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Alpha walks into the meeting wearing a younger body. The day before it belonged to a member of Rose's audience. After making the jump to the new body just after being hit, Alpha was able to walk right out of the theater unsuspected while everyone was surrounding his old body still bleeding on the floor.
Roy is present, sorrowful, and being held on a tight mental tether. Marie doesn't take betrayal lightly. She's not so pissed off that Roy fell for another woman, he was always weak and horny and has cheated on her before. What gets to her is that, through the use of Gyre's powers, she can see that the love he feels for Rose is unlike anything he ever felt for her when they were together.
Looking more closely, she can see his love extends beyond Rose, beyond space, and beyond time. She sees that Roy has felt the ecstasy of merging with a non-human power and this infuriates her. After he loved a goddess, Marie knows she will never be enough for Roy - even thought she’d never take him back anyway.
Marie is able to lash Roy without moving a muscle by activating the pain centers in his brain. It hurts him just as much as leather would. Falling into delirium, Roy's mind drifts back to when they lived together and the way he used to beat Marie. Before passing out he hears his own voice tell her, "You're no better than me."
Can two stories be braided together without one leaving a trace on the other? You could say two entities are interlocked like figure and ground but who is the positive and who is the negative? In a world where simply breathing, eating, scratching, cleaning ourselves, making shelter, staying warm, all the basics of survival can cause harm to other living things, who has a faultless existence? What distinguishes the necessities of living from the excess of causing harm?
Seeing separate sides means ignoring the whole. The parts are always mixed because they were never not part of the same thing. To find fault in something requires rules and a mind willing to judge that a rule has been broken, meanwhile sentient creatures eating one another just exist. Only in each moment can change take place, our intention makes the difference.
Rose sits calmly, attention on her breath, less and less distracted, thoughts settled, contentment growing, connected to source. In this timeless meditative space the importance of her recent drama diminishes. She knows the infinite in which everything resides won't be altered by human interactions. No matter how dark the hurricane, the clouds don't change the sun. Rose reflects on her previous life, surviving in the school, training, growing strong, and resolves in her heart to continue giving her performances. Even if they attack again and kill her, she is not afraid of dying and returning. Her thinking mind, still unconvinced and anxious, begs her for a reason - and that reason falls like rain: for the benefit of others.
The Dragon awakens.
Maybe you'd like to hear more war stories. TNAP vs OGP, Rose vs Marie, one battle after another, rival strategies, each side trying to gain an edge. On and on like a Netflix series. But if anything this story is about perspective, from fine focus to universal vision, and we never stay at one setting for too long.
The war rages for the next few months, background noise now. Rather than one side gaining an advantage, the struggle becomes a dance. Each side needs the other to justify its existence, to give it purpose, to know that it is alive. Everyone is working to destroy the other and yet is terrified to see the other be destroyed.
The constant push and counter-push give birth to the Dragon, a spectrum of forces in dynamic equilibrium.
The adversarial alliance between TNAP and OGP dominates the media. Every broadcaster and podcaster has an opinion to share. Sides are passionately argued in bars and on social media. Each group rallies their followers against the other side, securing their loyalty, and raising lots of money in the process. With all the donations pouring in, volunteers lining up to help their cause, and online venues selling must-have merch, both camps are making a good living off this struggle.
The Headmaster throws his head back and laughs, watches the self-sustaining, mobius-like flow, and allows his minions to continue wreaking havoc despite casualties because he feeds without effort on the prana that this positive feedback loop emits. Life is easy for the Headmaster but how is the support and perpetuation of anti-dharma acceptable to Her?
We learn here that Her perspective is more encompassing. Her highest value is creativity. Construction and destruction are equally creative. For everything made, something is destroyed and for whatever is destroyed, something comes into being. Dynamic equilibrium is a naturally emergent form sacred to Her.
The danger, the battle, the anger, the pain, the desire, the triumph, the adrenaline, the schadenfreude, the glee, all the isolated and labeled moments remain in order, move like gears in the mind, give rise to conditions, cause contraction and expansion, and give substance to the self.
As W sits contemplating the struggles, a word from Her, "Don't get focused on the inevitable fluctuations. Rest in the awareness that illuminates the fight."
The Dragon thrives.
From a meta-perspective, the daily struggle of life on Earth is not dramatic. Plants grow, blood flows, and wind blows. Living things come and go but the cycle of life persists.
The Dragon is this churn of life. Like a human body whose cells are continually being replaced, the body of the Dragon is entirely replenished over time; yet something doesn't seem to go away. Humans retain a sense of self as they age, believing the person they are at 8 is the same person they are at 58 or 88. The Dragon retains a sense of persistent universal consciousness, believing the awareness present in one living thing is the same awareness in all living things.
