Posts Tagged ‘Red Cap’

The Life and Death of an Accountant

A Homage by the famous Red Cap.

Johann 7/02/1954 – 7/10/2018

“Show me your face before your parents were born” the Buddhist Master will ask of his student, and most of the time he will whack him on the head if he starts to ramble about previous lives or something to that effect.

But here we will stick to what we know, or think we know, and be whacked over the head because we do not yet know what reality is, what truth is. But we will not be deterred by trivialities like that, we will march on regardless.

Where did it all start for The Accountant? We do not know much about the beginning. We know that he grew up on a farm, but all we have is a photograph of him on his tricycle in front of an apricot tree, a very fateful apricot tree, because it was there that the knife was, the knife that pretty much determined the course of the rest of this life, the youngest of six dirty little barefoot buggers running wild on a maize farm, miles from the nearest town.

The pocket knife with the very sharp, pointed blade used to skin prickly pears that was left unattended on a table. The knife that he picked up on that fateful day, that cost him his eye and sped him into a life of rejection, distrust (even disgust?), questioning, seeking, and depression, the life of the outsider, the silent witness who later in life could identify strongly with outsiders like Harry Haller in Herman Hesse’s ‘Steppen Wolfe’ and  Joseph Knecht in ‘The Glass Bead Game’.

Primary school was mostly a blur (with a girl named Catherin moving in and out of the haze of his freaked-out consciousness). The rest was a futile exercise of trying to be invisible, of flying under the radar, but his intellect projected him into the limelight which both delighted him and frustrated him. He hated attention, he hated competition. He did not want to be “better” than anyone. He just wanted to be, but the race was on and he had to stay ahead of the pack of hungry and envious little wolves and their ambitious parents.

He later recounted an incident when he was in grade two where one of the less intellectually endowed, but aggressively ambitious class mates, eager to demonstrate his (mostly imagined) Rambo like physical superiority over this one eyed sissy-boy, tried to coax him into a fist fight. Enter another member of the clan of the six barefoot buggers, (the same twerp who much later became the frustrating and extremely irritating companion of me, the famous Red Cap), a skinny little man, not too bright in the top story but a reasonably good athlete, who quietly went about the business of persuading the cocky dumb ass of a would be Rambo to forsake his foolishness and go play with his toys, which he promptly did.

Strangely enough, it was this same youngest of the 6 siblings that, a couple of years later, punched my moron companion a solid blow on the nose, (he was so small that he had to jump to deliver the blow to that nose) causing said nose to bleed profusely, and that for simply stepping accidentally on one of the little attacker’s toys where he was playing in the dirt under that same fateful apricot tree. That was the only punch on the nose that my moron received in his entire, foolish life, and incidentally, the only punch that The Accountant ever delivered to any nose in his entire life.

But it was also during this time that The Accountant discovered the magic of silence. Towards the end of his life he recounted to a friend how he used to hide in the dark, almost sacred sanctuary of the living room (exclusively reserved for important guests like the Dominee) on Sundays before the family’s monthly excursion to the church in town. Here he would lie down on the carpet in the semi-darkness and enter that ineffable state of complete silence, which he later learned all the esoteric traditions called “no mind”. A state of mind that takes most students of spirituality a lifetime to reach.

Life in Highschool was for him, if possible, even worse than primary school. Now a very self-conscious  one-eyed teenager, who battled to fit in. He was called ‘dead-eye-dick’ by some of the more envious morons who could not beat him intellectually, and so he became even more of an outsider.

Sadly, his dad was also not very impressed with his youngest’s intellectual prowess. He wanted him to be a man, to stand up for himself, to be a real farm boy with dirt on his hands, to at least show some interest in farming. To make a man out of this softy, he bought him a horse. A boy must be able to ride a horse to prove that he is a man. That was the world the old man grew up in, a world of horses and ox wagons, and that was how life and men should be. But The Accountant didn’t like horses, he liked to play chess. He loved chess and represented his school in tournaments, but his dad never attended one competition, nor did he ask about the results of the games he played. Dad insisted that he must get onto that bloody horse or else …

In silent rebellion he bought himself a bicycle and started to ride back to school in the afternoons to play tennis. Despite having only one eye, he found that he could play tennis better than most of the other children at school. He excelled in the game and became the number one player for the school and represented the school at inter-school competitions. And again, his dad showed no interest in his youngest’s accomplishments on tennis courts and refused to attend the matches that he played. In his world a real man played rugby and girls played tennis and that was that.

