The island called to me again last night.
It often calls to me when my spirituality is lacking; when I’m feeling down or not my best. The sangha reaches out to me across the airwaves and speaks to me.
Not in words, but in dreams.
Once you go to the island, it remains a part of you. There’s a permanent psychological link between it and you. It and the people on it will see you through the hard times.
And hard times these have been.
The island showed me that it had fallen on neglected times. The residents had turned bitter and twisted; They had grown foul and decrepit. The women had become witches; breaking off into their own sect, listening to the creaks and moans of a hastily constructed tower – each groan and tap bringing meaning to their endless stream of questions. A jewellery box stuffed full of twigs and feathers became their deluded connection to the “other side”. Seeking answers to questions from beyond the grave.
The men had become animals… Slaves to the witches – Only one or two remained, I did not ask where the others went. I imagine they had fled this corrupt place.
I tried to argue with them that their belief in their box of twigs or their rickety “church” tower were against Buddhist values. But they would not listen. The witches were wrapped up in their own world; starved, misguided seeking solitude in madness. They rejected reason. Blind faith.
As night fell, a vicious storm brewed up, and as the thunder roared, and the heavy storm waves crashed upon the stony shore of the island; the witches retreated to the tower. The rain battered through the timber and stones, we climbed to the top level to be nearer the “gods”. They asked a series of yes/no questions, listening for taps on the ceiling which they could use for an answer.
The wind, it picked up, it shook the loose stone walls violently. Rain and blood started dripping into the jewellery box of twigs, rain hissed as it hit the candle flames. The blood was not blood; but red wax falling from some place.
“We must get out, it is not safe here,” I proclaimed. The witches reluctantly agreed, and fled their shaking church, and as we stood outside watching the tower sway, a lightning bolt flashed, followed by an almighty crash – The tower had crumbled.
“Thank you, you have saved us,” the leading witch said. “No,” I say. “Reason and logic is what saved you.” The witches scoffed.
We took refuge in the garden; the big birch trees offering shelter from the storm. The storm sank into the night.
Morning arrived; sunny clear and clean. Wiping away the madness of the storm. With it, arrived someone new. A nun. A nun with long blonde, flowing curly hair. I spoke to her, “This place is not right. It has become corrupted by delusion and madness. These people are living a lie.” She gently nodded and agreed.
As the witches picked at the garden, the nun stood on the mound in the lawn. “Please come, there is something I must show you.” The nurses looked at each other through long wet straggled hair drawn across their faces. They nodded, and everyone took their place at the bottom of the mound, on the lawn.
“Sisters, and brothers,” the nun started, “This place is not what we intended. It lacks the clarity, it lacks the rationalism and the meaning of what the Buddha taught us. You will not find any true meaning in the false idols of yours,” the witches nodded, “instead, why do you not return to the real truth, the dharma, as Buddha taught. It is simple. Clear your minds of the insanity and organicness of your untrained minds, and return to us, where truth and simplicity flow. Where life is simple, and easy. Where real answers come from within, not some ill-gained imaginary lies.”
As the witches listened, their hair grew shorter, and turned from black to blonde, their clothes become whole again, the colour of their clothes returned. Pinks and greens, blue and yellow. The witches reverted back to their ordinary selves.
“It is easy to lose your way, when stranded by yourself. The sangha are here to help. Practice what you know, and when you are in need of refreshment, come to us. Objectivity is all you need.”