Feeling hopeless, Rusty, who was sitting on his hospital bed, looked at what he had just written. His blue eyes were tired beneath his curly brown hair. Rusty ran his fingers across the stubble on his face—he didn’t dare use the cheap disposable razors in this mental hospital, which would cut his face up. The newly-sprayed smell of Lysol permeated the air around his hospital bed, for the janitor had been by just half an hour ago. Rusty was thankful the nurses let him have a yellow writing pad, though he wished he could have more than the mere pencil stub that the on-call nurse had given him. They wouldn’t let him have a pen. It was “too dangerous,” they said. But Rusty felt he needed to write, for he was trying to figure out the meaning of the female voice that spoke in his head.
I love you, Rusty, the inner female voice said. …Sodol-kai…I am Diana …
Soon, Dr. George Crane, wearing a white doctor’s smock, entered the room. He had long, disheveled gray hair along with a beard, which matched his pale eyes. The doctor was carrying a tiny, transparent plastic cup with yellow and white pills inside, along with a Styrofoam cup of water. “It’s time for your medicine, Rusty….You refused your medicine when the nurse brought it earlier. That is not acceptable.”
“Well, I don’t even know what it is,” Rusty said….He ran his fingers over his hospital gown, above his chest.
“Lexapro, for depression, but the main thing I want you to take is Zyprexa, which is an anti-psychotic,” Dr. Crane said.
“I told the nurse,” Rusty said, “and I’m now telling you: I don’t wanna take any of it. I’ve had a religious experience…”
“Rusty, you are profoundly mentally ill…,” Dr. Crane said.
Rusty turned away and looked out the window. “I feel like I’ve had a profound disconnect with reality.”
“I’m glad you realize that,” Dr. Crane said….
THE TWO FACES
Diana was going to be a terrifying goddess—that’s all she ever wanted to be as she played on that playground, beginning to create her worlds as a small child. Sodol-kai had passed by and caught sight of her delicious creativity. Yet he was saddened that she would reign with terror. Sodol-kai knew that one day she would grow up, and he remembered her face.
Inevitably, in eons of time, Diana grew better at creating her worlds, worlds where she ruled inspired by terror. Worlds of domination. Worlds of woe.
One day Diana reached the pinnacle of her goddess success. She created a world where all the faces looked up at her in pure terror. Divine and omnipotent was she, to be worshiped, but always feared.
Sodol-kai took a look at her world and was saddened by it, so he played a buddha trick on her to teach her a lesson in compassion. It would change their lives forever.
Sodol-kai entered Diana’s world, born as an infant, and smiled upon birth. He smiled into the sky, where she sat on her throne of terror. She saw his face born on her world, a face that dared smile at her from out of the womb. This enraged her, as she had ensured that childbirth and infancy was a painful process on her world. Her babies were supposed to cry. Sodol-kai laughed.
This pissed her off.
“Oh, a wise guy, huh?” Diana said, knowing he must have come from beyond the stars and invaded her world. An alien. She decided to fix him, and teach him a lesson he’d never forget.
She decided to turn the tables.
In a flash, she snapped her fingers and they traded places. Sodol-kai flew into her sky, where he now saw all the faces of terror below. And she, now below, looked up at Sodol-kai in the sky and leered a sinister smile. Then she changed her face back to terror, the same face Sodol-kai saw on everyone else. For they were made in her image, just the way she liked it.
“How ’bout that one?” Diana yelled up at Sodol-kai. “Zing! Tit for tat.”
Up in the sky, Sodol-kai looked away in sadness, and Diana laughed to herself, never realizing Sodol-kai was planning a trick. She was about to snap her fingers and throw him back from her sky down to her world, putting him in his place. She so wanted to see his smile turn to terror.
Ah, but Sodol-kai, a wise teacher, tricked his new student Diana. Before she snapped her fingers, he snapped his! He turned the tables on her! He threw her back into her sky and took his place again below. She looked back down at him, and he was still smiling, defying her taste for terror.
