Here I am on the stage, putting on such a good show.
What's that, I ask?
Someone in the audience tells me I'm not me, that there's a projector back there, back behind the audience. I look out into the darkness, but all I see are shadowy figures. I'm curious, how to see this projector? Can you show me the way? Oh not me, says the man, but I might know someone who can.
How strange! I suddenly realize that I'm on a platform and this platform is made of wood. There's this thing called screen behind me, what some have alluded to as a tabula rasa.
I didn't realize that this stage was built up, that this ego trip I'm on means I've elevated myself higher than others. Don't worry, assures my new friend, every person is playing the same game, each thinking we are on the stage.
Whose in the audience then? I asked.
Everyone else, everyone but you, was the reply.
Just to get down is going to be difficult, there are these things called stairs. Everything seems so scary suddenly and I realize that I am afraid of... everything. Going out into this darkness to find something called projector or mind, seems too good to be true, rather silly even.
Yes that's what everyone says and thinks, says dear friend. But you will never be free if you stay there, you will always be a slave to mind.
Mind! I think aloud. I think I know what it is, but how to be sure?
I'm not able to go down these stairs by myself. I need some help to descend, someone to hold my hand to lead me a little ways.
It takes some time, I see, how long I don't know.
But I manage to make it down, thanks to someone who has chosen to stay behind, to help others to lead the way back to self, to consciousness.
Consciousness?! I exclaim. What's that? I thought we were on a quest for mind?
There is something beyond the projector, dear friend confesses to me. It is called consciousness, the being that is you...and then, something more, something beyond. Something called the collective consciousness, the you that is me and the me that is you. No division or separation exists.
But I don't understand, I say. I feel sort of frustrated, a bit angry and sad, almost confused, and all at the same time.
The man is silent but I hear words on the wind...I know...
Now that I've taken some baby steps down from the podium of what I thought was my life, looking at the stage my whole perspective has shifted, like a kaleidoscope turned one too many times.
I feel such a relief to have this new view, but such pain that I thought that this person on the stage was me. I look out into the darkness that lies ahead and the man says to me, you must go this path alone. I'll be here to guide you, but each must walk the way as it is shown. It is as unique to each as each is unique.
I feel this well of sadness in me. I look back at the stage, at the path I travelled so far, and I know that I can't go back. I can't climb those stairs to once again take to the stage in ignorant bliss. Before I was a false pretender in complete and utter unknowingness and now, now I've gained a little distance, a little more understanding.
The path looms dark and frightening. But it seems there are some bright spots ahead.
My friend elbows me and says that even though I am no longer on the stage, the projector is still projecting, only now the screen has changed and I am hovering on a spot in the theatre close to the stairs.
Now I am in the theater of the mind? I ask incredulously, yet really, I don't understand.
There will be many glimpses ahead, my friend confides in me.
And now it is time to go.
It would seem that there's a long uphill path leading to the place where the projector is located.
Who runs the projector? I ask? Maybe that person can shut it off.
All have failed in that attempt, sage tells me. There is no such thing as a peaceful or quiet mind, it is a program that runs on its own. And you, you are to be only a witness to it all. It is in the witnessing that the mind will drop and so many faces will come to pass. Remember that you are not any of these experiences, not one of these guests, but something beyond.
The consciousness, I breathe under my breath, but I have no clue as to what that means.
Gather your courage for you will need it, says my friend sage. One day you will have enough to make the jump. But until then, follow the path and always remember this: when you are tired, rest. When you are hungry, eat. When you are thirsty, drink. And when you have energy, go. All else is inconsequential. Nothing that you see on the path is yours, nothing that you experience can be taken with you.
My friend suddenly seemed to vanish into thin air before I could ask any other questions. Another mind trick? Another projection of the mind?
I seemed so ill equipped for this kind of journey, oh where had I gotten to now? And where was this here? And who was this voice that continued to prattle on in the head?
