the majority and dictate to minorities, rules were set forth guaranteeing equal rights and protection under the law.

In other words, a democracy requires a set of rules protecting everyone from the tyranny of the majority.

But in a democracy the majority often dictates unjustly regardless of how many rules are set up to prevent it.

Take zoning laws for example. Some are reasonable while others are downright ridiculous. I’ve lived in communities where the neat-nicks rule the roost. You must have all building plans approved by a committee. Nonconforming styles and color schemes are prohibited. If your lawn exceeds a certain length the township will mow it and send you a bill. If you have no lawn, you will be required to install one. And so forth.

The people who care deeply about the appearance of their neighbor’s property are the ones who will fight the hardest to gain communal control. Those who have a live-and-let-live attitude just won’t get involved and consequently wind up at the mercy of those who insist on always having their way.

The same is true on a national level. Those who insist on having things their way are the ones who strive for political power. Those who simply want to be left alone are caught in the crosshairs of those who want to control everyone else.

Those who want more and more government to solve their perceived problems become politically active and continually push for more and more government. And in a democracy, the majority is constantly attacking the rights of others.

If the majority goes to bed early at night, they will impose a curfew on those who don’t. If the majority finds certain art or literature offensive, they will attempt to censure it out of existence. If the majority doesn’t partake in a particular mood-altering substance, they will not allow others to enjoy it. If the majority doesn’t gamble, they will not allow others to gamble. If the majority believes a specific weekday to be sacred, they will not allow certain businesses to operate on that day. And so on and so on.

In a perfect world, we would have little need for massive amounts of government. But as long as selfish, willful, inconsiderate, unethical people exist, there is a need for a set of rules and a means to enforce them. And since there seems to be a need for government, a democracy is probably a good place to start.

However, a democracy has flaws. Being required to conform to the majority in a pure democracy can be a very repressive existence. One person's right is another person's wrong. One person's morality is another person's immorality. One person's way of life is another person's nightmare. We don't all think alike.

More rules and regulations are not the answer. More government simply means less individual freedom and a greater potential for tyrannical abuse perpetrated by those in control.

Our present two-party system of government is a perfect example of abuse perpetrated by those in power. The two major parties have made it nearly impossible for any third party to compete with them, thus ensuring their continued dominance. Plus, with a two-party system one party is always in the majority, thereby having the ability to control the system without proper checks and balances.

Beyond democracy lies common sense, decency and a tolerance of others. The only fair system is one that allows maximum freedom as long as you are not infringing on someone else’s freedom.

But freedom is never free. There will always be those who would deny you your freedom.

Slick-politicians want their share of your freedom to increase your dependence on them.

Do-gooders want their share of your freedom to enforce their version of charity.

Lazy-bums want their share of your freedom to feed their gluttony for entitlements.

Fussy-nitpickers want their share of your freedom to gratify their need for conformity.

Rule-makers want their share of your freedom to fulfill their desire for control.

Greed-heads want their share of your freedom to quench their lust for wealth.

Fearful-warmongers want their share of your freedom to combat their fear of others.

Religious-zealots want their share of your freedom to appease their need for self-righteousness.

The battle for freedom is a never-ending struggle and a vote for more government is a vote for less freedom.

These days, the national debt is approaching $12 trillion with no end to the fiscal abomination in sight. The present federal solution to the deep hole we are in is to keep digging. A child born in the USA today will automatically be some $50,000 in debt, thanks to our collective greed and stupidity, and will be subservient to the federal government for the remainder of their life.

It is beyond my comprehension why anyone would vote to enslave themselves.

Quote for the Day -- "Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. Those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed." Barry Goldwater

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a desire for a heaven on earth where everyone minds their own business. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Carnal World

One night in 1996, I had a remarkable dream where I was standing naked in front of a full-length mirror as a powerful voice announced: “You were Xxxxxxx in a previous life.” Xxxxxxx was actually the name of a semi-famous character of the Old West in the late 1800s, but I’ll keep that identity to myself for now.

The dream was extremely vivid and I remembered it in great detail after I awoke. Gazing into the mirror in the dream, I looked “almost” like myself and also had a remarkable resemblance to Xxxxxxx at the same time. Years earlier, I had a series of dreams that came true so I’ve paid a great deal of attention to them ever since. Although I wasn’t convinced I really was Xxxxxxx in a previous life, I didn’t dismiss it either.