“Zing!” Sodol-kai yelled, stealing her line. “Tit for tat.”
She was at first terrified by his power in her world, but he kept smiling. He didn’t want power. He simply wanted to teach her.
But in those crucial moments, she fell in love with her teacher, for his smile now seemed so beautiful to her—something so very unique. The consequences of her falling in love would be enormous for them both, though little did they realize this at the time.
“Touché,” Diana said, now smiling back.
For you see, he had changed her life forever….She had wanted to hate him, but he had loved her. And this would bind them together through time.
The Moon Parable…
We think we can take the moon. We lust for it, and decide to challenge it and take it. Dare there be a limit? We think not. We will conquer it, as we conquer all else. So we reach for that moon. We decide to colonize it in our quest for the stars. We make this plan to take the moon known to God.
God says, “I don’t think so. I put the moon there with my thumb. You gotta have limits.”
“But God, you put the stars there,” we cry. “As if to challenge us to take ’em!”
God says, “If you reach for the moon, you hurt the stars. And the stars, they will respond.”
And then we say, “But we put a god-damned flag on that moon!”
God says, “Back it. I don’t see one there.”
“The Pyramid Parable
“Here’s a question that vexes me:
Is there anyone in that eye
at the top of the pyramid, on any dollar bill?
“It could be that,
like Bentham and Foucault’s panopticon prison,
there’s no one in the tower—it’s an optical illusion
meant to inspire terror.
“It could be that there is someone
very sinister and evil
“Or, it could just be your eye.
You could be looking
“Or, perhaps the fourth option,
is that maybe it’s God’s eye.
Looking at you from the top of the prison.
…Rusty continued. “God looks at you with love. God will not coddle you. Or cripple you. But God will care for you, if you let God. Urging you toward freedom, freedom from the prison, but you can only make it on your own. Let it be: a new dawn. Kind of takes the terror out of the symbol, doesn’t it?”
DEICIDE OF DOOM AS THE KARMA RUNS OUT—THE FINAL DAYS IN “HEAVEN”
Lord Asura became bold. His power had grown enormously, and he could see how Diana’s waned. He sent scouts to penetrate her heaven. Whereas before, Diana’s power would have turned them away with much force, this time they found cracks in her defenses. Lord Asura decided the day was ripe. It was time to take the heavens by storm.
Lord Asura sent a courier to Diana. “Surrender to me now, goddess Diana, and you will avoid bloodshed. For I, Lord Asura, am now your superior in might. So I will take your heaven for myself and add it to my crown. You can walk away and live, or you can resist and be slaughtered. This is your only choice.”
Sodol-kai, upon hearing this with Diana, was alarmed. He said to Diana, “I detest war. Let me meet with him and see if we can avoid this tragedy.”
Thus, Sodol-kai sent the courier back to Lord Asura: “Let us confer under the flag of truce.”
Lord Asura agreed. He came to a foothill at the borders of Diana’s heaven. Sodol-kai sat at an oak table in front of a purple tent, a white flag whipping in the breeze above.
Lord Asura snorted. “There is only one reason I am here. The time has come for you to pay obeisance to me, for I shall soon be your master.”
“I will never pay obeisance to you,” Sodol-kai said.
“Then I believe this conversation is over,” Lord Asura replied. He whisked his purple robe and began to leave.
“Wait!” Sodol-kai said. “I have more to say. This terrible war should be averted.”
“So say the future losers,” Lord Asura said. “For the winners, the war is on.”
“In the karmic cycles, all winners become losers,” Sodol-kai said. “It is a never-ending tragedy.”
“So says the fleeing fly to the wasp,” Lord Asura said.
“You will be a god, but then you too one day will fall,” Sodol-kai said. “For all you know is desire.”
