(Part 1)

A Somewhat serious,
sort of irreverent look
at life's most important questions,
for those who care enough to wonder...
but not enough to take it all too seriously!!!!

by Thaddeus Cogito

Part 1
copyright 1995 T. Cogito
e-mail c/o


The dream began the same way it had a dozen times before.
I'm lying on a couch, and this psychiatrist who looks like Freud,
my mother, my father, and every person I've ever known or admired
or feared, is looking at me and his stopwatch at the same time,
mumbling, "And how does that make you feel?" while I pour out my
guts, trying to defend my sidetracked, disappointing life, and
why those crazy questions still haunt me after so many years.
I'm talking as fast as I can because I know that at any
second he's going to say, "that's all the time we have for
today," and I've got to make him understand...
"...But no matter how hard I try to live a normal life, the
big questions keep coming back to haunt me. The 3 Big Questions:
'Who is God?' 'Who are we?' and 'Is it over when it's over..."
The buzzer on his stopwatch goes off and he turns to me and
says, "You schmuck! You're worrying about questions and answers
that don't matter, and you've forgotten how to live. Just live
your life!" And he throws his notepad at me as I squirm into
the cushions.
But this time I didn't dream that I opened my eyes to the
empty, uncaring darkness. This time there was moonlight pouring
through an open window, and it seemed so soft and promising.
And I wasn't so terribly alone. Jill was there, lying
beside me, gently sighing peacefully in her sleep.
There was someone else standing in the moonlight, too. I
squinted, trying to see who it was.
"Come on, Jack," the voice whispered, beckoning me.
The voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. I
opened my mouth to speak, but the voice whispered, "Shush,
you'll wake Jill."
I pulled on my slippers and walked toward the shadow. This
person seemed to be wearing my pajamas. I squinted harder. It
was me!
I gasped.
"Hey, don't get all excited. You're just dreaming. Don't
worry about it," the other me said reassuringly.
"'re me!"
"Yeah, so. That's not that hard a dream to conjure up."
"I..." I stammered. I'd never met myself before. Not even
in my dreams.
The other me took the hand I was waving pointlessly in the
darkness and shook it. "Look, let's do this right. Hi, Jack.
My name is Bo. How do you do?"
"I thought you said you were me. My name is Jack."
"True, but you can't have two Jacks in your dream. We won't
have any idea which one of us we're talking about. We'll be
totally confused."
I was totally confused already.
"Just hold on to my pajamas. We've got a lot of places to
With my head in a fog, I grabbed onto Bo's sleeve as we
walked through the wall and out onto an escalator that floated in
the air above my bedroom window.
"Where are we my Christmas past?" I whispered,
chuckling to myself.
Bo turned back and gave me a puzzled look. Then he rolled
his eyes, just getting my joke. "Funny, real funny," he sneered.
"Actually, we're going deep into your thoughts -- so you better
hold on -- you've got some really weird ones in there."
Then, suddenly the escalator stopped, and we were standing
in front of a giant Cosmic Book. I was suitably impressed.
"Wow," I gasped as I read the huge golden letters: "THE
THREE BIG QUESTIONS." I stared dumfounded as the cover slowly
opened like an alligator yawning in the sun.
Bo chuckled to himself, and before I knew what was
happening, he pulled me, and we were jumping into the book.
I opened my eyes and saw we were standing in front of a
giant Page.
"CHAPTER 1. The 3 Questions." Bo was tugging on my sleeve
again, and hesitantly I leaped through the Page with him.
As we stood in empty space, I saw the next Page up ahead
growing closer and closer.
Bo didn't have to urge me this time. Before the Page had
even come to a stop, I was pulling him. This was fun!
We crashed through the Page, and Chapter 2 loomed just

There are many gods?

Bo stopped me as we reached Chapter 2. I was all ready to
jump through again, but Bo shook his head. He reached up and
pulled the giant page back, and I saw a room down below.
The walls were covered with paintings of faces I hoped I'd
never meet. There was a giant chandelier in the center that
tinkled softly. And below the chandelier was a table, around
which sat the ferocious looking gods from the pictures on the
Bo tugged on my sleeve. "Jump," he whispered.
"Looks like they're having dinner..." I stammered. I was
definitely not in the mood to meet these guys.
Bo pulled me. "GERONIMO!" he yelled, and I prayed for my
We landed on one of the plates, and the hairy god in front
of me rubbed his greasy hands on his shirt and picked me up,
eyeing me carefully.
"Don't hurt me...please!" I squeaked.
Bo jumped up onto the god's shirt and climbed on his
shoulder. "Excuse me, your lordship, but this is not supposed to
be part of the deal. You're just supposed to tell us the way
things are here."
"Yeah, yeah. We been expecting you. Ain't we gods," he
said, and then he laughed, and it sounded like thunder. The other
11 gods and goddesses hissed and cackled too.
"Here you go," the god said as he lifted us both up and
placed us in front of the plate next to his. "We even set you a
place for dinner. Ain't we sweet. 'Cept you'll have to share,
I looked at the food on the giant plate and I'm not sure
what or who it was, but it made me sick to my stomach. Bo,
however, was busy eating away.
"Hey, I'm starved," Bo explained, looking up with his greasy
stubbled face. "You don't feed your dreams too well!"
"So whatchya wanna know?" the god was saying. "I'm da god a
thunder. Da head honcho god. You know. Thor, Zeus...whatever.
You just call me BOSS, and we'll get along just fine, see."
He picked his nose and I felt even sicker.
"That's your universe there," he said pointing to a fruit
bowl in the center of the table. Inside the bowl I saw this hazy
blob that sort of looked like misty jello.
"This here," he snorted, holding a magnifying glass up to
the jello as he leaned over the table. "This is Earth. We run
things there. Got it!"
I tried to smile politely.
"Hey you want I should make some thunder, or what?" he
laughed, and holding a large greasy piece of meat in one hand, he
pointed a third hand at the speck under the magnifying glass. A
lightning bolt shot from his fingers and landed somewhere on
"Oh, where's my manners," Zeus mumbled. "This here, is
Venus, the goddess of love," he said, pointing a fourth hand at a
goddess across the table who wore a black negligee.
Venus looked up at me seductively. "How do you do," she
I couldn't tear my eyes away from hers. I was glued to them
and paralyzed. I felt this great surge of love inside, like my
heart was going to burst in joy, and then she twisted up her face
like a demon and yelled, "BOO!" and I fell over backwards into
the plate of food. The gods laughed and pounded the table with
their fists.
"That guy over there," a fifth hand pointed, after the
laughter had died down. "That's the god of fire."
The fire god looked up and fire leaped out of his mouth and
licked the dot called Earth. "What's up, Dude?" he burped, and
smoke came out of his ears.
"This is ridiculous, Bo!" I said to the other me.
"How's that?" the thunder god boomed.
"Well, how can there be a bunch of gods running things?"
"Why not?" the thunder god asked. "Pass the butter,
please," he said, turning to the god of water.
"Because, well look around us. I mean we're sitting in a
room. It's got four walls. We're all inside of it. There's got
to be something outside of it. It's like you stick a pea in a
box. The box is in a room. The room is in a house. The house is
in a world. The world is in a galaxy. The galaxy is in the
universe. For any physical realm that we can define, there is
always something outside of it. Something had to have created all
of you."
"Whatch you talkin? I created them," Boss insisted.
"And who created you?"
Boss was getting upset. "I really don't see what all this
has to do with peas. I don't even like peas! You like peas?" he
grumbled to the god of war.
"I hate peas!" the war god stormed, and he slammed his fist
onto the fruit bowl.
"No, I'm sorry," I said, determined. "There can't be several
gods. It's impossible. There would always have to be someone
above them."
"Uh, oh," Bo groaned, and he dropped a greasy piece of
something or other. He grabbed me with his greasy hands. "I
wasn't finished eating yet!" He swallowed nervously, and pointed
up at the ceiling. "Now you've done it!"
Just then a fist smashed through the roof, covering us in
Bo pushed me off the table, and we ran across the giant room
as an even more gigantic eye peeked in through the hole in the
ceiling. We ran back and forth, trying not to be stepped on by
the gods and goddesses as they scampered about, yelling and
screaming. I looked at the hole, and giant lips were now
pressed against it.
Bo held on to me as the lips opened, and a roar smashed the
room to bits.
When I opened up my eyes, there was only a giant page
floating in nothingness. We were at the end of the Chapter. Down
on the bottom of the page there was the word: "PROBABILITY," with
a huge blank after it.
"Well, you want to fill it in, Jack?" Bo asked as he handed
me a giant pencil that just happened to be floating by.
"You can put impossible. You pretty much proved it."
"I did?"
"Sounded good to me."
"I guess, but..."
"Now hurry up, so we can get rid of this chapter and move on
to the next."
I scratched my head in confusion. Bo tapped impatiently on
the five foot long pencil. I grabbed it and wrote "IMPOSSIBLE" in
the blank.
"Finally," Bo said as the page crumbled to dust before our
Chapter 3 was waiting for us.

There is no God?

