Lost and Mapless
I am in my car, driving up Old Chapel Hill Road toward Chapel Hill, trying to get somewhere, but I’m not sure where. I pass the right turn onto Airport Boulevard, which leads to the airline terminals. I know that coming up on my right will be Aviation Parkway. But I do not want either of those two clearly visible routes. What I’m looking for is between those two roads, but that is all I know except that I’ve never before seen a road between those two turn-offs.
I am frustrated as I drive, because not only do I lack a navigator and map, but I am not even sure of the the name of the turn-off I’m looking for. It is a secret route; it appears only if one can remember its name, which I cannot quite do. I know it starts with an O. So is it Osolo? Is it Orca? Is it Ochre? No. I am thinking that maybe I should turn onto Airport Boulevard after all, that maybe the path I’m looking for is a V-off or a service road. Or maybe I can abandon my car and, since there is no one and nothing to help me, walk through the dark woods alone on foot in the hope of finding it.
Letting Go and Recollection of Lucidity as Path
As soon as I give up and start to backtrack, the name of the path I seek occurs to me: Ösel. It means luminous clarity, as well as rang rig pa, which means reflexive apperception. It is generally included in the Six Yogas of Naropa. The sign of the road appears, and I turn right onto this secret route. The route dead ends at what appears to be a horse farm that has been transformed into some kind of testing track for various vehicles.
My Confrontation with My Teacher
There is a tight, U-shaped, circular way to turn around. I go around it and pause at this window where apparently people can order smoothies. A woman there asks me if I want refreshment. (This woman was Yara Greyjoy from Game of Thrones, the badass warrior princess who tries to rescue her abused and traumatized brother, whom their father first rejected and abandoned cruelly.) I tell her that my organic mango lassi recipe is superior to anything she is offering and so I must politely decline.
I drive up a little further, park, and exit my car. I start walking back toward the track and under the shade of some oaks, where John is sitting at a picnic table, across from a student who resembles Sam in Game of Thrones. Sam is a character who was traumatized by his father, is overweight, and has low self-esteem. I quietly nod hello to John, who is teaching this student.
The student is saying that he is experiencing intense fear and misery from meditation. John is launching into some advice, but I interrupt John and Sam: “You need to read MCTB before you do anything else.” Sam says, “What’s MCTB?” I reply: “Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, but unfortunately the really clear, beautiful, and complete second edition is being held hostage by its lead author, with whom I collaborated on it, all because he refuses to give me even a factual editorial acknowledgment for my 800 hours of work that amounted to authorship.”
John starts to contradict me about the usefulness of MCTB2, and I again interrupt him, asking, “John, have you even read this book so as to understand the insight stages, particularly the Knowledges of Suffering?” He says no. I apologize for interrupting him, say I will let him get back to teaching, but I also write out the title of the book on two scraps of paper and tell both of them “Read It!”
Dream Outtake of the Sectarianism Scene of my Youth
Suddenly I’m back in the little Lutheran church of my childhood. I left this church after a fist fight almost broke out over abandoning the old red hymnals for the new green ones that altered the familiar melodies and harmonies unacceptably. But this time everyone is chanting in Tibetan out of the red hymnals. Everyone except me. I hold a drab green book that contains Theravadin meditation instructions in plain English. I start reading these aloud, shouting with my one voice over the din of the old Tibetan obfuscations.
Now I’m back under the shade over the picnic table, staring into John’s eyes over the title MCTB2 that I wrote on the scrap of paper. I bow slightly to John with my hands folded at heart center, as if transmitting the knowledge of the red-versus-green-book dream outtake, turn, and walk back past the refreshment window to a rack of trinkets that is set up under a shade tree in the clay and sparse grass.
Two Heart-Shaped Lockets for Sale
I see two heart-shaped lockets. I decide to pay the price for one. But which? The patterns of the hearts are similar: both have an image of a key engraved on the heart, but in different positions. Undecided, I look at John, who is still teaching at the picnic table, out of earshot. He turns and glances at me, as if knowing that I’m staring at him. I turn back to the two hearts, and the one on my right now is giving off intensely saturated rainbow colors. This is the one, then, that I will buy.
I go to the refreshment window and pay. I test the locket first to make sure that it will open without an actual (missing) key. It does. The woman says the key is included as image in the design itself, the heart and the key to opening it are the same. The locket is placed in a long rectangular velvet box and given to me for my safekeeping.
Dream Outtake about Two Authors Named “Cushion”
Suddenly, I’m back at the rack of dharma merchandise, but now my colleague Sian, our acquistions editor at work, is standing beside me and asking a question about one of my authors, whose name is apparently Cushion. She says there are two Cushions and asks which one is my author. I say, “Oh, come on! What is the chance of there being two ‘Cushions’ as authors?” I’m annoyed and tell her that both are probably mine because of how well she does her job and therefore how overloaded with developmental editing work I am.
She turns ghostly pale at my words and vanishes. Ahhhh!
Subject Perspective Gone but Self-Powered Game On
Now the sense of an “I,” an ego, is gone. There is only a race of some kind between three vehicles. They are not going around the track, however, but toward Old Chapel Hill Road, toward home. One is a large old V8 truck, I think. One is a car. The third is a rickety cart without shock absorbers, which is powered by this blonde woman’s own legs and feet. Yes, she is peddling under her own power.
Although he is not visible now, I hear John’s voice saying, “Jenny, this is not a race.” Although I, too, am not there in first or third person, I hear my voice respond, “Yes, it is, John, regardless of what purpose or lack of purpose you declare, for I will give the one who reaches Chapel Hill Road first, most efficiently, the olden rainbow-light open-heart locket I paid for with my own resources.”
The blonde woman moving forward under her own power in the claptrap-vehicle-for-one reaches Old Chapel Hill Road first. The magical rainbow locket is hers to keep.
So say I, and so it shall be.