In the plains of Bihar, near Rajgir, are the ruins of Nalanda. The name Bihar comes from “vihara” — Buddhist temple — the Diamond Seat is in Bihar, and Vulture Peak — Tibetan pilgrims still come down to these plains. The six-foot-thick walls of Nalanda, the monks all scattered — books burned — banners tattered — statues shattered — by the Turks. Hsuan Tsang describes the high blue tiles, the delicate debates — Logicians of Emptiness — worshippers of Tara, Joy of Starlight, naked breasted. She who saves.
Ghost bison, ghost bears, ghost bighorns, ghost lynx, ghost pronghorns, ghost panthers, ghost marmots, ghost owls: swirling and gathering, sweeping down, in the power of a dance and a song.
Then the white man will be gone.
butterflies on slopes of grass and aspen —
thunderheads the deep blue of Krishna
rise on rainbows
and falling shining rain —
tiny people gliding slanting down:
a little Buddha seated in each pearl —
and join the million waving grass-seed-buddhas
on the ground.
The space goes on.
But the wet black brush
tip drawn to a point,
~ Gary Snyder : : Mountains and Rivers Without End
Princess Faucigny Lucinge had received from Poitiers a crate containing her silver table service. From the vast innards of a packing case emblazoned with international customs stamps she removed, one by one, the fine unmoving things: plate from Utrecht and Paris chased with hard heraldic fauna, … , a samovar. Among the pieces, trembling softly but perceptibly, like a sleeping bird, there throbbed, mysteriously, a compass. The princess did no recognize it. Its blue needle yearned toward magnetic north; its metal casing was concave; the letters on its dial belonged to one of the alphabets of Tlön. This was the first intrusion of the fantastic world of Tlön into the real world.
Coyote and Ground Squirrel do not break the compact they have with each other that one must play predator and the other play game. In the wild a baby Black-tailed Hare gets maybe one free chance to run across a meadow without looking up. There won’t be a second. The sharper the knife, the cleaner the line of the carving. We can appreciate the elegance of the forces that shape life and the world, that have shaped every line of our bodies—teeth and nails, nipples and eyebrows. We also see that we must try to live without causing unnecessary harm, not just to fellow humans but to all beings. We must try not to be stingy, or to exploit others. There will be enough pain in the world as it is.
Such are the lessons of the wild. The school where these lessons can be learned, the realms of caribou and elk, elephant and rhinoceros, orca and walrus, are shrinking day by day. Creatures who have traveled with us through the ages are now apparently doomed, as their habitat—and the old, old habitat of humans—falls before the slow-motion explosion of expanding world economies. If the lad or lass is among us who knows where the secret heart of this Growth-Monster is hidden, let them please tell us where to shoot the arrow that will slow it down. And if the secret heart stays secret and our work is made no easier, I for one will keep working for wildness day by day.
"Wild and free.’ An American dream-phrase loosing images: a long-maned stallion racing across the grasslands, a V of Canada Geese high and honking, a squirrel chattering and leaping limb to limb overhead in an oak. It also sounds like an ad for a Harley-Davidson. Both words, profoundly political and sensitive as they are, have become consumer baubles. I hope to investigate the meaning of wild and how it connects with free and what one would want to do with these meanings. To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are—painful, impermanent, open, imperfect—and then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us. For in a fixed universe there would be no freedom. With that freedom we improve the campsite, teach children, oust tyrants. The world is nature, and in the long run inevitably wild, because the wild, as the process and essence of nature, is also an ordering of impermanence.
1 cup/ 200g red lentils 6 cups cold water 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 2 teaspoons salt 1-2 dried red chillies ½ teaspoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon coriander seeds ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds ½ teaspoon black peppercorns 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, chopped 1 can tinned tomatoes 1teaspoon black mustard seeds 1 fresh red chilli, sliced 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves ¼ cup coconut milk 1 cup cashew nuts, toasted salt freshly ground pepper
Place the lentils in a large pot with water, turmeric, salt and bring to simmer. In the meanwhile heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, break the dried chillies into pieces and add to the pan with the coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns. Toast for 20 seconds, shaking constantly. Remove and place in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, then grind to a powder. Return the pan to the heat, then add two tablespoons of the vegetable oil, the onion and garlic, and cook gently for 7-10 minutes, until softened. Add the spice mixture, onions and tinned tomatoes to the lentils and bring to a simmer. Skim off and discard any scum, then cook for one hour over a very low heat, stirring from time to time. Before serving, heat a frying pan until very hot and add the remaining vegetable oil. When the oil is smoking, add the mustard seeds, fresh chilli then quickly remove from the heat. Remove any last residue of scum from the soup, then transfer it to a blender in batches and process until smooth. Return it to the pan to heat through and add the tempered spices and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or pepper as needed. Divide between serving bowls top with a little coconut milk, toasted cashews, more fresh cilantro and serve immediately.