The Ego Machine

The Enlightenment Box

Letters to the Editor -  Transactions of the Royal Philosophical Society. 

    The following account comes from a journal kept by the deceased anthropologist J.K. who was my colleague and friend.  I have neither edited nor annotated the narrative, and will leave its interpretation to wiser minds. He details his experience with an enlightenment box. J. K. was not prone to flights of fantasy, yet much of what follows  appears fanciful. I expect ridicule, if only for the having the temerity to submit such a fantastic tale to such a respected journal, but I believe this narrative will find a sympathetic ear with some.

    This account explicitly links the ego machine with the workings of an enlightenment box. Though we celebrate the ego machine in all its guises, the scientific community regard enlightenment boxes as a curio. The Royal Philosophical Society owns at least three, which are gathering dust in their basement.  The manner of this involvement might be at a metaphysical level. I cannot say.  Although all opened enlightenment boxes have been empty, anecdotal evidence supporting unusual mental states induced by them is overwhelming. I trust and hope that this narrative will contribute to the lore surrounding these strange devices. It is only a matter of time before the study of enlightenment boxes enters the mainstream. Until then, I shall await a clarion call for serious research.

October 1st. 1899

    I am compelled to write in response to the critique of the symbol set used by Royal Institute’s Dorian exhibit presented by Landers et al. in the last quarter’s Philosophical Transactions. The following account details the acquisition and testing of an ‘Enlightenment Box’ given to me by an unknowing acquaintance some six years ago. An ego mechanism similar to the Dorian exhibit features and it will, I trust, be of interest. I have much to narrate and shall cut straight to the chase. 

    On my birthday, P.  gave me the oddest present yet. Though I have ceremonial masks and fertility symbols from his worldwide travels, many are too risque to display, and I know for a fact that my housekeeper refuses to dust items because of their overt sexual nature. I responded with guarded gratitude.   He placed on my desk a wooden cube of various hues. The uppermost surface sported a thumb-sized lever of the design used to control the flow of electrical current. P. stopped me from pushing the lever. I thought he intended the box as a practical joke. I am easy to embarrass, and P. takes especial delight in putting me on the spot. Then again, it might be a sincere token of his respect for our friendship. Adverse circumstances affecting our joint business venture have tested our relationship. He looked serious enough when he asked me not to activate the box until he had gone, and I dismissed the notion that the gift was a joke. 

‘You need to be alone when you use it. I tried it in the office. It did nothing for me, but for the right person who pushes the lever,  it can show what lies beyond the veil. The afterlife? A spiritual dimension? The vendor said much, but it was nonsense. Sounds like mystical claptrap to me, and I have no patience for those who believe in such stuff. It has lovely filigree wood-work on the lid. It is also pleasing to hold. A conversation piece, I suppose. This is an enlightenment box. Let me know how you get on. No, I am only a little serious. Oh, you must never try to open it. It’s sealed for a reason. If you do then, I doubt it is dangerous, but best not to. You’d destroy it, anyway. It looks of sound construction.’ 

    I thanked him and said I would look at the box in the evening after finishing my work. P. placed the box on my writing desk and we turned to other matters. Only when I retired for the night did I remember his gift. I held the fist-sized box under a reading lamp and scrutinised it with a magnifying glass. It weighed little and tinkled when shaken.  A brass lever protruded from the otherwise featureless surface. A wit had handwritten ‘Enlightenment On/Off’ in a cursive script on a label under the switch. Another poke at my Buddhist interests. A harmless jibe, though in questionable taste, and not in keeping with the friendship we have maintained for twenty-odd years. A skilled carpenter had assembled the box using neither nails nor screws. I found, ‘Do not open’ written in capitals on another label, pasted on the box’s underside. Two brass hinges behind the lever suggested the box’s lid meant to open. A gentle pressure on the lid opened it a fraction. 

    I assumed the box would not open because someone had locked it. Otherwise it was pointless having hinges.

  ‘Enough’, I thought. Pulling the lever would reveal a noisy jack-in-the-box type surprise which would annoy me and wake my domestic. I replaced the box on my desk and retired.

    I first flicked the box’s lever after my morning coffee. It had occurred to me in the night to treat the box as a puzzle.  It might open if I pressed sections of the filigree in the correct order. My friend knows of my fondness for puzzles and presented the box to me for this reason.  I systematically forced each section of the box in various combinations and achieved nothing. I did not want to obey the crass ‘On/Off’ instruction until I had exhausted every possibility of opening the lid. I had, however,  many things to do. I had already spent more than enough time fiddling with the box.

