Bud sleeps. He is peaceful and his mind is elsewhere. His body is currently imprisoned in between that of his sister and the door of their car as it speeds smoothly across the desert landscape. It is a barren land, full of nothing in particular worth mentioning except for sand and dunes. The emptiness resonates well with the interior of the car as it too seems devoid of life and activity. It strains one’s eye to search through the vast moonscape for a single speck of impurity or imperfection but there is none to be found.
Bud has two sisters both of whom he currently shares the back of the car with, and two parents – a mother and a father – seated in the passenger seat and driver seat, respectively. They can’t exactly be said to be a happy family, but they are, for all intents and purposes, a normal one. They are, in the present moment, taking an extremely normal holiday trip to Vega, the exquisite land of the gamblers. They seek entertainment and materialistic socially-acceptable repose. They seek activity and they seek fulfillment. But above all, they simply wish to pass the time.
The internal environment of the car is quiet. It is almost eerily so and it seems that even the wind that gushes fiercely outside hesitates to speak for fear of un-stilling the still. Not even so much as a whisper can be perceived, but this is only the beginning of the journey.
Outside, sand begins to pollute the air. The expanse begins to murk over as the sand seems to ethereally take to the skies. The asphalt road in front of them begins to take on an ever rougher surface, and the smoothness of the ride begins to be disrupted. Bud’s mother begins to audibly whisper something intangible to his father. His sister next to him begins to squirm in her seat. And chaos starts to build up.
Suddenly, unannounced, his father turns on the radio, filling the car with, at first, soft, then later, loud music. A few moments later, the car rolls over and into a very large but unseen pothole which violently jerks it and Bud out of Bliss.
“What the hell, Dad? I was trying to sleep back here,” shouted Bud loudly and angrily. His face was beginning to flush and the anger was palpable on his face. The various muscles lining his jaw and brow began to undergo various convulsions and contortions as each battled to show off its adrenaline best. He clicked off his seatbelt and immediately began moving around, trying to find a more comfortable position.
“And would someone turn that flipping, annoying, headache-causing, distasteful music off,” he added as he settled into a semi-comfortable position.
“What’s the matter Bud, just relax…,” at this remark from his mother, time seemed to eerily dilate and the word “relax” seemed to echo ceaselessly in his mind, running in circles and circles around a central but intangible focal point.
He snapped out of it, and his discomfort, anger, and frustration had reached such limits that he honestly felt he might implode. Someone please get me out of here, he thought.
“How much longer till we get there, Dad?” he asks through clenched teeth.
“Ooh, not much longer, just another 7 hours,” his father replied in that infuriatingly cheerful tone that so infuriates one already on the verge of death by infuriation.
At this point, Bud’s heart was thumping out so fast a beat that the individual beats merged together and formed an almost continuous thump. How can they do this to me? How can they lock me up in here? I want out….I want out right NOW!!! His blood was surely boiling in his veins as he could feel it almost sizzling out of his pores. I can’t handle this. I don’t deserve this. His fingers were fidgeting around in their own sweat. His vision was fuzzy and visibly pumping with the internal chaos. This is too much…..this is too much for ME. ME ME ME ME MEEEEEE!!!!!
The cacophony raging inside the car now was an accurate reflection of the storm that was brewing outside the vehicle. The wind had at this point intensified into a full-fledged sandstorm and the car was shaking violently as it trudged from one pothole to the next.
Just as Bud felt he might lose himself, just as he visited the threshold of insanity treading that edge as one might walk on a sharpened knife, something peculiar happened.
At the climax, at the summit, at the peak of the climb, Bud finds that there is no point in fighting anymore. Exasperated, he submits. He allows and he accepts. He is too tired from the fight – too sore from the battles. He enters into a strange existential calm. He realizes he simply doesn’t care anymore.
He settles back into his seat and easily finds a comfortable position without seeking one. His mind has strangely cleared and he finds, for the first time in his life, true quiet. The environment of the car has not changed and the raging storm has not died down. But he is deaf to it all.
He becomes acutely aware of the movements of the car and the exact effects they have on his body. He contents himself to simply observe. It is far easier to be detached. There is something soothing about the rhythm he observes.
It is a visceral connection to his body he now feels. He feels it, he tastes it, he is it. But above all, it is the rhythm of his breath in sync with the rhythm of the car that so fascinates him. In his dazed and empty stupor, he thinks not. He simply breathes. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in…,breathing out…
He gazes indifferently outside his window to see nothing, but to be soothed by it. The numbness shields all. But it is slowly beginning to recede. It begins to form a boundary and the boundary becomes more and more well-defined. The noises are almost back upon him and the hiatus is almost adjourned.