We leaped inside the Chapter just as a giant explosion was
occurring. Bo grabbed onto my pajamas as the intense force sent
us hurtling through space.
We floated around for a long, long time, and I yawned. "So,
where are we, and what are we doing here? Nothing's happening,
and I'm getting pretty bored."
"Quite the contrary, my friend. A lot is happening. You've
just witnessed the greatest event of the universe -- the Big
Bang. Now look over there. See that tiny speck?"
"That little flicker?"
"That is the Sun. And around it is the Earth. Here, take a
There was a telescope mounted on a post beside us. (How
convenient!) Noticing a slot for a quarter, I went to check my
pockets, but then I remembered I had my pajamas on.
"There's some time left on it," Bo said, and I took a peek.
Down on Earth, I saw molecules bouncing around, colliding
and combining. Gases swirled and swooshed and water formed and
flowed, and the molecules kept bouncing around until just the
right combinations occurred, and tiny organisms grew in the
water, and I kept watching, and a few million years later there
were larger organisms, and I watched and a couple hundred million
years later one of the organisms crawled out of the ocean, and I
saw creatures live and die as the sun rose and set millions of
more times, and eventually there was a caveman, and I kept
watching as a human was born and people lived and laughed and
cried, and I heard their voices and their words of hope and
desperation, of longing and of fear, of joy and sadness. And
civilizations rose and fell, and life went on and on and on and
The quarter ran out and the telescope went blank. But it
was just as well because my brain was overloaded with the weight
of a billion, billion lives.
Bo pointed to other flickers in the sky. "There are other
planets of life out there, too!" He was smiling.
All around me I could hear voices echoing. I heard praises
and pleas to gods and goddesses, and Gods who were one, and Gods
who were all. And they reached out into the emptiness of space.
"Is there no one to hear them?" I sighed.
"If there is no God, then of course not," Bo shrugged.
"But then it seems so pointless. There's no God to right
all the suffering? No God to preserve the happiness? Life is
just a random occurrence 'full of sound and fury, signifying
nothing?'" I was devastated.
Bo clicked his tongue. "If there is no God, then I guess
you could say that. But I wouldn't see it that way."
"But it can't be true. It would be too horrible. All the
billions upon billions of lives, and it didn't mean anything. No,
it just can't be."
"Jack, that's not proof. Just because you don't like the
possibility doesn't offer the slightest proof that it doesn't
exist. You've got to prove it so we can leave this chapter
behind us."
"Well, let's see," I sighed, and my head started to hurt.
"Well...the...universe...Um...Something had to have created the
"You saw it, the Big Bang."
"But what was there before?"
"Matter and energy. It's a neverending cycle of destruction
and rebuilding. The universe came together and it's slowly
falling apart -- it's called entropy -- and when it's all done
tumbling down, it'll start all over again."
"But what's outside the universe! It can't just keep going
"Scientists say it's folded over on itself, or something like
that. Finite, but infinite at the same time. Whatever that's
supposed to mean."
"You've got to explain it better, Bo. I can't disprove it if
I don't understand it!"
"Sorry, can't help you. The experts got it all proved
mathematically. Or at least they say they do. No one except
them understands it, but everyone takes their word for it...
SCIENCE, you know."
I shook my head. "Hmmm....Well...Who set up all the laws of
the universe, huh? Why does everything follow specific rules
"They just happen, Jack. Matter and energy just happen to
have certain characteristics. Man just tries to box it up into
neat little packages of laws and theories to try and understand
it all."
"Whatever. Well...Hey, but what about consciousness. I
mean, I'm more than just a physical being. I'm more than just
the thoughts that go on in my head. There's something deeper in
me that watches it all go by. Like, there's the me that's here
with you right now, floating around in this crazy Cosmic Book...
while my physical body's home in bed, probably fast's
my consciousness that is here, even if this is only some weird
dream...I think it's our consciousness that makes us alive. We
all have it. All living creatures. Humans just have it a lot
more advanced."
"Hold on, Jack. You can't get too involved with
consciousness right now. We've got to stick to the first
question: Who is God? We can come back later if you'd like to
explore this a little more. You might have something there with
that consciousness angle. But then you might not. There's all
kinds of scientific theories about consciousness..."
"Such as..."
"Well, some scientists insist that it's a form of energy
that underlies physical existence. Some go so far to say that
everything, even molecules are conscious, and that reality is
subjective, and dependent on consciousness."
"Sounds pretty metaphysical..."
"Yup. But then you've got the more mainstream scientific
explanation that consciousness is nothing more than the result of
a certain degree of complexity of molecules. A culmination of
electrochemical reactions resulting from the countless inter-
connections of billions of neurons. But I'm sure we'll get into
that later."
"Yeah, later. I don't like this Chapter, Bo. I'd really
like to get out of here now. It's getting me really depressed.
How can atheists go on living each day thinking there's no reason
or point to it all?"
"For an atheist, there doesn't have to be an ultimate Plan
and Purpose for the Universe in order to find purpose in one's
life. There may not be a 'reason' for existence, but there is a
glorious reason to live -- To LIVE."
"But there's no plan. No justice. No chance for happily
ever after."
"An atheist is just using plain old reason to arrive at the
only explanation that a person can find when you rationally look
at the world. It is true that sometimes it's a lot easier to get
through life believing that there's a plan and a purpose and
someone out there that will make it all okay. Sometimes atheists
envy those who can fall back on the crutch that religion often
offers -- to an extent, of course. But they know that it can't
rationally be, and they can't lie to themselves."
"Reason doesn't always work, Bo. Sometimes you just have to
have faith!"
Bo laughed softly. "Religious Believers believe because of
'faith' -- that's believing in something that reason shows cannot
be. An atheist believes in the way things are, not in what he
wishes they'd be. So he makes the best of his life. And tries to
be the best that he can, because this is all that there is. Think
of how the world might be if everyone lived that way. If they
made every moment count. It would probably be a much nicer
I shook my head. "Maybe it would, but we need to believe
there's something more than this life; we need to feel we're
immortal. We know in our hearts that there are no happily ever
afters here...the world is cruel and unjust all too often...
We...I need to believe in something more because its the only way
I can have faith that it'll all work out, and that all the wrongs
will be righted and justice will's my only hope for
true happiness..."
I stood defiantly, pouting with my hands folded over my
chest, and noticed Chapter 3 floating by. It stopped and stood
by us. Bo flipped to the end. The Probability Blank stared at
me, but I turned away.
"Suit yourself..." Bo sighed. "I personally think it's
perfectly reasonable and acceptable...But it's just my opinion.
I'm entitled to mine, just as you're entitled to yours. Besides,
in some ways a godless universe is a more pleasant possibility."
"How can it be more pleasant...If there is no God, then when
it's over it's over!"
"Well, the flip side to some part of you living on happily
ever after, is that you can spend all of eternity burning in
hell. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer nothingness. But
then this is getting into another Question again. Look, just put
'Possible' for now; we'll come back to it later...I promise," Bo
"NO! I won't!" I insisted, and I tried to swim away from the
Chapter. It just floated after me.
"It can't be. It just can't!" I pouted. "I won't put that
it's possible. I just won't!"
Another million years of voices drifted up to my ears, and I
only half listened to my rational brain as it pointed out that
there might very well not be a god. And as I tried to envision
what the world would be like if people truly valued life and made
each moment count, I realized it really wasn't that bad a
prospect at all. Bo was sleeping on the pencil and I stared at
the Probability Blank.
Still, my emotional side hated this Chapter and refused to
let reason sway its conviction. The battle was beginning to make
me dizzy. "Oh, alright," I groaned as I shook Bo awake. "I'm
holding out for the possibility that there's a good God, but to
get us out of this chapter, I'm willing to put 'POSSIBLE, BUT
Bo yawned. "It's your dream." He pushed the pencil, and it
floated over to me.
I wrote it in and waited for the Chapter to disappear, but it
floated overhead, just out of reach, but not so far that I didn't
know it was there.
"Sorry, but it won't go away until you can either prove or
disprove it," Bo shrugged.
I sighed, but then I saw to my relief that we had gotten up
to the next Chapter.

God is a single physical being?

