JJ Semple interviews Cliff Terrell

Cliff Terrell activated Kundalini in the 1970s. At first, he endured many of the usual effects: emotional disassociation, periods of rest and recovery, bursts of restorative energy, altered dietary habits, clairvoyance. He wanted to write about his experience, but hesitated because he felt a book might get lost in the over-saturated spiritual book market brought on by the New Age explosion in publishing. Still, he felt compelled to write, so he began a fiction project that, even if not directly influenced by his Kundalini awakening, was nevertheless shaped by an altered awareness.

JJ Semple: This book is detective fiction. What got you started with this genre?

Cliff Terrell: I guess the fact that I read Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, and Elmore Leonard. Not that I try to emulate them.

JJ Semple: So are you headed in that direction with your next books?

Cliff Terrell: I am working on two completely different novels now, trying to integrate some of the more visionary, or shape-shifting, aspects of my Kundalini experience. Nothing spiritual, no angels or ethereal guides, but nevertheless transcendent — triumph over our emotions which are always dreaming up so-called needs and desires that ultimately limit our personal evolution as well as our spiritual development. Everything we do, we do to satisfy bodily and emotional cravings — most of which we don't really need, but don't find out we don't need until we get ourselves into jeopardy. Trouble with the law, addiction, overeating, cravings of one sort or another.

JJ Semple: Sounds like you're trying to fight the currents of post-modern hedonism. Do you think people are ready to listen?

Cliff Terrell: There are always seeds of the Yang within the Yin, and vice-versa. People who are trying to fight the temptations of materialism and all it bequeaths to us. Yes, we have to keep the economy going; people need to work, but sometimes we lose sight that the scale of creation and destruction of material goods is not necessarily good for our continued survival. And I'm not only talking about material pollution. We are being buried by chattel ownership, unable to sustain our relationships or our families. Riding a tidal wave of negative emotion — jealousy, anger, spite, greed, false pride — in the name of Standard of Living.

JJ Semple: I don't see much of that in The Shooting Case, although there is a kind of theme of redemption, as if Nash feels more for the losers in the story than the winners. How do you account for that?

Cliff Terrell: It's not a spiritual book, even though Nash, the main character, does find a certain redemption in the end. He definitely favors the underdog and the losers, even as he's sometimes fighting them. At the same time, we're hopeful he's on the way to establishing a lasting basis in his relationship with Suzie.

JJ Semple: There's also a lot of depravity. Where did that come from?

Cliff Terrell: The depravity came to me; it felt natural, like something someone might do. I didn't want to tone it down because that's the way people are, using their significant creative energies for unscrupulous, even sordid, purposes. As a result of my Kundalini experience I know we are capable of outgrowing depravity over the course of many lifetimes. Kundalini has shown me the door to eternity. It may take many lifetimes to overcome the pull of negative emotion, but we get as many chances as we need: that's the purpose of existence — to refine our beings overtime, including over many lifetimes, until the critical mass of positive energy in the universe overshadows the negative. That's why I include the depraved things, because digging in the dirt is the starting point for every being.

JJ Semple: Why do you call this genre Altered Awareness Fiction?

Cliff Terrell: I could have called it Enhanced Awareness, Higher Awareness, whatever. The point is I never wrote anything before, and after Kundalini. Et Voilà, all of a sudden I'm writing and I don't really know why or what until I'm well into it. It's not automatic writing, but it's something similar, an enterprise informed by a great experience, yet not directly related to that experience. Is it great Art? No, but it's great fun to explore the pathways of consciousness.