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Nestled snugly in the Santa Lucia Mountains of the California coastline is a retreat center known as the Esalen Institute. It is something of a real-world Dharma Initiative, exploring non-traditional methods of expanding the human potential through mysticism, art, music, and fringe science. The word Lucia means "light." The Santa Lucia mountains border the Pacific Ocean. The Esalen Institute exists where water and light come together. Sound familiar?
The Esalen Institute has focused its attention many times on the intentional use of literary fiction to promote a renaissance in Western Esotericism. Their authors have had a deep concern with the direction of twentieth century European civilization, and their esoterically-inspired fiction is clearly a tool to analyze, critique and attempt to change that civilization.
Early scholars at the institute include the real-life Richard Alpert and twice-winning Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling. These two men are the probable sources for the LOST character names Richard Alpert and Benjamin Linus. Every year for years, mythologist Joseph Campbell would celebrate his birthday here and give lectures that ultimately seeded what is today known as The Hero's Journey, a monumental work that inspired Star Wars, The Matrix, and other epic movies, books, and television shows with stories grounded in new mythologies. He is much of the inspiration for the creation of LOST. There is also an Eric Weiss affiliated with Esalen. There was a character Eric Weiss in the TV show Alias. Alias, like LOST, was created by J.J. Abrams. There are many deliberate overlaps between LOST and Alias. The actor who played Eric Weiss (Greg Grunberg) in Alias, played Seth Norris, the pilot of Oceanic Flight 815.
One of the two founders of the Esalen Institute is Michael Murphy. Michael Murphy wrote a best-selling book entitled Golf in the Kingdom. "Golf in the Kingdom is an altogether unique confluence of fiction, philosophy, myth, mysticism, enchantment, and golf instruction."
The game of golf comes into play on the island in LOST in Season 1, Episode 9, entitled Solitary. In this episode, as the crash survivors attempt to come to grips with their solitary confinement on the island, we are drawn deeply into the specific loneliness of several key characters. Sayid, who wandered alone away from the camp in shame after torturing Sawyer, is lonely for Nadia. Rousseau has been living alone in the jungle for sixteen years, separated from her daughter Alex. Jack feels alone as he fights to play doctor and leader. Sawyer, an outcast, struggles for acceptance in the new community. Kate, the fugitive, comments to Sawyer that they are both outcasts. Michael and Walt are together, yet estranged. And in the midst of all of this loneliness, we find Hurley. Hurley decides that something must be done to help everyone get out of their funk, and so, all alone, he creates a golf course.
The golf game in this episode is a direct nod to Michael Murphy, Esalen, and his book, Golf in the Kingdom. Consider the following excerpt, which you can see for yourself if you use Amazon's Look Inside feature for this book. The following quote is spoken by the character Adam. And yes, his wife's name is Eve.
"How many games depend upon that thrill - archery, football, golf - the thrill of a ball flying to a target, have you felt it? The ball flying into the target; it's a symbol, of course. And here, friends, my theory leads….to the simultaneity of past and future. For everything has a past and future reason for being. Projectiles, for example, our urge to see them fly is derived from our paleolithic past, from the hunt, we love to see the spear or stone in flight. But…it is also an anticipation. The flight of the ball, the sight of it hanging there in space, anticipates our desire for transcendence. We love to see it curve in flight as if it is free…. The thrill of seeing a ball fly over the countryside, over obstacles - especially over a stretch of water - and then onto the green and into the hole has a mystic quality. Something in us loves that flight. What is it but the flight of the alone to the alone?"
The flight of the alone into the alone is a phrase with deeper origins that Michael Murphy. It was coined in the title of a series of talks given by the Indian mystic Osho. Originally named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, he changed his name to Osho for the following reasons...
He has explained that the word 'Osho' is derived from William James' expression 'oceanic experience' which means dissolving into the ocean. "Oceanic describes the experience," says Osho, "but what about the experiencer? For that we use the word 'Osho'."
Here we have a phrase coined by a mystic seeking that oceanic experience to such a degree that he changed his name to Osho. He is referenced in a book that uses golf as a parable for mystical transcendence, written by the co-founder of the Esalen Institute, a real-life Dharma Initiative located where water and light converge, whose scholars include the real-life Richard Alpert. And all of this is referenced in a LOST episode called Solitary. It's enough to make a Westerner consider meditation. As well it should. The self-professed goal of the Esalen Institute and its affiliates (which includes the Rosicrucians) is to create quality fiction that promotes a renaissance in Western esotericism.
Oceanic 815 is the flight of the alone to the alone. The flight of the lonely passengers to the lonely Jacob. In What They Died For, Jacob attests to this himself...
I didn't pluck any of you out of a happy existence. You were all flawed. I chose you because you were like me. You were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn't find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.
Like the golf ball, Oceanic 815 arcs through the air, over a body of water, and lands on the green. Jack, alone, eventually descends into a hole alone to the heart of the island, where light and water converge, in order to sacrifice himself to save his friends.
Osho's point behind the phrase "the flight of alone to the alone" is that each of us will never find peace and true happiness until we stop looking for it externally in the world and start looking for it internally - into our very soul, our true selves. To reject the external world and begin seeking the inner is the very essence of the flight of the alone to the alone. It's the very essence of LOST.
Hurley builds this golf course in Season One. And who is it at the end of this epic story in Season Six that becomes the new Jacob of the island? Hurley.
Jesus taught this very approach to life himself when he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?" (Mark 8:35-37 MSG)
LOST --Mystimus 06:17, October 22, 2010 (UTC)