When we flipped the page there were two men waiting inside
for us. They were holding up signs, like chauffeurs at the
"God is a man," the signs declared.
They were each standing in front of wheelbarrows, and they
waved their hands for us to climb inside.
I looked at Bo but he just shrugged. We decided to go for a
The wheelbarrows sort of smelled like a barnyard, and I
thought about climbing out at first, but the men started off,
racing down a yellow brick road that was studded with sharp
diamonds. I watched in awe as the two men jumped in pain with
each step they took, and with yet another sigh, I held my nose
until we got to an ivory castle.
As we passed through the castle gates, a red carpet
unraveled in front of us, racing up the steps and into the
castle. Our escorts dumped us at the feet of an old man.
"Oh, hi. Glad you could stop by," the old man drooled. He
was wearing golden pajamas that didn't quite cover his stomach.
His white beard was speckled with crumbs and bits of food and
coffee stains.
"Yep, I'm God. I created the universe." God sighed. "Took
me six days. I don't really keep up with it much anymore. Too
busy resting up from all that work," God said with a yawn.
"Wait a second," I snorted as I stood up and brushed off my
knees. "This is the same situation as the many gods scenario.
It's just not possible!"
The old man looked puzzled. "It's not?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but no."
"But I created your universe."
"Even if you did, you wouldn't be the ultimate god."
"I'm afraid I don't follow you. Here, let me turn up my
hearing aid. I must be missing something," God said, fumbling
with the controls as he yawned again.
"Look, let me try to explain this. When I'm awake, I could
whittle a puppet out of some wood. I created it. But something
created me and the wood I used for my puppet. If you're a
physical being, then you're in a physical place, and there's got
to be something above you that created you and the material you
used to create your creation..."
"Sounds terribly confusing," the old man shrugged. But he
hadn't been paying attention, because a messenger had dashed
into the room while I was speaking and had handed him a royal
proclamation, which he was busily reading. "Looks like you were
right," God sighed. "This says I'm not God after all. God's over
The old man pointed to a veiled bed across the room.
"Apparently God is dead. Shall we go have a look?"
"That won't be necessary. If he's dead, then he was alive
before. Which brings us right back where we started!" I
The old man's face suddenly went white as a sheet, and
dumfounded, he pointed behind me. I turned and we all cringed as
we saw a giant woman outside the stained-glass windows. She was
crushing the countryside as she approached the castle.
giant Amazon roared, and she reached inside and grabbed Bo and
me by the scruffs of our pajamas.
"Excuse me," I wheezed, "but this is the same situation as
if God were a man -- alive or dead. It won't work."
"Are you sure?" She-God said rather threateningly as she
held us about sixty feet off the ground. I thought about
reevaluating my conclusion. A sixty foot drop, even in a dream,
could be mighty uncomfortable.
"Excuse me, Ma'am," Bo yelled as he dangled beside me. "He
was just kidding, honest."
"No, I'm quite sure," I swallowed.
Bo glared angrily at me.
The Woman-God refused to be put off so easily. She started
laughing. "What is the vessel in this life that brings new life
into the world -- woman! And who but a woman could have
painstakingly brought this universe into existence?"
"Look," I gulped, "do you think a female God would have made
women go through so much pain to deliver a baby...not to mention
The Amazonian God sighed -- I'd definitely hit a nerve
there. "Leave it to a man to cut a woman down any time he can!"
She clicked her tongue. And then she tossed us over her
shoulder and climbed up through the clouds to her own castle in
the heavens.
A tornado whipped by before we hit the ground, and whisked
us high in the air. Far below we could see the tiny castle of
God-the-man, and then God-the-woman's larger palace above the
We floated higher and higher, until we were beyond the
planet, and still we rose until we were at the edge of the
And then we burst through the box that the universe rested
Looking down I saw that the box was lying on a conveyor
belt, and there were aliens working away at creating more
universes, which they neatly packed into cartons.
"LUNCH BREAK!" a whistle sounded.
"Hey, wait, you guys!" I yelled as I climbed up on top of my
universe's box. "No go. It doesn't work! It's still the same
story. If aliens created our universe, there would have to be
something that created them."
"Darn," one of the workers moaned. "I'm sure we won't get
that Christmas bonus now!"
They waved goodbye as we floated higher, out of the factory,
out of their world, and out of their universe.
And still we floated up until we "POPPED" out of someone's
mind. And as we floated on the ceiling, I looked down and saw
that it was my mind we had popped out of. Jill was lying down
there beside the sleeping me.
"You're dreaming the universe?" Bo offered as I looked over
at him questioningly. I listened to myself snoring, and I wished
I were that me.
I shook my head. "Nope. It's the same thing, Bo. It
couldn't be possible."
We started floating up out of the dimly lit room, away from
my warm, cozy bed.
"I guess you were right," Bo said as we kept rising.
I sighed sadly. "Bye, Jill. I hope I'll be back soon." We
drifted up, up out of that universe and popped out of someone
else's mind.
We fell to the ground and looked up.
"HELL-O!" the man was saying as he walked along in his
sleep, knocking on people's heads with his knuckles. "I'm just
dreaming you," he whined. "You are all subjective illusions I've
created in my mind!"
He came towards us and knocked on my head.
"Uh, no," I said as I listened to the hollow sound his
knuckles made.
The nut opened his eyes and snapped his fingers. "Drats,"
he groaned. Then he "popped" and we started drifting upwards
"ENOUGH is ENOUGH!" I yelled. I was getting quite tired of
this chapter.
"God is not a physical being! PERIOD." I looked down and saw
each universe nestled around the one before it, and I kicked
them, and they tumbled over like dominoes. The end of the
Chapter floated into view, and Bo handed me the pencil. I was
just about to write IMPOSSIBLE in, when the page pulled itself
"Must have remembered another possibility," Bo mumbled. He
was tired of the Chapter, too.
"I guess," I groaned.
And then it started raining. Or at least I thought it was
"Hey, look," Bo yelled over the sound of the water. "A bar
of soap."
"Oh, great. We must be taking a Cosmic Shower," I gurgled.
"Well, the soap smells good, and we sure have put on a lot
of dust," Bo yelled, and he started singing as he lathered up.
"But I've still got my pajamas on," I muttered. A bottle of
shampoo floated by. "Oh, what the heck," I sighed, and decided
I could go for a shampoo after all.
Just when my head was good and lathered, the water suddenly
went cold and I gasped. Then the water stopped.
"Bo!" I yelled. I couldn't open my eyes.
"Jack, where are you? I've got soap in my eyes, and I can't
see a thing!"
"Me neither," I groaned as we groped in the dark for a
"Hey, Jack. I found something over here," Bo yelled, and I
followed his voice.
"What is it?" I called.
"It's big and round and rough. I think it's a tree trunk."
"Oh?" I had reached where he was, and what I felt was thin
and long, like a whip.
"No. It's not a tree trunk. It feels like a giant
boulder," someone said next to us. I assumed it was someone else
caught in the Cosmic Shower with soap in his eyes, too.
"No. It feels like a long pipe!" another voice declared.
"No. It's thin and wide and flappy, like a Chinese fan,"
still another voice insisted.
Then something squirted me with water and threw me a towel.
When I opened my eyes I saw Bo was wiping his face off too.
A bunch of other people with lathered hair wandered off with soap
still in their eyes, muttering about showers and how they were
the ones with the right answers.
Then we spun around and elephant.
"Oh!" I laughed. "The old Elephant Parable."
"What's that?" Bo asked as he handed me a hair dryer that
was floating by.
"Well, it's supposed to illustrate the many different ways
that the different religions of the world look at God," I yelled
over the roar of the hair dryer as I swung it into my other hand
and dried the other side of my head. "They all see something
very different. But each is only looking at a small part of a
greater whole. So, actually they're all right."
"And all wrong, too," Bo pointed out.
I was about to agree with him when the elephant turned its
head and looked at us. "That's not why I'm here. God is an
elephant. That's all they said."
"Oh. Well, sorry. It can't be," I sneered. "It's the same
as all the rest. Impossible!"
"Humpf!" the elephant snorted, and he pointed his trunk at
us and blew us off our feet.
When we landed, we looked up, and there was this Dog.
I mean, it was like a dog, only backwards, sort of.
We watched while Cosmic crap was sucked in through the back
end, and life-giving food came spewing out in shiny cans out the
"FOOR, FOOR!" it yelped.
I rubbed my hands over my eyes, not believing what I was
seeing. "This is ridiculous!" I moaned.
"FOOW, FOOW!" it continued.
"KRAB, KRAB!" it added.
"Let me guess," I hissed, rolling my eyes as I helped Bo to
his feet. "God is a dog, right?"
"Well, you know God backwards is dog," Bo pointed out.
"IMPOSSIBLE!" I grunted.
"WOB, WOB," the backwards dog offered in defense.
"IMPOSSIBLE!" I screamed.
"Get the Chapter, boy," Bo laughed.
Obediently, the creature sulked off into the shadows and
then returned an instant later with Chapter 4 in its mouth. It
was covered in slobber.
God-the-dog held the page for me while I retrieved the pencil
and finally wrote in "IMPOSSIBLE."
As an afterthought, I started underlining it again and
again. It wasn't until Bo tapped me on the shoulder that I
noticed the page had crumbled up and disappeared already.
Chapter 5 was waiting for us.

God is a spirit which can
manifest itself as a physical being?

I looked up rather uncomfortably at the Chapter heading. I
should have felt excited. After all this was the God I was most
familiar with -- God as a spirit which came down to Earth as
"Or Krishna as a Hindu incarnation," Bo sneered, reading my
"And Mohammed in Islam" I sighed reluctantly. The truth is,
I was rather nervous about where this Chapter would lead. The
dream had been weird so far, and I shuddered to think what crazy
thoughts I had on this subject -- this was where I could really
start stepping on toes. A lot of people seem to get all bent out
of shape when they think you're mocking God. It's like you're
attacking their innermost hopes. This journey was important to
me -- I wasn't trying to make fun of anything, but people might
see it that way. "Let's just skip this Chapter, okay Bo?"
Bo started laughing. "You've been waiting for the chance to
'figure it all out' for your whole life. Now you're going to run
away because you're afraid of offending people? You have the
right to think, you know. To question what you've been told."
"But people might think I'm attacking beliefs that they
treasure. I'm not. I just want to examine the possibilities...for
myself. I don't want to force my ideas on anybody else. Honest."
Bo put his arm around me, "We gotta do it, pal." But I
backed away. I was now quite sure that this was one particular
plunge we shouldn't take.
"Come on," Bo laughed, and he pulled me inside.
We jumped and landed in the dark.
It was really dark.
I seemed to be sitting in a cushy seat, but the absolute
blackness was so upsetting that I just couldn't get comfortable.
Bo stuck his face close to mine and glared at me with a crooked
smile. I shivered.
"We shouldn't have done this one..." I muttered nervously.
"Look, you've got to!" Bo insisted. "This is the one
chapter that you're most familiar with. You can really blow the
lid off it!"
"Actually, this conclusion is perfectly reasonable," I
"What? Do you really believe that God came to Earth as a
"Sure. Why not? Look, Bo. Incarnation is a part of most
"Oh, yeah. So, what is it, God can't tell time or
"How do you mean?" I whispered nervously.
"Well. In all these religions, isn't god or god incarnated,
or a savior, or some kind of messiah supposed to come and save
the people?"
"So, what's taking him so long? I mean, look at
Christianity. Jesus supposedly said he was coming back 'soon,'
and the original Apostles hung around waiting for him. They
died one by one, and the ones that were left still believed he
was coming back for them."
"Well..." I admitted.
"The next generation was sure he was coming to get them. A
hundred years later they were still waiting. A millennium went
by. What's that, 50 generations of people living and dying,
believing that the savior is coming?"
I fidgeted uncomfortably in the dark. I knew we shouldn't
have come!
"And then another millennium goes by. What, did Jesus take a
wrong turn and get lost somewhere? Do you realize how many
people actually lived and died hearing all their lives that Jesus
was coming. What happened to all those people? They missed out
'cause Jesus took a 2000 year nap? And how many more generations
will live and die before he supposedly comes?"
"But all those people went to Heaven."
"Uh, huh. So I've heard. I'm sure you'll be covering that
in the Heaven chapter, so just stick to God in this one. Anyway,
you think the Christians have been waiting a long time? Look at
the poor Hebrews -- they were waiting for the messiah thousands
of years before Christ!"
"Look, Bo, this is ridiculous ..." I stammered. The darkness
was getting unbearable. "Where are we anyway?" I began, but as I
was speaking, a spotlight went on and landed on an empty stage in
front of us.
"Looks like we're here to see a play," Bo groaned. "You got
any popcorn on your side?"
My head was filled with questions as I leaned forward,
straining to read the placard on the easel in the spotlight's

A Play in One
(extremely long)

