I have not gotten very far in the book because the first bit of NON-fiction information I’ve gotten about Tom Robbins is that he was born in 1932.
Wait a minute. 1932? Really? That makes him 82 years old! How can that BE?
So I’ve put his book down for a while. I’ll let that information settle and come back to it in a few days.
Meanwhile, here’s a great story I heard him tell a few years ago:
A Bodhisattva was starting on a journey to have an audience with the Buddha. As he began his journey he passed an aspirant who was sitting in meditation. This fellow was a particularly dedicated aspirant and, although he was sitting in the hot sun and also on an ant hill where the ants were nibbling away at his flesh, he concentrated and stayed in meditation.
When he noticed the Bodhisattva passing he called out to him, “Please ask the Buddha for me how many more lifetimes I have to do this before I reach enlightenment?” The Bodhisattva promised he would ask.
Another aspirant — a young man who was much less serious about his meditation discipline and, in fact, enjoyed music and dancing when he should have been in deep comtemplation — heard this exchange and called out to the Bodhisattva, “Hey please ask him for me, too.” The Bodhisattva promised he would.
A month later, returning from his pilgrimage, the Bodhisattva came upon the serious aspirant, still in meditation despite the fact that his skin was burned by the sun and painfully eaten by the ants. The monk said to him, “Well? What did the Buddha say?”
The said, “The Buddha says you have to live four more lifetimes before you reach enlightenment.”
The aspirant was terribly distraught by this news and broke down weeping.
The other monk, who was was listening to music and dancing instead of meditating, called out “And what about me? What did the Buddha say about me?”
The Bodhisattva looked at him for a moment and then said, “You see that tree over there? The Buddha said that, ‘as many leaves as are on that tree, that’s how many more lives you must live before you can reach enlightenment.’ ”
The dancing monk looked at the tree for a moment, smiled a big smile, and then said “That’s all? COOL!” And danced with renewed vigor and joy.
Then, at that moment, he reached enlightenment.