Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hole in the Head

The morning sun, having made a lurchy, staggering lift-off from the horizon, just clearing Mt Hood, glares straight into my eyes, blinding me. Tatters of mist catch in the orange leaves; steam rises from the glaciers of the mountain. The world spins slowly, trying to catch my car as it turns the corner. Hah! Just missed.

I understand those wretched people who made holes in their foreheads, hoping to open their third eye, taking Lobsang Rampa for a real guru, when in fact he was a British plumber who knew not a damn thing about it all, but probably had some skill at making holes in things. My head feels like a prison sometimes, thoughts batting against the inside of my cranium like moths caught in a light fixture, increasingly frantic as the heat becomes unbearable. Open the damn thing. Let them out. And let the light in.

It's discouraging, when you see the obduracy of attachment and aversion in people who have meditated strenuously for years. We were happy enough, here in the West, to pick up the Zen notion of instant enlightenment. No mess! No fuss! One snap of the fingers, one ring of the bell, and the extras will hop up off their cushions and start their dance number in the background while the light wells up all around you and it's perfect clarity, perfect love, now and forever. We were less eager to pick up the Buddhist time scale: kalpa after kalpa, a scale to rival science's, making this life a tiny little speck of time. Hundreds of thousands of lives bound to the wheel. Not so fast, bucko.

In the meantime. The warmth of an untidy bed, newspapers scattered about, the Sunday comics. Reading V.S. Pritchett's memoir, A Cab at the Door, on the advice of that marvelous poet, Julia Martin (no blog yet, I'm working on her, but anyway coming soon to a Qarrtsiluni near you!) What an extraordinary gift he has for conveying the way in which parents cast the glamour of their delusions upon their children. Our children, God help them, believe in our bluster far more deeply than we do.

I love the way you rise up suddenly, like an otter, glowing with life, puckish and impertinent. I half expect you to be dripping, and to shake the river water out of your hair. Maybe a kalpa's not so long a time after all.

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