    I pushed the lever to the ‘on’ position and steeled myself for a noisy and puerile surprise. My comfortable and homely study vanished. A painfully bright light assaulted my eyes. I sat on a rock in a bleak and barren panorama.  An icy wind penetrated my dressing gown. I gave an oath and stood. In my shock I reset the lever to ‘off’ and the walls of my study replaced the landscape. I sat and panted as if I had run a race. 

    P. purchased the box from an antiquarian bookseller who had brought it from the sale of props owned by the late Harry Rodini, a magician of no particular renown. Before taking to the stage, Rodini had been a carpenter and in between tours of the midlands, he made his own magical props in a woodshed at the end of his garden. He had used the box in a mind-reading act. The book seller remembered nothing further from the auction notes. The box possessed an undistinguished pedigree. Given my recent experience, I had hoped for a mysterious provenance involving Tibetan mystics or some such fantastic setting.  I let a full week elapse before touching the box again. The initial shock faded, and doubts invaded my thinking. Had I experienced a seizure?  Or the precursor to a psychotic breakdown? Instead of wondering about the box, I should seek a neurologist. My friend suspected nothing amiss, but asked whether I had opened it. He assumed he had gifted me a puzzle box. He didn’t have the patience for puzzles.

    I prepared myself for the next time. I wore a thick jacket, a hat, tweeds, a stout pair of climbing boots and a backpack containing items I judged useful. Twine, a length of rope, two portable police lanterns, camphor, lantern oil, matches, a compass, a notebook, pencils, warm clothing and three rounds of sandwiches. As an afterthought, I decided on my walking stick and climbing goggles. Dressed for a major expedition and seated in my study’s peaceful and homely atmosphere, I must confess to looking foolish. I took a deep breath flicked the box’s lever. 

    The desolate panorama reappeared, and the freezing wind penetrated my jacket and stung my ears.  I had forgotten a hat.  Despite the bright and colourless light which shone overhead,  there was no sun. Large mesas clustered together at the horizon, and outcrops of stone dotted the landscape.  A thorough binocular sweep yielded nothing like vegetation or wildlife. The vista possessed beauty, though a stark and severe beauty.  

    I trained my binoculars at the base of the nearest mesa and saw boulders gathered in a circular cluster. They appeared arranged and reminded me of the layout of primitive villages. This notion grew on me, and I resolved to investigate. Steady!, I cautioned myself. I needed to make sure of my return home.  I flicked the box’s lever, and the vista swapped places with my study with comforting promptness. By Jove! I thought. The Royal Geographical Society would have something to say about this. Being able to explore a foreign landscape from the comfort of one’s armchair was a first. I must not be complacent or careless and take excellent care of the box. Its loss would strand me forever on this world. I wrapped it in a thick cardigan and went to place it in the centre of my rucksack next to the sandwiches. 

    The box fell from the back of the rolled up cardigan and dropped into a crack in the stone floor. I shouted the foulest of oaths and fell to my knees to reach into the crack’s darkness. Though the gap was little bigger than my fist, the walls fell away so that my arm reached out into space.  I stretched and strained, yet grasped only cool air. Cursing myself for a fool,  I  my walking stick into the gap. Nothing! My outstretched hand holding the tip of the stick also found no purchase. I pushed two rocks through the crack and listened for the percussion. Nothing. I believe I performed a jig in my agitation. Why didn’t I put the damn thing on a lanyard? I was the most stupid and reckless of fools. 

