The demands of life can be challenging. We’re always trying to balance the needs of others with our own needs. Keeping that balance is the nature of life for humans. When we fail to keep the balance, someone suffers, and someone’s life is dashed to the rocks and shatters. I didn’t realize that until one evening, while I was in my office, working late to sort out a diplomatic problem that was vexing me. I’d been working in the State Department for four years as one of hundreds of middle level overseers, conducting the daily business of the country’s foreign affairs. My specialty was Central Africa. I had lived there for years, studying the cultures and languages of the region, before I joined the diplomatic corps. It was my life’s dream to be a negotiator of peace between nations. I had high ideals and strong convictions. But the reality of global realpolitik has a way of deadening one’s good intentions. On the night in question, I was tasked to figure out how to negotiate an impasse between the government of a particularly nasty African warlord and the rebel organization that was trying to overthrow him. The conflict had raged for years and millions of people were displaced or killed in the ensuing chaos of war. I’ve seen African war up close. It’s brutal and relentless.
While pouring over documents detailing the demands of both sides I suddenly had a headache. It was like someone was squeezing my skull between a vice. It hurt so much that I had to sit down and close my eyes. As the pain subsided I could feel a presence in the office. I chill ran up my spine. I opened my eyes but could see nothing. Literally, the entire office was engulfed in an unholy darkness. It was tangible.
I thought I might be dying or losing my mind. I panicked. I reached out for where my telephone should’ve been, but felt something squirming. I pulled my hand back but then something grabbed on to it. Two yellow points of light appeared in the darkness and I heard a terrible raspy voice.
I’ve come for you.
My heart nearly stopped. Who’s there? I said shaking where I sat.
I’ve come for you. The voice repeated.
Go away. I’ll call security.
They can’t help you. No one can.
I stood up from my desk and stumbled around my office. The darkness almost felt alive. I could sense something moving around my body, brushing up against my back and sides. And then it pressed itself up against the front of my body. Hot breath, stinking like rotten eggs, invaded my nostrils. I nearly vomited. I pushed whatever it was away from me. Something wrapped around my waist. It squeezed and I could barely breathe. I stumbled into my desk and reached back for the drawer. I opened it and felt around. I kept a revolver there for emergencies. This qualified. My hands rummaged furiously, but the gun wasn’t there.
Suddenly the darkness faded around my face and my revolver was aimed directly at my head. Is this what you’re looking for, the voice said. The revolver spun around and the butt end slammed into my head. I fell to the floor, groping around for anything to fend off my attacker. But the thing squeezing my midsection tightened and I could feel my consciousness slipping.
Then the room started to shake. The pressure around my waste eased. A flash of light nearly blinded me. I heard an unearthly scream. Whatever was crushing me released its grip. I scurried away as fast as I could, but I could still barely see, this time because the light blinded me. I managed to get to a corner of the room and I put my back against the wall and waited for another attack.
The flash of light faded and I could see my office again, but I wished otherwise. In the middle of the room stood a horror from hell. It was massive. It looked like a serpent with legs and arms. Its body was covered in scales, and its face was the very essence of malice. My heart nearly stopped.
The creature seemed stunned and disoriented. I tried to crawl away, towards the door to escape, but it must have regained its awareness. It lashed out at me with its clawed hands.
Not so fast ugly. A deep, accented voice said. I couldn’t see where it was coming from, then I saw smoke swirling out of shadow near my desk. Another strange creature emerged from the darkness. It was walking and talking like a man, but it was no man. It was huge, nearly seven feet tall. It was wearing black and red striped trousers, a black shirt with red polka dots and a black hat with a red flower sticking out of a red band. The creature had a fearsome feline face and cigar dangled out of its mouth. You’re not supposed to be here lizard-face.
He’s mine. The reptilian beast said, hissing and bearing its teeth at the newcomer. You’re in violation of the accord.
And you smell like a garbage dump. Now get back to the abyss you scaly freak before I give you another dose of sunlight. The feline interloper said, puffing on his cigar and blowing the smoke in the other creature’s face.
The serpent recoiled and roared at my protector. You’re intruding on my business. It whined.
Business, shmizness, hit the road you insufferable worm, before I lose my temper.
The reptilian hissed in my direction. You’ll be mine. It said and then it whirled around, almost swatting me with its tail, as it disappeared into the shadows.
