“There is nothing to understand about the world beyond the senses,” the ascended dragon master in purple and green is saying. We’re gathered here in a cold and empty courtyard to celebrate the initiation of junior cult members. Their heads are shaved into desirable eggs, where ours are stubbly and rough. “The disciple who looks beyond himself, fools himself into believing in the sanity of the world.” Behind him, the chosen disciples await the masters’ blessings, nameless dispensations which elevate them to a new status, that of the heiromonk. They are wearing their junior disciples’ robes, mixed colors in tarnished shades, and a senior monk behind them is holding the dark red cassock which they shall soon inherit. “The world is no master, the self is the master.” Our leader strikes himself in the chest, repeating the last line for our benefit, “The self is the master.” Some chant along, others sway in an open-eyed imitation of trance.
The master pauses, modulating his tone to match the expression on the faces of the initiates. “The world of five senses, the endless pursuit of the sixth sense, these things are all madness brought on by human limitation. If you had senses like an ant, you would see taste, flavor, and smell as all the same thing; a chemical reaction brought on by the body’s interactions, pleasant or unpleasant.” Behind him, the ascended tiger master waves the incense canister slowly on its chain. We inhale together, breathing the fumes. The master’s words are chains on our bodies that we must break, bonds of light which we must forge in ourselves.
He is making eye contact with senior cult members, who have clustered nearer to him on this cold morning. “The smallest amoeba knows that light and sound are one thing, waves in a medium, and we sense these things in the same way; our bodies provide the gong that is struck by the waves. That is all that we are, on the outside.” Behind him, the rising mountain master strikes a tall cymbal with a hammer. We are suitably impressed, and many of us in the back begin to climb on objects to see this great manifestation.
“And the unborn child, the life that is not ready, knows in itself that the sensation in the body is also the sensation in the mind. These two organs are the same before we are born, and with our great wills, we shall unite them in ourselves.” The chanting begins again, “The self is the master” booming out from hundreds of voices. It is a great day.
The master sneezes. Some laugh, others turn away, embarrassed. Above us, a tiny ribbon of cloud detaches from the cumulus sheet, forms a wry smile on the blue face of the heaven.