The road to self improvement runs all the way up to the top of that mountain over there. The path gets steeper along the way, but the peak remains as distant as the day you started out.
Whatever happened to all the rewards you were promised for taking on that journey? The enlightenment, the inner peace, the freedom, for God’s sake. What about even a glimpse of God, or the Avatar, or your higher self, or whatever? And what about the lie that the ashram is the place to meet people of like-mindfulness? No one even asks you your name, let alone does the karma sutra with you. For a bunch of people committed to the self is illusion dogma they seem pretty obsessed with those mirrors on the wall. The guru’s well tended robes and dreadlocks reek of patchouli and ego.
The mountain of universal love stays distant but the war comes closer everyday. The lone wolves are amongst us now, the crack teams with the smart weapons will be next. If the world is what we create in our minds why is it the way it is? All that work in meditation we’re doing and what? … we create violence and streets of blood? Have we gained nothing?
What about the whole month when you left the TV off, when you walked past the bottle shop with perfect restraint, when you banned everything animal from stomach or skin, or when you went full-hog Brahmacharya? How was the inner peace for those thirty days? Where was the oneness with all things? Who came along with compassion to soothe your weary soul? When did the wave of well-being wash through you? Why did you expect anything? Why?
You wake for another day. The bathroom floor is cold and you put it out of your mind. The coffee is wrong with almond milk, and you put it out of your mind. Your company is doing well courtesy of free trade arrangements and the low wages of distant humans, and you put that out of your mind too, you have to. The dreams of selfless service in a gift economy remain hidden in the mist somewhere up on that ever retreating mountainside. You fill in your monthly performance evaluation and email it to HR. They know you lie, but you tell the right lies and they are fine with that.
The family is all gone now. And with their leaving went all shape to life. Gone are the social circles, gone are the love triangles, gone are the three square meals. The love triangles seemed so right at the time, so modern and liberal, so mature. We are not prudes, not conventional nor oppressed by societal norms, that’s what we said to each other. You do not foresee jealousy and betrayal in something so open. The final explosion shattered all trust and respect beyond repair. No new promises could ever undo what was seen first hand in the orgasm eyes of others. Forgiveness also up on that mountainside.
The weekend comes with no invitations, again. Community an illusion like the self and the universe. The park waits for you. Waits for your bum to warm its bench in the shady corner where no one goes. Waits for your bread roll crumbs to be had by noisy minors and bush turkeys. The paperbark trees watch the children dressed as superheroes and princesses controlling their parents every moment. Look at me, give me tea, fix my toy, I don’t like that boy, take me home, I need your phone. The boot camp mob, all sweat and Lycra, lust for the instructor and dig deep and pump harder to gain just one word of favour. Dog shit in plastic handbags is carried by responsible walkers. The smell of Friday night’s prawns and beer cooking in council bins is the highlight of your get out of the house and into nature adventure.
Sunday, you have one lotus left to be punched out on your ashram card. The competition to hold the warrior pose longest or to go into scorpion deepest is pathetic, can’t anyone see that? The gold coin donation request for a cup of chai is the final insult. You thought there would be so much to gain here, that the mountain might seem possible for a change.
There is a woman with no make-up and baggy shorts, you’ve seen her once or twice, she comes and goes. She is oblivious to the beautiful people and the striving and the mirror on the wall. She sees your desperation and somehow knows you have deemed this to be the last time.
She asks why you will not return. Her eyes are green pools.
You tell her you have made a mistake, that you have gained nothing from your experiment on the spiritual path.
She nods, then asks, but what you have lost?
She turns and walks away. You look at the beautiful people sipping chai and see the ugliness of all that grasping.
You laugh. You have lost so much.
The mountain moves closer.