I took a few steps forward. Oh dear. There seemed to be so many hecklers in the audience, so many wearing such fake, plastic masks.
I put my hands to touch my face and realized that I too was wearing a painted mask. Tears welled in my eyes at the realization. This journey, I knew, would mean the death of me.
But I had to pursue on, don't you see? Amidst the cruelty, the anger, the rage, the jealousy, the possessiveness, the sadness that haunted me like a shadow and the misery that seemed tainted in my every action. Happy and joyous moments were few and in between, but was I this happiness, this joy?
I felt the reachings of the beyond, this beckoning that had no name. It was drawing me every closer, pulling on translucent heartstrings, rythming in its every pulsation, breathing spellbinding links in everything it saw.
I saw the ego that lusted after power, the me that I am, that craved the attention of recognition, bow down before me now. The ego that said oh yes I am so spiritual, so all powerful, look at me, look at me! The ego that was forever recreating itself, whose sole purpose was its existence, itself. The false illusion of itSELF.
Suddenly I felt I was a haunting, a shadow of the buddha. Oh buddha, come and be my shadow. You can haunt me any day.
To be haunted by buddha is like a curse, a blessing, some say, in disguise. It is reminiscent of the word bitter-sweet, now the life so sweet with rain, now so bitter with acid tears.
Travelling this path of a thousand and one souls, I have to tell you, means facing a thousand and one dark nights of the soul. You think there is just this one tunnel, this one wormhole, with a thousand and one twists and turns. But each tunnel is a black hole, and you have to die a thousand and one deaths before you emerge into the light once again.
It comes to the point where you're about half way on this path and you look behind you and see your house is on fire. The stage is ablaze in glory but you dare not go back. The old way is burnt and the path before you looms on and on.
You feel so weary, so tired. So you rest. You listen to friendly sage, that wise master who whispered zen is the only way, and zen is no way at all.
It seems you've up and got a new house going on this bridge, a new comfortable rhythm going---still playing the old games, I see, still fingering your wounds and finding comfort in the old patterns.
One day you just get so fed up of it all and run to the edge. You see, by now you've been able to walk the way to that projector room, saw the empty room, the projector reposing there, projecting on the screen of black wall a-head.
Oh that master, how he lied. You feel so grateful to him for his teachings and blessings, but you've now come to a new realization: this whole theatre is a prison called mind. Now here you are, in this projector room, watching projector play on. On and on it goes, so many thoughts, so many images and emotions flash before mind, but how to turn this darn thing off?
You feel no more advanced and in utter frustration you run to the edge of nowhere and look into the black abyss beyond. Another mind trick perhaps, another black night of the soul? You feel a comfort somehow, like you know everything would be fine if you just jumped and then you think perhaps I have already jumped and I am just falling and falling...
And you hang your head in defeat, because you don't have the courage to jump. You feel a gathering, and in your nightly meditation, in the comfort by the fire in that small hut on the middle of the bridge, you sense a timing of all things to come and pass. The same desires pass before your mind, the same patterns, the same broken record.
Buddha now haunts. So much more distance has come to pass, so much silence where nothing exists.
Identity of the ego and its myriad clever and subtle ways waxes and wanes. Desires come, desires go. The fire test with the Other remains; the Other is hell. One loves and one hates, the duality of yin and yang continue to play out in all aspects of life. But really, how to get off this samsara of life? Is one really inching closer to the center? How often one feels that one never left the periphery, despite the work and efforts accomplished.
To what accomplishment is this effect? Ah, but no effect it is, nothing is to be gained, for nothing was ever lost. Ego just a creation...do you see it? What do i see?
I poke the fire to kindle the flames. I'm on a new path, you see, a path to find the master. Where has sage gone? Gone like the whisperings in the wind, never born and never died.
He is me and i am him.
Do you know this master, the host that eludes every guest I've met?
There are so many shadows in this prisoner of mind.
Aloneness looms both dark and bright on the horizon, promising nothing and everything.
I take up my stick and jump into the beyond.