Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Passing Of An Age: Great Men I Have Known

Keith Lampe died earlier this week, in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, at the age of 83. Keith was also known as Ro-Non-So-Te, and affectionately as Pondo, short for ponderosa pine. And indeed he was strong and sturdy like a stout, towering pine tree.

I came to know Pondo only in the last months of his life, through the agency of a mutual friend, and then only by e-mail, though we both lived in Ecuador and had a number of friends and acquaintances in common.

Pondo was a Korean War veteran who subsequently took a radical turn towards peace, and spent the last 60 years as a radical advocate for peace and environmentalism. His commitment even extended to multiple acts of peaceful civil disobedience that resulted in his arrest and incarceration. Pondo was well known for his widely circulated, e-mail newsletter that dealt with a wide variety of environmental and political issues.  

Though he had been in declining health for some time, I cannot help but feel that his transition somehow presages great changes that lie just ahead.

He was far more plugged in than most to what is going down on this planet. It occurs to me to think that he was perhaps called away to do important work on our behalf from a different vantage point, as we draw ever closer to a self-evident Great Change of the Ages, whether for better or for worse.

So God speed Pondo on his great transmutation, as he takes leave of this physical plane and makes his way to the next dimension(s).



Note that Dr. Brian O'Leary appears in the video at Pondo's side. Brian O'Leary was a former member of the NASA astronaut corps, training to go to Mars. Brian also lived and died in Vilcabamba in late July of 2011, the year after my arrival in Ecuador. He was a brilliant man, an intellectual and visionary thinker, who held multiple university degrees in astronomy and physics, and was a serious spiritual seeker. Brian and I also had a number of friends and acquaintances in common, though our paths never crossed in Ecuador. We did, however, meet in 1997 at the Leeds UFO Conference, in Leeds, England, where we both were speakers. I had a high regard for Dr. O'Leary and was saddened to hear of his death.

Four weeks after the death of Brian O'Leary, Chris Lenz died, which also was a big shock for me, as I assumed he would always just go on and on. But not so. Chris worked for many years for the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California, which was co-founded by Edgar Mitchell, the well-known Apollo astronaut. Edgar Mitchell and Brian O'Leary unquestionably must have known one another, since they were both in the Apollo astronaut corps and shared many common personal and professional interests, in space science and in their spiritual orientations.  I presume that Chris Lenz probably also knew Brian O'Leary; he certainly knew and worked with and for Edgar Mitchell. 

I knew Chris Lenz from his days as a trainer at the Monroe Institute, in Virginia, when I attended a training session for which he was co-facilitator. He was an unforgettable character, endowed with a superior intellect, a quick mind, phenomenal, machine-gun-like typing speed, and a very direct, self-assured, penetrating, personal affect. His eyes and voice were distinctive, I think from having spent so much time in profoundly altered states of deeply consciousness awareness. That changes a man; it's inevitable.

One of the stories that impressed me most about him was how he earned his degree from the University of Michigan: he took so many courses in so many different academic disciplines that he racked up enough credits for multiple degrees; and though he never applied for a diploma, the university simply mailed him a degree in psychology one day, along with a letter informing him that he had just graduated.

And now Chris Lenz is dead at the tender age of 69. I still can't wrap my head around his death at such a young age. I can only presume that he, like Pondo, was called upon to render extraordinary assistance to the Earth and humanity in a nearby, non-physical dimension.

I also want to mention the  death of Larry Dodge, the following year, in 2012. Larry was trained as a social scientist, with a PhD in sociology, and was very active in American politics, though he was never widely-known nationally by the masses of the American people. I came to know him as I was completing my own PhD in political science, through his work with the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA).

Larry Dodge was a great help and inspiration to me, in many ways. His visits and advice were a tremendous solace, the perfect human gift from the big brother I always wished that I had had, and which Larry provided in his own inimitable way, at just the time when I most needed it. You cannot imagine the debt of gratitude I'll always owe him for that.

Those were the years when he and his wife, Honey, were plotting their departure from the USSA. They initially visited Albania and really liked it, but the Balkan wars of the Clinton years put the kibosh on that plan. They then decided to move to Panama, where Larry spent most of his remaining years. They were delighted there, and Larry invited me to visit. Though I very much wanted to, I never had the money to make the trip, even after I relocated to Ecuador.

And now Larry Dodge is dead, and Pondo, and Brian O'Leary and Chris Lenz.

You always think that things will go on and on, and you will meet again somewhere down the line, to reminisce about old times and people whom you know and used to know, places you've been together and experiences you've shared.

But it's just not so. It isn't like that. To everything there is a season, and this too, shall pass.

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