I knew very little about Xxxxxxx, but the dream compelled me to research his life. At age nine, he and his family moved from Iowa to Kansas. After a stint in the Army, he spent his adult life roaming the West, bouncing from job to job, prospecting for gold and even wrote a couple of books. His Army days were spent in Ft. McPherson, Nebraska.

Oddly enough, when I was age nine, my family and I moved from Wisconsin to Kansas. After a stint in the Army, I spent much of my adult life roaming the West, bouncing from job to job, prospecting for gold and even wrote a couple of books. My Army days were spent in Ft. McPherson, Georgia.

These coincidences kept churning in my mind. I had already written three novels and was in the process of writing another one but could no longer concentrate on it after the dream. So I decided to start a brand new novel, titled THE ELEVENTH SAGE, about a man who has lost his memory, except for being convinced he is the reincarnation of a famous person from the previous century, and is being accused of a crime of which he has no recollection.

Instead of using Xxxxxxx as the Old West reincarnation in the novel, I chose to use Wild Bill Hickok. There was plenty of research material available and he had lived a colorful, eventful life.

As a teen-ager in Illinois, Hickok got into a fistfight with another fellow and knocked him into a canal. When the other fellow failed to come back to the surface of the water, Hickok ran home, convinced he had just killed a man. He hurriedly packed, took off on horseback and didn’t stop until he was in Kansas.

Although the other fellow lived, Hickok went through his life believing he had actually killed a man. I suspect this is what gave him the great courage he purportedly possessed. He probably figured he had nothing to lose.

Not only was he a notorious lawman, Hickok also made a living as a buffalo hunter, a Pony Express rider, a cargo wagon teamster, an Army scout, a gambler, a Yankee spy in the Civil War and a stage performer in New York City. As a gunfighter, he killed many people. Once, he even killed a grizzly bear with a knife.

Since those who believe in reincarnation also believe we re-enter the carnal world along with family, friends and enemies from previous lives, I incorporated some of Hickok’s friends and foes in the novel as well. To my surprise, I learned that Hickok and Xxxxxxx had crossed paths several times. Both worked as teamsters for the same freight company, rode for Pony Express, were scouts under General Custer, and Wild West entertainers.

THE ELEVENTH SAGE was my fourth novel. It was published in 2001. I never did go back and write the novel I had been working on before my dream. I had more pressing things to do, such as earn a living.

In 2007, I had a reading (the only one I've ever had) through a well-known national psychic whereby my previous life as Xxxxxxx was described in detail.

Later that year, I mentioned to an acquaintance, who was a highly gifted intuitive, that I may have been a semi-famous person in the 1800s. That's all I told her. Two days later, she sent me a message informing me that I had been Xxxxxxx in a previous life even though she didn't even know who he was. I subsequently learned she was related by blood to General Custer – another synchronicity.

On a third occasion, another highly gifted intuitive ended a correspondence (about a completely different subject) with me by stating, "By the way, you may have been Xxxxxxx in a previous life." This remark had nothing to do with the subject matter at hand – it was simply blurted out at the end of a note. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read it.

Since this series of events, I've spent a great deal of time dwelling on this subject and have come up with my own interpretation (12 steps) of this earthly existence. I call it "The Purification of the Soul."

1) There exists a supreme realm of oneness, consisting of all matter, space, time, energy, perception, intention and love. All is one.

2) The Supreme Oneness is made up of individual souls (eternal spirits within oneness), with each soul containing an individual awareness.

3) In order to insure purity of the Supreme Oneness, individual souls were given free will, thereby allowing impure souls to be cleansed.

4) A rebellious portion of the Supreme Oneness, eager to experience pleasure, brought the material world into existence through imagination.

5) Planet Earth is one of many three-dimensional illusions where curious souls project themselves (incarnate) to experience material pleasures.

6) When a fallen soul reincarnates into a three-dimension carnal reality, its divine soul (counterpart) remains in the higher realm.

7) The carnal world contains injustice and pain. Each fallen soul is forced to choose between good and evil (or indifference), and must suffer.

8) Fallen souls must cycle through a series of incarnations (tests) to obtain enough patience, grace and purity to return to the oneness.

9) Between incarnations into the carnal existence, souls must review their carnal experience and are judged, by themselves, on their righteousness.

10) Buddha, Jesus Christ and others were divine examples of purity.