But he is firmly captivated by the Rhythm. He is ever present and following every intimate detail of the rising and falling of the chest. He lives the breathed moment from instant to instant without feeling or thought to the previous second or the coming one.
The numbness is gone. Not suddenly, but gradually it recedes. The sounds now resume their barrage on his consciousness. He sighs rapidly as though gulping sweet precious air after nearly drowning in a sea of silence. However, the environment of the car is slightly different now. The radio has been turned down and the conversations are verging on whispers. A slight stillness surrounds and inhabits the desert environment. The sandstorm turns the violence and chaos down a notch.
Bud is relaxed. His fixation on his breath liberated within him a strangely familiar feeling of serenity and calm. It is somehow nostalgic for him and elusively reminiscent of earlier life and childhood days. He feels the surface tension that exists upon the rim of his consciousness, almost begging him to resume his drama. But it is easy for him now to remain here.
He continues the examination of the rising and falling of the ribcage with each individual breath and sinks deeper and deeper. His attention now finds its object expanded and its focus enlarged with the cessation of numbness. He begins stretching his awareness to his body. He feels his thumping heart. He focuses on both the feeling of the beat and the empty nothingness that follows and precedes it in turn. The sequence is unbreakable, perpetual, and constant.
My shoulders….so tight…..clenched….heartbeat……chest rising…..falling……muscles……flexing; stray thoughts suddenly run through his mind and capture his attention. He finds a surreal world inhabited by intervals of sublime nothingness followed by frantic bursts of random chaos. Taking a sincere interest in this new inner environment, he investigates every thought.
…my head feels strange…….where’d that come from?…..and that? Thus, he traces every thought back to its origin. He learns eventually how to ask these questions without using thoughts. He learns how to feel the answer. He learns how to know, simply.
Presently, he begins to know about a certain dull pressure clouding and pushing his head. It is a very physical feeling and is thus felt in an almost visceral fashion. He becomes aware of the space stretching from his eyes to the back of his head and filling everything enclosed in his skull. The pressure here is the kind of pressure that is mild and ignorable but harsh and painful when not ignored. He does not react to this pain. He forgives it. He lets it be right there where it is right now and just exactly as it feels right here. He simply watches, from a distance. Allowing each breath to magnify this perception, he unclenches his mind as he exhales. And this, he finds, to his great surprise, brings the pressure down by one increment. With each exhalation in this focused and detached essence, the pain is reduced by a degree until eventually the thinking mind is at peace and the clenching of the brain is no more.
With this, his attention returns to his breathing, but this time to his shoulders and not his rib cage. He observes and slight rising and falling of the shoulders with every breath. He realizes how curiously oblivious he was to this bodily feeling before this. He feels as though he is returning home, coming back to his temple…back for now, back forever. He finds a similar clenching in the shoulders and resumes the attention/unclenching cycle with each rising breath and falling breath. Shoulders sag. This is a new feeling for Bud, this relaxation of the body coupled with the acute awareness of it is radically new for him. He is being reborn. He feels as though he is just waking from oblivion.
He is now fully detached from the external world. All sounds received from there are within him. Everything is inside of his essence and everything he feels is encapsulated by his being. All things become him as he slowly becomes all things. Being thus embodied, he feels the truth of his animal body. He understands the animal his life had attempted to hide and mask. He realizes the essence of the body and enters deeply into the gushing of the blood inside his veins, the tingling of the skin just below the surface, the expansion of the diaphragm, and above all, the smell of the flesh within which he resides.
Ecstasy mixed with adrenaline and elation begin to flush though his…
Everything stops. … … … … … … … … … The Eternal Moment … … … … … …
He is now. He is here. He is forever and always and never and nothing. He feels nothing and he feels everything. The ecstasy that rushes through his blood is the same as the adrenaline and equal to the urine that flows through his penis. The fear like the pleasure like the pain like the happiness.
The now is the always…
He is freed. Free from suffering and free from time. He is free from self and free from its enslavement. His consciousness is liberated and now expands palpably beyond end. The inner emptiness is embraced as it continues to pave itself upon the whole entirety and majesty and immensity of the great big Universe. He is everywhere and nowhere and not a single fraction of a second passes.
Time is frozen.
Bud is at peace. Bud is at One. Bud is now Buddha. He is in this instantaneous revelation both wise and compassionate. He is free from all suffering and is finally and truly happy.
He is at this frozen instant…Boundless…
Next instant: father drowsy, dozes off slightly, edges into opposite lane, crashes into massive 18-wheeler, annihilates car, everybody dead.