Then it was off to university to study, on his father’s insistence agricultural sciences, to obtain a BSc degree so that he could one day become a farmer. Naturally it didn’t work for him, so he changed course and studied B.com instead, which of course did nothing to bridge the divide between him and his father. In fact, that was about the time that they stopped talking to each other at all.

It was then that our Accountant started to lose all interest in the games people play. He put away his tennis rackets and gave away his chess board. From now on the big questions about the why and the how of life that has been simmering on the backburners of his mind started to step forward and demanded attention.

As a famous Red Cap, my experience is that  people who suffered severe trauma early in life, who needed and begged and prayed in this desperate dark hour for help from Above like a good Christion should, but received no such help at all even though the church promised that if you asked, it will be lovingly given unto you, either turns against God in anger and become insufferable atheists forever and fiercely fighting a (for them) non-existent entity, or they go the exact opposite way and become zealots for his or her wrathful God and promise death and damnation unto all who does not believe in their very loving, very angry and wrathful god sitting on his throne somewhere up in heaven.

But not so for our Accountant. Spirit started to stir deep inside of him, and he started looking for, and demanding answers to his questions. He became involved with the guys from Practical Philosophy, but soon parted ways with them when they started to demand money “for the bi- weakly drivel that they dished up as truth to impressionable and naïve searchers after Truth”, as he called it.

He started to read profusely. Aldous Huxley’s ‘Doors of Perception’ intrigued him and he was inspired by transpersonal psychology and the work being done at Esalin.

It was at this stage that the eldest brother of the family gave my future companion, the skinny, barefoot farm boy (the one that got punched in the nose), a copy of Erich von Danikin’s ‘Chariots of the Gods’.  That was a mind changer for both the Accountant and the future owner of me, the famous Red Cap. Add to that the works of Carlos Castaneda, Baal Shem Tov and Islamic Sufism that they discovered in second-hand bookshops, and you have the beginnings of a serious intellectual and spiritual rebellion.

They found common ground, they found a world full of exiting possibilities, a world away from the stale (Aristotelian and Cartesian) ‘if – then’ predictabilities and entered a world of ‘what if’ possibilities. ‘The varieties of religious experience’ by William James and von Danikin’s books, as well as Zecharia Sitchin’s “The 12th Planet” confirmed their suspicion that the Old Testament of the Bible with its horrible and immoral bloodshed and unpredictable and unforgiving god, might just not be a true rendition of what really happened back then, or what should happen in a just and civilised world ruled by an all knowing, omnipresent, almighty God. God, The Accountant argued, is not an old man, a cross between old Zeus, Neptune and Father Christmas as most churches like to portray Him as, and as most god-fearing believers saw him. There was something seriously amiss in this picture and the search was on to find ‘the holy grail’ like the Gnostics of old.

The question for the Accountant turned from “what is life about” to “what would constitute the good life,” a train of thinking that led him to Buddhism (or led him astray, as some would later accuse him of). As a philosophy, Buddhism accorded with his intellectual approach to life, and, as a psychological system encouraging a life of non-violence, contemplation, meditation and compassion,  confirmed his own intuition of what a good life entails, and how life should be lived. It was a way of being far removed from the average Christian’s ‘go-to-church-every-Sunday-and-do-as-you-like-during-the-six-days-inbetween’ way of life he grew up with. He believed that, if you cannot live your spiritual convictions (or walk your talk, as the New Agers like to say), then it is no use going to church at all. Going to church more out of convention than conviction, does not make you a Christian, nor does it make you less of a barbarian if you beat up your wife or fuck your secretary or your own daughter in the days between your pious visits to the church. (Kierkegaard: “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”)

He used to get quite worked up on that issue! (meer…)


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Jingle the bells

‘So, it was that time of the year again,’ said my old friend, the world famous Red Cap, from the top of the Christmas tree. I thought it would be a good idea to have a philosophising Cap on top of the tree instead of the traditional star or angel. From up there he will have a better view of the festivities and traditions of us the, according to him, “inferior mere mortals”.
‘Yes,’ I confirm merrily. ‘Jingle Bells were ringing joyously down the isles of shops in tune with the jingling of cash registers all over the world, and Boney M’s Little Drummer Boy competed with the sound of children throwing temper tantrums in front of shelves stacked to the roof with toys of all description while desperate mothers, in the spirit of Christmas, tried not to murder them in public. It was marvellous, absolutely wonderful, don’t you think?’
‘Yes, I know you are mad about it, you just love the spirit of it. You find it thrilling and exciting and joyful. Me, I fail to see the sense in any of this, but then again, you are a mere mortal, a stupid creature driven by senseless passion and uncontrollable emotions.’
‘But look at all the beautiful Christmas trees with the little lights in them. The streets were aglow with colourful lights and marvellous decorations,’ I tell him. ‘The people were happy and friendly and more forgiving. Laughter and love was in the air. It always stirs something deep in you, it fills you with wonder, with awe as if some miracle is about to happen. (meer…)

