There was an apprentice who hesitated long enough on which tool she should pick up to reach enlightenment.
First she had to locate where the destination is.
Christians say it is above. Taoists say it is here within everything. Buddhists say it’s in the emptiness.
Then she needed to know the key.
Egyptians gave her a tree hanging with silent shining fruits; When the Egyptians lost their sound to name the fruits, the Jews preserved them with the sound of Hebrew; Christians marked a cross on the tree. Taoist say work on growing the fruits through breathing and simplification; Buddhists say through investigating your problems.
And every school has its language, prayers, glyphs, rituals, deities and splendid Kingdoms. At the orientations, the young students were given pamphlets written with brackets of brackets of information alluding to the unknown esoterics. No guarantee it is enlightenment sitting in the bracket.
She got a bad feeling that it is not her first lifetime tangled in this bafflement. When she was in 3rd grade, her father gave her a fable to recite for a school contest. The fable talked about a trapped fox who got a million methods but no way to get out. Way, path, Tao, is the same word in Chinese. That fox probably died while contemplating on which way to go.
She realized it is probably why she had failed at it last time and is here on earth again.
That fable suddenly shined like a white stone in the river of her memory, while she is stuck at the entrance of the Taoist’s way, the Yogi’s way, Buddhis’s way, and the Hermetic’s way again. All are splendid, all have shown wonder or magick, each differently. Hesitating, she remains in the cave, in fear of the practices may lead into different kingdoms.
The universe abhors her failing at the same spot every time, or her multiple life procrastination. It gives the classic initiation, suffering; it kicks her around, raises havoc in her life, no peace until she picks up one, any one.
Out of shock she grabbed the most convenient one and moved the step. Not the one by her lineage.
From drowning in the suffering to moving towards the cave door, this is how it went.
First, there was pain. Virtue and evil coexist in her. Sometimes she understands it’s her own responsibility, sometimes she blames those who gave her life and lessons.
From the abyss she asks,
“Why was I born here on earth, half-aware and half-blind? I followed and practiced after you for the past six lives. What did I do to be cast into the most unilluminated world of all? I looked into fellow humans’ hearts and minds, it was pitch dark with rare sparks of light and compassion….”
In the storm she asks,
“What karma brought me here? ”
She knew she must have messed something up to be dropped in the black box.
Some clarity sprinkled with some unilluminated darkness makes the pain really sensible, highly. She asks why the universe chooses her to bear so much darkness projected from “others'” darkness and the pain inflicted by “others'” numbness. For she did not recall committing unforgivable sins. How is someone mostly kind and good deserving the most pain?
Even when the “external” disasters stopped, in a seemingly peaceful life she still was thrown off by the wind cuts. Whenever she saw shadows in others, she aches for there are impurities in human hearts.
She prayed to merge with Tao. “Please teach me how to fly in Mundi.” she asked. It was the way she knew to ascend and leave earth.
Her teacher said nothing but asked her to peel the onion.
She peels the onion; it was so pungent, her tear came down. It reminds her of all the suffering on the face of the earth she and others went through.
“From where does the pain come from?” The teacher asked.
“In my heart, for the shadow shrouding this earth.” She wept.
“‘My heart’ is an illusion. The shroud is an illusion.” the teacher said.
“How many more incarnations until I start climbing up the ladder of ascension?” She asked.
“Tao is not up, down or in the left, or right. ” the teacher said.
“I can’t bear with the suffering for any longer. “
“The vicious saw me and tread me with humiliation and shame; They are hurt at the sight of my light and I am hurt at the sight of their darkness. “
“The opposite is also in you still.” the teacher says.
“They shred me into pieces but I can’t harm. How do you handle this? Do I lack a tool? Tell me please, which school of practice solves this problem and sends me into ascension faster? Taoist, Buddism, Yoga, or Kabbalah? “
“Just peel the onion.” Her teacher said, “and don’t forget courage, courage out of compassion.”
Thus she heard.
Get to know the Onion.
Thus she heard, when she was lying on the acupuncturist’s clinic bed, after causing two modern therapists sad and at a loss of what to do:
“My teacher said, it is here and not here.” The acupuncturist twisted the needles under her skin, “You can feel it, right?” sending the thin river of Chi currents flowing down that path. The healer showed to her the first layer of the onion.
Thus she heard, from ancient Taoists coming before her, the type of breathing that generates the energy is there and not there, formless and soundless. The gems and elixir they left in the poems and music notes led her to peel the first layer of the onion.
