13 Minds #2 Enlightenment

Field notes and preliminary remarks by Charles Brownson


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: II

Enlightenment is very rare. Sometimes it can be found growing under the protection of a nomind bush, but ordinarily it is found growing alone in bare areas, as for example after a fire, or in deserts with rainfall above five inches (130mm).
The 10th century traveler Ibn al-Mansoor found specimens of enlightenment growing in the Tibetan mountains at high altitude, where they seemed especially to thrive. When Kilmartin returned to the area in the 19th century, in the course of his expeditions against Russian incursion, he found that many of the valleys which al-Mansoor had identified as most fertile for enlightenment were barren. It was presumed that the cause was a change in the microclimate. We now know from studies by the Buddhist sociobiologist Wen that the importation of non-native cattle is to blame. The animals trample the encrustations of tao moss which provide essential nutrients to the enlightenment. The role of the now endangered tao was previously unsuspected.


Two monks passed by a rock along the roadside.
Oh, how beautiful, said the younger monk.
The older walked on, saying nothing.


It is said that enlightenment and nirvana are the stakes to which donkeys are tied. In Zen tradition there is to be found considerable mockery of the methods and goals of ordinary Buddhism. Partly this stems from the pedantry of so many Buddhist scholars and partly from the desire of ordinary followers for tenets which will lead, with sufficient assiduity, to coveted results, usually release from karma and the Great Wheel of life and death. Of course, the very existence of desire (for leaders, followers, seekers) in itself is worthy of ridicule.

The botany of Enlightenment is interesting in its dependence on both Nomind and Tao moss. The rarity of both is the primary cause that Enlightenment should be perennially endangered. The relationship with Nomind is straightforward; that with the moss is not. It is thought that the two species share a connection similar to that of trees, carried by aerosols resembling pheromones, but this has not been verified. Nor have the receptors for such been identified.

Enlightenment, like other plants which facilitate awareness and counter the closed mind, is mildly toxic. Its effect is cumulative and will not be experienced for years after a regimen is begun. Given the hostility of both authorities and ordinary unsusceptible people, it is nearly impossible that such a regimen could be followed outside some protected environment such as a monastery.

His reply to Stevens

When food does not nourish
we starve. By such means
we are nourished. 

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