I composed myself with a breathing exercise learned in Tibet. Above all, I am a practical man. After a brief time, my panic subsided, and I felt able to plan my next course of action.  The crack continued away from me in both directions. The geological disturbance responsible for creating the crevice had also created a large subterranean space which might follow its path across the plain. I intended to follow the fissure and find an opening large enough for me to descend. The box was small, and I might miss it in the darkness. I marked the spot with my cardigan, which I loaded with two stones and dropped through the crack. I don’t know why I thought my cardigan would be more visible than the box. I assume the shock of losing the box had muddled my thinking. I carried two old but serviceable police lanterns.  After filling its oil reservoir to the brim, I lit one and lowered it three feet into the crevice with a length of twine. The other end I secured to a boulder.  The lantern should be visible from a suitable distance and its oil supply would last for at least five hours.  If I saw the lantern, then my cardigan and the box would be close by. In which direction should I follow the fissure? I picked out its path with binoculars and retrieved my pocket compass. The needle twitched and homed in on one direction. The compass worked here. I found this comforting. Though it was not possible to trace the crack’s trajectory for more than a few hundred feet, a rocky outcrop in the north looked promising. This took me away from the circular boulder clusters, but I was no longer interested. The important task of finding the box had superseded my original intention, which had been to ramble over the landscape until I found something interesting. Though scared, I followed the crack with a spring in my step. It disheartened me to see the fissure disappearing after half a mile, but I continued until the plain gave way to a slope and then to a deeper shaded level resembling a path. Curious grooves broke up the surface dust. They were tracks of a kind, though many grooves double backed on themselves or described spirals. Walls on either side grew higher and the walking space diminished, forcing me to walk sideways. The crack of light above me soon faltered and disappeared. An unbroken ceiling pitched me into gloom. The sigh of a gentle breeze replaced the wind’s howling. I had discovered a subterranean passage which might lead to the box. I allowed myself a moment’s congratulation. 

    The path was hard to see, so I unpacked the remaining lantern. This was fortunate as the path forked ahead of me. Another step and I would have fallen headlong into the depths. One track descended into the darkness and the other hugged the wall and then broadened out to a sizeable level area with borders the lantern light could not illuminate. I consulted the compass and saw the path’s direction took it on the same bearing I had started from.  ‘Come sir, you may do well out of this yet’, I shouted. Things could be worse and my plan, made in an agitated state, appeared to be an excellent one. If I followed the path for half a mile, I might see the lantern. Assuming there was still daylight, the light admitted by the fissure should enable me to find my cardigan and the box. Was it advisable to push the lever on finding the box? Or should I return to the surface? I might appear six feet underground if I activated it in this subterranean tunnel. It was a good question, and I congratulated myself on having the presence of mind to ask it. Assuming I returned to my study without mishap, a large brandy was in order.  After fortifying myself and thanking my lucky stars, I would think about another expedition.  I would bring a hat next time. I constructed comprehensive equipment lists and became engaged in the logistics of a future visit. As my ears were no longer assaulted by the howling wind, the need was not as pressing, but I missed a hat. Such thoughts occupied me as I trudged onwards into the darkness. I was deep in an imagined scenario where I received an award for an account of my travels when sounds ahead of me shocked me into awareness.

    The subterranean silence I had become accustomed to was a stark contrast to the clanking and scraping noises ahead. The noise was alarming, though familiar. It sounded like metal being dragged against rock. Extinguishing the lantern plunged me into impenetrable darkness. The scraping continued. Whatever was making the sound had not detected me, or my presence was of no interest. Fright rooted me to the spot. 

    This is not useful. This cannot go on, I thought. I cannot stand in the darkness forever, and I cannot go ahead without light. I may as well take it on the chin now. I lit  the lantern and moved in the sound’s direction. The conviction grew upon me that as I was listening to a broken machine. As a child, I possessed a stationary steam engine which made similar sounds when I attempted to cut sandstone with the rotor. I came across a mangled mechanism in the passageway. Though damaged, a flywheel rotated about an axis protruding from the ground. Its supporting gimbal was embedded in rock.  It was not clear to me how it continued to spin since the friction generated by scraping against the wall should have stopped the flywheel’s rotation long ago. 

    As if registering my presence, the wheel span faster and something like a phonograph funnel fastened to a gimbal twisted around as if it was looking for me. I noticed a set of bellows hung under the flywheel, inflate. 

    ‘Ahh, there you are, you old fool.’ 

I have a resilient disposition, yet I felt as if I might lose consciousness. Nothing prepared me for being addressed by a mechanism in the subterranean depths of an alien land - and in such a familiar tone. I allowed only P.  to call me an old fool. 

‘You are late, I have already eaten. What could not wait until Monday? Not more inquiries about the box?’ 

The bellows wheezed like an asthmatic as they inflated and deflated.

‘My God!, what has happened to you?’

My cracked voice echoed up the passageway. 

     The flywheel rotated, and the funnel gave vent to a long, expressive sigh. The mechanism was silent after that. I waited for a considerable time. I shouted at the mechanism and nudged it with my foot. Nothing. I thought I had imagined the episode. I found this notion more acceptable than the alternatives. 

I addressed the inert funnel.

    ‘I need to leave now. I return later,  if I am able. Maybe you will speak to me then.’