11) Souls incapable of achieving divine wisdom become doomed to an endless cycle (eternal damnation) into the lower realm (carnal worlds).

12) The ultimate goal of each soul is to reach perfection through patience and grace, and reunite with its divine soul within the Supreme Oneness.

Whether or not I was Xxxxxxx in a previous life still remains a mystery to me. Then again, just about everything in this life is a mystery to me. But this experience has too many coincidences and synchronicities to ignore.

Reincarnation is the primary belief system of Hinduism, Buddhism, Kabbalists, Gnosticism, Jewish tradition, Mystical Christianity, Native Americans, Ancient Greeks, New Agers, etc. At least half the population of the planet believes we pass through this plane of existence, again and again, until we clear our Karmic debt to the collective oneness.

My debt should be cleared in about 33 more lifetimes.

Quote for the Day -- "I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born." Jack London

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a Karmic debt at minus 33. His blogs appear on several websites, including

An Act of Cowardice

Depression is a state of despair and hopelessness many of us go through from time to time, including a friend of mine who recently turned to me for some advice.

My friend merely assumed I’ve had more than my share of depression. After all, I live alone in a rural setting, talk mostly to my dog and don’t think too highly of the human race. Plus I’m a writer and everyone knows that writers are full of angst. Although I’ve had many ups and downs, I’ve never been happier.

But since I’m full of many things, including advice, I gladly gave my friend the following opinions.

People with a strong sense of destiny never become depressed. They realize their fate is beyond their control and are willing to accept whatever happens as justice even if it seems unjust. These are rare human beings, mostly Tibetan monks, blind musicians and bartenders.

The larger group of people who never get depressed are those who see everything through rose-colored glasses. They refuse to see reality for what it is, preferring to see only good and never acknowledging evil. They would rather be dishonest with themselves than accept a life of misery.

Most everyone else has had a bout or two with depression sometime during their lifetime. It usually happens when you are overcome by surrounding events, often during a time of change or grief or a recent revelation.

Life becomes overwhelming. Sometimes you fight it; sometimes you just want to give up.

Evil and injustice exists, even close to you. This frightens, disturbs and eventually angers most people.

But the anger originally started in childhood. We all enter this world as innocent beings. Before long, you become the victim of an unjust parent or teacher or bully or whomever. You could not confront these tormentors because you were helpless against them. As you grow older, this feeling of helplessness surfaces once again during a period of crisis or change. So you become angry all over again. But you also realize that anger is not appropriate behavior. So you repress the anger, holding it deep inside. Thus you become depressed.

Depression is withheld anger. It’s probably also a primary cause of cancer, heart problems, etc.

While some people react to the anger with acts of violence and stupidity, only making matters worse, most prefer to suppress anger by escaping reality. Alcohol and drugs are the most popular choices. However, overindulgence in just about anything will do the trick, such as food, TV, music, hobbies, partying, shopping, sports, work, sex, cars, etc. But all this does is treat the symptoms, not the underlying cause. The anger still exists.

Suppressing anger is not the solution and expressing anger is not the solution.

The medical profession treats depression with drugs, restoring a chemical imbalance that often accompanies depression. In all likelihood, the depression causes the chemical imbalance, not the other way around. Once again, you’re treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. Prescription drugs are not the solution.

The solution is not indulging in the anger in the first place.

The first step is to forgive all of those who have hurt you in the past and present. You can do this in your mind instead of in person – the effect will be the same and you won’t have to explain yourself.

Next, you must understand that it makes no sense to be angry at anything you have no control over.

If a branch falls from a tree and hits you on the head, will you be angry at the branch?

If an insect bites you, will you be angry at the insect?

If another driver cuts you off on the roadway, will you be angry at the other driver?

You have no more control over a dangerous driver than you have over an insect or a branch. The branch doesn't know, the insect doesn't care and the erratic driver probably enjoys upsetting others anyway.

There are only two things in this existence – you and everything else.

You only have control over you.

Depression is a shrinking of confidence and anxiety over responsibility, creating a torturous melancholy that suffocates the soul. Basically, it's an act of cowardice -- a paralysis of resolve and an oppressive withdrawal within oneself.

In the end, depression is a choice. You can either deal with your problems or allow your problems to overtake you.

Choose wisely.


Quote for the Day – "Depression is a prison where you are both the prisoner and the warden." Bret

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and the author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a strong sense of destiny. His blogs appear on several websites, including