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#3586 - Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights - The first periodical publication on nonduality - Submissions welcome http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
On December 7, 2004, Highlights #1996 was devoted to dance. Three of the articles in that long issue included writer, film and Broadway actor, and monologist Spalding Gray.
The third article in the series on Gray was recently revised and the author, Neda Pourang, sent me the revision, which is included here. The story is part of an anthology, 'Lost and Found: Stories of New York', edited by Tom Beller.
Pourang sent me the revised story three months ago. I should have published it right away but I must have gotten distracted. I apologize for that. The story was "lost" and now it has been found.
Here it is, following the first two articles that bring you Spalding Gray. Thank you, Neda.
PS. Also, when Neda sent me the revised story she told me some of the story behind the revision. I accept her sharing as something I have in common with Spalding Gray and a green Honda: a spin with Neda Pourang.
Spalding Gray dances with The Dalai Lama
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/132/story_13252.html [Accessed December 7, 2004. No longer available.]
the Fall 1991 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (premier issue).
Spalding Gray: But you have
to be looking at your clock all the time.
Spalding Gray: Did you do a
meditation this morning?
Spalding Gray: And when you
go into the meditation, is it similar every morning?
Spalding Gray: And can you tell me a little bit about what its like?
The Dalai Lama: (sigh, laugh) Mmmmmm The first portion is the recitation of a mantra. There are certain mantras aimed at consecrating your speech, so that all your speech throughout the day will be positive. These recitations should be made before speaking. I observe silence until they are finished and if anyone approaches me, I always communicate in sign language. Then I try to develop a certain motivation, or determination, that as a Buddhist monk, until my Buddhahood, until I reach Buddhahood, my life, my lives, including future lives, should be correct, and spent according to that basic goal. And that all my activities should be beneficial to others and should not harm others.
Spalding Gray: How long does
Spalding Gray: Is there a
special visualization going on?
Spalding Gray: You can see
the deity very clearly in your mind with your eyes
Spalding Gray: Do you ever entertain the distractions, invite them into your meditation and let all of these women in bikini bathing suits that you must see here out by the pool come into your meditation?
The Dalai Lama: As a monk, I have to avoid that experience, even in my dreams, due to daily practice. Sometimes in my dreams there are women. And in some cases fighting or quarreling with someone. When such dreams happen, immediately I remember, I am a monk. So that is one reason I usually call myself a simple Buddhist monk. Thats why I never feel I am the Dalai Lama. I only feel I am a monk. I should not indulge, even in dreams, in women with a seductive appearance. Immediately I realize Im a monk.
Spalding Gray: One Western
writer called Ernest Becker, who wrote The Denial of
Death, said We dont know anything beyond it.
We must bow down to that mystery because there is no way
of knowing what is coming next, and the thing that
has always confused me and interested me about Tibetan
Buddhism is the extremely complex system of knowledge
about after-death states and reincarnation.
There are some cases, very authentic, very clear, where people recall their past lives, especially with very young people. Some children can recall their pas experience. I do not have any sort of strong or explicit doubts as to this possibility. But since phenomenon such as after-death experiences, intermediate states and so forth, are things that are beyond our direct experience, it does leave some slight room for hesitation. For many years in my daily practice, I have prepared for a natural death. So there is a kind of excitement at the idea that real death is coming to me and I can live the actual experiences. A lot of my meditations are rehearsals for this experience.
Spalding Gray: Do you have
one predominant fear that you often struggle with, the
thing you fear the most?
Spalding Gray: You are
feeling not fearful?
Spalding Gray: How do you
Spalding Gray: But you are
flying a lot and the pilots are drinking. Thats
what Im always afraid of. Ive always said I
would never fly on a plane where the pilot believes in
reincarnation. When you get on a plane to fly, do you
have to work with your fears?
Spalding Gray: You walk out.
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/08/obit.gray/ [Accessed December 7, 2004. No longer available.]
Body of writer, actor found in
From Jonathan Wald and Annie Castellani
been missing since January 10, the
examiner's office said Monday afternoon.
The body was identified
after an autopsy through dental and
other X-rays, said Ellen Borakove, the medical examiner's
spokeswoman. She said the cause of death is under
The only identifiable
evidence on the body was a pair of
black corduroy pants similar to the pair Gray was wearing
on the night of his disappearance, she said.
