Dust Eaters

It doesn’t matter how they found each other.  The amazing thing is they did.  They were alchemical opposites. S he was short and skinny, he was tall and round. S he moved and spoke in quick lightning bursts and overwhelming torrents.  He meandered like a wide river.  His library had sprawled into a building of his own, and his lectures on his weekly intellectual pursuits filled an auditorium.  He wanted to know everything he could about what people think and thought about the mysteries beyond death and the evolution of the human soul.  If he could have he would have spoken, or at least read, every language.

She was a visionary convulsed in the revelations unfolding from her subconscious in hurricanes of frenetic communication, in books with hyphenated clusters of words cobbled together to convey some inconceivably subtle point, and in geometric mandalas where myths from various times and places were melted into metaphors in an epic attempt to capture a complete vision of creation perhaps comparable to what the mystic Jakob Boehme glimpsed in the reflection of a beam of sunlight in a pewter dish.

He celebrated civilization.  She wanted to tear down what she saw as a corrupt system, to allow utopia to emerge from equality of the sexes and races.  She was convinced her revelation could awaken all humanity.  She said he was the reincarnation of Sir Francis Bacon, and therefore a ham, while she was Eve, from the very Garden.  He was not Adam, however, he was the snake, crawling around in the dirt, eating dust.  And he was still eating dust she would say, locked up in his library with all his dusty old books and artifacts when the living revelations of the miracle of life and of the world unfold in every instant all around us.  He would nod, doze (although always ready to respond on cue), wait for his ice cream to be served, while she tried to explain yet again the keys to the mightiest mysteries, always defeated by the limitations of language and by listeners who developed migraines or suffered exhaustion struggling to follow her imagination.

Her desire to save the world rose like a tidal wave in her, a passion a thousand times more powerful than lust, driving her to long hours of detailed labor in the hope that someday human beings with more refined imaginations would appreciate and understand her.  He was realizing that most people aren’t ready for religion, they need to wash off the ashes first with cold water of psychology.  But her revelation was no mere fanatic display.  He recognized in it the sinews of the great visionaries of Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy. When he realized I saw it, too, he asked me to work less with him and more with her.  I worked hard to master at least the basic building blocks of her way.  By thinking of her work in the light of William Blake, not in content but in its metaphorical technique, I could unlock aspects that she said no one else had understood before.

I will in the future share some of the points I learned from her that provide valuable insights into this process of ours, for example, her evolution of the Gnostic Christian demiurge into the metaphor of the ungrateful and forgetful son of an all powerful Goddess whose gifts are space and his delusion of autonomy.  For now I will focus on how she cured my dust eating.

Like my mentor I wanted a great library.  I had always loved books, had always taken refuge in them and in libraries.  Embraced by his community I got a good start in collecting classic volumes related to the Mysteries.  I started haunting the book shops of Los Angeles always searching for gems and I found many.  I knew what time to be at Bodhi Tree’s Used Branch to get the day’s treasure trove, and often there were very rare volumes priced very fairly.  In those days just before Ebay for the price of one such volume now you could then buy a whole box of antiquarian delights.  Soon I had three tall bookcases stuffed with books in my apartment.  I didn’t just collect them, I read voraciously.  I wanted to read every single book in every single book store and library.  I remained convinced that the last piece of the puzzle that is the mystery of our universe was waiting in the next book over.

She teased me about it but it wasn’t her teasing, or even the moments when she angrily berated him for being a dust eater, that moved me to give up my collection, or at least the majority of it. The immediacy of her revelation, the right now right here quality of faith in the universe she had when it came to knowledge, her desire to explore and see for herself, created a subtle transformation in me.  I realized I would never find the answer in the next book.  I could find specific answers, surprises good and bad, but I would never find the holy grail book that would forever and completely open the Way.  I could now see in high relief the marketing spins and other weaknesses of authors and publishing houses, past and present.  I became allergic to the vanity of every author, especially myself.  But I was also free again to graze where I might, to read for fun, or not at all, no longer relying on books for my spiritual education when life is the teacher.