Alan Arkin met his guru on a Hollywood film set in 1969. Arkin was the star and John was his stand-in, a lowly factotum, the id to his ego. At the time, Arkin was successful but unsatisfied, looking for meaning, craving some guidance. His encounter with John set him on a path towards enlightenment that continues to this day. As for the guru, he took a different, darker route.
Arkin recently wrote a book, Out of My Mind, about his spiritual journey and the lessons hes learned. He subheaded it Not Quite a Memoir because he worried that people might be expecting a tell-all autobiography, the sort of gossipy trash hed never write. Damned if hes going to dish the dirt on Audrey Hepburn, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and all the others hes worked with. Hed rather write about meditation, reincarnation and Tibetan Buddhism. Hed rather write about John - at least up to a point.
At the age of 86, he can look back on a powerhouse career that has carried him from Broadway to Hollywood, and from Catch 22 to an Oscar-winning role as the heroin-snorting grandad in Little Miss Sunshine. Arkin has always been such an authoritative actor strong, warm and nuanced. But he insists that his skill was actually born out of weakness. He was a shy, anxious child: acting gave him strength.
I had this sense that I didnt exist. My parents were wonderful people in many ways, but they werent affectionate. I dont remember ever being touched by either one. I felt ignored to the point where I didnt even exist so acting was my lifeline to not feeling like I was being obliterated. For many years, the only place I felt alive was on stage.
Arkin was born on the east coast and raised on the west, a Brooklyn scrapper turned California seeker. His father worked as a teacher but lost his job during the Red Scare. The family went hungry and lived under a cloud. That was a terrible period, he recalls. The phony patriotism; the wilful cruelty. It slightly reminds him of today. But I think its worse now. Back then it was just a small segment of the population that was affected at first hand. The rest of them didnt give a damn. They were into Elvis Presley and Gidget Goes Hawaiian.
As it happens, Arkin was once a pop sensation himself. Back in 1956 he sang in a folk band and scored a top five hit with The Banana Boat Song. After that, he switched music for theatre, then theatre for cinema picking up an Oscar nomination for his screen debut as the stranded Soviet submariner in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. By his mid-30s the actor was living the dream, on top of the world. He snorts. And I was miserable pretty much all of the time.
Hes happier now, thanks to his meeting with John and the changes it brought. In his book he writes (always charmingly; sometimes convincingly) about past lives and faith healers and the tenets of eastern philosophy. He tells us about John, who he worked with for over 20 years and who became a central figure in his life. John led the way, Arkin gratefully followed. He writes: My devotion to his teachings became virtually ironclad.
My devotion to John's teachings became virtually ironclad
In the book, Arkin mentions that the pair eventually drifted apart but he doesnt go into details or reveal Johns surname. It appears, though, that the actors mentor was John Battista (sometimes known as Batiste), a one-time Broadway actor who ran an Agni Yoga ashram in upstate New York. In 1993, Battista was charged with the sexual abuse of three women and a teenage girl whom he had reportedly put in a trance-like state and then molested. The tabloid press dubbed him The Creep Guru.
I ask Arkin if I have this right - if his John was that John - and he sighs. Oh my God, that was a dark night of the soul if ever there was one. I cant even begin to tell you what that meant, not just for me but for my family. I could hardly leave my room for about six months. I found myself saying, Dont throw out the baby with the bathwater. But I couldnt work out what was the baby and what was the bathwater.
Maybe its all dirty. Maybe chuck it all out. Well no, he says. Because I was finally able to sort it out. I felt that I had grown so much. So much had borne fruit. Some miraculous things were going on as a direct result of meditation. It saved my life. I couldnt throw it out. If I threw it out, then suicide would have been the only viable alternative. And for reasons which well go into over a cup of tea one day, I knew that suicide was not the answer. I knew that suicide was not going to solve anything for me or my family or anybody I knew.
Ive read that Battista killed himself. He did, yeah, thats true, Arkin says. But I doggedly went on and Im glad that I did.
I cant help feeling that Out of My Mind would have been a richer, darker book if it had focused more on the shifting relationship between the actor and his stand-in, the star and his shadow. But Arkin is determined to accentuate the positive. Its part of his philosophy, the path that hes chosen. The world is full of such storm-clouds, its best to limit your exposure. He explains that he and his wife lead a quiet life in California now. They rarely leave the house and avoid discussing politics, or the state of the environment. I dont want to live in a state of terror, he says.
In recent years, Arkins had a nice Netflix gig, playing a weathered Hollywood agent in The Kominsky Method. Yeah, I still have threads that connect me, he says. Im like a horse going down the trail. Acting is so ingrained in my physiognomy and the channels of my brain that I find myself missing aspects of the business. But I dont need it any more. I should probably get over it.
