berkeley pages Travelogue,

Subject: thousands and thousands and thousands and...
Date: 3-6-03

[for the impatient, there's a really swell dream sequence further down you can just skim to]

Thousands of pages to read. Thousands and thousands. The deeper I go, the broader the river becomes. Hi everyone. As I've mentioned before, I am living under a tree in Berkeley. I guess I'm going to send this one out to everyone, so I should start at the beginning. Again.  Again back to the beginning. And beginning again...

So there are 13 kinds of ascetic practices recognized in traditional Buddhist practice: (src: Buddhaghosa, Vishuddhimagga, Chapter II, Dhutanga-niddesa, 2. see bibliography)

  1. the refuse-rag-wearer's practice (tried this once. Not to popular with the ladies.)
  2. the triple-robe-wearer's practice (safron robes anyone?)
  3. the alms-food-eater's practice (spare any food? monks can't handle money.)
  4. the house-to-house seeker's practice (this'll get you arrested in america)
  5. the one-sessioner's practice (eat only in one session. no good at this)
  6. the bowl-food-eater's practice (all food from one particular bowl. I approximate with "my cup")
  7. the later-food-refuser's practice (all food before noon. nor am I good at this)
  8. the forest dweller's practice
  9. the tree-root-dweller's practice (that's me!!!)
  10. the open air dweller's practice
  11. the charnel-ground-dweller's practice (lived next door to a cemetary in boulder...)
  12. the any-bed-user's practice (been there done that, mostly bug-free, xcept for that time crossing into nepal... oh and that other time in... somewhere in southern india... oh, and the chaos collective scabies scare... hmmm.)
  13. the sitters practice (no sleeping lying down. logical conclusion to morning/evening meditation sadhana)

okay, so, since nowhere does it say "no laptops or cellphones", I figure I'm golden. Asceticism c'est moi.

Anyway, the Vishu...whatever is 907 pages of love, and one of a dozen books in front of me, plus a dozen more upstairs, and a dozen at a dozen other libraries around town (and the world) that I am currently in the middle of studying. I want to cry and jump for joy that this path has befallen me in this lifetime.

So my day to day life is as follows. Wake up benieth tree. meditate, go eat my bagel and cream cheese with coffee at cafe' elodie on Shattuck. Go to the YMCA and shower, work out, etc. Eat either Thai Red Curry tofu or Indian Thali (buffet style) , then to the library for research. Try not to think about girls. Especially all the damn fine asian girls in and around the libraries on this lovely campus. After several hours of this, retire to a coffee shop and upload my latest research, then to a bar for one beer, one cigarette. The to the woods, say hi to the deer and racoons, meditate, sleep, wake up to "stellar" bluejays squawking, and repeat.

Last night I had a dream that really really freaked me out. I woke up in my dream when I had some strange guy enter my tent and show me the video cassettes he'd just bought in town. One side of the package was propaganda intended for the LDS (latter day saints, as they call themselves). The other was some sorta porno. He was really excited about the "bonus material." I thought he was a freak, so I left, jumped in my GYPC, (my dear sweet little car that swallowed my license and Mr Klein sold for scrap to pay the bills for our house in Boulder). I drove for a while, lost control of the car, sorta spun around and came to a "stop" before some gas pumps. I was out of gas, the pumps were closed, and so I pushed across the street. There I found myself in a red light district where the streets were lined with girls in various stages of undress, mostly nude. I thought "how strange" usually they have to be clothed on the streets. I kept on going, again sorta wierded out by all this sex stuff. "Girls," even in dreams remind me, quoth the preacher Solomon, to "fear God." So I end up at a place where I was planning on going tonight, with some people who get together to jam music. Called "Gorilla Choir" night. It happens at one of the longest running communities in Berkeley, some 18 years. I was introduced by Pinkman and went last week. I'm skipping this week for reasons I won't go into here... but ask personally and I will tell all... y'all know me that well...

Anyway, after a wierd experience there, involving massive amounts of recording and PA equipment, I left, wandered through this beautiful artist's community and saw the strangest way to grow mushrooms I've ever imagined. They were grown on strings, individually, suspended as mobiles. There were several. at one point I saw these crystal balls maybe a foot in diameter and when I looked at the mobiles through these, I got really really tripped out. It was neat. Anyway, I noticed the name of the town was Santa Buena on a sign, but in a diner, a chef, who now that I think about it was the spitting image of "The Butcher" from Delicatessen, said the town's name was Santa Bonito (Antonito being where my hypermax prison was sited don't know if that's relevant). Anyway I meet this guy Fred at the diner. We talk, I explain my research project and my travels with an air of self satisfaction. We get into a car and it becomes a scene from Repo man. I think "Fred" was played by the same guy as the guy in repo man... [anyone wanna fill in these names?{harry dean stanton to my emilio estevez}]. Anyway, we start driving, he starts driving crazier and crazier, pulling some AMAZING shit, I'm impressed, but resigned to death or come-what-may, as I always am these days... I was most impressed by the 180 on a winding mountain road, with leaves on the pavement, it was fall all the sudden, and without loosing speed, continuing to wind down the road in reverse. He noticed I wasn't scared; I said something to the effect of , well, if you're able to drive like this, clearly you are not of this earth..."

At which point we sailed over the edge of the road, over the valley, over the town below. My heart hit my stomach as I realized that I had not simply "lost control" of the car before, but in fact had died in a pretty horrible car accident, and everything since was a hallucinatory experience helping me to cope with my sudden and gruesome death. And then I woke up.

I woke up just as the sun crested the hills. I could see the corona of the sun, the strange lighting before immanent dawn through the olive green tarp.  I could hear the bluejays squawk and see my breath in the cold morning air. I realized I was still alive. I had not died, I had another day ahead of me. I sat up, rejoiced, laughed until I cried, then cried until I laughed some more, then laughed at my tears and sang, choking on my tears and laughter: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound / that someday will save a wretch like me / I still am lost / but someday might be found / I'm blind but someday maybe I'll see // T'was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace that fear won't remove [I always get that rhyme wrong] / Most precious day that grace appeared [and cursing That Day in the same breath]/ the hour I first believed.

So packing my things I set off walking down the hill, fording the creek where I usually do, taking the long way, despite having my skateboard with me (one way is direct down to the road, and a swell ride, the other is longer but more through the woods with more S.F. Bay vistas). I came across the writings of another tortured soul. Crumpled up on the ground where multicolored poems which filled sheets margin to margin, an agonizing "don't break up with me" letter to some girl, reciepts for chemestry and calculus III textbooks in the hundreds of dollars, scraps of rope, and a cardboard sign, writtien on the inside of a shoebox, as if for begging on the streets, saying "Needed: gel pens, markers, paper, food, books, music, medicinal herbs, organic produce, car or van, apartment, job... etc. etc. ...and most of all True Love. If you can provide 4 any of the things just tell me everything will be fine."

I wrote "everything's going to be just fine. Keep questioning..." on his sign, pierced it with a stick and left it posted on the side of the trail beside the abandoned, damp, and mildewed papers...

Hudson Cress, 2003. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: All events and people are part of the elaborate fiction that is my private reality. Any resemblence to actual people or events is purely coincidental.