Being mixed as much as the feelings, different kinds of cars pulled into the parking lot from abjectly to excitedly on this slightly raining night. No one knew where to really go or what to do. Some sat in the car smoking a cigarette. Some texted, while talking to who they came with but not really talking. Most of the people were in their mid-twenties or early-thirties. Nighttime, especially wet nighttime, made everyone look much older too, along with the cell phone lights, or smiles barely squeaking out.
Quietly more cars pulled into the slanted lot, engines clicking, headlights dieing; and softer still some doors opened with a cushioned air sound. Braver people congregated outside the theatre’s clear doors. A plane flew across the sky; drops of water tapped empty macadam with whispers.
An advertisement in the paper asked if ‘you wanted to know the nature of being, the blanket truth of all existence, have every question answered, every facet of life and how to live discovered.’ Yet the ad retained enough obscurity that anyone too old ignored it, and anyone too young was frightened by it. But, if people actually showed up, the advertisement wanted them.
Now all these people were roped together outside. So unsure of themselves, none dare speak; even though a common factor had united them all, no one stepped outside of the circle they arrived with. These are the kinds of things the advertisement was going to clear away, to rush into their brains and change forever. It was going to cauterize behind their eyes and become a permanent point of reference for the rest of their lives. This will be the greatest day of their lives. It had all been waiting to be unveiled. That was The Director’s job.
He must have been laughing behind the dark glass doors of the theatre. To orchestrate the undercutting of a person’s entire reality and current idea of self, how could he not be? He opens the door. The lights inside the theatre come to life. A man in a track jacket and pair of jeans sheds light unto them; they did not understand it, and stare like some people would a tsunami, already feeling helpless. The advertisement would clear away all of that uncertainty and anxious trepidation too. The Director clears his throat, “welcome,” and smiles. No one says anything back.
He waves his hand toward the building, to welcome again. A young woman holding her purse and her apparent husband, without thinking much, just walk forward into the light. Then a few more, putting phones away, or looking awkwardly at each other, or holding breath, also do this. Now any fears sever, yielding to invisible clearance. People go in like sheep. They look around at the arcade machines, which are so threatening turned off. All the clowns with black eyes and mouths, animated designs, stuffed animals drowning in one another, look scary. The stands are closed. The lights behind the counter are off. They are standing under a single great light in this cavern. Regular attempts to fill the void of a building were cut. Everything is big and quiet and empty. “Strange how much things change once the guise gets cut away,” The Director announces to anyone listening, everyone is, “all the buildings become solemn gothic churches of dead toys and clowns. I think that really says something, don’t you? How much are we fooling ourselves? And what would we leave behind?”
This deep-voiced and widow-peaked director could be very animated. He swings his hands around when talking about the building. Love lay in his sad eyes like all sad eyes, but there lay a heart in them too. He inspects, really inspects with his eyes, each person in the lobby. Picking them apart piece by piece like a vulture, with his eyes, they feel naked. Each person does this one hundred times a day to a passer-by. Everyone now wants to leave, run from this man’s terrifyingly strong gaze. But attendees are strong enough to have arrived; it’s possible to save them from such idle trifles.
“Well, let’s get going,” echoes off the hollow, surreal room, after the last inspection. Inadvertently, the group quickly formed a line rather than a mass. No progress has been made yet. The Director mingles with those up front, asking where they were from, telling small stories, shooting the shit, chewing the fat. He makes them laugh. And motion-sensor lights up above light the path for them on the ruby carpet that they walked; feet scruffing carpet resounds like the trepid voices, or like the Director’s boom, or like the rain outside.
The oldest man there in boots and a flannel looks angry with his furry grey eyebrows; this was a waste of his valuable time he could’ve spent in front of the television. The Director just stops as if in the wake of some strange whisper; aghast, he says: “Woah! Woah! Stop!” The line did, looking around, at each other, at him. “You!,” he pointed at furry-brows; so furry-brows quick looks around then at the Director with an even more contemptuous scowl for being singled out. Both were about the same size, as track jacket lined up with flannel.
“Tell me, do you love God?” asks The Director
“What? Well, su…”
“Do you love yourself?”
