All stories begin with a blank page
To remind us of the physical papyrus, palm leaves, paper, wax,
or digital circuitry of elements and electrons that
mediate the flow of language that carries thought
from mind to mind.
And page two always starts in the middle of the book
because that’s where the real story is actually unfolding
on both sides of the page you’re reading now
one side is memory, following right behind the next word
or the silence which follows the last word that vanishes
in fire, ink fade or dust.
One side is you and one is me.
I probably don’t know who you are, unless you are one of the physical few
who find their way to the Clear Light Cafe, but let us be of good cheer,
dogs can’t do this and neither can butterflies
but we can.
And neither of us knows what will follow the last word, possibly
in the middle of this particular moment of
the effect of different strings, voices, minds singing
on the same frequency.
Like the frequency I share with those who know
something of the Great Moment we call by many names.
The Red Monk calls it zen mind, I call it the master frequency
because the Red Monk tells me that when he enters zen mind
he feels like the Master is walking in his shoes.
The Red Monk tells me now that in their nightly meetings in Tushita he has begun to receive detailed notes of the master’s journey through China and India, which he calls his rahnāmag, a pilgrim’s guide to zen. We have been thinking about publishing it here in Dysutopia and, if you are actually reading or hearing this then we have not worked in vain. He tells me stories of visiting the master in his cave in Tunhuang, in an oasis in the great northwestern desert. He thinks it happens in a kind of dream because the Master has been gone for fifteen centuries. He thinks the Master is an eternal possibility that wakes in various situations, like dreams and roadside diners, laundromats and hospitals, anywhere a mind happens to let him in. Wherever there is an open door or a crack in the wall he passes thru, like an ocean. I tell him not to worry about the metaphysics, I just want to hear about the latest part of the adventure.
Selene and Dahma were in Egypt, he says, about 430 AD. They got out of Hippo just before the Vandals seized the harbour and burned or captured all the Roman warships, for their own fleet which would become a force of desolation around the Middle Sea. Such was all the talk in Alexandria where everyone was asking if Alexandria would also fall, the Roman garrison being so small. Now they were travelling south, up the Nile road in a small camel caravan. He had acquired some delicate objects of Etruscan gold and Selena had saved a little from her casual labour as a travelling scribe, a writer of other people’s letters in formal or elegant Greek script so, richer than they looked, they chose the relative safety in numbers and travelled with others in small caravans. They were taking the slow road to their spring rendezvous with The Captain at the Red Sea port of Berenike. Winter was warm but people were tired of the dull, sometimes sandy sky. Such is the weary world until the first flowers peek from the dead gardens and the dream of spring wakes to the dawn of its reality.
In each caravanserai they would rent a humble room then he would mind their stuff while she bought food or she would stay in while he went for a bath. They would trade information in the inn or bath house where a hookah might be passed around. Dahma found the effects of cannabis comparable to the entheogen the magi imbibed, the wondrous hom. Pounded into a liquor and drunk in rituals, the first haoma plant, created by Ohrmazd, the purest form so to speak, is a shining white tree that grows on a mountain in paradise and, being also a god, gifted the world with her seeds, carried to Earth by sacred birds.
Do you like this shit? asked a dark woman with long white hair who sat in the wide circular tub, between several other bathers who were also sharing the hookah, pouring water on their heads or sitting in deep appreciation of existence itself.
It’s fine, said Dahma, but it’s not hom.
Not soma either, said the other.
I have heard the Magi use something called hom, said the elder.
I’ve heard the Hindus like something called soma, said Dahma.
The elder poured a handful of water on her head and recited the following:
We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
Now what may foeman’s malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man’s deception?
Dahma smiled and in his crooked Greek said, this sounds a little Gnostic. They claim that somewhere in their scripture Jesus says, you are all Gods if you believe that I too am God.
We all God! laughed the elder. Our hands and minds in a world, Our sentient bodies, every word we sing, speak or write, every brain and each thought that informs each language. Where does a thought come from?
Maybe it’s a kind of flatulence, said Dahma, mental indigestion. From eating uncooked lentils. Or smoking hom.
They smoke it? In a hookah?
Sometimes they drink it, sometimes they burn it in a ceremonial brazier, said Dahma, and everyone leans to breathe it in.
Haha! laughed the dark bright elder, here’s another verse from the Rigveda:
Heaven above does not equal one half of me.
Have I been drinking Soma?
In my glory I have passed beyond earth and sky.
Have I been smoking Soma?