When members of The North American Project (TNAP) and the Old Guard Patternists (OGP) collide, their struggle, becoming the center of the universe, starts to define both groups and obscures their original missions. The issues at stake in the conflict are heightened by social media, argued in the press, and felt deeply in the population. Spiteful disagreements amongst large groups of people distort the fabric of society and drag everyone down. This gravity well of fear and desire is the lair of the Dragon.
Outside of W is Her,
outside of Her is the Dragon,
outside of the Dragon is the text of the story,
outside of the text of the story is the image of the author,
outside of the image of the author is the self,
outside of the self is delusion,
outside of delusion is no self,
outside of no self is consciousness,
outside of consciousness is no is.
One overwhelmed by surprise and novelty,
learning more in a minute
than in a lifetime of meditation,
and the other absorbed in the minutiae,
losing focus to gain feeling,
both now learning to balance
peripheral awareness and attention,
the arcane and the mundane connect.
The first step is
all levels of scale,
all angles considered,
all objects, dialog,
and plot points,
The first step is
born in each moment.
in every decision, cell division,
supernova, grimace, snowflake,
keystroke, and passing thought,
cultivates tolerance to change.
The first step is
seeing the suffering
in our character's lives,
seeing further how
the desire that controls
their actions causes the pain,
and in the same moment
revealing a larger perspective.
The first step is
right point of view.
telling story, after story, after story,
about animals living on a rock in space
Dropping the veil
Right View is the first step on the Noble Eightfold Path.
Let's check in on each of our character's views:
W's view encompasses suffering and the end of suffering,
Gyre sees the world as pathways and nodes to travel,
Alpha operates without compassion, feeding on instinct
Marie grabs power to get revenge for being abused,
The Headmaster gifts are only used for immediate personal gain,
Roy is broken open and only thinks about love and devotion,
Rose is a bodhisattva and will not be free until all beings are free,
No one can fathom Her view because she is the view.
From the perspective of being in a body, right view is survival. The long game of survival is not killing but cooperation.
From the perspective of being more than a body, right view is awakening. The long game of awakening is not being in the picture but seeing the frame.
Second step: right action, right intention, right resolve.
Creations are marked with the intentions of the creator - some intentions known, some unknown, and some discovered in the process.
The intention of TNAP (The North American Project) is to appear on Earth and raise the collective awareness at a moment in time when ignorance has become lethal to life. Resolved to wake up individuals and show them that positive environmental, social, and political changes are not only possible but necessary, TNAP will take action for the systems that can't speak for themselves.
OGP (Old Guard Patternists) arise spontaneously out of greed, disenfranchisement, and hunger for power. Never having anything more than instinctual intentions, the goals of their actions center around immediate personal gains.
Global populations are too large, resources are too scarce, and communications are too immediate to keep these two forces apart. One force with noble intentions meets another only out for itself. One force that is resolved to restore flow to the system confronts an other that doesn't see flow and will blindly take from whatever gives satisfaction.
The result of open awareness meeting uncontrolled attention is suffering.
Despite all Rose's efforts to counter their influence, the OGP is still growing more powerful.
Finally a breakthrough. Rose has a vision, seeing herself trying to force a flower to open but killing it in the process. Kindness can't be rushed. Her new aspiration: cultivate the soil, provide water, be patient, and mostly be unattached to the outcome - if the conditions are right, the flower will bloom.
It takes effort, patience, and discipline but Rose's intentions become her practice. TNAP grows in an unexpected way.
The key is giving the right speech, one filled with kindness and truth; only speaking when what she has to say is beneficial to others. When original TNAP travelers hear her words they wake up, remember, and gather.
Like flowers in the spring, one bud blooms and suddenly everything is open and cross pollinating. Rose speaks clearly and an army gathers. Emboldened by her speech, they begin to speak out, too.
Not in one grand gesture, one hot new thing, surges of mob violence, a lone gunman, a revolution, headline news, terrorist action; not in the talk show circuit, the book tour, instagram sensations, YouTube stars, gregarious, charming, persuasive, loaded with followers; not down a click funnel, fundraiser target reached, recurring contribution, or money for the PAC, but from simple associations, casual supportive remarks, a growing array of individuals, ones who listen, abhor runaway desire, think critically, with no intent to harm with words, focused on solutions to the problems at hand, speaking truth to each other, does a dharmic resistance grow.
New blood courses through TNAP. Rose and W can only watch and wonder. From all over the country, people are responding to the visions Rose shares. Inspired individuals are spontaneously taking up the cause, organizing rallies, meetings, websites, social media groups, trending hashtags, rising search stats, gathering gobs of followers, likers, and subscribers.
