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Short Story – Zen Fantasy n°2

Short Story – Zen Fantasy n°2

His eyes hurt. It is not just a mere desire to sleep. It is not laziness. He has resisted so much. He’s on the precipice now. They go on, this is just what they want: take you on the edge of madness. Nobody wants to go crazy. Madness hurts much more than eyes. There is a point of no return, but you can perceive it. It is a matter of instinct. You feel that point and when you approach it you give in, because madness is a field without boundaries and in seeing it from afar it seems full of thorns. They leverage this and they take you to feel that point.

There are those who give up long before, those who surrender right on the border, those who go further and take the risk. Among these, many die. So they always told him. Only a few resist, those few who have proved excellent already in training.

He is one of these. It is clear. All his companions have always recognized his inner strength, his ability to concentrate out of the ordinary. The teacher often took him as an example. Now it’s time to prove it.

Roughly two days have passed. As soon as they were taken, they threw him on one side, without even binding him or saying anything to him. He did not know what would happen. He immediately listened, looked around, tried to understand, but then recalled the master’s words: «Do not waste time, there is nothing to wait for and nothing to be expected. Concentrate immediately. You will save a lot of energy». Then he remembered

the first trap: doubt.

They leave you there in solitude and in silence so that apprehension takes over. Taken by fear, the mind enters a vortex of thoughts, which sinks the soul and exhausts the body. If the body is already tired, the breakdown is immediate.

So he let the thoughts pass and focused on the breath. It’s been two or three hours. He did not even feel hungry. It must have been dark when they arrived. They thought he was asleep, but he was still focused.

They shove and prodded him with a stick. From that point the trial began. About two days and they have not allowed him to sleep yet. At first, waking him up whenever they saw him close his eyes and slow his breathing. When they realized that he was just trying to stay calm, they started to goad him. They tried in every way: with ice water, with fire flames under his arms, with deafening noises in his ears. This is not new, he has been thinking all the time, the master warned him and made him exercise a lot for

the second trap: agitation.

«If you allow your heart and breath to accelerate, you will lose concentration of mind and, losing that, you will lose yourself».

The senses excite the body continuously. What happens on the surface may not be brought deep within. When you learn concentration, heart and breath still react to the stimulus, but awareness intervenes immediately and the effect fades in a short period of time. He never demanded to become insensitive, the teacher has always been clear about it: it is impossible.

The exercise consisted in regaining mind attention and control as quickly as possible, thus shortening the reaction time with training in order to be ready to face up the following stimulus.

So, closing his eyes, every time he focused on his heart. So far he has held up. He took this continuous alternating stimulation and restoration of relaxation as a play, like a wave that rises and falls. After two days, the wave has become its new object of concentration and an almost normal condition.

They have noticed it and, as expected, have begun to raise the game. If closing his eyes allows him to isolate himself with his mind, keeping his eyes open will force him to yield. They have not struggled to block it, never resisted. They put a sort of hat on his head, the lower part of which reach up to the cheekbones, a sort of metal mask that hooks the lower and upper eyelids. It is not painful. They brought him out in the light of a high, scorching sun. It must be midday on the third or perhaps the fourth day. The light hurts. They left him there, it will already be a few hours, because the sun has moved. His eyes burn and weep. At least, as long as they  can weep, he’s safe. Soon they will dry up and at that point a new phase will start. 

They arrive, they drag him inside, he understands that they will not take off the mask. He will have to learn to focus even with his eyes open, ignoring pain and lack of rest. The precipice is closer and closer. He spared a lot of  energy by eliminating thoughts, but his body begins to yield. The discomfort of the eyes obscures the inner sight as well. 

He feels himself stumble as they release him to throw him back into his corner. The third trap, he doesn’t remember, he can not remember the third trap. His eyes hurt, he’s tired, images, pain and ghosts appear.

The exterior is confused with the interior, what is outside takes on the appearance of what is inside.

«When you think you have conquered the senses, pay attention to what is inside of you, because, finding the whole space of the mind free, it will enlarge out of proportion». Yes, here it is:

the third trap: illusion,

taking for real what is not true, taking for real what is only a production of the mind. It is not true, it begins to repeat itself. It is not true, it is not true, nothing is true, wake up to the truth, wake up, wake up …

The tug wakes him up, his buddy has the face of those who are trained to calm, but makes it clear that there is to be alert. «They have arrived, we have no escape». He feels the inner flicker of agitation, he controls it and gets up. The moment has arrived. The teacher has already been caught in an ambush a few days ago. Today it’s their turn. It is the time of the real test.