Monday, February 1, 2010

Bellying Up to the Bardo


There’s a new edition of Dante’s “Inferno” that’s recently begun appearing in bookstores. Same words. Different cover. It’s got a big picture of a muscular fellow in a spiky crown and an overline that says, “The literary classic that inspired the epic video game.”
David Itzikoff, New York Times January 30, 2010

...nearly got run over by Chubby Checker crossing the street in the outer suburbs this one time, maybe twenty years ago...a couple miles from where I’ve been told he lives...in the center turning lane, about to finish crossing, and this bright red sports car heading straight for me, braking a split second before I’d have ended up laid out like a broken hood ornament...and there, through the windshield glass, for just a moment, the unmistakable strangely smiling face of the guy who did The Twist...

The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that's really swell.
Pema Chodron

...another time, kicked a rattlesnake...the year after hiking the Appalachian Trail...a difficult period...seemed like I’d found what I loved...walking through the woods all day...every day...but it wasn’t exactly sustainable...living with my folks for a while, working temp office jobs, delivering flowers, doing whatever was needed for a friend’s tie-dye business, getting baked and eating a lot...took a trip down south in the spring to meet up with trail people and get out in the mountains again...including this one afternoon, running along the A.T. just below Shenandoah National Park...at one point said hi to this lovely little family...mom and pop and two towheaded young boys...and moved on...saw a stick lying across the trail...not a big one...didn’t bother avoiding it with the toe of my boot....and whoosh it shot off into the underbrush...which appeared, to me, to lie somewhat outside the standard behavioral patterns of the average stick....stopping and turning around, saw the copperhead, coiled, tail shaking, just by the side of the trail....waited a couple minutes to let the adorable little family catch up so I could warn them away from it before moving on again...

There...will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Walt Whitman

...meditation...formal or otherwise...can, at its best...or worst, depending on one’s perspective...be like walking through an inferno...dropping defenses...letting flames lick what they will, demons scream their threats of annihilation...facing all that, then seeing what emerges on the other side...

12 comments:

Kitty said...

great effin post, doc. i particularly appreciated the uncle walt. thanks for reminding me!

earthtoholly said...

Drjay, your close calls remind me of the proverbial cat with nine lives, although I'd guess that kitties probably see mice and cheese as "the reward" rather than "the journey." Okay, that was probably my dumbest comment to date...heh.

Oh well, now Chubby Checker joins snakes and bears on my list of scary things.

the walking man said...

Big believer in the thought that one must allow the present to burn itself out in whatever flame it uses so one can easily move to the future. I am glad though that the present lasts for only a heartbeat.

Eco Yogini said...

you know what- Andrew was super PUMPED about the new dante's inferno- i think it's a graphic novel? i guess since he's read the original....

i think you should use your part on meditation as an ad for would be meditators.... :) you'd get some PUNK meditators.

Brooks Hall said...

I like your description of meditation!

In a meditation group I used to do we started just about every time by answering the question, "what is meditation?' It was so interesting to hear what was said. Different every time...

DaisyDeadhead said...

Awesome post... and happy Groundhog Day!

It's A Yoga Thang said...

I especially enjoyed your description of your encounter with the copperstick.

Melinda said...

I've had a few experiences where I was *almost* in a very bad car accident (or almost hit by a car). When that happened, I got a huge surge of adrenaline and really did feel more alive than I had before. I guess it's that time when we have a close brush with what we think might be our death and the clouds seem a little fluffier, the sky a little bluer, and the blades of grass just a bit more vivid. It kind of shifts our focus, I think--and sometimes we need that.

Interestingly, I have never been afraid of snakes. As a matter of fact, I cared for a sweet pet snake for a brief while (it was actually my friend's snake thatI snake-sat for about 2 months while she was traveling with her band). The snake's name was Flexible--"Flex" for short. For a gal who just about craps herself when she sees a snake--well, that's just pretty remarkable!

Melinda

Kim said...

1. How cool is it that you can say that Chubby Checker almost ran you over? I mean, I'm glad he didn't, but still.
2. That was really nice of you to wait for the family and warn them of the snake. I don't know if I would have thought to do that.

Lydia said...

What a post! I'm thinking throughout: "How does he do this, piece these things together the way he does?"
(I could ask you that question but I think I'll just think it...)

Lana Gramlich said...

Yes, although the peace & joyful times of life are very nice, it's the Dark Nights of the Soul that allow us to reach them.
That's too much about Chubby Checker!

Seeing Eye Chick said...

Meditation is preparation for the Void. It allows you to explore your essential self without all the corporeal trappings of physical life. That way when you enter it for a time, you don't totally freak out--or at least not for long. That is how a soul gets lost and becomes earthbound.