The curtain rose and I sat back nervously.
God came storming across the stage. "Jesus, where the Hell
are you?"
"I'm watching TV, Pop. Cool it," a voice called from the
other room.
"You've got to get down there. They're waiting for Us."
"I will, Pop. As soon as this show is over."
"But We promised," God groaned, and he waved his hands
aimlessly in the air. "We're such a mess," he sighed. "I wonder
where the Holy Spirit is. I'll bet We're down there laughing at
those people who are speaking in tongues, claiming We're inside
them again. Oh, why We ever split Ourself into the Trinity
We'll never understand."
God paced back and forth and back and forth.
That's all he did for a long time. Bo and I fidgeted really
nervously in our seats. We could feel millions, even billions of
others around us, waiting for something to happen.
A couple thousand years crawled past.
Finally, God spoke again. "Isn't that show over yet, Jesus?"
"No, Pop. I want to watch this."
God sighed in exasperation. "What show is it anyway?"
"It's called "The History of Mankind."
The curtain fell down, the lights blared on, and I was
sitting alone on a mountaintop, staring up at the sun. At least
I thought it was the sun, but as it turns out, it was a bush
burning in the air.
"I AM the god of your forefathers; I AM Jack's-God. You
are my chosen," the bush declared. "I shall put you above all the
peoples of the earth!"
"Oh?" My interest was definitely piqued.
"What is that awful burning smell," Bo gasped behind me as
he climbed up over a ledge.
"I guess it's God. He's a bush burning in the air."
"What kind of bush? Stinkweed? Gosh that's awful!"
"INFIDEL!" the bush shrieked. And you're wearing shoes on my
Holy Ground? Bow down and beg for mercy from my chosen one."
"Huh?" Bo grunted.
"Uh, well, that's quite alright," I offered. "Bo's a nice
"Nice? Do you see the way he's looking at you -- my chosen
one! Just let me at him. I'll pulverize him. I'll rain locusts
on him. I'll turn him into a pillar of salt. I'll..."
"But I'd rather..." I began in defense of my friend.
"You'd rather...Who do you think you are, anyway? God? You
ungrateful slime of the earth. That's it, I'm taking your first
born son!"
Bo pulled on my sleeve. "Jack, don't you think we'd better
be leaving?" But the roaring bush had me transfixed, and I
couldn't move. Bo kicked me, and we rolled down the mountainside.
When we landed at the bottom, there were millions of people
sitting on blankets and standing around talking.
"Oh, boy. Hope they're not expecting a sermon now," I
Fortunately, no one seemed to notice us.
"Interesting," Bo groaned. "Now we're at Woodstock. Good
dreaming there, Jack."
I shrugged. "I told you we shouldn't have come." We
couldn't see anything over the people in front of us, so Bo
dragged me up closer.
I'd never been to many concerts, but I knew this one wasn't
very typical. For starters, there were two stages.
"Here, this should be good," Bo said when we were about
halfway between the two platforms. He grabbed a blanket and laid
it down on the grass.
As I sat down, I looked at some of the people around me and
I noticed none of them had faces. I blinked, and I scanned the
crowd again, but Bo was shaking me. "Pay attention, Jack. They're
coming out on stage."
Over on the right hand stage an announcer emerged and
roared, "Ladies and Gentlemen. Presenting Jesus and the
The crowd cheered, and Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, and a bunch
of other holy-looking people that I didn't recognize, ran out
onto the stage and stood by their instruments. They were all
dressed in brilliant sequin-studded outfits that sparkled and
shone. Jesus was playing a harp, Krishna a sitar, and Mohammed a
"Oh, no!" Bo was groaning, but while all this was going on,
my left ear was listening to the announcer on the left-hand
stage. "Ladies and Gentlemen. Presenting Satan and his Band of
The crowd cheered for Satan too, but since both stages were
being announced at the same time, I couldn't tell who anyone was
cheering for.
I watched with my left eye as Satan ran out onto the stage
in a red leather jump suit and no shirt, and his evil ghouls
slithered behind him. He picked up his electric guitar and
twanged a few notes, which thundered out of the 666-foot high
speakers on either side of his stage.
The crowd's cheering slowly quieted down, and Jesus started
playing the harp as he sang into the microphone.
"Love your neighbor as yourself,
Give your life to God.
Spread about all your wealth,
Give your strife to God."
Bo stuck his finger in his mouth. "Gag me," he muttered.
Satan was singing, too.
"Forget about your neighbors,
Look out for number one.
The fruit of all your labors,
Is just to have some fun.
Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.
Party, Party, Party.
Forget all about your soul!
Party, Party, Party."
"Now that's a catchy tune," Bo chuckled.
The two bands played for hours. Satan and his Band of Evil
roared out one song after the next, and the crowd was dancing and
clapping their hands, chanting, "LUST, GREED, POWER, JEALOUSY,
Jesus and the Incarnations played their delicate harmonies
and the crowd rocked back and forth whispering, "PEACE,
The chants were spurred by angels that walked through the
blanketed field with their boxes full of refreshing chants. "Get
your lust, greed, power, hatred, here!" they sang. Or "Get your
peace, happiness, joy, justice, here!"
I also noticed there were lots of mosquitoes out, and I
wished I had some bug spray. As they whizzed by my ear, I
noticed they too were buzzing a message.
"EVIL, EVIL, EVIL, EVIL!" some hissed. "GOOD, GOOD, GOOD,
GOOD!" others insisted.
And every time one of them stung someone, I saw the person
turn themselves toward the appropriate stage.
Every time one of the EVIL mosquitoes stung me, I felt an
overwhelming urge to be decadent. To rip off my clothes and do
something wild.
I found myself constantly turning to Satan and dancing in
frenzy, then sitting down, calm and happy, looking up at Jesus.
Fortunately the GOOD mosquitoes seemed to sting me more often,
and I was able to focus most of my attention on Jesus.
"Isn't He just so beautiful," I whispered to Bo. "His eyes
are so filled with love. Every word He speaks is so just and
Bo sneered at me. "Did you notice how much he looks like
Satan? They could be brothers!"
"What do you mean?" I yelled, and I stood up. "How could
you say such a thing!!!"
"They look like they've got the same father, that's all!" Bo
roared, and we stood staring each other down nose to nose.
We were screaming at the top of our lungs, and the people
all around us were yelling at us to shut up.
A couple of attendants threw us over their backs, carried us
down to the stages, and heaved us up. I was standing on the
right, on Jesus' stage. I felt my mind just melting away as I
shyly looked up at him.
"Forgive me, Lord, I'm so sorry," I wept.
"You may rise, my son. Don't be afraid."
Over on the other side, Bo was all excited too. "Can I get
your autograph, Satan?" he was asking.
Satan pulled out a stamp and plopped it on Bo's forehead.
"666" it glared in a blinding red light.
"May I have your autograph, my Lord," I asked and Jesus
painted a cross on my forehead with His finger. I shivered at
His touch, and I thought my soul would burst right then and
"Yo, Jack!" Bo's voice pierced through my wonderful bubble.
I turned to the other stage, reluctantly, and saw Satan with
his arm around Bo. That traitor!
"Jack, ask him if God is good, why is there suffering in the
I sneered at my traitorous other self, and turned smugly to
my beloved Jesus, knowing He would tell Bo exactly why.
"God has given you this earth, and man has freedom of
choice. He chooses evil, which brings suffering upon his fellow
"YEAH, right!" Bo scoffed. "Man chooses evil," he laughed
and pounded his knee with his hand. "Ask him why one-day-old
babies die. Ask him why little kids are crippled."
I huddled closer to the Lord as the bitter words stung me
like arrows.
"And don't tell me it's man. That's bullshit," Bo
continued. "Ever see a cat play with a mouse? It bats it back
and forth, tormenting it. The mouse is scared out of its wits
and its heart pounds in fear, and the cat just keeps playing with
it, torturing it, until the mouse dies in shock. And the cat
tears it apart and leaves it on your doorstep with its insides
all ripped out."
Bo took a deep breath and gave me a stern evil-eye look
before he continued. "Don't tell me man is the only evil in the
world! Man is just like everything else here. Look at the way
the world is set up. The very essence of life is survival.
Creatures struggle to survive. Every second of your life, your
body is killing billions of tiny organisms that are trying to
kill you. Animals kill other animals to survive. Hey, ask him
why everything couldn't just get all their energy from the sun,
like plants. Why do we have to kill to survive?"
"The ways of God are not understood by man," Jesus said.
I blinked and turned back to Bo.
"Yeah, and ask him who created all the evil in the world?"
I looked pleadingly up at Jesus. "God created the Heavens
and the Earth for His glorification."
"How can a good God create Evil!" Bo laughed.
I felt like I was shrinking.
"You experience the bad so that the good may be more
meaningful," Jesus was saying, and Bo was yelling, and
I felt like crying.
"In order to create evil from nothing, God has to have evil
in him," Bo yelled. "I suggest to you that God is not good, but
that God is evil! What do you think about that, you goody-two
The crowd gasped. "BLASPHEMY!" they shouted.
"Well," I said quickly, trying to quiet them, and my own
fears. "How could God have created good then, if He is evil?"
Now Satan started laughing. "He created good so that the
bad will seem that much worse! It all fades, you know. You can
never hold on to the good. Every good thing in life fades into
your distant memories. All the good times. All the people you
loved. They all die, and it crushes those left behind, because
they remember the good, and they know it is gone forever. So
they lie to themselves and pretend that God is good and there's a
Heaven and everything will work out, because they need to have
hope. And they cling to that lie. But that's all it is!"
"God is not evil!" I shuddered.
"God is just," Jesus whispered.
But I felt more empty than I had ever felt in all my life.
"God can't be evil. That would be worse than if there were no
God at all."
"Why, Jack?" Bo was saying. "At least if God is evil, you'd
have someone to blame for all the suffering and injustice in
"God is not evil," I said, and I fell to my knees crying.
"God is just," Jesus was singing as he played his harp.
Satan and his band began to play, too, trying to drown out
Jesus' voice.
But the crowd had lunged forward in anger. They pulled me
off the stage, and I saw them drag Bo, too. They threw us up
into the air, like beach balls, and the two bands played on.
We collided, and Bo grabbed me. We held on to each other as
they threw us up again and again.
"We've got to prove God isn't evil, and fast!" Bo gasped.
"They'll tear us apart for sure!"
"I know in my heart he's not evil. All the good things.
Even if God were evil, that goodness would win him over. I know
it would."
"That's not good enough. You've got to prove it rationally.
We can't deal with blind faith, here. Faith is what blinds
everyone from seeing the Truth in the first place. Everything we
see says one thing, but people have Faith so that they can
believe something very different. We need rational explanations!
Think, Jack, think."
"Well...Maybe it has to do with the same explanations as
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if God is a thinking, planning God, even if he is not
physical but spirit, and he's separate from this physical reality
of our universe, then we are "outside" of God. And then it would
be the same reasoning as if there were a single physical god, or
multiple gods. As long as there is an "outside", then God is
finite, and there is something outside of him. And that can't
I was on a roll, and Bo was waving his hands for me to
continue as the crowd was getting a little rougher with us.
"Well, if we are a part of that oneness of God, and God was
evil, then he would be torturing himself. Which would be OK if
he were a masochist. But it isn't possible. Because to say God
is good or evil, and that he has any consciousness at all,
separate from us, is to give him a unique identity, which would
make him a separate entity, which would make him finite. So if
we are a part of God, that is God is Everything..."
"That's the next Chapter, Jack," Bo moaned as they threw us
down and started trampling over us.
"Well, if he is Everything, then he can't have a unique
consciousness which is good or evil, because that would separate
him from us and..."
"OK, OK," Bo yelped as they dragged us on the ground. "I
don't understand a word of it, but you convinced me. Ouch! I'm
convinced. Let's get out of here!"
Bo whistled, and Chapter 5 floated through the crowd, and
the giant pencil fell out of the sky and landed in my hands.
I wrote from my back as my head banged up and down on the
I stopped for a second and knew that if I was right about
people being offended by my personal thoughts, then most of the
world would curse me for what I was about to do. But, I had to
write the Truth. There's no lying to myself, here. Making
myself believe something because it is comforting to believe,
even though everything around me proves it can't be so!
Sadly, I wrote IMPOSSIBLE, and I was crying, and not just
from the pain of the feet kicking me from all sides, either.
I stared at it.
"Come on, put impossible already," Bo warbled as his head
bounced on the ground.
With all my heart I wanted to write IMPOSSIBLE. God can't
be good. There's just no way a good God could cause all this
suffering. I don't care what they say about it all being righted
some day. It's impossible. But, could he still be evil? I
mean, maybe he was blinding my reasoning?
"COME ON,'ve proven it. It's good enough."
I wrote in IMPOSSIBLE, and then thought about erasing it and
putting PROBABLY NOT, but the page started laughing, and it
wrapped around all the people, and as it exploded in flames, we
all started burning.
Bo pulled me through the fire, and we were standing in front
of Chapter 6.
I turned and looked up and saw Chapter 3 floating peacefully
overhead. It was alone. I didn't see any page about an evil God
anywhere. I must have proved it wrong!
And yet I couldn't help feeling that maybe it was hiding
somewhere out of sight. But Bo shook his head. "You proved it,
Jack! Stop worrying."
I rubbed my hands together, and with a sigh of relief,
helped him turn to the next Page.