“Yes, I was once your father and once her father,” Lord Asura said. “But I was also Diana’s subject on her cruel world, eons ago. Do you remember that? I will never forget the shame! That Diana of yours terrorized me in her ancient goddess world….And now, you wish me to remain subservient to you? Never! Your worlds will be mine.”
“How are you subservient to me?” Sodol-kai asked. “We both have heavens. And we can both have compassion now. We can forget the past and try for a better future together. We both have plenty of heavens. Why do you want them all?”
“I want them all so I can rule them all! It’s called power, you stupid idiot. I want it. And I will get it. I will never be subjected to Diana’s terror again. Now I will be the master. Subject yourself to me or get out of my way. I am going to storm your heaven.”
“Why do this?” Sodol-kai pleaded. “She changed long ago and is no longer terrorizing you. All are beautiful in God’s eyes—the eyes of the God beyond God, the creator of us all. Why covet the beauty of others when you have your own already? Why not claim power without being domineering?”
“Stop lecturing me, you who will soon be my slave,” Lord Asura said. “I tire of your beautiful heaven taunting me. It will be mine. I have said it and it shall be done. And now, this conversation is over. Armageddon will commence…shortly.”
Lord Asura whisked his purple royal robe and departed the tent. It was the last peaceful time Sodol-kai would share in this existence with his former father Titus, now Lord Asura, the man who became a demigod and aspired to be a god. Lord Asura was indeed the deification of desire.
“I’m so afraid…I don’t want to lose you,” Sodol-kai said on the beach as he held Diana. The sand, white like the sand of the Gulf of Mexico, felt cold and moist on the bottom of Sodol-kai and Diana’s bare feet. The skies darkened and thunder clouds appeared. A wicked wind whipped their clothes and the smell of salt water assaulted their noses.
“You will never lose my love,” Diana said.
“Are our defenses ready?”
“As ready as they’ll ever be,” Diana said. She closed her eyes and nuzzled Sodol-kai’s shoulder.
Lord Asura’s lightning attack was fierce and swift, with blitzkrieg force. Like ants invading a mound of dropped food, Lord Asura’s armies advanced through the heavenly hills. They could not be stopped. They would not be stopped. They were too many to stop. Sodol-kai and Diana ran from the beach and into their chalet as their forces fell back.
After Lord Asura’s armies traversed the foothills and crossed the beach, they charged to their final destination: the chalet on Mount Tara. Diana’s heaven began to tremble at the onslaught of their mighty forces. Diana and Sodol-kai fled again, abandoning the chalet and making their way further up the mountain. Their still-bare feet bled as they ran over some sharp rocks and branches along the mountainside. As wave upon wave of Lord Asura’s warriors advanced, an earthquake began. Soon it was heaven-rending and earth-shattering, indeed. Diana wept. As the earth of her heaven ripped open into a tremendous chasm, flames leapt from the abyss.
But this doomsday destruction mattered little to Lord Asura’s armies. They were prepared for these death throes of heaven. This was, after all, what they wanted: a crumbling earth and sky.
Diana was terrified, now certain she would lose her lover. But she grabbed Sodol-kai’s hand anyway as they ran for the highest peak of Mount Tara. As all final resistance crumbled, their chalet was taken by storm.
The other goddesses of the harem, those who had not joined with Lord Asura, now fled to their own heavens and left Diana to die. But Sodol-kai still held her hand as they reached the highest peak of her holy Mount Tara. Their now-calloused bare feet sunk into the cold, wet, fallen snows of the mountain as they trudged upward. The earthquake continued, growing more severe.
“Whatever happens, I will always love you,” Sodol-kai shouted over the earthquake as he held onto Diana. “I’m so sorry it had to be this way.”
“I’m not sorry for anything,” Diana said. “What we shared together was worth every minute.”
Lord Asura, looking above and seeing Sodol-kai and Diana on the peak of the mountain, ordered their execution and goaded his armies to advance to that highest peak.