“What is this bull…”
“You used to fall asleep on your mother’s stomach at night didn’t you? You slept inside your parent’s bed until you were in sixth grade, didn’t you? Yeah, I know your kind, momma’s boy. No old man shows up to something like this unless he’s got some messed up stuff going on in his head. What are you even doing here? Get the hell out,” rambles The Director.
And furry-brows turns around, says nothing. Everyone watches him do this. His boots scruff carpet, then click shiny marble. One of the clear glass doors slams as he fades into the cars of the parking lot, footsteps now silent. “Lesson one, had he loved himself or his mom, that wouldn’t have happened. If a pupil stands out, due to age for example, you challenge them,” The Director does a graceful one-eighty and everyone continues walking with their apparent teacher. A few people ask amongst themselves if this is a philosophy class and whether or not they need notebooks, half-joking. The Director speaks very brightly, soothingly. To him they are a sleepy kindergarten class, not a philosophy one. Each ticker above each door that would tell you what movie is playing here and when is turned off, just dark red.
The Director turns into a theater. This is not an angled theater, no several levels, just one slant. But bright effervescent machines have been attached to the first few rows of cushioned, fuzzy seats. Bright yellow wires run from them up into the projector room. The first of who enter stop and stare; and from behind people run into them; some in the way back push forward a little.
Up on the screen there hovers a giant black circle with a thick white line going around it against a tan background. Whilst, once again being needed, The Director chastised them for standing around with their thumbs up their asses. He asked, told, them all to sit calmly under a humming machine. He told them not to worry, there’s a warranty. Of course, nobody actually sat down. That same couple went forward again, her with her purse and he with her hand. Such bravery made The Director shine with life, “yes, yes, yes! Young man, young lady, what are your names?” Both of them, as sitting down, look at him and say “Steph and Chris.” The Director smiled, looked at everyone, “woah, here that? Her name first! Ha, I love this, love it. Yes, yes, sit everyone! It is perfectly free. I implore that you sit, your, asses, down! Haha!” Ass was The Director’s favorite curse word.
Again that invisible clearance works. A few more people sit down. Following suite, everyone does so. Sci-fi humming now over their heads, their eyes glue to The Director who walks to the front of the room paying no attention to the symbol above. That symbol from the advertisement would make sense soon enough. All things would become clear soon enough. The Director’s standing there; he raises his hands like a messiah. Machines strap in all participants like roller coasters. Helmets lower. Humming gets louder until they sound like jet engines. The Director gasps. And he speaks. And these are the words he said: “It is not how you act or what you say that is you. It is who you are talking to inside your own head that hears your thoughts, and who you think an act for, that is you! That which is hidden from all men is revealed unto babes! Now! Cast out your animal fears of pain and of darkness! Cast out your hate!” A black spiral drill bears into the back of the participant’s heads, cutting them to real life, all preconceptions flew away. “Nirvana!” is the last thing anyone hears from The Director. Because a blanket white light envelops everything. Many think they have died and begin to scream for it to stop. But some have known this feeling, and aren’t afraid. Eventually, they do not remember what they are screaming about or what screaming is. Then that whiteness becomes enveloped by darkness. Dark then broke in a light at the end of a long-tunnel. They understood it not but went to it. And the light at the end of the tunnel is them being born.
They are a screaming baby in the same hospital with the same parents looking much younger rediscovering what screaming is. We leave life, and come back to it, screaming our guts out. They see mom, see the doctor, see the room, feel the crying, feel the cold of the world, feel the gasping for breath and sweet taste of air.