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Conversations with a famous Red Cap.
Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Listen to this,” I say into the darkness of my wardrobe. ‘When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.’
“You wake me from hibernation on a cold morning like this to tell me something so obvious, a damn mule can understand it. What is your problem? You going mad or something?” replies a grumbling voice from the darkness.
I suppose I should have anticipated a reaction like this from The Cap. He has been sleeping in a dark corner of my wardrobe since the beginning of the winter.
“Are you just telling me this great, earth shattering truth for the hell of it, or is there a question in there somewhere?” glowers the Red Cap from the darkness of his lair.
“Sorry,” I say into the darkness. “I need to talk to you. This is a quotation from ‘The Pocket Pema Chödrön’, that old Buddhist Master from Tibet.
“I know,” scowls The Cap from the comfort of his dark, warm hiding place. “Why are we bothered by old Master Pema and her wisdom so early on a bloody cold morning like this? And by the way, she is not a Tibetan Master from Tibet, she is an American Tibetan Buddhist, born as Deirdre Bromfield-Brown in 1936 in New York City, USA. Her religion is Vajrayana Buddhism from the Shambhala Lineage and her current title is that of Bhikkhuni. She is the Director and principal teacher at Gumpo Abby in Nova Scotia Canada. Anything else you want to know about Pema Chödrön?” (meer…)

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(Continue reading from previous post)

The next morning the healthy dead man was wheeled off to the operating theatre. While waiting in line for his turn to be poked at form the outside and spied on from the inside, he was informed that a small monitor would be implanted under his skin somewhere over his heart. This gave rise to fierce betting between two theatre nurses over the shivering body of our zombie under the theatre lights, as to where exactly the doctor was going to do the implant. Our brave Mr Reg Shoe suggested they each make a cross with a pen on where they thought the implant should be done.

When the doctor arrived and boldly inserted the device, the male nurse joyfully shouted ‘I won. You owe me a decent meal at a decent restaurant!’ The doctor was not impressed, but high-fived the winner and moved to the nether regions of my recently-back-from-the-dead companion.

The anaesthetist explained to my zombie that he was not going to put him to sleep, but that he was going to give him a little shot of some good stuff to make him happy and relaxed so he could enjoy the show of his insides on the monitor. A camera probe was inserted in an artery in his thigh and moved all the way to his heart where the doctor joyfully pointed out to his happy patient that the repair work to the inlet and outlet manifolds of the pump during the previous bypass operation was still in mint condition and could thus not have been the reason for his cardiac arrest this time. He pointed to a small, crooked artery in between the previously repaired ones and said that that one was blocked, and it could have been the culprit giving the surgeon the fright of his life. And then the cardiologist abruptly left the theatre and stayed away for a very long time, which caused some panic in the mind of the living dead on the operating table.

When the doctor casually returned a while later, he said the artery was too small and crooked to put a stens in and with that he removed his probe, stitched up the thigh and left, never to be seen again by me or my Mr Reg Shoe, not even when we were discharged from the hospital the next day.

After the operation, the anaesthetists told us that, while the doctor was moving his probe upwards through the belly of the beast, so to speak, he looked at the area where my moron said the original pain came from. And said he, the doctor had some good news and some bad news. The bad news was that one of the ribs will have to be removed, the good news was that they could create a new wife for him from the rib. In unison, me and my zombie cried NO THANK YOU! We can barely handle one of them. We do not want an extra one.

When the good wife came by we mentioned to her the proposition that was made to us by the doctor. Contrary to expectations the good wife was elated, provided that the new wife took over cooking, cleaning and sex. With that the Zombie almost shot out of bed to go tell the doctor to proceed with the operation.  I calmed him down and pointed out to him that, being a zombie, and an old one at that, we could expect some vital parts of his body to start falling off in the foreseeable future. Considering such a prospect, we decided not to accept the generous offer because a clean house was very much overrated in any case.

And now we are back home. We hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since. The work will not wait for you to die, said my moron réanimé who is grudgingly sporting his original pain in the side for which he seeked medical help and was, at phenomenal cost, rewarded with a score of new pains added for his trouble. He is not a happy man, but being sad will not make it go away, he says.

