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Central Europe Review
Killing the Buddha
Web del Sol
[W r i t e r' s N o t e b o o k]
All it took was to go into a library or a well-stocked bookstore. I would pull things off the shelves in a random manner, to buoy the meaning sense, that is intuition.
This sense had been sharpened for me the year I dedicated myself to writing. I had separated from my wife and bought an old car and drove to the mountains to get away. I wanted to be alone with my hurt pride and confusion even though, looking back, I can see that I was the cause of the problems. These sort of states of being, common in youth, initiated me into the terrors of the modern world. I had bought an old Volvo popular with counter-culturists and others I had loyalty to in my mid-20's. It had the smell of dried leather and made wonderfully strange noises.
Local native Americans had shown my great grandfather a plot of land, along a stream in the Trinity Mountains, and I headed in that direction. As a kid it as Eden, with a waterfall and pool we could play in and the threat of snakes and bears to keep little-boy-imaginations alive. There was a main house and a cabin several hundred yards up the mountain. I spent several weeks in the cabin and dried out my terrible emotional state. I had with me two dogs who showed up at the door of the cabin one day. They were friendly and wanted to take me up the mountain stream with them, so I followed.
One thing became apparent as I spent time in the mountains. The accumulations I felt burdened with left me or was driven out into the wilds. The natural beauty filled me with a wonderful sort of emptiness so that all was reduced to perception and the complete, strong rhythms that surge through nature and the self when one connects with eternity.
There was the denigrating aspects of experience and then the presence of that which existed without regard for my thought or existence.
Every day filled with some morsel of inspiration. I took the dogs on a daily walk up and down the stream, laughing, taking my clothes off, swimming in the natural pools that collected from the natural curves in the hills.
All this occurred in the worst period of time in recent memory; the post-Vietnam era, filled with fear and nihilistic weirdness and no resolution to the various problems I had taken on in the youthful wish to be a demi-hero of some sort.
In the mountains I resolved the question that if the Earth were to be destroyed or nations destroyed by atomic war, a few thoughts would survive as seed and would embed in the great Egg somewhere and start the whole absurdity over again. I had no problem with this thought and it resolved the feeling of panic I received when I first confronted the prospect of nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
"A piece of this mountain will survive everything and float into space with a merry song on its lips."
When I got back to the Bay Area I felt revived. I felt healthy and excellent. I set about to write about my experiences on the mountain. After several feeble attempts I began to write in the dark, as a way to keep myself from reading what I had written. A story emerged. The story centered around man who suddenly appears "fully sprung" between the rocks in a setting like the one I had been in. His initial perception is motion. Then, after sleeping the motion stops. He lives for a time in this paradise and then is dramatically driven from it by the eruption of nature. He wanders down the mountain into a village where he witnesses the ritual killing of an animal by a group of people who turn out to be communards.
Eventually, he enters the town and is adopted by a family. Slowly but surely he's introduced to various characters of the town and offers his impressions. The story did not evolve past this sketch but an interesting incident occurred because of it. As I tried to conceive his initial perception when he emerges, fully-formed from the rocks, quite accidentally, I typed out what I later discovered to be a trigram from the I Ching. The trigram was formed out of the natural sounds a new perception would hear such as birds, rushing water, crickets; the sounds broke evenly to form weak and strong lines in the triagram.
Now, several days after I wrote this I called my wife and asked if I could come over and see my daughter. I brought this story with me to show her. I decided to stop at a bookstore beforehand and, while browsing, I came across a book translated by Richard Wilhelm called, The Secret of the Golden Flower. I decided to buy it and went to my wife's house and spent a wonderful time with my daughter, just learning how to walk at the time. That night I started to read The Secret of the Golden Flower and in the introduction Carl Jung mentioned trigrams and the relevance for the esoteric doctrine. One of the trigrams he used as an example was the one I had written out; Thunder, the emerging of life between rocks, the beginning of all motion. I was astonished. I read it over and over with both amazement and excitement but I couldn't make anything of it. I told my wife about it, showed her what I had written, showed her the passage in the book but she didn't show much interest.
It didn't bother me that she showed no interest because now I had a new fascination and began reading in esoteric literature. I came to the startling conclusion that my revulsion from the world, plus intimate contact with nature, plus extreme feeling of crisis had put me in the same state of mind that had given rise to the I Ching. In some strange way I kept reproducing the themes in my youth hoping to produce that most sought after piece of esoterica, the obscure poem.
I soon discovered however, in that state of being, all written, visual, and audio material had significance. The buildings shimmered with significance when I came down from the mountains. The streets possessed things it did not know it possessed. Fantastic laughter emptied from shabby bars along the Tenderloin. The massive stadium rose in front of me crowded with the eternal people with a roar like a thousand lions. I sped on a train through the working class neighborhoods and wept.
I did give up on the I Ching, however. I was living in one of those working class apartments the train passes like a conquering army on its way to the capital. I needed $500 and posed the question to the I Ching while sitting on my floor. When, two months later the money didn't arrive, I put my copy of the I Ching on my bookcase and it remained there until, finally, it ended where most of my early books ended; being sold off to raise money so I could ride the train.
© 2003 David Eide. All rights reserved.