The older he gets, he says, the more he has come to appreciate silence and solitude. Beethoven used to be a heroin injection for me. Jazz, the same. The great novels, the same. I could not conceive of going through a day without reading great literature or listening to great music. Now its mostly an assault. Living in silence. Looking at the garden. Having a relationship with trees and flowers and the sky. Thats whats profound to me now.
I tell him that it sounds as though hes preparing for the end. But thats a crass western notion. It risks missing the point of his book. There is no end, Arkin says. There was no beginning and there is no end. We are all a part of that endless flow.
Out of My Mind by Alan Arkin is published by Viva Editions.
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at http://www.befrienders.org.
See the original post:
- Spiritual Enlightenment: What It Is and How to Experience It - November 10th, 2020
- 5 Things You Should Know About Spiritual Enlightenment ... - November 10th, 2020
- Spiritual Enlightenment - Truths & Paths | Live and Dare - November 10th, 2020
- The 3 Stages Of Spiritual Enlightenment : In5D - November 10th, 2020
- What Is Spiritual Enlightenment or Spiritual Awakening? - November 10th, 2020
- Is there a spiritual side to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic? - RTE.ie - November 10th, 2020
- National Trust observes Divali with educational presentations - Loop News Trinidad and Tobago - November 10th, 2020
- The Wanteds Tom Parker and wife Kelsey say newborn son is light at the end of our tunnel after brain cance - The Sun - November 10th, 2020
- The best response to Islamism is Christianity - Spectator.co.uk - November 10th, 2020
- Astrology 2020: Message of the Day (November 8) - Newsroompost - November 10th, 2020
- Huge chalk art project brings positivity to street on the Outer Banks - OBXToday.com - November 10th, 2020
- The birth of modern Europe - The News International - November 10th, 2020
- NLE Choppa Dated A 46-Year-Old Woman When He Was 16 - HotNewHipHop - November 10th, 2020
- Roy Exum: We Need God's Help - The Chattanoogan - November 10th, 2020
- Faith and Governance: The Role of the Church in Social Justice - THISDAY Newspapers - November 10th, 2020
- When Raving Was Radical - The Nation - November 10th, 2020
- Navigating the Mind: What Medication Cannot Address - James Moore - November 10th, 2020
- No Man's Sky: 10 Things You Didnt Know About The Korvax - TheGamer - November 10th, 2020
- It's Not That Detroit Is Too Poor, But That Seattle Is Too Rich - TheStranger.com - October 19th, 2020
- Eye Gazing Exercise: Possible Benefits and How to Try It - Healthline - October 19th, 2020
- Batman: Bruce Wayne Has The Same Origin Story as The Buddha - Screen Rant - October 19th, 2020
- Fiction: Into the Darkness With Don DeLillo - Wall Street Journal - October 19th, 2020
- Rabbi Art Green (still) believes Hasidic ideas are key to the Jewish future - The Jewish News of Northern California - October 19th, 2020
- The joy of the Mallorcan landscape - Majorca Daily Bulletin - October 19th, 2020
- Sudbury author explores the power of healing - The Sudbury Star - October 19th, 2020
- The Revolutionary Beethoven - CounterPunch.org - CounterPunch - October 19th, 2020
- Exercising Religion and Taming Faction - Los Angeles Review of Books - lareviewofbooks - October 19th, 2020
- Op-Ed: The civil rights legend who opposed critical race theory - The Center Square - October 19th, 2020
- Chant of the Buddha - Part II - Outlook India - September 26th, 2020
- Tantra exhibition review: An enjoyable journey on the road to enlightenment - Evening Standard - September 26th, 2020
- The Revolutionary Beethoven - Dissent - September 26th, 2020
- Review: Capital in the 21st Century - Camden New Journal newspapers website - September 26th, 2020
- Finding God: Christianity and the Global Mystical Societies - THISDAY Newspapers - September 26th, 2020
- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith Used This Parenting Technique That Inspired Jaden and Willow To Be Unusually Close - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 26th, 2020
- The art of tantra: is there more to it than marathon sex and massages? - The Guardian - September 26th, 2020
- Saying goodbye to the Israeli one-state prophet - +972 Magazine - September 26th, 2020
- Spiritual Enlightenment - How To Become Enlightened - August 10th, 2020