If he was a cat, I am sure he’d by now be close to, or living his 9th and final life. And I was just beginning to like the moron.

And so, stuffed with painkillers (including the green FECO variety), he is happily trotting along to the finishing line. I, the famous Red Cap will keep you posted on our beloved Mr R Shoe’s hazy progress down the hill to oblivion.


“When we believe what we think, when we take our thinking to be reality, we will suffer.”

Adyashanti: Falling into Grace

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The last leg of the journey. A desperate race against time.

As usual, TZ is up early. Early means 4.30 in the morning. Normally he spends an hour in meditation before going for a brisk walk which is yet another exercise in mindfulness. But this morning there is an unusual urgency about him. Unlike his usual calm demeanour, he seems to be in a hurry to get going.

He hurriedly goes off to wake the moron up but finds the bed empty. He searches the rest of the apartment but there is no sign of the-seeker-after-eternal-truth. Going outside he finds us in the garden. The moron is sitting in the full lotus position under a tree with his backpack at his side … he is stark naked. Except for me, the famous Red Cap sitting on his balding scalp, he has no clothes on at all, not even shoes.

“What in the world is going on here?” asks TZ perplexed. “Why are you sitting here completely naked?”

I am so ashamed of this foolish companion of mine that I turn crimson red under the bright full moon.

“Did you not say yourself sir,” he retorts, “that if we want to go to God we must go completely naked or not go at all?”

“O Lord,” TZ moans softly. “Figuratively, I meant it figuratively as in empty, as in without any preconceived ideas, as in like an innocent child. Not without clothes! Please go and get dressed, and make sure you put on your hiking boots or else you will not make it even half way up the mountain. Hurry up, I’ll wait for you.” And as a sort of afterthought he adds, “and keep that Red Cap on your head, I think it stirs something good in you, something sensible.” (meer…)

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 In the shade of the mighty Mountain

“And the fire and the rose are one”

T.S. Eliot

Swellendam was founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1747 and named after the governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife Helena Ten Damme. The townspeople were not happy with the way they were governed and soon they rebelled against the Dutch oppressors and declared themselves a Republic, indeed the smallest republic in the world at the time. But alas, they soon lost their brief independence when the English conquered the Cape and sent the Dutch packing. And naturally, being from rebellious Dutch and French stock (and being human, all too bloody human, obstinate and quarrelsome), they eventually rebelled against the English too.

We book into a guest house for the night to rest up before our final assault on the summit of our own Mount Sinai.

In this beautiful town the dear wife of our seeker after eternal truth joins us briefly. Mrs M is a level headed, strong woman who calls a spade a spade, and some ghosts by their first name.

It is still early in the day, so we set off to explore the historical sights of the town. We have lunch in a restaurant which used to be the Old Post Office, which was also the house of the postmaster, who was also the gaoler in yonder times. Next we visit the museum where you can see a lot of old tools used by the craftsmen of old, but TZ declines the invitation to join us on our little historical excursion. “There is no time,” he says. “Even history is an illusion,” and he wonders off to a secluded spot in the lush garden to sit in the shade of a majestic old oak tree to meditate.

“There is time, lots of it,” queries my deluded master. “We have all day to do whatever we please.”

TZ just shakes his head and smiles benevolently at his reluctant student and then wanders off.

Across the road is the old Drostdy, home of the first magistrate of the Swellendam district. This is an impressive building in the old Cape Dutch style, now also a museum open to the public. The receptionist/tour guide is a stern lady bent on the detailed transmission of historical facts to the unsuspecting tourist. “Interesting but too much information,” says Mrs M ever so sternly. “There is someone in the kitchen, it’s a man, do you know that?” Our talking bundle of historic information is taken aback and the incessant flow of information stutters to a halt.

“I … I, what … I mean who … yes I know. How do you know?” she asks incredulously. Suddenly she is a transformed woman. No more the formal by-the-book tour guide on auto-pilot, but a human being curiously interacting with another human being.

“I can see him, that’s how,” Mrs M replies dryly. “I don’t think he is very friendly, in fact he seems to be rather hostile?”

“Yes, you are right, there is something in the kitchen and it is not friendly, I am scared of it, but fortunately he never comes to this reception area and I do not go into the kitchen. I cannot see what it is, but I know it is there,” says our miraculously transmuted tour guide still in shock after the revelation that someone else could also see what she sees, or think she sees, or see what she suspects she sees. “But I don’t talk to other people about it, they will think I am mad and I will lose my job. I don’t want that,” she adds meekly, wringing her handkerchief and nervously wipe perspiration from her forehead.

