PAGE 52

So there I was snuggled up in bed with Book 1, The Character of Tao. Laotse assumed the lotus and smiled a very silly buddha smile. We were very kind to Lin. I really didn’t toss him out of bed, I just suggested, sweetly, that three’s a crowd. Little did I know.

Now, in my tattered dusty old tome, held together with chewing gum, rubber bands and scotch tape, the first Book begins on page 41. There were no pages turned, nothing underlined, no notes in margins. I read, as wide-eyed I suspect as I had the first time I read it, but I continued, holding my breath as I hit bottom and bounced end to end and side to side.

“What are they talking about?” I understood why it was called a Cosmic Mystery and it sure was a mystery to me. I must be the dumbest student ever to attempt the cosmic.

Book 2 began on page 27 but it made no better sense to dumb as a rock me. It wasn’t until I hit Page 52 that wires got pulled. The first under- linement-or whatever-was “…he knows that time is without end,” the second “…conditions are not constant,”  the third, “…external limits are not final,”  were vague yet somehow touched a chord.  It was the last under-linement- that rang the bell. “The universe and I came into being together; the myriad things of creation and I are One.” I painted a hefty black star in the margin and all heck broke loose. I think everybody I ever knew since time- at least my time- began burst in the door. Party crashers. Poor Laotse dove under the bed.

Fred Hoyle, Carl Sagan, Gary Zukov, Spinoza, S Radadhakrishnan, so many more I couldn’t count’em, gathered around the water-bed.

Fred took center stage, “The damn Big Bang. That’s when it all went wrong. I loved the steady state.”

“Fred… ” the other guys chorused but Fred shook them off.

He frowned,  “…look out you guys. If you  ever look out and see the red shift shift back, the Universe, that is the entire universe’ll fall back on itself in thirty minutes.”

“Thirty minutes,” I gasped. Everybody but Fred laughed.

“All the energy of the universe collapsed to the size of a period at the end of a sentence. The end. I loved mankind.” Fred pulled his hair.

“Come on, Fred, baby, ” Rad said, “You’re forgetting. It’s pure energy, it’ll go off again. Kaboomb. Kaboomb. A new Big Bang. A whole new game. We’ve,” he reached around and patted himself on the back, “known that for ever. It’s called the breath of god. I mean if everything grows old and dies, which is the nature of things, then so must the universe but it certainly isn’t the end.”

It was then Laotsu popped out from under the bed and proclaimed,

“The Tao that can be told of

Is not the Absolute Tao;

The Names that can be given

Are not Absolute Names.”

I got out of there, they were going at it hammer and tong.  I dragged out some chilled Chardonnay  and a bowl of crackers and cheese. Woke up hung.

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