We are sitting in a circle, talking. Up above the sky is blue, and clear. Someone makes a promise; someone else shakes his head. Finally I get everyone's attention. I stand up and speak:

"If the world that comes after this is not one-world, but all-world; and if the life that comes after this is not my life, but all-life; then what should we do? I mean today; I am talking about the morning -- this morning, which began when the sun rose in the east and slowly burned over the clouds until they were all gone, and there was no trace left of the way they turned purple, then gold; and no reason to cry about it. Doesn't everything end, and soon than we think? Today I am bones and skin and soul. Tomorrow I may become the nothing for which we have no language to describe, the best words just signs pointing past themselves to something we can never imagine. Will you spend your life trying? Should you?"

When I sit down I feel the grass beneath me, and a wind comes in from the west and it runs through us, or we are spun through it. Someone leans in to tell me something; the rest are talking again. I overhear Jonathan and Wendy:

Jonathan: I am interested in ideas. With the right idea, I can stop time. I can build a thought, or a city of thoughts, and disappear inside. God is an idea and if I understand Him right I will find Him inside me, waiting for me in my mind, which is where He's always been.

Wendy: What about things?

Jonathan: What things?

Wendy: The table, the chair, the sunshine the sunset.

Jonathan: They are not as interesting, and besides, whenever I want I can think "chair" and there it is; and I change its shape or color or stack them so high, I might find God there at top, waiting for me.

Wendy: But you can't sit in it. You can't pass the time.

Our circle has gotten smaller: three of us left, explaining they would like much to stay but were tired and needed to be up for work, bright and early. Two others must have quietly slipped out. Jonathan is watching Wendy and Wendy is watching the horizon, where the north star has quietly slipped in and joined us. Some others are talking in hushed nighttime voices, though it is only dusk. Ivan stands up, and makes a speech:

"You spend a lifetime trying to please people, but when you die, where are they there? I think you die as you dream, which is to say: alone; whether or not you held, whether or not you were loved. What should we do about this? If you cannot come with me, what good are you? If you cannot love me enough to make me stay, why--"

Ivan breaks off and sits, suddenly. He is crying. "There there, Ivan," I say, and rub his back. His strong shoulders jerk each time he swallows a sob. Jonathan stands:

"The Self is the author of all creation. The mature person has awareness of this: whenver I speak to you, I am speaking with an aspect of myself. Because the immature person does not have awareness of this, he becomes attached; unforuntately, for him all his attachments will be unbearable so long as he does not recognize himself in the other. The more he tries to run from himself into the arms of others, the more he will hate them; for they each reflect back his own emptiness: the eyes of his lover and the eyes of his killer look exactly the same."

Someone interrupts: "What about love?"

"Love for the mature person is the voluntary surrender of awareness. It is a metaphysical transformation in which I confuse you for me and me for you -- like when you are little, and cry whenever your mother does. What emerges is a single Self, which in turn creates a new world around the lovers accessible to and understandable by only them. For all of us, waking life is like a dream: all the people you meet are your own creation, and in each of them you find an aspect of your own Self."

When he finishes I look around: Ivan is still sitting with his head in his hands, there are a million stars above us, and only Wendy is left. Jonathan seems unsure of what to do next, and then sits down.

Wendy: That was a very nice speech.

Jonathan: Thank you. It's true, you know... what I said about love.

Wendy: I know.

Jonathan: Do you love me, then?

Wendy: I don't know.

Jonathan: Will you love me tomorrow?

Wendy: Maybe.

Jonathan: That, at least, is something to think about.

As he starts to walk away, Wendy calls after him: "Don't stop time too long... you might miss something." He looks back and smiles.

But he does.


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