Bardo Thodol, Tibetan Book of the Dead. [o]
3. ᚃ LENTIL
N. lives in the basement suite of a Vancouver Special, west of Renfrew, east
of Nanaimo. I’m biking up Renfrew after work on a wet March night, bottle
of cheap red in my pannier. N. has made a pot of dal and no-kneed pumpernickel,
just back from a Buddhist meditation retreat in the interior.
He has been hiking and tramping and trekking and writing on hydrodams and Site C
and commodity fetishism and keeping an eye on the carbon ppm in the atmosphere
creep up and up and up for years, for decades now. Outraged and contrarian,
angry, funny, exuberant, dogmatic, accelerant. O my querulous Marxist friend
what sorrows root, what rages, what ails you tonight?
The earth is in bardo.
Sit down at the kitchen table. Pour wine into jars. What can I say, man?
I’ve been thinking about this since the 80s. So we drink and talk,
talk radon, Shimano, Campagnolo. McKibben. Monbiot. Thunberg.
James Lovelock. (He’s a crackpot.) No he’s not. The ICPP Special Report
on 1.5 degrees of warming. Fusion as magical thinking. Recipes for pumpernickel.
The war in the woods and Tzeporah Berman. But she was wrong on run of the river.
Meditation. You just watch your breath. It takes years. Sometimes I masturbate.
The lovely Lily, Linda, Natasha, Chandra, Karen, Chavisa, Mig, Suzy,
Helen, Stephanie, Jessica. Oh but she was so lovely…. Talk vegan diets and
carbon gentrification, sequestration. The Pope’s encyclical, Laudate Si.
West Moberly and Saulteau nations. Endangered caribou in the Peace.
You just watch your breath. The Bardol Thodol.
The earth is in bardo.
Bardo Thodol. [o]
N. serves bowls of dal. Coarse sea salt. Chopped jalapeño.
Now we’re onto the Green New Deal and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Is it a fatal error to link the dismantling of capitalism to carbon reduction?
The open letter to Extinction Rebellion, the Red New Deal.
I don’t know. How can I put it? Everything’s fractured, all these little splinter
ideologies. The Transmountain Pipeline. Tsleil-waututh. Blockadia. Naomi Klein
blurs together all these different kinds of capitalism. Solar cells.
Wind turbines. Climate Leviathan. Climate Mao. Chlorella. Spirulina.
Trump is right the cows will have to go. (Can we keep goats? I love goats.)
And we have to stop eating fish—the main protein source for coastal poor
in the South. The Svalbard Seedbank. No-till farming. Bija mantras.
You just watch your breath. Thoughts will interfere and you just watch
them too. The Greenland ice shelf. Methane deposits in permafrost.
Ecomodernists. Microplastics. Converting farmland to forests. Genetic
modification of staple crops to fix more carbon in their roots.
My grandfather invented Krilium for Monsanto, he was the father
of the Green Revolution! (The irony). The Tiny House Warriors
and Kanahus Manuel. John Bellamy Foster. Disciplining capital.
How good the dal. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you have to soak
the lentils overnight. The Zen Centre. The Salvation Army.
I put photos of my challah on Bumble. Calls for World War 2-style
mobilization. The Apollo foundation—more like the moon shot.
The Great Transition. (What form will it take?) Tropical diseases
creeping north. Sea levels are rising. Arctic melt. Albedo effect.
Existential threat. Climate denial. Climate despair. The dregs
of the wine.
The earth is in bardo.
Bardo Thodol.* [o]
Remember that time
we went to the Princeton? Yes yes yes. The Wisehall is busy. What’s Up
Hotdog? too noisy. Hey the beer is pretty cheap at the Brighton. Slip
through a cordon of smoke to sit at the bar. Talk methane and cows,
vegan proteins, recharging stations for electric cars, the Evergreen line,
global dimming, qualia bundling. They called my grandfather ‘Q’ we had
t-shirts made up (My grandma ran a boarding house in east Vancouver).
He was given a lab by UBC when he retired from McGill. (She only
took men—firefighters, policemen, loggers—they were her boys.)
Communal living, urban density, object-oriented ontology. What’s that?
(An extension of Heidegger—) No one believes in Heidegger anymore (A critique
of the Kantian emphasis on the subjective correlationist and the need
to shift back towards the object, the thing in itself). No one believes
in the thing in itself (Maybe that’s the problem). How can I put it, man?
Kantian noumena is not the problem here (A way to recognize,
to acknowledge, the other. Heidegger’s tool analysis—) What can I say?
We need to increase the carbon tax by several hundred dollars per tonne.
(Yes, of course but also—) Last call. Last call.
The first bardo is the bardo of life.
The second is an aspect of the first, the bardo of dreams.
The third is the bardo of meditation, actively pursued.
The fourth is of the moment of death.
The fifth, the chönyi bardo, is the bardo of the luminosity
of the true nature, a liminal state of terrifying vision
and sound, in which one seeks the clear light.
The sixth bardo is that of becoming, the transmigrating form
determined by the karmic seeds — bījā, बीज — within the storehouse
consciousness, seeds which determine the new form.
Detail from “Peaceful & Wrathful Deities of the Bardo”; Tibet, 19th century. [o]
N. texts me. He’s back from a radon conference in Saskatoon.
I’m at Descanso Bay, campsite 5. The dark-eyed juncos.
Are you in Nanaimo? With Y.? Alone?
Gabriola. Alone. Y. is enroute from Edmonton.
A. is maybe in Edmonton.
I’m working on a new long poem.
Your recipe for dal will figure somehow
and A.’s snowdrops.
Yes, lentils. beyond beyond meat lies 3 millennia of food wisdom…
blessed by krsna shiva and ram
i am boiling split mung beans as we speak. gunna
eat with millet
yes! each section will be about a seed…one being lentil
i hope you grant me blessing to include yr texts in my poem
yes. go ahead better even than being a poet
is being a poet’s muse.
lentil is not a seed by the way
KIM TRAINOR is a poet and the granddaughter of an Irish banjo player and a Polish faller who worked in logging camps around Port Alberni, British Columbia in the 1930s. Her second book, Ledi, (Book*hug, 2018) was a finalist for the 2019 Raymond Souster Award. She lives in Vancouver, unceded homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
* Centuries old Zhi-Khro mandala, a part of the Bardo Thodol's collection, a text known in the West as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which comprises part of a group of bardo teachings held in the Nyingma (Tibetan tradition) originated with guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century.