So enthusiastic to break OGP control and chase away the demons of the old egocentric, power hungry ways of life, woke mobs are willing to face real demons like Gyre and Alpha (who they haven't met yet). Claiming the movement for themselves by rebranding TNAP as The New American Pattern, the energized groundswell of distributed activists are using their networked influence to normalize tolerance, equality, and earthcare as everyday expectations.
"People fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and then it turns out not to be what they meant, and other people have to fight for what they meant under another name."
-in "A Dream of John Ball" by William Morris, a novel about The Great Revolt of 1381. Quote found via "Empire" by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Rose sits quietly amidst turbulence and contemplates her next step. She thinks about the consequences of her performances and how many minds were opened to dharma. What are the actions she should take moving forward that will benefit the most and harm the least?
When she teaches awakening, she wants her students to mature, become responsible for their thoughts and actions, be the adults guiding society, act with others as a collective to optimize the human systems operating in the world, and be grown up enough to function in such a group.
When Her teachings are misunderstood, students become goal oriented; romanticizing enlightenment, desiring accolades, imagining bliss, and coveting the legendary powers.
When Rose can't continue, the responsibility falls to those who have attained maturity take up Her cause. They keep the TNAP acronym but are careful not to use the word dharma. Instead they turn to scientific reason and point out with impeccable logic why more people waking the fuck up is a good way to preserve human life and lessen suffering.
Like a fish out of water, Roy flip-flops between right action and wrong action; mind filled with unethical obligations, heart filled with love. The demon Alpha so deep in his system, on the hook to Marie, his pride curled into a fearful ball, far distant from the eightfold path, Roy swims with the sharks and hopes to stay alive.
To escape his predicament he must paddle upstream. Roy longs to be near Rose, to praise Her, wanting to leave behind coercion for liberation, to break free from old school thuggery and welcome generosity, but instead he stays wishy-washy, buried in self-imposed limits, and stuck in habits he is unwilling to break.
What kind of fish do you find at the top of the Himalayas?
Rose resumes her performances but now the audience is all online. Thousands of screens, millions of views, all attracted to her living connection. She knows spreading dharma is the right livelihood for Her, what she was meant to do.
Going global, this mesh of interconnected nodes brings TNAP network above and outside the influence of the OGP.
This is their chance.
Life must be
creative to exist.
lifespan of the sun,
I write every day
To discover what
I have to say.
enters the calm,
only lasts a short time,
and is not the observer.
Following all the right steps culminates in the right state of mind.
Reaching the end of the path doesn't mean the end.
It only means you've arrived at the beginning again.
W and Rose see TNAP awaken, release the project to younger,
more energetic minds, and restart their journey wiser.
That timeless moment
waiting to renew
Outside of a story,
no constant narration
plays on an inside loop
But voices return
as stress amplifies,
narrative debts to be paid
Who are the characters
inhabiting the adventure?
What are they made of?
Threads of ideas?
A bouquet of thoughts
making up a self
The world is a simulation - dreamed up out of sensory input, imagination, and memories.
For her new performances online, Rose streams visuals and sounds to each participant's VR rig while merging with their thoughts. She leads the willing pilgrims through idyllic landscapes and over snow capped mountains. Long days pass in minutes, upstream they go toward the source, spiritual travelers still safe at home, lying on chaise lounges, lazy-boys, and deck chairs.
Gathering, sharing, and seeking, the audience logs in for the next session and Rose does not disappoint. Their VR rigs have eyephones for visuals, earphones for audio, haptics for tactile feedback, various canisters to release tastes and smells inside a mask, and quantum transducers at the base of the skull to stimulate chemical secretions in the brain via the central nervous system. The rigs create such a realistic simulation that if Rose gives you life as a leaf on a tree, you'll swear you've learned to photosynthesize.
Rose's three goals for these sessions are: instilling empathy, dissolving individual boundaries, and creating such a deep bond with the fragility and majesty of ecological systems that an irrevocable love for all life spontaneously arises.
Rose begins the night gathering everyone into a nucleus of a cell of an apple tree seed. Each participant becomes a genome on a strand of DNA in the nucleus. The VR suits monitor vital signs, gestures, reactions, and brainwaves - feeding that information back into the simulation where it affects the development of the plant.
Their first activity is to figure out how to germinate.
The key to germination is waiting for the right conditions before allowing your boundaries to burst. New life is fully transforming.
As the DNA in the nucleus of the cell of the apple tree seed is duplicated, each participant follows in turn, taking up posts in the production of proteins, forming cell walls, and managing shared resources - doing individual jobs as one entity. As the cells further divide, so does attention, millions of cells form, finally overwhelming the humans.
Focus and the need for control surrender to an awareness that knows what it is to sense gravity, break through the soil, and reach for the light.