Echo-1: Part 5
I was staying at the Kopan monastery outside of Kathmandu when I completed my final dream challenge. I had checked everything else off my list. I ran up Everest, flew around the world, changed into other people, gained dream allies, became animals, turned night into day, defeated monsters, and in general mastered an ability to completely alter the laws of physics in my dreams.
Reading and writing while in the dream state still eluded me. I’d been practicing with the old monk, meditating 8 hours a day, from 4 am until sundown for the last month. He had given me the challenge of writing my own name in a dream. He assured me this self-realization task would shock me out of my dream obsession once and for all and show me the path to my true life’s destiny.
“To become the master of your dreams you must know who you are and you must let go.” He only spoke to me in riddles.
Before I went to sleep that night I was thinking about a dharma talk the old monk had given.
“Our practice focuses on what is really going on, events in time with causes and effects. We attempt to accurately understand reality and to act wisely and with compassion in every situation. Questions of why be good or why be compassionate to others ultimately come up. Which leads to a discussion of Karma. It isn’t that what you do comes back to you, rather what you put into the world is what makes up the world you live in. You are directly responsible.”
The old monk leaned back, scratched his shaved head and took a long pause as if something was wrong. He cleared his throat.
“Well, there is the chance that this is all a simulation, and if so, everything I’ve said thus far doesn’t really matter.”
I would find myself going back to that moment again and again.
I sunk so deep into meditation and dreams that I all but left my life behind. I was disciplined and skilled in my dreams. I told myself, tonight was the night. I failed at all my other attempts to write my name. I began to use my own creativity to surpass the monk’s teachings. I failed with a pen and paper, with a quill and ink, and even with a stick in the sand. I had a new plan. I would dream of a computer and I could type my name. I focused my mind on this intention and lay down to sleep in my cold little yellow cell on the mountain.
I sat up in bed, left my sleeping body behind, passed through the wall of my room and started to walk the grounds of the monastery like a ghost. I raised my hand to the starry night sky and thought day. The sun leaped into a blue sky above me. Hordes of little children came running towards me from all directions. The young monks of the monastery had come to see the instant day I had created. I floated off the ground and folded my legs up under me in a perfect lotus position. The children in their red robes and white t-shirts jumped up laughing and cheering trying to reach me. I smiled and with a wave showered them in candy. Then I rocketed off toward the mountains in the distance. I had become so adept at flying in dreams that I could do it sitting with my legs folded.
I crossed the great Himalayan mountain ranges into what was once Tibet and headed toward Mount Kailash. I flew to its peak and sitting there cross-legged looked out over the vast snow-covered world. Like a dream Buddha, I reached down with my hand and touched the earth at the peak of the mountain.
I left my perch and flew down circling the mountain. I noticed a large circular cave in the side of Kailash and heading toward it I landed at the entrance. Though it was icy and freezing I had mastered dealing with temperatures in dreams. I walked into the cave, the light from outside disappeared, and I was engulfed in darkness. I kept moving forward until a soft glow of electric light appeared ahead of me. There was a glass wall across the cavern and what appeared to be the entrance to a 7–11.
As I walked up to the door, it binged and automatically opened. The sliding glass parted for me to enter. I felt and smelled a comfortable air-conditioned environment inside. As I walked in I realized all the magazines were in Japanese and the snacks and treats that lined the aisles were all of the Tokyo variety. The fluorescent lights hummed overhead. I was the only customer in the place.
I walked over to a middle-aged Japanese man who was reading a manga comic behind the counter. He looked up from his book for a moment and sized me up. He sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve.
“Computer wa okuni arimasuyo.”
I looked at him slightly puzzled. “The computer is in the back?” Was I understanding Japanese?
He nodded saying “Hi” and continued his reading.
I walked to the back of the store and opened a door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY. I could read the sign, a positive step. I entered a small windowless office and closed the door behind me. There was a desk and chair in the shabby unkempt room. On the desk sat a very old looking computer, with a large green and black monitor and a chunky big buttoned keyboard, like a Commodore 64 from the 1980s. I sat down at the desk and looked at the keyboard. It had no letters on it. All the keys were blank. I could, however, physically remember what each key was. The screen had a blank rectangular empty green box in the center. I typed three letters. J — O — E.
The screen flashed for a moment and then a single word appeared asking me a question. DOWNLOAD? Underneath there were two options. YES or NO. I hadn’t expected this. I thought for a moment, considering the options.
“Why not?” I pressed the Y key.
The deep blasting sounds of Tibetan trumpets cracked the walls of the room. I jumped up out of the chair and covered my ears. A thunderous pounding series of BOOMS! followed. The walls of the room began to split open. The ground was shaking and the ceiling was starting to fall down on me. The cave was collapsing under the weight of the crashing noise. I would be buried alive under the mountain. The room crushed in on top of me. Everything went black and silent.