In 'Another Book of Nothing’ I attempted, in a stumbling way, to think and reason the way to emptiness, but words and theories can never be the final answer. For that we have to be silent and be nothing.
The more we think we know, the greater the disappointment we invite when faced with the question ‘What do we know?’. For me there is only one antidote to playing with the mind, and that is not to play!
My teacher, Sri Tirtha Lal Mahanandhar from
I have always found it difficult to talk about him, and this reflects a certain ambivalence that has dogged me ever since we first met nearly 40 years ago. The big question of course is, was he truly realized? Can you or I believe his words? Such conviction was often belied by his ‘normality’. Far from matching our pre-conceived notion of a great master dressed in flowing robes, exuding peace and love and understanding all around, he was a father and husband who did his best to provide for his family through one business or another and the normal 'tos and fros' of normal life.
Despite this apparent preoccupation with worldly affairs, over the many years I and Bud, and briefly, David, lived with him and the family, we would spend our mornings and evenings listening to this one subject alone, striving in our naivety to attain the great goal of enlightenment.
So the years passed and nothing happened, or maybe I should say it did! In the process of writing Another book of Nothing, my interest, appreciation and understanding seemed to blossom into a firm conviction regarding everything he taught, accompanied by a deep and corresponding feeling of gratitude and love.
Who indeed can recognize a realized man or woman? Surely only another who has attained that state. We mere mortals, once familiar with the concept and terminology of enlightenment, may indeed recognize the synchronicity between the words of so many great souls, and, pushing our reason and intellect to their limit, marvel at the mystery they attempt to explain, yet it remains for us alone to prove their authenticity by putting our faith and trust to the test by practising what they teach.
Such is my excuse, in this preamble, for attempting to render ‘Bed Crow’ into a more digestible form for readers such as myself who find the somewhat quaint and occasionally grammatically incorrect English difficult to absorb.
It is a daunting task, not least because I am all too aware of how the original meaning and intent of great souls can be missed or misinterpreted by lesser mortals, and I have to ask myself if I am qualified to try. Being as impartial as I may, the answer is ‘Who else is there to do it?’ My contact with Bud and David, the only other ‘western’ followers, has long been lost as we went our separate ways, and the only one who really knows, my teacher himself, passed away a few years back. Now I miss him dearly. Indeed, how many times I wish I could sit next to him again and ask the question, “Is this right?”
To you, my great enigma, father of my soul, as I greedily set about this work, may it be a worthy offering to you as my ‘diksha’, or guru’s fee, - but most of all, please take this heart in your hands, now and for as long as any sense of separation remains. OM Jai Guru Dev.
I have decided to present the text of ‘Bed Crow’ with the lightest of edits, perhaps adding a comment of my own now and then if it seems appropriate. In this way readers can still enjoy the wonderful dialogue and poems of the original with little alteration, not to mention his lovely drawings. Where available I will add explanations if they seem necessary, and footnotes giving the dictionary definition of obscure words so that your reading may flow more easily. In fact, in this work, Sri Tirtha Lal, - 'Bed Crow', uses very few names and other words that would be unfamiliar to those who may have had little exposure to the philosphical or spiritual terminology of India and Nepal. Rather, he speaks of the human condition that is common to all.
Perhaps I should note that where capital letters are used, as in 'Me, My, Mine etc.', that being referred to is of course the Supreme, in accordance with the Vedic pronouncement 'Tattvamasi' meaning 'You are That', or in this instance, 'I am That'. However, although I have tried to use the capital whenever it seems appropriate, Sri Tirtha Lal or the printers have hardly been consistent on this point. Neverthless I don't believe the distinction is so important when all is one and this one chooses to speak, either as this, or That.
It must be noted that Sri Tirtha Lal was university educated and for many years practiced as a doctor, - indeed we used to refer to him as ‘the Doctor’. As far as communication and conversation are concerned, his English was excellent, however in written form it tends to be, dare I say, a bit Dickensian, and he would often find strange words and epithets with which to sprinkle his prose. Most of these can be found in a dictionary, though hardly in general usage today. Some indeed appear to be the product of his quirky imagination. Nevertheless, I must say that should you have no difficulty in understanding and following the thread of his words, then it is somewhat to my shame that I should even think of improving them.
The original Bed Crow is in print and available, and I have given the means of ordering it from his son, Achyut Mahanandhar, on the home page. Again, I am always very interested to hear your comments here.
If you or any other reader who may chance upon these words derive some joy and understanding from them as I have done, nay, if you are prompted to ‘be empty’, - then it is a bonus for both of us and worthy of a ‘BED CROW', - an utter cry of joy indeed!