“There is a picture of an old man against the wall opposite the kitchen. That is a picture of the man in the kitchen,” says Mrs M.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” says our psychic tour guide. “That is a picture of a former owner of the house long after it was used as a Drostdy, but long before it was turned into a museum.”

“Interesting,” murmurs Mrs M to herself. “I wonder why he is still hanging around. But tell me; while we were walking towards the Drostdy just now, you came down the steps from the buildings in the back. There was a boy with you, a boy with a hat. Who was it?”

“Oh boy,” our tour guide almost shrieks. “That one I can see. He is always in that building, it used to be a workshop in the time of the magistrate, the one the Drostdy was built for. The boy comes to me and walks with me when I am there, but he never comes with me to this building. He is rather carefree and seems to be busy all the time. What do you make of him?”

“He is about ten years old I’d say. He is dressed in Khaki shirt and short pants,” Mrs M replies. “I get the name Willem, yes it is definitely Willem, but nothing else. Curious, why would he hang around for more than two hundred years? They always amaze me, and sometimes even scare me.”

Me, the world famous Red Cap, is always amazed by these strange human beings. They are forever saying things that either don’t mean a damn thing, or that does not mean what you think they are saying, and then they habitually and vehemently deny that the things they said, that did not mean what they said, was what they meant in the first place. And THAT is scary! (meer…)

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The Red Cap and the Seeker After Eternal Truth Descends into the Low Country

WK 029 (1)

We leave the wilderness behind and travel west down the coast towards the Cape of Storms, not our final destination, but perhaps an apt description of things to come in our quest after truth.

We travel fast on the highway winding downwards towards a place called Little Brakriver, a lesser destination on our arduous, questing way to transcendence. It seems that we must first descend into the low country of sensual existence, before we can move into the high country, there perhaps first to meet Jung’s “burning one and growing one” before entering the void.

“Most of spirituality is a construction project. But enlightenment,” says Adyashanti, “is a demolition project.” This deconstruction project is nothing like Dirida’s deconstruction philosophy where he took things apart piece by piece to examine them and then tried to put them together again (He did it with Philosophy and couldn’t put it together again. He did it with religion and the church embraced him with vigour, and now, after the devastation, they are still trying to put it all together again). No, Adyashanti’s demolition is a deliberate breaking down of structures of knowledge and thinking, to rebuild it from scratch into something completely new, something that has always been there, even before time began.

Little Brakriver is not much of a town, but it is quiet and right next to the sea with a beautiful, unspoiled beach and not many people around. Being a town consisting mainly of holiday homes of rich upper-middleclass people, most of the houses stand empty for most of the year, which is of course a terrible waste, but regarded as normal in our abnormal society. The result is you have to drive to the next town (Great Brakriver) to get supplies, which is a bit of a bother. Our accommodation is a small flat called “The Beach Cottage”, which is quite a misnomer; it should have been called “The Cottage far from the beach”, because it is situated next to the railway line more than halve a mile from the beach. But we are not complaining, it is nice and clean and the owner is a friendly, helpful old lady, quiet and graceful in a country sort of way.

We unpack and then we walk down to the beach for a refreshing swim (says my moron); for our seeker after wisdom’s first serious session of meditation while the sun is setting in the west (says TZ).

We get to the beach and sit down on the sand, catching our breath after the brisk walk. After a moment my moron jumps up excitedly, pointing to a young girl coming out of the sea. “Just look at that,” he says. “Have you ever seen such beauty, such gracefulness in a girl in such a small bikini in your whole life? I think I will walk down there and talk to her, maybe I’ll get lucky,” he says smiling from ear to ear and start walking in her direction. “You stay here, I’ll be back shortly,” he says to me and chucks me down in the sand with his other belongings. Me, the famous Red Cap in the sand, on the beach! What utter disgrace!

“Don’t be stupid,” I shout after him. “She is young, she could have been your daughter. Come back here you moron and start acting your age!” I shout furiously after him, but he walks on, ignoring me. The desires of the flesh are a burning fire, and it drives the fool to his final humiliation, and onwards toward the inevitable dark night of his soul.

The fool struts down to the beach, tucking in his protruding middle age belly in a futile effort to look young again. He walks up to the young lady and start talking to her, no doubt flattering her and making a fool of himself. She smiles shyly, laugh at his stupid witticisms and then they start walking off down the beach and disappear behind some big rocks, still chatting and laughing. (meer…)

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