The gap between you gives you the feeling of a firewall. You wonder: is it is for him or is it for me? As your eyes drift from the room to the Roshi himself, you find your gaze locked with his; forcing your mind inward upon itself. As you feel the memories flooding into your consciousness you sense another presence. You shrug off the sense of exhibitionism. Fine. Let him see.
You find yourself watching yourself recollecting your mother. You see yourself staring directly at you, eyes wide. You can see the images of her playing through your mind; like the drive in movie theatre's you'd read about. You realize that you are seeing yourself now from the Roshi's perspective. As your mouth opens into an "o" of surprise, your perspective is back in its place and you see the images of her you've treasured since you were seperated.
With that thought you find yourself remembering the last day you saw her. She was crying and clinging to your father who was also upset.
"Darling, I wish that it was my destiny to raise you. You have been selected for a special life. Your new parents will give you a better life then we ever could."
By the last words her voice was choked. You cried as the solemn priest walked you away.
Your mother was right, the church had given you an extraordinary childhood. You knew that in an age of spiritual malnourishment, you were fed with duck la orange.
Each day you woke up and with the other students gave to the Lord. It was said that he was once human like you before he transended. Six bowls of water and an hours worth if meditations were offered each day at dusk and dawn. During the day you were trained in literature, mathematics, art, philosophy, the social and physical sciences, and of course religion. The religion and mathematics were your favorites. Your teacher had smiled when after he asked you about your fascination with mathematics you told him that religion and mathematics were really rather similar. When he asked how they were similar, you told him that both were tools employed by man to solve problems and that both of their underlying principles were represented in different layers of abstractions. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you were trained by the priests or the special tutors that were brought in. On Tuesdays and Thursdays you were allowed to spend your time in the extensive libraries researching your own interests. You remember Amanda's amusement when you became fascinated with the beatnik sub culture of the fifties and sixties. "You envision yourself enlightening the masses while a skinny guy wearing shades plucks a mellow bass line." She accused you with a broad smile on your face. Amanda knew you too well.
On Saturdays, you were taken from the temple to visit wherever you were interested in. Each time you went out with the priests you were given a card entitling you to a new identity. You often wondered whose job it was to make up new names for you.
Sundays were special. After your morning offerings you were left alone to prepare yourself as you saw fit for the evening sasen session with Grandfather. Most often you simple sat in the lotus position and detached your mind from the surroundings. With your back straight and eyelids half open you entered into a state of emptiness. The Mahayana taught that this state of emptiness is the nature of ultimate reality and that understanding this was an important step in enlightenment. Whether or not this was true you were uncertain, but you did know that there was something profound in the emptiness you created. Other times instead of somber quietness you focused your mind on philosophical questions or koans and raced your mind through the extensive tree of possibilities.
After the evening offering you met with the man you called Grandfather although you knew he wasn't. You remember the curiousity and later amusement in his eyes when you called him Grandfather the first time. "And why do you call me that?"
"Because the priests that take care of me call you Father."
Grandfather would ask you what you had studied that week and then ask you questions or riddles sometimes relating to your studies, sometimes not. When your answer satisfied him, his smile was all the riches you desired and when it did not, the masked disappointment was shattering.
The special teachers that were brought in had curious titles that you became familiar with: llama, cardinal, rabbi...
[You question Grandfather about the discrepancies in what your different teachers have told you. Grandfather says each of them is offering you a perl - you must find it.]
You remember the Sunday almost a year ago that changed again the course of your life. You were in the middle of a Qi Kung excercise called the dragon drill. As your hands, pressed together in the form of a prayer, descend and separate in front of your abdomen completing the spreading the wings for a bath of sunshine, Grandfather entered the room.
"Do you remember how Prince Gautama achieved enlightenment?"
"After he witnessed old age, disease , and death during his ride through the city, he became aware of human suffering. He gave up his worldy possessions and wandered around with only a begging bowl and a robe. He practiced assceticism and visited many wise men in his quest to end samsara. He practiced their techniques and listened to their learnings but they were insufficient. One day he said underneath the Bodhi tree and meditated. By the end of the third watch he had achieved understanding of the cycle of samsara and understood how to escape it."
