As you wander around looking for a place to build a temple, looking for eden, looking for nirvana, stop and simply sit, listen to the breeze teaching you the Dharma, the clouds chanting the sutras in a harmony beyond your hearing. Look down for you are in your temple, sitting in eden nirvana at your feet.
A reflection on case 4 of the Book of Equanimity Koans
The truly pious will never get to heaven for they don’t know how to sing or dance. Kerouac roams freely like a rogue elephant unable to get a good buzz on but not for want of trying. He thought it would be Edenic, a garden somewhere between Babylon hanging and the lobby of the Royal Hawaiian but it bears a closer resemblance to Grant Park or rural North Dakota where the Coke machines along the roadside are often empty and you are rarely hit by golf balls the size of hailstones.
Recently appeared in Aurora, Down in the Dirt Vol. 167 (2020)
He said, “I’m looking forward to heaven for a reason you cannot begin to imagine, and, not that I want to rush my arrival.” She said, “It’s rather audacious to assume you’ll end up there, I place the odds as at best at 50-50 and I’m being generous because I’m still in love with you.” “But you’ll never guess the reason so I’ll just have to tell you. You know how much I love rich buttery sauces, the more butter and ] heavy cream the better? In heaven I can have all I want without worry about cholesterol and arteriosclerosis and that would certainly be heaven to me.” “You realize,” she replied, “that there’s a better than even chance that God as creator of everything might just be a vegetarian, like we all were in the garden, so Just in case, eat your Brussels sprouts.”
We have mastered the art of making promises, we can do so without reflection. We are not certain why God seems so reticent to join us, we were created in His image, we are constantly told, yet even when we ask, no promises seem to be forthcoming from heaven. Some say God is far too busy to make even simple promises, for God would have to deliver on them, without fail, something we have never quite managed. Others say promises were what had us evicted from the Garden and we still have not learned our lesson, or so promise the priests and ministers who assure us our place in heaven can always be secured for eternity by a sufficiently large donation.
We listen carefully certain we can hear it if and when it appears. We hear nothing, but we are used to not hearing, but faith is a far more patient than it is given credit for and we have nothing to do in any event, other than to abide an event we cannot predict and non-prediction is a skill we have refined since we were evicted from the garden, apple in hand.
We should stop blaming the snake. First, do we really want to admit the reptile was that much smarter than we were? More importantly, how long could we have survived wearing the leaves, if anything at all, and eating fruits and vegetables? Okay, I grant you that is all I eat, but by choice and after considerable thought. And, by the way, never tell a Jewish male he can’t eat something. We all know full well that even shrimp and pork are kosher in a Chinese restaurant. At least on Friday night.
He imagined what it must have been like in the garden, before the snake, before the damned apple, though certainly not before the missing rib, that was a complete and utter bore, and yes beauty can be infinitely boring given half a chance. But to be blissfully ignorant, without the burden of knowledge, the taste of the apple on the tongue, to just be in the middle of perfection, and be perfection itself, that had to be something. But no, there would have been no mirrors, and who knows if it would have seemed the least bit beautiful, since there would have been nothing to compare it to. Maybe we should honor the snake.
A commentary on a holy book suggested snakes cannot hear one another. Perhaps their deafness goes beyond family and species. It would do much to explain God’s rejection of Eve’s proffered excuse that despite her protestations and those of Adam the snake would not take no for an answer – a deaf snake, after all having spoken, has little to do but move along to the next monologue.