What a blowhard. The cat creature said. He’s never been good with change. Oh well. How are you chum? Did he hurt you? The creature turned toward me and puffed on its cigar. I was at my wits end and couldn’t speak. A real talker I see. Well monkey-boy. I haven’t got all night and since I just thoroughly irritated old snaggletooth there I’d like to conduct our business as quickly as possible before he gets the itch to return and start some real trouble.
What are you? I said finally.
Is that anyway to treat the cat who just saved your soul from eternal damnation? Geez. That’s gratitude for you. Look pea brain. I’m clearly not a WHAT. I’m a WHO, and who I am is Shamus. You ought to be grateful and say thank you. Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.
Offend me. No my boy, you’ve got it all wrong. You can’t offend me. You’re just a monkey see, and I’m a cat, and a sophisticated cat at that. You’re just ignorant. You’re whole species is ignorant. That’s why you make such glaring mistakes such as not knowing the difference between a what and a who?
What…I mean who was that other creature? I said, changing the subject.
Oh that’s just Bill. Bill’s a real pain in the arse since his little alliance lost the great cosmic war.
Cosmic…? What war?
Don’t worry your puny little brain over it, that’s confidential. Besides I’m not here to jibber jabber about the past. It’s the future that concerns me.
But why did he come here? What did he want from me? And you, how did you know I was in trouble?
Whoa. Slow down there old boy. One question at a time. As for Bill, you really ought to let it rest. You really don’t want to know what that slimy snake had in store for you. He’s a bit off, you see.
My mind is spinning out of control.
Well you better have a drink or something, because it doesn’t get much simpler from this point on; speaking of which, I’m a bit parched myself. Have any Scotch lying around this dingy office of yours? Shamus puffed his cigar and started looking around the office. Ah here we go. You office types always have a stash of the good stuff somewhere. He found my liquor cabinet and rummaged through the half empty bottles. This is the stuff. He pulled out my bottle of Scotch. Do you mind chum if I have some?
No go right ahead, I said a bit dazed and confused. I stood up and walked over to my desk and sat in the chair. What’s going on here Shamus? I don’t understand any of it.
Of course you don’t. You’re little monkey brain isn’t capable of understanding anything it can’t touch or see. You’re species has fallen into the trap of the five senses. It’s like you all have brain damage or something. He said swigging the Scotch directly from the bottle. Ah, hits the spot. Want some? He asked sticking the bottle under my nose.
Ah, no thank you. But you still haven’t told me why you’re here?
Oh right, I almost forgot. Good Scotch, you know how it is. Shamus put the Scotch bottle down and took his hat off his head. A strange little book rested on the top of his head. He removed it and thumbed through the pages. A few minutes later he slammed the book shut and said, this is really serious dear boy. You’re poised for disaster if you don’t change your ways soon.
What do you mean?
Sorry, that’s not my department. I’m not privy to all the sordid details of your life, just the ones that amuse me. Like the time you woke up in Tijuana naked. What were you thinking? Anyway. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m just here to make sure you do it.
I told you, I haven’t a clue.
Maybe I will have that drink. Shamus handed me the bottle and I took three deeps swigs. Nope, that didn’t help at all.
Shamus took the bottle out of my hand and held it away from me like he was protecting a baby. You shouldn’t say such things in front of the Scotch. It’s very sensitive you know. He turned to the Scotch and spoke to it like a little child. There, there precious, the mean old monkey didn’t mean anything by it, he’s really dumb, possibly brain-damaged don’t you know.
Why do you keep calling me a monkey? I asked indignantly.
Well that’s what you creatures are. You’re a bunch of superstitious and dangerous apes. You’re species is prolific in the art of self-destruction. It’s like you’re determined to exterminate yourselves.
It’s human nature.
All you apes are the same. Whenever you’re challenged on your violent and aggressive behavior you say it’s because it’s your nature, or because you’re only human. Do you know how unconvincing that excuse is? You call yourselves enlightened. There’s never been a species more in the dark than yours.
You really believe we’re trying to kill ourselves.
There’s more to us than violence and war.
Not much more, and not much that makes a difference.
We create art and architecture.
Yes you do, and then you set about destroying it. You can’t stand to just live and let live. You’re compelled by some psychosis to take and dominate, to destroy and murder. It’s not natural to be so destructive my boy.
What’re you saying, we’re insane?
The whole bloody lot of you. You’re mentally deranged.
That’s crazy. I said taking the bottle back and drinking the remainder of the Scotch out of spite.
Hey, what gives?
You sniveling little ape. You can’t take a little criticism.
A little criticism, you’re condemning all of humanity for the acts of a few.