- Spiritual Enlightenment - The Most Profound Truth Revealed ... - August 10th, 2020
- SERMONETTE: Seek the Holy Spirit and hold on! - Crow River Media - August 10th, 2020
- What Is Spiritual Bypassing? 7 Steps To Avoiding Toxic Spirituality - YourTango - August 10th, 2020
- Will Tammy Duckworth be the first deist veep since Thomas Jefferson? - Religion News Service - August 10th, 2020
- Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism - PopMatters - August 10th, 2020
- Creation, conscience and the bomb | Earthbeat - National Catholic Reporter - August 10th, 2020
- DREAMS OF WALDEN POND: The Way of Liberal Religion - Patheos - August 10th, 2020
- Let's Show Power! Rev Abbeam Danso and Apostle Nkum challenge The Mystic Twins to open battle - GhanaWeb - August 10th, 2020
- Jacob S. Rugh: An open letter to the BYU Committee on Race, Equity, and Belonging - Salt Lake Tribune - August 10th, 2020
- Your Weekly Horoscope News: August 10th - August 17th - Sporteluxe - August 10th, 2020
- #482 Author and Intuitive Michael McAdams and His Book, An Angel Told Me So - BlogTalkRadio - August 8th, 2020
- Hinduism Survived Years Of Raids Through Its Inclusiveness, Not Violence And Bloodshed - Outlook India - August 8th, 2020
- A rebuttal to Sam George's mid-length propaganda: "The path to enlightenment ain't easy. We get it through trial, struggle, self-flagellation.... - August 8th, 2020
- Dimension of Krishna Sadhana - The New Indian Express - August 8th, 2020
- Why Bodh Gaya is Considered the Navel of the Earth - Ancient Origins - August 8th, 2020
- 6 Facts About Water Lilies That Will Make You Love Them Even More - MSN Money - August 8th, 2020
- Satan in the Times | John Mark N. Reynolds - Patheos - August 8th, 2020
- How To Meditate, Body Scan, Breathe Mindfully And Become More Present - elle.com - August 8th, 2020
- When panic disorder hits a nation - The Star Online - August 8th, 2020
- World Teacher and Happy Science Founder Ryuho Okawa Introduces Four Principles of Happiness that Transcends Race and Religion in His New Book... - August 8th, 2020
- ARTIST: Zachary Ian Garden featured in The Art of Tattooists - The News Herald - August 7th, 2020
- Honey I Joined A Cult Coming To Brainwash PCs in 2021 - GameSpace.com - August 7th, 2020
- Pick of the Podcasts: Guru, Calm Down Dear, Give Me Some Good News - The Sunday Post - August 7th, 2020
- Excerpt: From the Translators Note to Rumi; A New Collection Selected and Translated by Farrukh Dh... - Hindustan Times - August 6th, 2020
- 'History will judge us' Have progressive UK rabbis reached end of the road on Israel? - Mondoweiss - August 6th, 2020
- Chulayarnnon Siriphol on Finding Ways to Express Opinions - Ocula Magazine - August 6th, 2020
- Speech and Slavery in the West Indies | by Fara Dabhoiwala - The New York Review of Books - August 6th, 2020
- Power of 5am thoughts - The New Indian Express - August 4th, 2020
- India is a spiritual country, but we're still not taking the wealth of the Bhagavad Gita: Vedanta scholar Jaya Row - The New Indian Express - August 4th, 2020
- The Sacrifice of All Doubts - Kashmir Reader - August 4th, 2020
- View the awe-inspiring Hermitage of St. Sava - Aleteia IT - August 4th, 2020
- A Suitable Boy: Seven films to watch that are set in India - Spectator.co.uk - August 3rd, 2020
- Chingy wants to uplift with self-reflective new album, 'Crown Jewel' - STLtoday.com - August 3rd, 2020
- Feds sprayed chemicals into the eyes of a retired ER nurse and veteran - Street Roots News - August 3rd, 2020
- The American Founding vindicated against its foes on the Right and Left - MercatorNet - August 3rd, 2020
- Lam Tian Xings Anthem of the Calamus is an ode to Hong Kongs resilient spirit - Lifestyle Asia - August 3rd, 2020
- Asking the Clergy: Why is patience a virtue in difficult times? - Newsday - July 31st, 2020
- El Topo: The weirdest western ever made - BBC News - July 29th, 2020
- Lam Tian-xings Anthem of the Calamus is an ode to Hong Kongs resilient spirit - Lifestyle Asia - July 29th, 2020
- Corruption, the Devaluation of the Human Spirit and the Futures of Black Humanity (2) - The News - July 29th, 2020
- 'It took genius to chisel these buttocks' the top 10 bottoms in art, chosen by our critic - The Guardian - July 29th, 2020
- Hippy In the Mikvah - Lubavitch.com - July 29th, 2020
- Author Louis Belmont announces new article series on the Spirituality Industry - PR Web - July 27th, 2020