Gray, 62, was known for
writing and starring in the
autobiographical "Swimming to
films such as "The Killing Fields," "Beaches," "The Paper"
and "Kate & Leopold," but was most celebrated for his
autobiographical monologues, including "
in a Box" and "It's a Slippery Slope."
He had attempted suicide
several times since a car accident
injuries. Family friend and spokeswoman Sara Vass said in
January that he had never been the same since that crash
and had subsequently received treatment at psychiatric
In September 2003 Gray
left a message at his
telling her he planned to jump from the Staten Island Ferry
that day. Russo called police, who notified authorities on
the ferry. A despondent Gray was found sitting on the ferry
and was escorted off the boat.
Russo and Gray's
therapist thought he had been making
progress since then and that he was through the worst of
His wife had held out
hope he was alive during his
disappearance, she told The Associated Press.
"Everyone that looks
like him from behind, I go up and
check to make sure it's not him," Russo said in a phone
interview with the AP about a week ago. "If someone calls
and hangs up, I always do star-69. You're always thinking,
Gray was sui generis: He
looked like an Ivy
League professor and spoke with a
spent years in the often avant-garde downtown
theater scene and created a painfully confessional style in
which the stage practically became a therapist's office.
He performed sitting
down, usually with only a desk, chair
and glass of water for company.
"This man may be the
ultimate WASP neurotic, analyzing his
actions with an intensity that would be unpleasantly
egomaniacal if it weren't so self-deprecatingly funny,"
Associated Press Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara wrote in
1996. "He questions everything and ends up more exhausted
included "Cambodia," about his
experiences in a bit part in the movie "The Killing
Fields"; "Gray's Anatomy," about his struggles with a
serious eye problem; and "Monster in a Box," about an
endlessly growing semi-autobiographical novel concerning
his mother's suicide.
He appeared in a handful
of Broadway productions, most
notably the 1989 Tony Award-winning revival of "Our Town"
and the 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man."
His 38 films include
"Beaches," "Straight Talk" and "King
of the Hill."
A Dance With Spalding Gray
by Neda Pourang
When I was in college, I spent an entire night dancing at the Palladium in New York City with Spalding Gray. We danced and danced to every song- danceable or not. I didn't know who he was but my friends did and he was a very cool older man who seemed to still like the things I'd assumed you stopped liking when you turned gray.
I had been in a fashion show at the Palladium that night and I still had on my long white Mary McFaddon dress while bopping around to Madonna's "Express Yourself." My friends and I were new to the city and looking back it seems perfect that Spalding Gray was one of the first ambassadors to guide us into the mysteries of New York. He treated me like a grown up and was a perfect gentleman. More than anything, he reminded me of the shy art majors I was at NYU with. At the end of the night, my girlfriends and I walked him home before heading back to our apartment on Second Avenue -- the first of many apartments during my time in New York.
That old apartment is gone -- burned down. The Palladium is now NYU dorms.. All that thumping house and lit staircases -- razed to house the students who were babies or not even born when the dance hall was king. And this week I know for sure that Mr. Spalding Gray is gone too.
Years later I saw and read his work and wished I'd asked him clever questions when we met instead of just jumping up and down to George Michael.
I'm gone too. Over a decade of parties, boyfriends, school and false career starts awaited me in New York after we left Mr. Gray at his home. I am not anywhere close to being the un-jaded newcomer that I was.
I have left. I drive a green Honda in Los Angeles traffic and think about my own brief but unforgettable experience with depression. I didn't know what it was or how many pills there would be for it back when I was spinning around in my white gown with Mr. Gray.
And I didn't know that not everyone could simply take up jogging, fall in love and grow out of the depression like I did.. I didn't know that some people stayed trapped in the grief, no matter how good their lives got around them.
I always assumed I'd run
into him again. New York is like that -- you don't worry so much
about exchanging information because you live by the city's
serendipity. But I never did, and for a long time, I forgot all
about it. Now I feel a loss I don't really have the right to
because it is not sadness for the tragic death of a talented man
-- a good man -- I feel. It is more about the loss of everything
that changes and passes. From legendary clubs, to my own
unaccounted-for twenties. And then there is my feeling that I
didn't so much leave New York as get spat out by it. Anyway, I
danced one night in the nineties in New York City with Mr.
Spalding Gray and he never got tired or missed a beat.
From 'Lost and Found: Stories of New York' edited by Tom Beller. The book may be pre-ordered on Amazon.com:
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