We shall begin

2008 Jan 13 - Rab Wilkie

We shall begin.
As usual, in a roundabout way, and not knowing what might happen next. But out there somewhere, there's a boojum and snark.

To stir memory, we can recall a particular time. In this case I think the darkest days of winter had passed and I was uncertain whether or not to put more wood in the stove. But I was down there anyway, in the rock bottom cellar of the Namgyal House in Whitehorse, wondering.

I was distracted by a jumble of boxes and things in shadow beyond the one light-bulb glare. They were cast-offs from many years of usually brief inhabitation, residents and guests, not all of whom had passed the test, indeed the transformative initiation, that produced a 'sourdough' from a southern 'cheechako'. In other words, staying a whole year north of 60, including the winter, without going insane. Or maybe that didn't matter, as long as one could still get home intact from the nearest bar, (of which there were many). Not that this necessarily applied to Namgyal House folk, rather that this was the local norm.

In one of the boxes there were dusty books. From which in due course we could amass quite a list of recommended reading, although this will have to wait. You know - "The Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse, a few different titles by Evans-Wentz, endless Nero Wolf detective stories, and so forth.

But the one that I picked up was by Idries Shah, "The Book of the Book". It's red. And it starts with a Sufi story, but after only a few pages it stops and the remainder of the book consists of blank white pages. Very meaningful blank pages, though you'd have to read the story to know why. (Hint: 'sunyata').

However, the rest of this book was not entirely blank. It contained notes from talks that the bhikkhu Ananda Bodhi had given in Toronto during January - April, 1971. A period I knew well, because I too had attended these classes, about twenty years earlier. At the front of the book the student had, fortunately, written his name: "Ken Long".

Now, exactly 37 years later, we shall have a look at what Ken wrote.. in instalments, appropriately spaced. And during the first class, interestingly enough, we find Rinpoche waxing prophetic with references to a fateful year: 2008. Perhaps this will resonate, this way or that, and stir from your depths or heights some enlightening story.

In future issues, perhaps we shall consider the following contents of Ken's notes in the Crystal Stories

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