"Excellent. Prince Gautama quested for a long time before he became a perfectly enlightened being. He was well prepared when he sat underneath the tree and achieved insight into the ultimate nature of things. Imagine the difference if this enlightenment was thrust unto one who was unspecting and unprepared."
An expression of horror and bewilderment creeped into your lips as your eyebrow raised a question mark.
"We do not know who he is; we only know that he is called the Roshi by those who have met him. It is time for you to repay your debt." He put an object in your hand as he clasped it with his own. With a swirl of his robes he exited the room. When you opened your hands you felt a powerful sensation sweep down your spine. The intricately wrought starfish still hangs from your neck.
Large plastic animals circle around your head swinging back and forth as the motor turns the carousel while playing the [toy box]. You recognize the animals from one of the childhood images you can still bring to mind. Two people are talking in the backgroundl one of the voices is somehow familiar. You concentrate on the familiar voice until you realize who it is: Grandfather!
"People are spiritually charged. Religion is the business of feeding spirituality to the masses. In terms of economics, the demand is down and we must rediscover what our market wants. We need your child to help rediscover our spiritual roots. Your child may be a Chirstopher Columbus. The world has changed; it is time for us to change as well. The children of this project may serve to be our teachers."
As your mind refocuses itself upon your immediate situation you realize the Roshi is smiling about you.
"You apparently have me at a disadvantage now. You know of my past, but yours is still a mystery to me. It is said you achieved enlightenment through a freak accident of science. I've heard vague rumours of government research, genetics engineering experiments, and elvis abduction stories but find it difficult to decide which were the possibilities and which could be true. "
"You are looking at an empty shell. Emptiness is a dynamic state without past, present, or future."
You recognize this from your trainings. Anitya and anatman: the Budddhist doctrines of impermanence and no-self. You bow your head and reply, "I seek to acknowledge my emptiness. I withdraw the question, your path vanished behind every footstep. Teach me the Dharmas you have learned."
"Come here." he replies. As you slowly rise and approach the table, you reflect upon the voice. It carried the firm ring of authority speckled by age and a faint sound which could only be described as a metallic afteringing.
"Touch me." Almost a hiss.
You reach out gingerly towards his shoulder. As your fingers approach his flesh you are surprised to feel no sensation of contact. You press your hand against his shoulder firmly and gasp as it passes through.
"Your vision is clouded until you remove the blindfold your prejudgments have placed on your knowledge."
You turn and see him sitting in the lotus position in the far corner. "In one of my meetings with Grandfather as a child, he gave me a piece of chocolate and told me tell him about the nature of the chocolate bar. I looked at it carefully and told him it was brown and solid. He told me to take a bite. I did then told him that the nature of a chocolate bar was sweetnes. He smiled at me and dismissed me. The next day I came cown with a flu. I was suprised when he visited me again. He held in his hand another chocolate bar. He told me to try it and I did. I screwed up my face and told him it was like soap. He laughed and said, "Yesterday you told me the chocolate bar's nature is sweetness. Now you have told me it is soapiness. Why don't you make up your mind?" It was then that I realized that the chocolate was neither sweet nor soapy; it was neither brown nor solid. All of my perceptions are dependent on me. Later I realized that not only had I thought I knew about the inherent properties of chocolate bars, but also about moral laws. I learned that the source of moral law was not from some absolute immutable external force but is self legislated by humanity as a whole."
"Good. You have potential. You speak wisely but your speaking and doing are not in harmony. Your cognitive structures form the channel through which you force ultimate truths. You must become the ultimate architect, destroyer, and builder." He holds up a lotus flower in front of you. "What do you see?"
You reel from the shock as you see the flower as truly alive. As you stare at the petals you become acquaintaed withh the autotrophic generator pumping energy through the plant. The intensitive of the experience reminds you of the LSD trip you went on with your classmates at the institute. You were given a choice of where to spend your time. Some of your friends chose to go to the gardens. You opted for the private gallery; stocked with a myriad of prints and originals of beautiful, inspiring art. Placed in front of a painting you were told to appreciate in its delights.
[Insert appreciation of a piece of cool art.]
You aren't sure whether it was this memory or the sight of the flower itself which is now disturbing you more. Now the flower is mutating rapidly into other different flowers. No they aren't different flowers, they are the same flower. The flower is beautiful; now ugly; it is something to look upon with aesthetic appreciation; it is food; it is; I am.