We jumped into the Chapter, and plunged into the ocean. Bo
did a triple somersault, but I belly-flopped in face first.
I held my breath as I sank down. I tried to struggle to the
surface, but then I noticed I was floating.
Actually, I was sailing along a wave.
Well, to be precise, I was a wave roaring on the ocean.
How did it feel to be a wave? Cold, wet and full of energy
and excitement. It felt kind of good.
"Jack, is that you?" the wave next to me gasped.
"I think so. Is that you, Bo?"
"Yeah. What's going on? I think we turned into water."
And then I remembered reading in college about the wave and
the ocean.
"It's the old 'I'm a wave, I'm a wave' trick," I informed
"The what trick? Look, Jack, hurry up and prove this thing
so we can get out of here, would you. I didn't mind being
conjured up in your dream as a human. It's kind of fun. There's
all sorts of things to do. But a wave? It's not exactly the
most swinging thing to be."
"We're just waves to illustrate that God is Everything, and
we are a part of God. You see, a wave rushes along saying, 'I am
a wave, I am a wave,' and then it crashes on the shore and
becomes a part of the ocean once again. Its identity as a wave
disappears, but it becomes One with the ocean. Get it?"
"Not really. All I see is the shore there, and we're about
to become ONE!"
We gasped as we crashed against the sandy beach.
When I opened my eyes, we were lying face down in the sand,
completely drenched to the bone.
Bo was gasping for air, and I struggled to my feet.
"Can't say as I like your dream that much, so far, Jack," Bo
said, trying to catch his breath. And then some dancing girls
jumped out of the bushes in front of us wearing nothing but grass
skirts. Bo was suddenly quite happy to be in my dream.
They danced past us one at a time, and each was carrying a
placard which they flashed in front of us like flash cards.
"GOD IS EVERYTHING," the first one said.
I felt like I was watching a foreign film. Bo, happily
drooling beside me, wasn't paying any attention to the placards.
The last of the girls dashed by. Now they dashed back with
pom poms.
"And so," they said in unison, lining up to form a pyramid
as they climbed on top of each other.
"God is not good."
"God is not evil."
"God is everything!"
"YEAH!" they screamed, and tumbled to the ground. Then they
turned into half-women, half-butterflies, and they fluttered
around our heads for a moment before they flew up to the sun.
"Come on, Jack," Bo giggled, and he grabbed my arm. "Let's
follow them!"
"You know, Bo," I scoffed, and I pulled away from him.
"Sometimes you're a real pervert!"
Bo looked hurt. "Hey, just remember, pal, I'm only what YOU
made me!"
I shrugged.
"Anyway," Bo sighed. "The Chapter's floating over there.
Go sign it, or whatever, and I'll be back in a second. I
I shrugged again, and watched Bo fly up into the air after
the buxom beauties.
I walked toward the pages, but I didn't really feel like I'd
seen enough to make a decision, yet. This Eastern stuff always
sounded so interesting in college, but I never totally understood
what it was really all about.
And anyway, before I got there, I passed this movie theater,
and you'll never guess what movie was playing.
I'd never seen it either, but of course, it didn't sound
like one I should wait to rent on video. There wasn't anyone
selling tickets out in front, but I found a pass on the ground,
and walked inside.
The place was deserted. But all the lights were on, and
when I looked up at the Time Schedule I saw that it said, "JUST
ABOUT TO START!" in blinking neon letters.
I hurried in through the doors and squinted in the darkness.
I couldn't see a thing, but I stumbled along until I was just far
enough away from the screen. Then I sat down, hoping I wasn't
sitting in anyone's lap.
The movie had started.
It was just this regular old love story about some guy and
some lady. But as I sat there in the darkness, I forgot I was
there, and I felt myself vicariously living through the
characters on the screen.
Then I blinked, and I was just me sitting in the chair,
watching. Every time I blinked it was like turning a switch on
and off. I'd be somewhere far away, just living vicariously
through someone else, and I'd blink and become me in the theater,
with a vague feeling that I'd just been somewhere else.
I started to laugh, and blinked it on and off and off and
on. The projector speeded up and I was living through more and
more "stories" -- hundreds, thousands, millions, billions...
And then I noticed that something was watching through me...
"OK, OK. I get it," I gasped, shaking my head wildly to try
and clear the fog in my brain, and I jumped out of my chair and
turned to face the stream of light that came out of the
"So, God's this ultimate consciousness that looks out
through our lives and experiences everything through us. I get
it, sort of."
To be honest, I didn't totally understand. But then, I'm
only human, right?
The lights went out. I was alone.
Really alone.
Completely alone.
There was only ME.
Nothing else.
Just ME.
I would have felt billions and billions and trillions of
living things stirring in me. Except I wasn't physical. I didn't
have a brain, and neurons and synapses and sense organs. I just
So, I didn't feel anything for forever. Or, I don't know how
Anyway, eventually I noticed there were these little threads
of light -- of course I couldn't see them -- but they stretched
from each of the consciousnesses of each of the living things
into me -- this ultimate consciousness that was EVERYTHING. And
I flowed through those threads and suddenly I was experiencing
life through somebody's eyes.
It felt wonderful.
It FELT wonderful. I could feel. Then the person became
submerged in what he was doing -- his body was on automatic pilot
-- and we didn't "feel" anything, until he paused a second, and a
flash of self-reflective consciousness burst like a pulse, and we
felt what he had just been doing.
At the same time this was happening, I was floating down a
billion, billion other threads, living through all those other
consciousnesses. I was people, and trees, and fish, and animals,
and then I felt something shaking me violently, and I opened my
"Gee whiz, Jack. You were like in a trance, or something,"
Bo was saying.
I stared blankly up at him. "Huh?"
"What are you doing here in this theater?" Bo asked.
I scratched my head, only half-remembering a tiny part of
the wonders I had experienced. "I guess I was feeling what it
would be like to be EVERYTHING."
"Oh, yeah. How did it feel?"
"I'm not sure. I only felt it when I was looking at it all
through someone's eyes."
Bo rolled his eyes at me. "That Eastern mumbo-jumbo again.
I am a wave, and all that crap."
"So, what's your conclusion, professor?"
"Huh? Oh. I'm not sure. Sounds possible, I guess. It sort
of explains what consciousness is. I think."
"You think. You guess. Jack, what are you going to write?"
"I guess I'll put 'Possible,' for now. But there is one
thing that's bothering me. If there is a god, even just an
ultimate consciousness that is EVERYTHING, then it is a
purposeful universe. That is, this ultimate consciousness created
matter with the purpose of experiencing itself."
"Uh, the theory goes..." Bo shrugged.
"Well..." I began, scratching my head as I thought this
through. "Why would it have created this universe where matter
and energy follow these particular rules -- you know, where the
basis of life is competition and not cooperation. I mean if it
wanted to experience itself, why do things have to kill each
other to survive. I mean consciousness has to cease in an
organism, for other organisms to remain conscious. It seems
"Well," Bo offered. "What if this were just one of an
infinite number of universes that this Ultimate Consciousness of
yours created. It didn't know which one would work, it just
created them all. Not that I'm a believer, you understand, of
"Hmm...well, since it does offer an explanation of
consciousness, I suppose I can't rule it out. Not until I can
examine the scientific view of consciousness a little closer. I
guess I'd better just put 'POSSIBLE' down for now."
"All right, well let's get going."
We walked out of the theater towards the Chapter. "Why are
you in such a hurry?" I asked as we were almost there. "And what
happened with you and those girls?"
"I don't know. They called me a Bodisatva, or something
like that, and said I wasn't doing a very good job, and they
turned their noses up at me and flew away. You got yourself one
crazy dream, here, bub."
I had to agree.
"So, what's this Bodisatva crap. Should I be offended?"
We reached the Chapter, and the pencil was waiting for me.
"A Bodisatva is a spirit guide that is supposed to help steer a
person toward enlightenment," I mumbled absently while I wrote
'POSSIBLE' in the blank.
"Oh," Bo sighed. "How am I doing?"
I gave him a wry smile. "What do you think?"
He grumbled. "Well, it's your fault. It's your dumb
"Don't worry about it!" I laughed as Chapter 6 floated up
towards Chapter 3.
We looked up. They made such a lovely couple.
I put my arm around Bo. "Come on, old pal. Cheer up. I
like you just fine."
Bo sighed and looked ahead. "Look, we must have finished
the first section."
Another Page floated up to greet us. "PART TWO: WHO ARE
We turned the page to Chapter 7. Chapters 3 and 6 were
right behind us.