There was little time left. Diana, sobbing, took a terrified look from the peak at the realms of woe below, knowing she would soon fall into them. Her good karma was gone. She was facing her end, the termination of her time as a goddess. Her heaven’s absolute cataclysm continued as fire fell like rain, pelting and sizzling upon the snow of Mount Tara and scorching their skin when it hit them. Sodol-kai sensed Diana’s doom was upon her, though he, as a would-be buddha and not a god, would be safe. This heaven was a result of her karma, not his. But Sodol-kai tried to save her, too.
“The way to liberation is letting go of our desire!” Sodol-kai yelled over the tumult.
“Until death do us part, my buddha husband,” Diana replied.
“I can’t be a buddha if I still desire you!” Sodol-kai shouted.
“And I can’t be a Goddess without you.”
Sodol-kai yelled even louder over the sounds of the massive earthquake and tempestuous torment: “I want you to achieve enlightenment and be saved! Worry not for me. Pine for me no more… I love you and can’t bear to see you suffer. For this reason, you have to let me go!”
“No!” Diana exclaimed.
“You have to let me go!” Sodol-kai screamed in agony over the thunderous earthquake. “You will suffer! Let me go!”
“I will NEVER let you go!” Diana screamed back.
Boulders jutted forth from the mountain and lava gushed forth. Sodol-kai could hold her no longer. Diana’s hand slipped from his grasp due to massive earthquake rumblings. She fell, tumbling into an abyss of entropy, into samsaric realms below. Their eyes never left each other as she fell further into chaos, flames lapping upon her. Sodol-kai tried to reach down for her, but there was nothing he could do. The flames were too hot for him, the rumblings of their crumbling heaven too great. Nevertheless, Sodol-kai dove into the abyss of entropy, trying to catch Diana. He flew down toward her, but the flames incinerated her in front of his tearful eyes long before he had a chance to grab her.
The other beautiful goddesses who belonged to his harem, as he belonged to theirs, rushed down to Sodol-kai to keep him from harm.
But Sodol-kai refused to be comforted. He said only this:
“I want war in the heavens no more.”
But wherever he searched, he could not find Diana. He looked for her, but she was not there.
Jennifer, sad for Sodol-kai, came to him one day and said, “…I can show you the way toward a real heaven, a real nirvana. One that is eternal. But for me to do that, Sodol-kai, you would have to let her go. That way she can let you go one day, too. You have to end the cycle.”
“That I cannot do,” Sodol-kai said, sorrowful, “for now she is suffering.”
“Then less than a buddha you’ll be,” Jennifer said, with a sad yet knowing smile.
Sodol-kai found a solitary spot. He knew that here ended the story that would begin yet again…A compassionate being, he could never leave samsara. Not while Diana was suffering. And so it was for her too, he guessed. Perhaps she had been his buddha, many ages and ages ago, past his memory. Now he was suffering, in deep desire for her. They could not let go of their desire for each other as they cycled through infinite time.
Jennifer walked up to Sodol-kai’s solitary spot, and placed her hand on his shoulder. As he wept bitter tears, Sodol-kai said, “How can she, or I, ever be saved? We are in perpetual desire. I am bound to her for infinity.”
Jennifer did not answer. There was only one last thing Sodol-kai could say, through his tears:
“I will never be able to let her go.”
Such is the way of things, when a buddha falls in love with a god.
Richmond West has taught philosophy at Fresno State University in California, Red Rocks Community College in Denver, Jacksonville State
University in Alabama, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and South University in Montgomery, Alabama. He has always been
fascinated by the study of religion and philosophy, his interests including philosophy of religion, world religions, and environmental ethics. He also
once served as a minister in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, but he was never ordained.
An empath and a loner, nothing really felt right in West’s life until he began writing, and now he can’t imagine what his life would be without exercising
such creativity. He has been writing since December, 2004. He is currently single–the love of his life is his yellow lab, Heidi.