Thus she heard, from Surangama Sutra, Ananda asked Buddha if the awareness is in the body or outside of the body. Buddha denied him twice. Buddha did not say what it is, he just kept peeling off for him what is not. “Not in the body, nor outside of the body.” For polarity is a misunderstanding. They are one, here and now.
Gate to Shangrila, Way to the Garden Paradise of Dilmun, All the best things, here and not here.
Once she had a peek at the core layer, she stopped crying.
The cloud opened; the sky is like a hand holding and pouring down iridescent light.
The light is the champagne, and she is the living glass.
Her internal layers flipped outside and were shown in nature. The internal and external became interactive. It has always been. The waving tree; under the moon, the cat and the fantastical rodent walking on the same fence; the greeting passerby; people speaking her mind; She meets what she wants. The balance reached the nature and living beings in that neighborhood. The world she lives in encompasses all, layers upon layers like the onion. The virtue and purified humanity she wanted for all is in here. There is nothing to correct. It was her. At that moment in that vicinity, there and then, it was all good.
Tao is right here, in her and everything, in the middle. How do you tell people where “middle” is? At that moment she is grateful that humans are born symmetrical — some odd questions she had about creation and anatomy. Otherwise, how would you describe to someone who hasn’t opened the onion where to find Tao, something metaphysical shown in the physical.
Like lost travelers asking where is the road sign to heaven? Like that song, From her to eternity — Enter through desire, walk towards the mountain Mashu. The road will be less bumpy, and we will be less obsessed. We glide smoothly.
Or magicians who weave magical fantasies, from looking within to the middle and act outside in the middle. Virtue is where we arrive. That most worldly, mundane Confucious scripture left untouched, whose light seemed dulled by all the book of gods and grimoires, describes how we live eventually, naturally, towards Mt. Mashu.
The destination is here and not here, so soften up. Do not obsess.
Where is Tao? You can trust that it is in the “middle”, not just in your body because you and the world are one. Breath, down and up the middle, until there is no breath. From Nihara 止息 you enter Upasana 寂灭生死. Breath is the motion of the pendulum, through ceasing it, you escape the door of life and death, float above the illusion of the theatre, like that Hermit in Crowley’s tarot card. Act, between compassion and valor. Live, in silence. What does silence have to do with the middle path?
She learned that the shadow triggers and cuts her heart because some of it is still in her.
From then on she rests in silence. Of a pair of contradictions, had the opposite statement isn’t in her, she wouldn’t be debating it in her mind. Had she not been debating, she wouldn’t be talking. Listen to the words said, but hear their opposite ends. What is hidden is true. If she is hurt by the darkness in others, if others “shown” evil hurt her, aka their dark values contradicted with hers, eliminate her hidden evil first. Out of compassion, feel the mighty braveness. Filled with mighty, she sits still, does not fight. — it fits Laozi’s description of Tao.
Then she saw her past trajectories, back 10 years, 20 years, a life time, many life times, she was dancing erratically around Tao. Tao is there like a verticle middle line. Her dances deviated, but never left it, intersected with it here and there, yet to merge with it. It was beautiful.
Life on earth, appeared to be unenlightened and avarice, it encompasses Tao and everything in between. It is beautiful. Diversity makes beauty.
No one threw her here as a punishment. She is here because she desired it, because she is yet to understand how to enjoy life without desires. Suffering and drama came after desires. There is something masochism about reincarnation as a human. All pain is self-inflicted by desires. And we asked for it.
From the Taoist classic, The Secret of the Golden Flower: “The seven souls generate desires; the Spirit wants nothing more. The souls are Yin. The Spirit is Yang. The souls want death; at the underworld they eat fleshes and drink blood; The Spirit wants to live …. kill the souls and retain/rule with the spirit.”
We asked for the deadly erratic dance. Our heart and the souls were moved, hence we are here.
Her teacher gave her a mirror with a cross on it. He said, everyday before you walk out, place your body in that cross, so you are in the middle; then walk, between courage and compassion. which Buddhism calls, Vajra and Bodhisattva; which the west called Mars and Jupiter; which Laozi called Valour and Compassion.
Then she thought, the reversed cross given to a devil must be the opposite of that pair. His is Fear and Greed. But his is also part of IT. She does not hate or fear the devil anymore, for she saw him standing at a checkpoint of a layer of the onion, guarding polarity, the law of matter, and one feature of matter, time.
How to be at ease with him? Do not drive by deadly desires, that energize the erratic dance.
Though she doesn’t know what is a true will and how to power life with it yet. The pamphlet at the orientation said nothing with lots of words: words, the sealed containers only allude to but empty of meanings. She trusted the ancient Wiseman to keep walking a path.
— for all the beings who are sensing the suffering, which are the beads on the rosary of transformation.