Guru on the move • 20 May 2009

Another earthquake today. I was in my office, retrofitted, secure. Like the quake in ’00 in Seattle—I was five stories up in the Casy building at Seattle University—watching the quad sway back and forth while the psych professor next door screamed that we were all going to die. Strange. Today the sociologists all said, “Oh it’s nothing. There’s nothing new going on here.” That’s what they always say. Conservatives.

But do you feel it? A little shape-shifting in your universe?

In addition to the super-evolved identity-snatching spam bot, there is also a Fed-Ex poltergeist here this week. The delivery guy rang three separate days and I let him in, only to go downstairs to meet him and find the courtyard empty.  So finally I picked up and asked him, “Where ARE you man?” He named an address a half mile away and I told him that under the circumstances I’d be remiss to buzz him in.

Not to grasp too much for meaning, but in my personal symbolic lexicon, action at a distance means SKPJ is on the move. Wonderful soul! What is it like out there? Is there any resonance of our love and loss, any power whatsoever in our pujas?

I am not suggesting one take the Tibetans literally, but it’s interesting what they say about the bardo. A being might take 42 days to cross over, they say; or much much more… but in any case those first days are crucial. This is the first big opportunity, they say, but most souls miss it because frozen by fear.

This passage is from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a.k.a. The Art of Dying a.k.a. How Not To Do It Again. Listen how beautiful.

First of all there will appear to you, swifter than lightning, the luminous splendor of the colorless light of Emptiness, and it will surround you on all sides. …Try to submerge yourself in that light, giving up all belief in a separate self, all attachment to your illusory sense of self…

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will for seven days appear to you in their benign and peaceful aspects. Their light will shine upon you, … Wonderful and delightful though they are, they may frighten you. Do not give in to your fright! Do not run away! Serenely contemplate the spectacle before you! Overcome your fear! …Realize they have come to receive you into their realms….

But if you miss this realm, you will next be confronted with the angry deities, threatening you and barring your passage…. All these forms are strange to you…. They terrify you…  and yet it is you who have created them. Do not give in to your fright… flee them not! They are but the contents of your own mind… If at this point you should manage to understand that… you will find yourself in a kind of paradise.


  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 8:41 am | #

    Awesome. xo.

  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 12:30 pm | #

    The advice sounds like a good way to go through life too… 🙂

  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 12:31 pm | #

    SKPJ’s fine in the bardo. Is there any resonance of our love and loss? Definitely the love.

  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 6:32 pm | #

    Enjoyed the post- thanks! I saw a weird movie on Tibetan Book of the Dead where the various parts of crossing over were illustrated with animation. The weirdest part was that they actually filmed a dying man- who died, and how the body was left in the bed for awhile.

    I can’t say I believe that stuff either, but I do enjoy the romanticism of it. Maybe skip the angry deities part, though.

    For sure SKPJ felt the love.

  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 7:16 pm | #

    It’s called “Tibetan Book of the Dead,” and Leonard Cohen narrates it. One of my favorite movies EVER! I love the animation of the disembodied soul whirling around the earth, then being pulled back for a re-incarnation. (No, no, little soul! Run free!) I guess it’s weird, but that movie makes me very happy.


  • Posted 20 May 2009 at 11:57 pm | #

    Gregor, good advice for life because perhaps the whole book is a metaphor based on lived experience?

    I’ve been noticing how often “trial and trasformation of the self” kind of journeys come in blocks of about 40 days. Jesus and John the Baptist in the desert, Noah’s Ark, folk wisdom about how many days it takes to break a habit, and kundalini purification rituals. And the bardo.

    What is it about 40 days and 40 nights?

    Re: the illustrated bardo, have you seen the Southpark vids of Alan Watts? E.g. Athiest spirituality.

  • Posted 21 May 2009 at 3:55 pm | #

    Oh hilarious.

    Two yoga “kings” profiled in this morning’s NYT.

    First, dear SKPJ.

    Second, the famous Vinnie Marino!!! Hahahaha! I haven’t bothered to read the second article, but the woman front and center of the photo is my friend H, a moonlighting ashtangi. Busted!

  • knl
    Posted 21 May 2009 at 4:05 pm | #

    40 days and 40 nights. French’s “quarantaine” (from Latin’s “quadraginta” — 40) became “quarantine”. I hope you’re keeping track of the days.

  • vitan(ovo)
    Posted 22 May 2009 at 6:46 am | #

    Dear old Alan.

  • Posted 22 May 2009 at 4:48 pm | #

    Uh oh.

  • Posted 22 May 2009 at 6:45 pm | #

    Truly! Looks like our MERINGUE has split yet again! And we thought spam-bots were troubling.

    KNL, I love that about quarantine.

    FWIW, I had a sugar relapse a few years ago while I was doing a super-long practice and struggling to get enough calories to sustain it. My sweat started to smell horrible to me, and I started to get powerful cravings, so I instituted a 40-day break. I didn’t stop wanting some kind of simple carbs to supplant the sugar until the end of that quarantine.

    Another word I learned this week (MacBook word-of-the-day widget!): quadrivium.

    Speaking of, Angels and Demons tomorrow!!! So excited. We watched a Dan Brown documentary last night—so hilariously bad we’ll probably watch it again to maximize the laughs. The premise of the documentary was that Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code are factual historical documents that need to be decoded!!! The conspiracy theory genre has become pure camp. AWESOME.

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