The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 12
Three of the books I’d brought along—edited by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, translated from the Sanskrit (maybe Pali?) by Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup, published by Oxford University Press—were dense, heavily footnoted texts about Tibetan Buddhism: the most elevated form of Mahayana Buddhism planet Earth has ever known. They were: The Tibetan Book of the Dead; Tibet’s Great Yogi, Milarepa; and Tibetan Yoga: Secret Doctrines.
First published in the early 1900’s, they represented the west’s initial introduction to the advanced philosophy and practice.
Not easy getting through, or comprehending, part of that due to archaic, almost Biblical English. Yet it was fascinating stuff. So pure. So matter of fact. And so far distant from TM or Chopra or anything the New Age movement was pushing as to make the latter group seem ludicrous, masking capitalist intent with sweetness, harmony, bliss, peace, love, karma (karma? are you kidding me?)—all those words meaning, essentially, sedation = seduction = profit.
But, out here in the high desert wilderness, I was secluded from all that, except for when I’d go into town once per week or so for groceries and to do laundry, get a shower for five bucks at El Rancho Dolores Motel, where, accustomed to local protocol, they assumed I was using the room for (ahem) other purposes.
So, mix those reads with a little Phil Dick, a little Philip Jose Farmer, and my head was sufficiently, happily distracted, even as winter set in.
An annual practice—a contest, really—of the Tibetan monastics, was to demonstrate their mastery of a meditation technique called tummo, or inner heat. The students of the technique would sit, full lotus, in the snow, at night, dressed in loin cloths, on the edge of a frozen lake, while the master placed wet towels over their shoulders. The student who dried the most towels, melted the most snow come morning was declared the winner.
Not as thrilling as the NBA finals, perhaps, but still…
My metabolic processes slowed down according to the bitter cold. A synthetic, 10 degree rated sleeping bag didn’t hurt, nor did that incredible tent, withstanding 60+ mph winds.
Now I knew why the elite distance runners took winters off.
But by far the most compelling development during this time happened during sleep, during dreams of flying. Controlled flying.
So odd and wonderful. It was as if I were being fed droplets of the most mysterious, most nourishing extract in the universe.
The reason or the source seemed completely superfluous. Except for one thing: whatever game this was, I was a child in its web. Whatever gifts I’d gathered seemed no more than plastic tokens.
everything I owned or relied upon was in some way connected to electricity.
So, during those wicked winter winds, snug inside my bag and tent,
in between reads and dreams
I thought of Black Elk’s circle prophecy.