I waited two minutes for a reply, and with a heavy heart, I continued my progress along the dark passage. I had exhausted the lantern oil supply, and it cast a flickering orange tinged illumination. This reminded me of the lantern suspended from the fissure.  It was therefore with considerable relief that I saw a beam of pure white light descend from the ceiling. I hoped this was the fissure whose path I had followed. I needed only to follow the light, and I could spot the lantern. My spirits lifted, and I hummed a cheerful tune.

    Thereafter, the walls lost their rocky texture, and I was more than a little surprised to find I was walking on a tiled floor. The passage now resembled a corridor in a dilapidated building. There were doors on either side, but none would open. The corridor widened. My echoing footsteps suggested I had entered a large vaulted space. Spots of light from the fissure above me cast pale lozenges on the debris-filled floor. The bright patches became more regular as I walked into the centre. I stumbled over the rocks wrapped in my cardigan.  The box had to be nearby. Failing to find it on the floor, I looked up. The box was hard to miss as it had grown to a stupendous size. It was at least three times as tall as me.  What in the blazes! My hoarse oath echoed in the cavernous space. What is going on here? 

    My mind reeled, and I collapsed onto the tiles. Exhaustion had sapped my resilience.  I remained on the floor as I found it easier to speculate on the monstrous edifice before me while sitting. The most likely explanation was that someone had constructed a replica, though the reason was beyond my understanding. Maybe the box had grown. Or perhaps I had shrunk. Recent events had made me receptive to the most outlandish possibilities. As the cardigan had neither shrunk nor grown, I might infer that my size had not changed.  The box lay on its side. Its brass lever was the size of a man. It was in the ‘ON’ position. 

With scant thought for the consequences, I determined to push the lever to the ‘OFF’ position. My situation was unlikely to worsen, but maybe I could end this nightmare. I stood on my toes, stretched and grabbed the base of the switch by the label. I pulled myself up and used gaps in the fretwork to scramble onto the lever.  It resisted my attempts to move it.  I balanced on the lever end and jumped without budging it a jot. The disappointing conclusion to my experiment was that I could not move the massive lever.  I walked to the box’s underside and found a door with a tarnished doorknob. The makers of this monstrosity had erred in accuracy, for I remembered no such opening on the rear of the smaller version. It’s handle gave way under my weight, and the door creaked open to reveal a space resembling a dilapidated attic. By dint of thrusting the failing lantern through the doorway, I saw broken and rotting floorboards under mounds of dust. Cracked and peeling plaster covered the walls.  A huge gyroscopic mechanism of the design I had met in the tunnel dominated the space. It leaned against the corner of one wall where it met the ceiling. The pivot end of the rotor axis pivot gouged a hole in the floor. Though corroded, the mechanism appeared intact. Sufficient clearance between the flywheel rim and the wall existed to allow unimpeded rotation. I climbed up to the level of the flywheel, using gaps in the wall and the rotor axis as leverage. I stood on the flywheel’s rim and tried to move it with my feet. A funnel apparatus and sphere attached to the gimbal above me looked intact. The lower jointed funnel section touched the flywheel surface. Though designed to move, rust held it in place. Tatters of ancient leather hung from underneath the rotor. If the maker had intended this as an accurate facsimile of the box, then the gyroscopic device and its attached gear comprised its working innards. How a gyroscopic device jammed in a box had transported me to an alien landscape was beyond my understanding. 

    The enlightenment ‘On Off’ lever connected to a smaller lever on the flywheel. I read ego On/Off inscribed on a brass placard at the lever base.  Moving the large lever would engage the smaller lever inside the box. Its action on the flywheel seemed to function as a brake. The lever was not engaged, but neither was the flywheel  rotating. The smaller lever would not budge either.  Even if,  by some superhuman effort, I pushed the lever, I could not understand how engaging a brake on a stationary flywheel would achieve anything. 

    The anonymous bundles of material littered around the base of the mechanism were human bodies in various stages of dessication and mutilation. The head on one body was a rusty iron sphere. In another, someone had reconstructed the spine with  metal pipes. I saw the bowels of others stuffed with cogwheels and springs. The ancient corpses were a ghastly sight but looked to have died peacefully because, despite their mutilations, they lay on ground in foetal positions reminiscent of sleep. The uncanny experiments in vivisection did not sit well with me, and I left the box-room profoundly disturbed. 

