This poem was written after a spontaneous spiritual awakening that happened one morning in my college dorm room, when I was 18. At the time, my brother was getting quite into LaTeX, a math markup language. I thought of “TeX” as pure information, without the added layer of “font” aka conceptual thinking / stories. Later in my meditation journey, I’d come to name this quality as “Just This”-ness (or beginner’s mind, that zen is big into cultivating).
The Beauty of TeX I found the truth this morning The truth about the brain The neurons had aligned themselves And exploded all the same They showed me that there was no truth there Not in cells and lines Not in food and molecules Not in sands of time Three dimensions are so easy Backache, earthquake Teaspoons of this, you make a cake And I meet the man at a quarter to three under the olive tree But that’s the vital lie, that makes us jittery I don't know if it's kids or adults When it starts to kick, or if you come with it And life’s a struggle to unstick The lie that keeps you combing hair And brushing teeth and thinking “In a year, where will I be?” While pencils turn on the page From writers to mathematicians And people turn off the truth And turn on televisions Because the brain is a machine That lives in another place But we keep it here Mapped to scratches, aches Deadlines, pantomimes And worry and delusion I'm only just outside all this On the corner, but I see where it’s leading. And I bring it to you, beaming, loud and clear. Over the Beauty of TeX. Text without the visual attached, the tone of voice, just pure kernel of idea. And through TeX I bring you math which stirs an image in that place. And through TeX I bring you poetry, which does the same, but more ambiguously, but still just one thing at one time for one person, so perhaps it's as sure as math. But anyways, TeX is a candle, and around it's infinite darkness. So please, now that you've seen it, I'll put it out. And of course to keep this whole thing going we need our hair and teeth and paychecks and sense of security. But don't get too caught up in it, friend. The game of superglue mapping has claimed too many. I need to rush off now, and do some of it myself. But it's worth finding your way around the infinite no-place. Put the goldfish in the water and let it go. I don't know how many roads your brain has to take you from where you are now. But hopefully one will circle around the whole colossal thing. And it will see itself. And realize that it is free from this here world.