(Part 2)

A Somewhat serious,
sort of irreverent look
at life's most important questions,
for those who care enough to wonder...
but not enough to take it all too seriously!!!!

by Thaddeus Cogito

Part 2
copyright 1995 T. Cogito
e-mail c/o


"I thought this was a three-part book," I complained.
"I guess they decided it was dragging on a bit and wanted to
pick up the speed, or something," Bo suggested.
"Yeah, it's probably almost time to wake up," I agreed.
We turned the page to Chapter 7.
Chapters 3 and 6 were right behind us.

Eenie, meenie, minnie, moe...
And other tips on how
to choose your favorite philosophy?

"This is interesting," Bo sighed as we read the chapter
I nodded, and then I noticed I was looking down at a menu.
Up at the top of the left hand page it read, "WHO ARE WE?" and on
the right hand page it read, "IS IT OVER WHEN IT'S OVER?"
All the choices were in some strange squiggly language. I
muttered to myself as I stared at the pages and tried to decipher
something. Anything.
I looked over at Bo and saw he was wearing these funny
glasses. They were cardboard, with tinted plastic. Like 3-D
"Hmmm..." Bo was muttering.
"Hey, how come I didn't get glasses?" I complained, and
poking him, I reached for his pair.
My gaze wandered out past the booth we were sitting at, but
I couldn't see much. It was pretty dark. Too much atmosphere.
I turned back to Bo and saw that he was about to bite my
fingers which I had left on automatic pilot, on their way to
stealing his glasses.
"Get your own pair!" he growled, and pointed to a basket in
the center of the table. Next to the breadsticks, of course.
How silly of me.
I eagerly pulled out a pair and put them on.
"Let's see," I exclaimed, because now I could read my menu.

8. We are nothing more than physical beings?
9. We are physical beings with a soul?
10. We are physical beings with a soul and a spirit?

That's all the left hand side said. Oh, there was the price
as well, but that was still undecipherable.
The other side was a little more detailed.

11. When it's over it's over -- we cease to exist?
12. When our physical body dies, our soul lives on?
A) it is reincarnated again and again?
B) it wanders aimlessly throughout the universe?
C) it lives forever in heaven?
D) it lives forever in hell?
E) it becomes one with the universe?
13. When our physical body dies, the soul also dies, but our
spirit lives on?
14. No one dies, when we "die" we wake up from the dream called
life, and live forever?

"Hmmm..." Bo was muttering again. "I think 12C looks nice.
14 might be even better. What do you think, Jack?"
"Uh, huh," I mumbled, having come to a similar conclusion.
"But what's this for? Aren't we supposed to prove or disprove
these possibilities?"
"That was the general idea. But you're probably getting
ready to wake up, and you're supposed to hurry up and pick the
right answer and get it over with already. So, here's what we
do. When the waiter comes over, just tell him 14. Or 12C.
Whichever one you like best. They're both okay with me."
"You can't just pick the philosophy that you like the best.
You've got to taste all the possibilities. No matter how bitter
they are. You've got to find the Truth, even if it's the worst of
all possible explanations."
Bo threw his menu down in disgust. "Suit yourself, pal.
But I'm ordering 14!"
I saw the waiter coming closer through the soupy darkness.
I looked nervously at the menu. I could feel the waiter's breath
on my shoulder.
"Well, 14's nice, but let's look this over. I'll start at
the top. Let's see, 8 doesn't seem too pleasant. But it could
be true. No. Wait. What about consciousness? Well. I don't
The waiter was coughing impatiently. I looked up as
politely as I could to ask for a moment or two. I'd figure it
out, if I could just have a second. But the waiter was gone.
Panic stricken, I turned back to Bo. He was still there, but our
table had split in half.
It wasn't a table anymore.
It was more like a a classroom... back at school!
And we were still in our pajamas!
"Oh, brother," we both moaned. "What a dream!"

We are merely physical beings?

I should point out that the thought flashed through my brain
that school dreams were definitely near the top of my most-
dreaded-dreams list. Getting through school wasn't half as bad
as having to be dragged back there for years afterwards in my
sleep. And in my pajamas, no less!
"What the heck are we doing here?" I demanded, turning to
Bo. "I hate school dreams."
Faces turned and stared at us. I swallowed nervously, and
tried to shrink in my chair. But Bo jolted me to attention when
he yelled at the top of his lungs, "It's your damn fault!"
"Huh?" I gasped. Every face in the room was now fixed on us.
"Shhh. Bo, quiet..."
"You couldn't just pick something from the menu. 'You have
to taste all the possibilities'," he sneered. "Thanks a lot.
I'll bet you anything we're going to have to go through all the
stupid chapters now, one by one. Where are we? I'll tell you
where we are! Chapter Ei...."
Bo's declaration was interrupted by a ruler that came
crashing out of nowhere, hitting him square across the knuckles.
His mouth fell open. He swallowed, turned white as a ghost, and
sank into his chair.
"That is correct, Mr. DiSatva," a voice growled behind my
ear. I turned slowly to face the bulldog teacher.
"And you, Mr. Allmen..." the bulldog barked at me.
Obviously it must be my name, although it didn't exactly ring a
bell. "You may assist me at the front of the class while your
compatriot here reads Chapter 8 from the textbook."
He dragged me by the ear, down the aisle of staring faces,
to his desk, where a box sat ominously.
BEINGS. We are nothing more than physical beings, living in a
totally physical universe. Through an evolutionary process,
organisms developed from simpler to more complex creatures in
their never-ending fight for survival."
The teacher finally let go of my ear, and I fell to the
floor. "But what about consciousness?" I mumbled to the polished
wood beneath my face.
"Consciousness!" the bulldog snapped.
"Yes, consciousness," I insisted as I pulled myself up, and
brushed the scuff marks off my forehead.
"There's no mystery about consciousness. All organisms have
consciousness. Read on Mr. DiSatva!"
"Er...In their struggle to survive, organisms developed
greater and greater abilities to perceive, influence and control
the environment around them. At first these abilities were
focused mainly on physical abilities, such as speed and strength.
But, further up the evolutionary ladder, mental abilities of
analyzing and comparing and other cognitive decision-making
tactics were perfected, allowing a heightened and sharpened sense
of consciousness, that ultimately led to self-reflection, and the
false assumption that there was something more and deeper in the
organism than the physical organism itself."
"But there is something more and deeper in me!" I insisted.
"Nonsense," the teacher laughed. "Your precious
consciousness is nothing more than evolutionarily programmed
I opened my mouth to comment, but he stuck his foot in it
and continued his discourse. "If you compare a newborn child and
a newborn chimpanzee, you would find their mental development
remarkably similar, until about a year of age. The child's
development continues, but the chimp's does not. Its mental
circuitry does not allow it to learn any more."
I tried to bite his foot, but the shoe must have been steel
tipped because I hardly dented it.
"Living things are remarkably complex," he continued. "The
simplest bacterium contains instructions encoded in its DNA that
would fill the pages of an entire library. And yet, it's
consciousness is very limited. The human brain however, is
capable of a vast array of amazing feats. Every thought, every
action is the result of electro-chemical signals travelling along
specific pathways made up of individual neurons. These pathways
form a complicated network that is beyond comprehension. There
are more possible pathways in a single human brain than there are
grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. Yet all of these
pathways are localized in a single general area -- hence billions
upon billions of individual "consciousness" are united, arising
in the false assumption that there is an inner consciousness
unique and separate from the organism."
"Ern, yorn, gron gurn..." I grumbled.
"In fact, if humans could ever construct a super-computer
with as many inter-connections as there are in our brains, and
supply it with an internal power system, and a super-artificial
intelligence program that allowed it to learn from every action
it made, it would progress through stages, just like a child
passing from infancy to adulthood. That computer would ultimately
claim, just like you, that it had a deeper identity as well.
But, as I think you will agree, there's nothing spiritual in any
way about a silicon-chip computer."
The teacher removed his foot, and I tried to think of some
argument, but my brain was a blank. It was like I was a computer
and someone had switched my brain off.
The teacher leaned down and turned the switch on my forehead
back on, and the room came back into a fuzzy focus.
"Now, Mr. Allmen. If you will please begin taking out the
pieces from the box."
"Uh, huh," I muttered absently, as if there were a bug in my
program that was sending my thoughts in aimless loops. I reached
into the box and began pulling the parts out, setting them
carefully on the floor.
Meanwhile, the teacher dragged Bo up to help me, and he was
apparently putting the parts together.
I pulled out another part. Somewhere in my brain the word
"hand" flashed across some neurons. But it didn't click
anywhere. I pulled out another part.
The box was empty. I looked blankly over at the teacher.
He was holding something. "Head" flashed through my brain.
He walked over and placed it on top of the structure Bo had
put together. "And now I will place the computer chip inside,
like this," the bulldog instructed.
The head's blue eyes opened, looked around the room, and
landed on me. The head's mouth opened. "Jack!" the head gasped.
The sound of the voice overloaded the circuits in my brain.
That was Jill's voice.
And...and that was Jill standing naked in front of the
Everyone clapped.
The teacher pulled the computer chip out, and my beloved's
eyes went lifeless. He began to unscrew the parts.
"JILL!" I screamed.
"Now, here's your homework assignment," the teacher was
saying, and a hundred million pages fell down on Bo and me,
burying us into oblivion.