A few. My boy are you really that deluded? You must never read books. Your entire species is violent and aggressive. It’s the rare bird who isn’t.
Well what do you expect us to do?
I don’t expect anything. It’d be no loss for me if you entire species was wiped off the planet. Indeed, I’ve even recommended it from time to time.
And you call us violent.
Your species is dangerous to the core. If you ever get off world, then the entire galaxy, nay the universe is at risk. You infest wherever you go like cockroaches, worse even. You swarm down like locusts, devouring and destroying. Anyone who gets in your way is an enemy. Wiping your lot off the planet would be an act of mercy for the rest of the Cosmos.
Sounds a bit harsh. Why not just help us?
Wake up pea brain, he said tapping on my forehead, what do you think I’m doing right now?
You call this help, insulting my people?
Aye. It’s tough love. Well not so much love, but it’s tough anyway.
If you despise us so much, then why help us?
Because, unlike your race of lunatics, who can’t seem to do anything for the common good, I understand the concept of duty and obligation. I fulfill and bear the burden of my responsibilities.
And, we don’t?
Precisely, he quipped chomping on his cigar. Apes like you don’t see the forest for the trees. You think yourselves the be all and end all of existence. Believe it or not there’s more to life than the bloody human race.
You mean religion or something like that?
If that helps your pea brain grasp my meaning, then yes. But don’t be so narrow minded. You primates created religion because you’re afraid. Religion has its place, but it’s spirituality that governs the universe, not your arbitrary religious superstitions.
You’re talking about God.
Was I? Perhaps. Call it what you will. Call it nothing if you want. What you call it or don’t call it is irrelevant. Whether you believe or not is irrelevant. I’m referring to the essence of reality my boy, the source of all things, the prime cause.
And what is that?
I don’t follow.
Of course you don’t, your monkey brain can’t focus for more than a minute. I blame television. It really is amazing that you cretins haven’t destroyed yourselves yet. He puffed his cigar. I’ll make this as simple as I can for your pea brain to process.
Please do. I said sardonically.
Droll. Very droll. Shamus scowled. You’re taught to think of yourselves as the shapers of your world. Ever since you were a little child your parents and teachers instructed you to view nature as something to be overcome. That’s the thinking of adolescent minds. Like a bunch of hyperactive children you see something and you want to poke at it with a stick, and then when that bores you, you smash it to smithereens. Nature isn’t there for you to master and dominate. You’re a part of nature. You’re a small part.
This all sounds like New Age fluff to me, I snapped.
You insufferable twit, by all means think what you like, but never interrupt me with your asinine comments. Shamus puffed his cigar and furrowed his brow.
I’m sorry, I won’t do that again.
Good, now listen and watch your tone.
Now where was I? Oh yes. Your species believes that technology is a sign of enlightenment. Bigger and better gadgets define your notion of success and advancement. On the contrary, it reveals your ignorance of reality, and your blindness to the folly of relying on mechanical and electronic devices.
What are we supposed to do, give up all our technology and live like cave men?
I care not what you do. My job is not to make you do anything. Give up all of it, some of it, or none of it. The choice is yours, but understand that every generation of your species edges closer to a cliff, beneath which lies oblivion. That’s why Bill showed up today. You, my boy, are very close to slipping over the edge, and once that happens Bill will sink his dirty claws into you and never let go. You’re a prime target.
A target? For what?
Well for recruitment, of course.
Why do you keep repeating what I say? Are you hard of hearing or something?
No. I’m just trying to understand.
Well stop interrupting then. Bill belongs to a little group of sentient life forms that is seeking to make your species slip faster and deeper into oblivion.
Because, Bill and his cronies want to dominate your planet. They want to control everything, every resource, every living thing. They want to consume you.
He was going to eat me.
Sort of. He wasn’t going to devour your flesh, per se, just your humanity.
Just my humanity?
Look, if you keep interrupting it won’t make sense.
Keep going, I won’t interrupt.
You’d better not. Anyway. The more your species relies on machines, the more susceptible you becomes to the forces that want to feed off you like you’re cattle. They aren’t interested in your spiritual development or the success of your species. They’re invested in your decline. They’ll feed on you, leave you empty, and you’ll be zombies. Some of your people are already in that state of mind. They’re just bodies operating on automatic. Any questions?
So Bill came for me because…?
Because you’ve surrendered to the fallacy of progress. You’re nearly ripe for the picking, and Bill will return to harvest you. He and his cronies can’t wait to get their reptilian mitts on you.
