Wednesday, May 04, 2005


If we cannot remain present during sleep, if we lose ourselves every night, what chance do we have to be aware when death comes? If we enter our dreams and interact with the mind's images as if they are real, we should not expect to be free in the state after death. Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep to discover whether or not you are truly awake.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

A couple weeks ago we had dinner with Buf and MA at their estate in red-state MD and Buf mentioned a neighbor of his when they lived in Towson worked at the Liberry with me. He mentioned her name and asked if I knew her; I said I'd seen her name before but had not met her. He said "Well, if you do speak to her tell her we said 'hi.' She's really great."

Today when I got to work at 5:30 (I took a half day) there was a bag of cumin seeds on my chair and a note from this very individual which read:

May you never run out of cumin seeds again! Please feel free to call on me for Indian spices--if you'd like--I cook a lot of Indian food & buy large quant. of spices--too much for our small family.

I thought: How the fuck does she know I like Indian food?! To my knowledge we've not met, so why would she do this. Did she leave a bag of cumin seeds for everyone today? Then I remembered we'd all submitted favorite recipes to create a Liberry cookbook for the retiring Aunties, and my dish was chana masala. Of course she must've seen that and thereby come to her conclusion that I might like some spices.

Not an hour before finding this note I'd started reading

and found therein the best explanation of karma and karmic traces using "seeds" as an analogy; I felt for the first time that I understood the functioning of karma. They way Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche describes it, karma is not a punishment for bad deeds nor a reward for good ones, but merely a tendency in the mind, almost like a Freudian complex or neurosis that affects how we perceive our surroundings and how we react to events (Henry James "web of consciousness"). Reading the first couple of chapters was like a slap in the chakras. My recent agonizing over the graduate program at UMd? Tenzin has an answer: every diploma is an award for developing a more sophisticated ignorance. Precisely what I'd been thinking but unwilling to confront! I've found many such 'aha!' moments in his book already.

I'd bought the book completely at random using an Amazon gift certificate needing something to fill up the last $15 and somehow landed on a 'blog that recommended this book.

I'll do the same even though I haven't finished it.


I love this (another GC self-gift); not only do I admire Welch's singing and songwriting, but David Rawlings is quite frankly the meanest muthafucka playing an acoustic axe these days. I think his work is magnificent, and wish to emulate his style of play with my own; he's very percussive at times, but knows how to scale down to ethereal fingerstyle when appropriate, and can play rock/bluegrass/blues/folk licks with equal facility, often merging styles in inventive ways. Plus, he sings harmony like a dream--few voices blend as well as Welch and Rawlings--perhaps Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou Harris came close, and currently only Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski are as good together. We saw them at the Recher two years ago and they were simply divine!