We are physical beings with a soul?

I pushed through the pages, struggling to breathe. All I
could see was white. White everywhere. Like the blinding
burning light of life.
And then I felt myself falling with those billions and
billions of flickering flashes.
As if I were falling from a great Babylene tower, hurtling
to the depths of humanity, I roared through the burning, blinding
life light.
Faster and faster I gushed, like an astronaut plastered to
the back of his cockpit under the weight of a gravitational
thrust thousands of times more powerful than a safe dropped from
the Empire State Building.
I squinted in a birth-contraction pain-filled eternity as I
hurtled through the unknown.
I blinked forever, and in my distorted gaze I saw the
whirling world around me had slowed to a crawl. A moaning,
groaning, gasping slice of time floated through my brain.
And then I saw these squiggly little pearly white sperms
waving their sanitized W.C. Fields top hats at me as they floated
past. There were millions of them, and we were all headed for
the round, motherly egg of desire up ahead. Except I was eeking
forward so very slowly, I knew I'd be late.
Just as one of the sperm penetrated into the milky sheath
and joined inside, I pushed into the stretchy latex, like a
balloon stretching around my face, choking out all the air, and
as it popped in a slow-motion roaring gasp, sperm, egg, and I
exploded in a burst of brilliance.

Energy rippling through my existence.


gasping bursts of life within.






gently tapping all


blood and life

and promise

pumping in from without...







gently tapping












breath of


cold and shivering,
big and bright,

Give me.

Hold me.

Show me.

Hold me.

Help me.

Hold me.

Hold me.







Why can't I do what I want me to do? Move hand. Do it
I can do it. I can...
Who am I that I am trying to control?
It's my body, but it's not me.
Those thoughts racing through my mind that I'm trying to
understand. They're my thoughts, but they don't belong to me.

I'm inside,
deeper than me.
I'm trapped in here,
alone inside this body.
It's not me.
I'm something more.
Oh, so much more.

I don't want to live inside myself.

We are physical beings
with a soul and a spirit?

As I stared through the blind-horse tunnel-vision of my
eyes, staring at my own reflection which was staring back through
the mirror at me, I tried to see who I was inside.
But my molten molasses soul could no more be seen than
tasted, and my gaze became hazy and fuzzy and my bearings
distorted, and then I felt someone looking through me, and
But as soon as I saw him, he was gone.
Like the shadow of death behind your shoulder, lurking,
waiting for the appointment penciled in on your biological
calendar. The calendar with the picture of the Chinese fortune
cookie, whose fortune has already been read and tossed to the
side in disappointed disbelief.
As I am looking out through me, who is it that I saw?
An even deeper me? The me that touches all the universe.
The me that is One in spirit with all that exists.
"YES! I am your spirit!" a voice whispers, laughing.
Me, myself and I,
we watch as the pupils of our eyes grow larger
and larger still.
And then two pages burst within the black holes of our soul
that lives within those pupils. They burst like flames of
burning desires, rippling domino-like throughout time. "Chapter
9" the first page declares.
"Chapter 10" the other informs.
And then they run through the backroads of my mind on skinny
legs into a worn-out sunset in still life blues, down another
perfumed roadside.
And they disappear forever.

But of course, they're never really gone.
just forgotten.
until they're remembered.

as all thoughts are.

"What the hell was that all about?" Bo demanded as he gave
me a good kick in the pants.
"I don't know," I complained, rubbing my behind.
"It's your crazy dream...You..Oh, anyway, here comes the
next chapter. Let's get in it, before the gibberish starts up
Bo turned away from me and mumbled to himself. "This dream
is bizarre enough without all that cryptic mumbo-jumbo!"
"That's fine with me," I agreed as we hurried forward to
catch the next Chapter. But I couldn't help looking back in
amused interest at the two Chapters and all the excess baggage
they lugged along.
I gave them a half wave.
The Chapters winked back at me.
I giggled and Bo pulled me into the next one.

...In Review...
So, what is consciousness, anyway?