And why is that?
Think about it my boy. You work for the most powerful government on earth. If Bill and his boys get a hold of your mind and turn you into a zombie, doing their bidding, you could start World War III. I can’t have that.
Why don’t they just control the President or someone like that? I’m just a peon.
Clearly you aren’t paying much attention to reality. The President is one of their recruits. All the Presidents have been. Bill and his boys know that all they have to do is control key figures. But they also have to make sure things go their way, so people like you, the grunts of the diplomatic corps, are following orders. The best way for them to do that is to control your minds too. You see, if people like you resisted their efforts to control the world with technological progress, and took a spiritual approach to life instead, then it wouldn’t matter what your Presidents and Kings did, because they’d have no one to follow their commands. The bigwigs give the orders, but only willing accomplices like yourself can execute them.
This is all so unbelievable. How can I be sure what you’re telling me is true?
You can’t. You have to use your mind to sort that out and verify what I’m telling you. But, few of your kind ever question the status quo. You enjoy luxury and comfort too much to risk questioning the system that feeds and clothes you. Few people dig deep enough to understand what’s really happening to your species. All the wars, the violence, the murder, the crime, the abuse that goes on worldwide is a direct result of the way you think. You’ve become alienated from each other, seeing each other as rivals and threats. Your rhetoric calls for wars against your “enemies,” and anyone who rallies to that call is a “patriot.”
Surely there’s nothing wrong with being a patriot? A man should love his country.
My boy, love of country is very different from patriotism. It’s good to love your home, where your family lives and thrives. It’s good to want to keep it clean and safe. But when love of your country becomes blind patriotism, un-scrutinized, un-criticized obedience to the rulers of your country, then it ceases to be good. You apes have divided your planet up into turfs. Your boundaries are arbitrary. Your sense of national identity is fabricated from spurious history. Humans are one species, not a conglomerate of species. But you’ve allowed superstitions and misinterpretations of religious texts and mythology to divide you. Divide and conquer is a tool of tyrants. Bill and his minions sit back and watch you destroy each other, and they feed off the intense fear, hate and anger that you generate. All of these arbitrary divisions are in your minds, they have been planted there by your rulers, through the media, through your education system, and even through your parents.
I was silent for a moment, processing these strange ideas. Could they be true? Could Shamus be helping me understand the real condition of our species? I was so confused.
Confusion is a sign that something’s happening, my boy; go with it.
How did you know what I was thinking?
It’s a little trick my deal old mother taught me. It comes in handy at times like this.
Tell me more about the spiritual decline. How is that happening?
The mechanics of it might be a little over your head chum, so I’ll do my best to make it simple enough for your pea brain. Shamus blew smoke rings around his head. They swirled about and formed galaxies swirling in the air. You see there’s the Cosmos, which includes all these swirling galaxies. Cosmos is a Greek word and it refers to the ordered universe, meaning all the complex and coherent structures that exist, namely stars, planets, life forms etc. Cosmos is like a bubble forming on the surface of the ocean. The sea churns and it generates foam, and that foam is like the multiverse. Your Cosmos exists side by side with an infinite number of universes. They’re separated by frequencies. You can’t see or interact with them in your state of mind, because you don’t know how to tune into the right frequencies. But, I digress. The ocean, for want of a better term, is what the Greeks called Chaos. Now you hear that word and think about unruly behavior and so forth, but that’s because part of the decline of your species is a failure to understand your own languages. Chaos is not unruly behavior or danger, Chaos is the infinite, eternal source of all things. It’s potential.
Explain that for me.
It would be my pleasure. Potential comes from the Latin word potens, which refers to the inherent power in something. Potential means the hidden essence of things. Chaos is potential, it is everything that could possibly be. Cosmos is actuality, it is what has come into being from potential. Chaos and Cosmos together make up reality, the potential and the actual. So what could be and what has come into being. Thus we have concepts of Essence and Existence.
What do you mean?
Chaos is pure Essence. It is everything that can be. We can’t explain it any more than that, because it is infinite, and something that is infinite can’t be “defined,” which means to give a limit to and if something includes everything then it can have no limits. Chaos, or Essence, is Infinite, Eternal Potential. There’s nothing more that needs to be said or can be said about it without proving our ignorance. We must be silent on the matter. But you monkeys are never silent. There’s too much chatter in your heads.
Okay, and what about Existence?