Every person lives now for a few months in bliss as an infant. They cry hard when hungry, drinking from Mother and her salty milk. Each infant falls asleep in Dad’s hairy arms, looked at the toys hanging over the crib. Each day, each item, was brand new and shiny all the time. They realized how it was a miracle they woke up each morning. The entire day came at them. The baby never actually has to move. Each person experienced life, how great it feels to be in harmony with existence by having no fear and just being. At times, everything seemed wrong and out of order, and they cried for no real reason at all. But that just leads to the pleasure of seeing how it’s all perfect again. But most of the time, each person inside the baby crinkles hands and toes, because they are alive. Each person in the family locked locks eyes with them. And, as a baby, the people can see souls of their family members. They watched people play-act nice to one another, deciding to let those trifles for other people. They were simply being; and every moment was an epiphany. There was an endless void within that you could go deeper and deeper into, letting all of life into you. And this led them to find inner peace. Everyone’s little vacation ended at first steps. The whole universe moved with them in each uneasy lurch forward. Everything comes to you as you need it. Life hasn’t changed, they realize, I have changed. I am dead to life, but no more, no sir. No matter what it is, if it happens, it was what you needed. Because your life is perfect and all a part of things much bigger than you, so just relax and let it ride. Then the same blanket white comes back.
An asphyxiating darkness again took its place. One single beam of light broke into the dark. But now they didn’t need to understand the dark. Now they understand the light too. They all walk towards it alone, yet together. They were born inside the chair again now. Some people, with bright big eyes, look at The Director. He has those same bright eyes. And in each other they see eternities.
They asked the director if he was God. He said no. Some people cried and sniffled loudly. But the point was that they really felt themselves crying. And the bigger point was that they were crying at the beauty of it all. All borders on life had stopped. They felt everything around them in their chair, and could finally be at peace and let go. Everything still was perfect. Life had not changed since they were held in mother’s arms. They were still in the center of their own universe. It was beyond contentment. It was absolute bliss. “You have been saved!,” bellows the Director like the perfect song at the end of the perfect movie. But this movie kept going and never stopped and was the best quality possible. Someone began laughing. He laughed at his clothes and how stupid they looked. The man had been missing all of life all this time. How could people be such fools? Missing life making plans, fighting over nothing, ignoring a dying hobo. Everyone is awake now, though.
And life will flash by you if you do not know how to Love it and give it all of your attention. Alas, it’s the only thing you should give any attention to because it happens all the time and really, the only thing you have. Celebrate yourself, let your cup over run with Love and God and Truth. That symbol up on the screen immediately ‘clicked’ with everyone. Inside of it, you are. You are an infinite void underneath the skin, a great black hole of just perception. Whereas Life, the white line, consumes and fills you. The universe touches you as it touches some fish deep below.
“Now go, children of the Father and the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Spirit was the energy of life, the white line filling the void. They were now the children of the spirit, and children of the God, the Universe, who created all spirit. So betwixt the three of them they make a Holy Trinity. And three is a magic number. “Go, and be!” yells the Director again, his words no longer echoing in the superfluity of American architecture.
To which, straps on the chairs released them like the fiery phoenix being let out of its cage. They took flight. Chris and Steph began to make love right there at the Director’s feet; he laughed. They rediscovered one another’s skin and soft hair and breath. The two were never so fulfilled by just being alive with one another. Some people just ran their hands along the fuzziness of the seats over and over, giggling; astounded, it moved with their touch. Others just run up and down the hallway barefoot, feeling the Earth beneath them for what felt like the very first time, feeling the carpet and feeling each step. Some people sang, rhythm and music are wholly new. Three men find the janitor’s closet and play with the brooms like medieval weapons and wear buckets as helmets. A group of middle-aged women climb on the arcade machines, poking fun at the clowns, swinging their purses like lassos, with nice heels kicked off and laying askew the floor. The whole movie theater filled with life, no more tired emptiness. Steph, they can hear her from the theater. There is pitter-patter of bare feet on marble out by the door.
Rays from the sun started to crest a mountain in the distance. And the world begins to wake up. But that whole world combined, even with coffee, will never be as awake as these people were, right, now.
Self is everywhere, shining forth from all beings,
Vaster than vast, subtler than most subtle,
Unreachable, yet nearer than breath, than heartbeat.
Eye cannot see it, ear cannot hear it nor tounge
Utter it; only in deep absorption can the mind,
Grown pure and silent, merge with formless truth.
As soon as you find it, you are free; you have found yourself;
You have solved the great riddle; your heart is forever at peace.
Whole, you enter the Whole. Your personal self
Returns to its radiant, intimate, deathless source.
- Mandaka Unpanishad