    A close examination of the debris-littered courtyard floor with the flickering lantern found nothing interesting. Circumnavigation of the courtyard boundaries showed no additional exits.  I had two choices. I could either return to the surface, or remain with the box. I opted for the box and sat with my back against a wall and my head in my hands. The silence was oppressive and I would have given much for some movement or noise. The musty odour overlaid with what I assumed was the smell of putrefaction played on my nerves. After a long while,  the mechanism granted my wish for movement, for a hissing interrupted my miserable reverie. The flywheel rotated and its hiss became a keening whine. Both the phonographic horn assembly and a thick, flexible pipe protruding from the sphere, moved across the disc. Their movements became jerky and repetitive as the horn’s jointed end stuck in the flywheel’s surface. I sat transfixed and was only a little surprised when the leather bellows underneath the disc inflated. The lever’s purpose was now clear. I lacked the strength to flick the brass lever outside the box, but the smaller one on the flywheel would be easier to engage. I lurched over to the mechanism and threw my body against the lever. The bellows deflated and a deafening ‘DON’T!’ screamed from the funnel. The small interior shook. My ears literally rang. I had already thrown my weight against the lever and the metal pad engaged the disc rim, stopping it within a few revolutions. Once again, the mechanism was inert. Nor did resetting the lever start it moving again.

    ‘What have I done?’ 

I must have repeated the question a hundred times. I waited one, two, three hours for the disc to spin again. Awful doubts tormented me.  Had I damaged the mechanism?  Had I ensured that the flywheel could never move again?  Maybe it spun once a century? I tried repeating all my movements and actions since first seeing the box. God forgive me, I removed a short piece of pipe from a corpse’s spine and used it unsuccessfully to lever open the flywheel brake. 

    I must admit despairing at this point. There was no reason to leave the box and none to stay. Apparently, it was my destiny to join the desiccated corpses on the floor. I reasoned that if this box was my lost box, then the chances of me returning home were now slim.  I quit the oppressive interior. The odour of decay and damp was strong. The underlying muskiness emanating from the mummified remains conspired to prompt an attack of retching. I resolved to retrace my steps and return to the fresh air. I did not want to die of thirst or starvation in this fetid hole. 

    The dark vaulted chamber had vanished. The cube’s door now opened into a short, dingy corridor. I lingered on the threshold, weighing up the pros and cons of proceeding. Though the corridor promised no immediate improvement in my situation, I tried the door at the end of the corridor in preference to returning to the cube’s interior. I stumbled through the doorway into the stuffiness of another small, airless space. Each hesitant footstep produced puffs of mould from a mouldering carpet. Either side of me, the mildew streaked plaster walls ran with damp. The dilapidated room stank of mould. An empty picture frame hung on the wall; its contents had long since rotted away. Soggy chunks of plaster, fallen from the ceiling and walls,  littered the room’s rotting floorboards. Its interior was dingier than the corridor and another door appeared only as I stumbled to the opposite wall. The further door opened into an identical dilapidated room. I had a presentiment that tracing my steps back to the cube’s interior would now be useless. Though the lantern no longer worked, a weak phosphorescence from the walls illuminated the room. I speculated that the light was the by-product of corruption, for the stench of mouldering matter was overpowering. The next door beckoned. My situation in the box had been hopeless. Salvation might lie behind the next door. It was this hope which compelled me to turn the next doorknob. And then the next. I moved through a labyrinth comprising shabby, nondescript rooms. Very well. If I lost myself here, then so be it. I shall not resist or protest. I marched forward into the next room and then the next. 

Neither hunger, thirst nor fatigue bothered me. This was fortunate since the sandwiches had long since perished. A green powder coated the brown paper wrapping. The water bottles were empty, though I had no memory of drinking from them. Now and then, I hunkered down in the debris to break the monotony of walking. Sleep evaded me. It occurred that the rooms might be repeating. I tore strips from the pages in my journal and left one in each visited room. I never saw those scraps again. Though the rooms were of much the same design,  I noted minor variations in in decor. Some contained crumbling fragments of furniture. In others, the corroded remains of mechanisms protruded from walls or littered the floor. Many rooms were empty. The floorboards in one room were too rotten to support my weight, so I half fell and half clambered into the room below. As I walked from one room to the next, my movements became automatic and effortless. The dingy interiors passed and it no longer mattered whether I moved or the rooms moved past me. Though I walked through thousands of rooms, I did not believe I was making progress. I appeared to occupy the same room hundreds of times. I also lost any sense of time passing. Had I been opening doors and walking into the dilapidated remains of ruins for thousands of years?  The possibility seemed as likely as not.  I sleep-walked through the labyrinth of rooms until numbness overcame my awareness.   I was both aware and unaware of my situation. My automatic movements let me daydream. Picture thoughts came to mind, though I doubted they were memories, for they lacked substance. It amused me to find I could no longer remember my name. I struggled to remember a time before the labyrinth. My past and my present were the same. A musty room and a cold tarnished doorknob in my hand. The immediate future was another door, indistinguishable from the others. With no name or memories, my disorientation was complete. I grew in the conviction that my destiny was to join the mutilated mummies at the base of the gyroscopic mechanism.  
    I could not believe in an exit from the labyrinth of rooms. Death was the only way out. Or the exit was also the entrance. I was moving closer or further away from the box. My journey might take a thousand years, but the enlightenment box was my ultimate destination. After loathing the mechanism and its attendant mounds, I now yearned for it. A line from a poem or a song about death occurred to me. Death is before me today: Like the home that a man longs to see. I was tired, and I wanted to lie down with the others. I craved oblivion like a thirsty man craves water. I had hope. I had broken loose from myself and had achieved enlightenment; my awareness had become dislocated from my ego. 