I’m getting to that chum. Hold your horses. Existence means that which comes out of Essence. It is the actualization of potential. What could be has become. So Existence is becoming, it is everything that has actualized, but not everything that could be. Because it is not everything that could be, it is limited. It is not infinite, it is definite. We can define the Cosmos and everything that makes up the Cosmos. We call these things Phenomena. All the phenomena in the Cosmos, and the Cosmos itself, is measurable, observable, and definable as long as you have the means to measure, observe, and define such phenomena. That’s the role of science, to measure, observe, and define. That’s its only role. It can’t do anything but that, because that’s all the Cosmos can reveal to us. Are you following me monkey brain?
Yes, I think so.
Good. Your world’s success depends on people like you understanding these things, and much more.
It’s confusing, but I think it’s becoming clear to me.
Well hurrah for that. Now for the really hard part. There are a lot of factions amongst you primates. Each faction thinks itself the arbiter of what is and is not true. Some believe that there is a God and others that there is no God and so forth. Each makes claims it cannot support, but all assume the truth of their claims as self-evident. This is the basis of ideology. The idea germinates in one of your feeble heads and becomes a doctrine. It’s just a hop skip and a jump from monkey musings to Crusades and Jihads. And make no mistake about it, this mental deficiency that you creatures have doesn’t just create destructive, corporate religions, it also creates destructive corporate secular ideologies as well. Atheists like to point out the atrocities of Islam and Christianity, but rarely the atrocities of Communism. That’s because it has nothing to do with the content of the ideology, but of the nature of ideology per se.
My head is spinning.
Good. That means we’re getting somewhere.
So what am I supposed to do about all this? I’m just one man?
Excuses, excuses. My boy, everyone is just one man, or one woman, or one child. What makes the world go round is how all those individual minds perceive themselves, each other, and their relationship to this mud ball planet of yours. The reason your world is in such distress is not because of one man or woman, but because of seven billion men, women, and children whose minds are tuned to the wrong ideas. You’re not victims of certain people. You’re victims of yourselves.
It’s seems so overwhelming. I’m not sure I can handle this.
My boy, you haven’t got much of a choice. Your species is poised for something big to happen. It’s been a while since your world was engulfed in global war. The tensions are rising. But, it needn’t be that way. It’s a question of changing your mind, and the minds of seven billion people.
That seems impossible.
Improbable, not impossible. Remember, Chaos is infinite potential. There’s nothing that can’t happen. Everything is possible. The question is not can it happen, but will it happen?
So this is about changing probability.
Exactly. Consider this. Right now the average monkey brain, like yours, is fixated on selfish ends. Each of you thinks about yourself and maybe your dependents, like children, spouses etc. But, you really don’t think much beyond that. The occasional donation to a charity, or occasional feeding of the homeless doesn’t qualify as selfless. Because of this, greed has become a virtue. Greed leads to conflict, and conflict leads to destruction. Now, if seven billion monkey brains turned their attention to truly selfless thoughts, then greed would cease to be a motivation, and without greed conflict is unlikely and without conflict destruction is diminished. Is that something worth striving for monkey boy?
I’d say it is.
Yes, but most of your kind says it’s not, even the ones that profess religious and moral beliefs. They can’t get beyond the ego, they can’t see the interconnectedness of your species and how frivolous and superstitious thinking undermines your specie’s evolution.
My bosses wouldn’t care for that way of thinking at all.
No, they probably wouldn’t, but that’s because they’ve already succumbed to their greed and are easy targets for Bill and his cronies.
How can I do what you say and not become a target of their retaliation?
You can’t my boy. You can’t be safe all the time. Speaking out means becoming a target. Doing the right thing is possible only if you’re willing to face retaliation and ridicule. The choice is yours.
It doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.
That’s because you don’t want to lose this comfortable life. One of the signs of failing civilization is the dependence on luxury. Yours is well on its way. The question is do you have the testicular fortitude to stand against the rising tide of decay?
I don’t know.
Then you’ve got a lot of thinking to do chum, and I can’t waste too much time on this conversation, I’ve got places to be and people to see.
If I choose to remain as I am, will Bill return for me?
I guarantee that he will.
Will you help me if he does?
No, I will not.
Because there are seven billion minds I have to change, and I just don’t have the time to help you a second time. You have to help yourself monkey-boy. With that Shamus puffed his cigar and he faded out of sight, but I heard his voice say, Bill’s always in the shadows waiting, so don’t take too long to figure it out my boy. That was the last I heard or saw of the strange cat. When he left I could hear something shuffling in the shadows.