From pages 19-20
Sen's snoring stopped. He took a deep breath, then suddenly began to
tremble all over, as though he was having some sort of fit. The light
changed and I saw a giant cat, a mountain lion, standing between me and
him, teeth bared.
"Sen," I cried, wanting to warn him.
But a strange sound came from my throat, a hissing that I barely
identified as my own voice. Sen sat bolt upright and looked calmly past
the cat. In fact, his gaze was piercing, looking right through the cat
into my eyes. "Stop this nonsense right now," he said.
"You need your sleep. You'll be exhausted by morning."
"The cat," I cried. "Don't you see it?" At
that moment I wasn't certain of anything. I could not clearly see the
cat myself. It was too close. I was terribly confused. Whey couldn't I
see it? I was aware only of its threatening posture, baring its teeth,
ready to pounce.
"Of course I see it," Sen said.
"It's your cat. It's not going to hurt me."
My cat, I
thought. Mine? Was all this truly my own creation? I stared back at the
cat. Its face lit up, glowing, as though it had been a plastic mask; now
someone had turned on a light behind the cat mask, exposing the
illusion. The body of the cat vanished and I was looking just at its
face, at that backlit mask. The mask of the cat began to dissolve, as
though the heat of the light behind it was causing it to melt. Soon it
was nothing more than a molten blob turning in space like a star. As I
watched, it began to reshape itself into a much more geometric form.
After a few moments its transformation was complete. Round,
saucer-shaped, it turned slowly in space before my eyes. The light still
shone within it, as though it possessed its own source of illumination.
It turned again and again, revealing its full configuration from the
front. It was a lens, like the lens from a telescope or a magnifying
glass. But this lens had an organic appearance, not unlike a living
cell, translucent and soft, definitely alive, a geometric jellyfish.
I moved closer to the lens. Deep inside it I saw movement. What
were these shapes? I saw many images from my childhood, my brothers, the
house where I'd lived during my high school years in Michigan, my
parents, my first lover. I thought about how people often reported
seeing their lives flash before their eyes when they were faced with
death. Was I dying? I looked deeper into the lens, as if to find my
answer there. I saw a cat, a mountain lion...a giant bird...a beautiful
sunset over the ocean. There was a rugged trail up a mountain, and a
man...Sen. He was sleeping by the rock, his head on his knapsack. I
could not figure out where he was--in the lens, or beyond it, or both?
The lens turned in the air. I closed my eyes, trying to block it
out, trying to see around it, or to see a clear place through it, where
the world beyond would not be distorted by the images inside the lens.
But I could not escape the lens' influence, and now I was aware that it
was turning deep in my consciousness, in the same space out of which
dream and imagination are created. I had never before noticed how large
this mental space I called imagination could be. It had no limits, no
beginning, middle, or end. It seemed to stretch out in all directions, a
vast landscape whose borders were as unlimited as space itself…
For a long time I just sat quietly and thought about this. It
seemed to me that the lens was like a vehicle for my awareness, giving
me an identity separate from the rest of the world. This was the image I
had been seeking since I was a child. A thousand questions and
speculations that I had entertained along the way now focused on the
lens image for me.
Having the sense of separateness which the lens
provided seemed to me both exciting and frightening. It meant that I was
not like an ant, with instincts, that is, pre-programmed responses built
in, dictating my every action. It meant that I was capable of creating
my own program, or even of overriding whatever biological or God-given
programs might be built in.
My decisions, my fears, my dreams, my
acquired knowledge--all could come into play. In my present situation,
up on the mountain, I could make a decision, based on my fears or on
other factors contained in my lens, to leave my guide (Sen) sleeping by
the mouth of the cave and make my way down the mountain trail alone. Or
I could choose to trust him and wait for morning. Regardless of which
decision I made, my awareness of my separateness--achieved through the
lens--was now very clear to me. I alone was responsible for my destiny.
I was terribly excited about being able to see all this. The vision of
the lens provided me with a symbol for making sense of knowledge I
hadn't even been aware that I was collecting over the years…
(Continued on page 20 of the book)
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