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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 77 He gave me a short snort. I threw out everything I could recall from algebra and geometry. I think the clincher was when I men- tioned Euclid. (My Great Books days at St. John’s finally came in handy.) He rescued me just as I was about to recite the multiplication tables. “I went to MIT and have a Ph.D. in math.” “May I treat you to a croissant?” Anyone hovering over the slimness of numbers must need sustenance. He told me that his dissertation, which was all equations, had jokes on pages 45 and 67. “So there’s personality in math?” “Sure. My adviser had a Nobel Prize. When he’d pull out his file-cabinet drawer, the papers he’d written would swing bal- anced in their folders. All his work condensed on a few pages. Only three people in the world could read his last theorems. Extreme elegance.” I couldn’t contain myself. I raised a single finger. “Everything in this, huh?” He snorted again, but this time smiled. This had been the simplicity of my Zen life. One ring of a bell, one breath, a single candle on the altar, a moment of still peace inside. But I’d thrown that all out. In a single moment in the zendo in St. Paul, I saw through all my cranky desire. My destiny was not to formally carry that ancient lineage of my teacher forward. Dharma transmission was another way for me to try to secure myself, make myself solid in this transitory world. Nope, I de- cided forever to dump myself out into the vast unknown with Taos Mountain