[Knowledge gained in Giger-esqeue merging?]
You begin to truly realize the extent of what he has achieved. The Dharmas has has learned come umbidden into your mind: suffering is rooted in a desire of the phenomenal world. You feel something deep within begin to detatch itself from your body. You close your eyes and prepare to no longer be chained down staring at shadows. As you realize you are about to enter nirvana, you feel a tug anchoring you to your body. You quickly isolate its origin; it is your womb. "Architecht, builder, and destroyer." Now you know that you can apply that to more than your cognitive structures. Any impediments to enlightenment must be transcended. As you focus your will to to your center, a spark jolts up your spine. As your back arches you feel your perception wrenched from your eyes.
You see a young woman you recognize now as your mother on a white table surrounded by a doctor and a pair of nurses. She clutches to the rails on either side of her and a moan escapes her lips. What's wrong with her? You want to reach out and comfort her, but you are aware of the futility.
"Push" The intermixture of compassion and command in the doctor's voice is almost inspiring.
Her face contorted in an expression of intense concetrated and agony.
A piercing wale pierces the chaos of the delivery room. There is a moment of silence as everyone leans forward to examine the child.
The now familiar wrenching sensation you begin to experience indicates that the roller coaster you are riding is not finished with you yet.
Gruff moans frenzying into screams. Pelvis grinding away at pelvis -- feeling the bones tearing away at each other like tectonic plates embroiled in some sort of undulating battle. The husky breathing grows in pitch and the last sense of control begins to slide away. Screams and beads of perspiration mirrored underneath flood of endorphins. Head dunking into ice cold water but the shock sends heat waves. Whole world fades out of existence as you experience natural high synergism. After what seems like forever, the urgent need dies and the world eases back into almost focus. Exhaustion.
Why have you just had a vision of birth and sex? Is the causal connection between them what is -- before you complete the thought you feel yet again yourself pulled into a vision.
Your friend Amanda sits against a tree. In front of her is a group of people dressed solemenly. Grandfather is dressed in his ceremonial robes and is speaking to the crowd. As your consciousness moves itself closer to him, you are not surprised to find out it is a liturgy; your liturgy. He is telling the crowd how you were a martyr who sacrificed her life for the advancement of the church. Your devotion should be inspiration to every one of them. As he spoke you noticed one of the priests walk up to Amanda. You replay the vision and shift your neo-spatial location within it.
"Why aren't you participating in the ceremony?" the priest asked Amanda sternly.
"I am."Amanda looked up from the beetle shell upon which she was painting a miniature scene in watercolors. "I believe in birth, copulation and death," she answered. "Although copulation empodies the other two, and death is only a form of borning. At any rate, I was born nineteen years ago. Some day I shall die. Today, I think I'll copulate." And indeed she did.1
You no longer wish to follow the Roshi. You remember how Prince Gautama sent the Wheel of Dharma in motion. The wheel had come full turn once more; and you recognized the impermanence of his own dharmas.
You remember Grandfather lecturing you: "Enlightenment is the peak of a great mountain. To reach it, one must struggle up the slopes occasionally slipping. When someone manages to reach the top, others often try and follow their path upwards not realizing that they will never be able to match footsteps. There is not one true path up the mountain. " Yes, Grandfather, but there is not even one true mountain.
"No longer will I seek abstraction from this world around me. I am an extension of it; adding my perfection to its/my/our whole. Birth: the stars are born. Copulation: they collide into each other releasing massive bursts of energy. Death: the explosion is glorious then fades away into emptiness. The cycle repeats. "
As you focus on your own internal landscape, you realize the structures are no more. You look around and see with the eyes of omniscience; not because you see the objective truth; but because you see the infinite subjective truths. "[INSERT NEW DOGMA!!!!]" This is your Dharma and you love it accordingly.
As you rexamine your relationship with the sentient beings that inhabit this earth, you are filled with an overwhelming sense of compassion. Your insight into the realm of ultimate meaning has transformed your experience of the now. You feel a deep yearning to preach the Dharma to the masses; to liberate them from the shackles of samsara, but you realize that enlightenment must be something that one discovers for oneself. Following a preordained path can help your hiking but it won't teach you how to climb. No, you will let the arhats find you; they will know how.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay I n leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.2