    When I opened a door and fell into the reception area outside of my study, I stood with my hands dangling by my sides until the housekeeper’s Pekinese bit at my ankles.  The pain brought reality to my attention, and my sullen stupor evaporated. Behind me, the dank corridor’s door swung closed. I took the time to admire a pattern cast by stained glass in the hallway before I called for my housekeeper. I am ashamed to say I wept when she appeared. I stammered some explanation for my weakness and asked her for tea and a round of sandwiches. 

    I told my friend I had misplaced the box. He did not care. Neither was he interested in my story. I am relieved to have lost the box. The experience changed me. Concerned relatives enlisted medical and psychiatric help. They have diagnosed a dementia which will destroy me. I am not good with labels. I find dementia as meaningless as the rest. I have used the intervening years to mull over my experience. I believe that I did not leave my study. Rather, my perception of my immediate environment altered. My Buddhist readings suggest I have witnessed the world from a perspective devoid of ego influence. The enlightenment box showed what the world looks like if one looks at reality, rather than by proxy via the ego disc.  How it achieved my change in perspective is a mystery. Perhaps I dreamed everything I have narrated. This is the most parsimonious explanation and I have no objection to this even though it cannot but help trivialise. I have no better explanation. I wish I had, like HG Wells’s time traveller, pocketed a souvenir of my visit. My housekeeper’s testimony that I disappeared from the house for a day and a half and reappeared without setting off the doorbell is not interesting evidence.  Nor is her shock at seeing the state I was in on my return. I bled from many cuts and lacerations, and my clothes were very much the worse for wear.  Again, interesting but not convincing evidence to support my claim of having visited another world.

    There is a core of stillness inside me now, for I have incorporated the deadness I felt as I walked through the thousands of identical rooms.  This does not give me peace or comfort. It gives me a vantage point from which I can look around and survey the surrounding chaos. I can, when I wish, summon the stillness.  The mental state is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. It is nothing. The state is timeless. The ‘I’ which writes this is absent. There is an awareness of awareness.  My awareness is vibrant and alive, yet there is nothing doing the awareness. Language must fail me here. There is no subject of the sentence. There is only the verb, awareness. 

    I recall the stillness, and in the act of recall, I am extinguished.  My jabbering ego is silent. I am not the stillness. I am nothing. There is no self, there is no me. With my ego thoughts stilled, I no longer exist. Enlightenment is oblivion. All well and good, but leaving the stillness is so difficult. Its subtle influence grows within me. It is like a maggot enlarging its lair in a ripe apple. I lose interest,  some sensibility every time I slip into the reverie where the space exists. The meaning in my existence is slipping into the hole. I look about and things are less relevant. Sometimes I cannot recognise familiar faces. Names of things unanchored. I look at things without understanding them. I cannot understand why they exist. 

    Once again, I yearn for oblivion. As if sensing this, my body has become unusually susceptible to illness and infection. I cut and bruise easily. Having carried me for six decades, it finally conspires with me to end this charade. I really am so tired of being assaulted by the ‘me’ thoughts. They weaken but are persistent. I don’t exist and never have existed. Why can’t my ego accept this?  I have achieved enlightenment, but it is, as they say, not for everyone.


FOOTNOTE I have since recognised the design of the gyroscopic device as belonging to a class of mechanisms called ego machines. Through symbolic manipulation they simulate human consciousness.

© Copyright 2016 Mark Peatfield