I was feeling pretty giddy as we landed in the next Chapter.
Bo pulled me to my feet and I noticed we were in an
elevator. Out of curiosity, I glanced up to see what floor we
were on. The arrow was straining to reach Floor Number 11. It
wavered tautly as if being held back by a great force.
I perched closer to read the fine print under the glowing
11. "Is it over when it's over?"
"Well, how come we're not going anywhere?" I sighed, not
really that anxious to proceed to one of the most baffling
questions mankind has ever faced.
"Seems we still have some unfinished business here in the
first half of Part 2," Bo grumbled. He read the rest of the fine
print on the floor indicator beneath the arrow. "Apparently your
dream doesn't think we've talked about consciousness enough.
Well, I'm filing a complaint. If you'll remember we went into it
in great detail with that flaky teacher you conjured up..."
"Well, that was just one explanation of consciousness..."
"Jack, I'm sick of hearing about consciousness. I think,
therefore I am -- that's good enough for me!"
"So, what are we waiting for?" I whispered after another few
moments of silence.
"Oh, sorry," a voice said from above us. We both looked up,
and there, plastered on the ceiling was...
another me.
I rolled my eyes. "Not again..." I muttered.
Bo looked hurt. "Oh, thanks. So, I'm not doing the job
right, and you go and call in another chump to help me along.
Thanks a lot, buddy...pal...I...I wasn't doing so bad!"
"Hi guys!" the flattened me piped. "It's me, Id. You think
you could peel me off, please."
Bo stayed put. I shrugged and reached up to pry myself off
the ceiling.
The pancake me held out his finger. "You wouldn't mind
inflating me, would you? There's nothing like an inflated ego to
see things in the proper perspective," he chuckled.
After a few huffs and puffs Id was bigger than life. "Now
I'm superego!" he laughed, jumping up and down.
"Hold on there, pal," Bo yelled over the bubbling laughter.
"You said you were Id, now you're superego. That doesn't make
any sense."
Bo started flipping through the pages of a dictionary that
was resting on a podium at the back of the elevator. Funny, I
hadn't remembered seeing it a moment ago. But dreams are like
that sometimes. Especially this one.
"Id...completely unconscious..."
"Which I was, until you rescued me..." Id insisted.
Bo sneered. "Um...source of psychic energy derived from
instinctual needs and desires..."
"Yeah, yeah, so, I'm the unconscious you that makes sure you
look out for yourself. So...?"
"So..." Bo snapped, flipping some more pages. "Super ego is
partly conscious...the internalization of parental consciousness
and rules of conscience and guilt to reward
and punish..."
"Yeah, so...the guy in you that keeps you in line, making
sure your Id doesn't get carried away. So?"
"So, how can you be both?"
"Well...actually...they were short on staff, so I've got to
cover a whole bunch of roles. I'm your subconscious, and your
memory and...would you rather have them send in more Us's?"
"No, no!" we both gasped. Three was more than enough, thank
"As a matter of fact, we're all playing several different
roles in this dream, if you haven't noticed. Which I'm sure you
We grumbled a protest, but not too loudly, because we really
had no idea what this Id character was talking about.
"Well, let me explain," Id sighed with a wry smile. "Jack,
well Jack is our soul, the Observer, the inner us that is deep
within. You know what I'm talking about?"
"Not really," Bo and I muttered.
"And of course he's also the kook that's dreaming this
strange odyssey!"
Now that I knew.
"Your faithful Bodisatva here..." Id couldn't help himself
and burst out laughing.
Bo was really angry now.
"Sorry," Id giggled, trying to contain himself. "Well, our
good buddy Bo is our Ego, our active, present consciousness. I
guess you'd say he's the Jack the world sees, whereas you Jack,
are the Jack inside that you think of as yourself."
Gee, that really cleared things up. Souls, egos, ids, super
egos...My head was spinning!
"Look. You guys have come this far, and you don't have a
clue about what's going on, do you?"
We didn't answer.
Id whipped out an easel and some crayons and started drawing
on a giant pad. "Look, this is what consciousness is. The
Ultimate Reality consists of 5 layers of consciousness," he
began, and drew five concentric circles.
"Oh, no!" Bo groaned. "This sounds like that Eastern stuff
Id didn't even pause. "This outer layer is the body, or maya
to the ancient Hindus. The next circle is the mind, or the
body's consciousness. The next layer is the soul, the Observer,
or the self. This second to last level is the spirit, Atman, or
the Self. Finally, the inner layer is the Ultimate
consciousness, known to the Hindus as Brahma, or to us Westerners
as God."
Id smiled at us as we stared dumbfoundedly at the figures.
Then suddenly he ripped the page off and began drawing another
even more detailed diagram full of boxes and circles and
triangles and squares and lines joining them together in a
twisted, tangled network.
"Okay. This is the Environment. Stimuli are received by
the body, and the body sends stimuli to the environment. Stimuli
are sent to the brain and then pass into the gatekeeper between
body and mind, the great compiler, Id the needs and drives that
makes sure we look out for ourself. Stimuli are either sent back
down through the brain which autonomically sends a message to the
body to act (you know all the reflexive activities that never
even enter into your consciousness) or the stimuli pass through
the compiler into the second level of consciousness, the mind."
"Ugghh..." Bo hissed.
"At this stage the stimuli are now perceptions. They pass
either into the ego (the active, present consciousness) or into
the subconscious (our mind's automatic pilot which we're not
totally conscious of, but which we may remember at a later date).
Now if the perception went to the ego it quickly passes into the
capsulation of memories, or COM. This is located in the brain's
memory storage cells. It consists of short-term and long-term
memory. Perceptions pass first into the short-term memory. Then
they travel to the super ego -- our norms, roles, patterns and
habits -- in other words, 'who' we are. When perceptions pass
through the rose-colored glasses of the super ego they take on
our own unique interpretation. The perceptions can then reenter
the COM into the long term memory, or they may pass into the
subconscious, or into the ego, our active consciousness. I
should note that perceptions may emanate from the long-term
memory at any time affecting the subconscious, super ego, or the
ego. However, depending on the condition of the brain's storage
and retrieval system the perceptions can become jumbled and
confused and misfiled."
Id took a deep breath and was about to continue, but Bo's
snoring was so loud at this point that he spun around angrily,
and leaning towards Bo's ear yelled, "Mr. Bodisatva, would you
like to continue the discussion?"
Bo had been leaning back in a chair in the corner, and as he
jumped up, the chair broke into splinters and he tumbled to the
ground. He was quite awake now.
Id smiled ruefully. "Sorry. I was just looking after our
needs." Then he looked serious again. "I don't know what to do
about you two. I've just barely begun this discourse and already
you're falling asleep."
"I..." I stuttered. But the truth is, I was beginning to
nod off too.
"I didn't even get into how the Observer 'sees' what goes
on, or how stimuli can pass from the Ultimate through the spirit
through the observer into our subconscious, and, oh...I guess
I'll just have to take you on the tour."
"The tour?" Bo and I sighed. "Look, Buddy," Bo growled.
"We're not buying this Ultimate consciousness crap upon which
you're basing this theory. We already had a sort-of-sufficient
peek at the scientific view of consciousness, and that was more
than enough!"
"Sorry, equal time and all that..." Id giggled. "Now hold
on, we're going down. First Level," Id called and whipped out an
elevator cap. I should also note that unlike us, he was wearing
clothes. The proper clothes for an elevator man. Obviously he
was filling in for yet another character in my crazy dream.
Then suddenly we lunged down and I started to feel nauseous.
We stopped and I felt my head floating upwards. The door opened.
"The body..." Id announced.
My body, to be precise. There I was this giant, naked guy
floating in space.
"Observe the physical construction..." Id continued.
My poor body was then subjected to all kinds of x-rays in
all sorts of weird lights that highlighted the circulatory
system, the nervous system, and every system I'd ever heard of,
and quite a few I hadn't.
Id pointed everything out with a perfect tour-guide voice.
"Chemical reactions and electrical impulses operate the
activities of the body. Each stimulus produces a response. Much
the same as the activities of an automated robot," Id was saying.
"Thanks," I muttered.
"And now we will proceed to the Second Level.." Id concluded
and the door closed.
"Bye..." I sighed, waving to the poor dumb slob floating out
"Second Floor," Id declared as the door opened. "Voila, the
Mind," he said, pointing out to my blubbery brain.
It came in closer, as if being focused under a giant
microscope. Suddenly, we were looking inside, and there were
threads and tissues, and tiny blobs of light were exploding as
messages were transmitted in and out.
"Like the intricate circuitry of a computer, the brain is a
complicated neural network. Like a computer, the brain can store
information. Inner programs allow it to retrieve that informa-
tion, assimilate it, and interact with the real world."
"OK..." Bo conceded.
"Stimuli are received by the body and travel to the brain
where they are noted, and processed, and the brain sends a
message to act..."
"Still sounds good..." Bo was really paying attention. I
tried to do the same.
"The 'mind' is the culmination of the thought processes that
go on in the brain. It is the 'you' that rambles on incessantly
inside your head, analyzing problems, working out scenarios. The
Id is a part of the mind, yet also a part of the body, and yet
not totally one or the other. It is the filter between the mind
and body. All stimuli and perceptions and thoughts are colored
by your needs and desires."
"Plug yourself at every opportunity, why don't you?" Bo
mumbled pulling up another chair. Apparently he was beginning to
lose interest. He lay back in his new chair, and closed his
Id was unperturbed.
"The mind is also comprised of the superego -- your morality
which arises from all of the stored information that you've
acquired, the ego -- your active, present consciousness..."
He turned to my active, present consciousness, who was at
this point unconscious.
Id rolled his eyes, annoyed. "...the subconsciousness and
the capsulation of memories."
I yawned uncontrollably.
"Well, it seems to me that the two of you just aren't
interested in this," Id grumbled.
"No take your time, I'm enjoying this immensely, really."
Unfortunately I wasn't too convincing because I yawned my way
through my defense.
Id clicked his tongue and closed the door. After thinking a
moment he opened it back up. After all, this was his place in
the scheme of things, the place he felt most at home.
"Anyway," Id began, "science would claim that these first
two levels are all that exists."
"Got that right!" Bo mumbled in his sleep.
"Humpf!" Id snorted. "Even a computer would have
consciousness if you fed it enough information and it had an
advanced enough artificial intelligence program. But, as you and
I well know, there is something more than just the body and the
mind. There's you..." Id snapped, turning to face me. I had
just nodded off.
"The ego, the soul, the inner you, the self, the
Observer..." Id growled. I looked sheepishly pale.
Id sighed, and then he put his arm around me. "You are the
part of us that sifts through all the voices in your head and
evaluates them. The part of you that you think of as the real
you, not just the businessman, or the doctor, or the husband, or
the father -- the 'you' inside."
I nodded blankly, feeling as lost as Bo, who was squirming
uncomfortably in the corner of the elevator, trying to drift off
into another dream.
Id continued on. "The you that's disappointed in what life
has offered you. The you that wants to change yourself to be who
you want to be. The you that sets goals, and pushes you over
obstacles to achieve those goals, even if they are abstract and
intangible. The you that watches life go by, and feels like
you've never really lived, never been able to hold onto anything.
The you that lies awake at night wondering what it's all
about...the you...Would you like to take it from here, Bo?" Id
growled as Bo, awake now, was mockingly mouthing Id's words
behind his back.
"I, uh...This is all news to me. I don't know what's going
"I thought as much. You never do! The active consciousness
is always stumbling in the dark. Well, let's go to the Third
Level then, shall we?"
It was really weird. Looking out the elevator door I could
see my nose. It was giant. And I could see my hands down below.
And when I looked to the left, the whole scene turned to the
Meanwhile Id had started in again. "Many stimuli go
directly from the body to the mind and back to the body, with the
soul never being 'aware.' Like the beating of your heart, or any
of the billions of reflexive activities your body is engaged in
each day without you being conscious of them. Your soul takes a
back seat when you interact with the world. When you're talking
with a friend, for example, you often just slip into a familiar
pattern, and the words flow out without any conscious thought.
And then suddenly 'you' step in and realize something you said
was not what you meant, and you redirect your thoughts and
actions to correct the mistake.
"The Three Lower Levels of Consciousness, the body, mind and
soul, work together to make up the entity that you think of as
yourself. They work together to interact with the physical world
around us. The soul sees an idea in an abstract flash, the mind
puts it into thoughts, and the body works to turn these thoughts
into words or actions."
Bo had fallen asleep again, and I have to admit, it had
already gotten quite a bit more involved than my mind could
handle. I started to yawn, and leaned sleepily on the elevator
"Look, they told me you 'needed' to know this stuff.
Personally, I'd just as soon attend to more pleasurable
pursuits..." Id growled.
"Oh, no. No. I'm interested, really. It's fascinating
stuff. Honest." I threw my hand over my face to hide yet
another yawn.
Id shrugged as the elevator door closed. "The soul is also
the gatekeeper between the spiritual realm, and the physical
realm of reality. It is not quite spirit, and not quite
The door opened to the Fourth Level.
"The Spirit," Id said, and all I could see were these
glowing threads that stretched in the darkness in every
direction. We focused in on one and descended in its warm beam.
Down below I could see myself walking down the street
outside my house. We were getting closer and closer and then
suddenly we burst inside my brain, and I was aware that I was
standing in the street outside my house, but I had a vague
feeling of being someplace far away. Actually, it was a feeling
of being up in the elevator with Bo and Id...
Then slowly we were drifting back up the glowing thread,
shooting faster and faster, and the brilliant light grew more
"We are now entering the Fifth and Final Level of Conscious-
ness," I heard Id's distant voice whisper through the blinding
light. "GOD ..."
The next thing I know I'm shooting back down the thread, the
Observer sees it, the mind puts the experience into actual
thoughts, and my physical body on the street gasps, "Oh, my!" and
runs in the house.
The elevator door closed. But before it did, I saw a
billion, billion glowing threads all reaching up to that blinding
"Well, there you saw the two spiritual levels of conscious-
ness -- the spirit and the Ultimate Consciousness (or God or
Everythingness, if you prefer). The spirit is actually the Light
of life. It is the spark that makes a living creature alive. It
is also the vehicle that allows the Ultimate Consciousness to
live through us. The spirit, or Atman, as the ancient Hindus
called it, is hidden within us, but it is part of the Ultimate
Consciousness. Atman is a wave in an ocean. The wave cries, 'I
am a wave, I am a wave!' Then it breaks on the shore and becomes
a part of the ocean once again. Just as we hold on to our
individuality, only to become a part of the Ultimate through
I tried to stop yawning. "Now, that I know about..." I
sputtered. Id continued on, oblivious to Bo's snoring.
"However, even in life we travel to that ultimate reservoir
of Everythingness. For every life is simply a story in that
ultimate reservoir. Each of us is an actor in our story. We go
through our lives interacting with reality by using the lower
levels of consciousness. That deeper part of us, the inner
spirit, however, is One with every inner spirit..."
Bo yawned rather loudly and slowly opened his eyes. When he
saw where he was he groaned and tried to go back to sleep.
Id rolled his eyes and continued. "That is, the inner
spirit looking out through each actor's eyes for the duration of
that actor's life, is really the same for every actor. For in
eternity, time and space have no meaning. Thus it is the
Ultimate Consciousness that is looking out through each person's
eyes at the same time."
Bo groaned and opened his eyes. He started laughing
sarcastically. Apparently he had heard some of the discourse.
"Look pal, in case you haven't noticed, people are different.
You're saying that inside we're all the same person?"
"That's bunk. Jack, you gonna listen to this baloney?"
"Picture yourself at a movie theater. Aren't there moments
when you become involved with a good movie, and you find yourself
blinking, seeing the people in front of you, noticing there is a
two-dimensional picture on the screen, but a moment ago, even if
for only an instant, you felt like you were someplace else,
living another's life."
I was nodding, because I remembered the previous chapter
when I had just such an experience at the movie theater.
"We call this vicariously experiencing something else. When
we're watching the movie, we relax our bodies, our thoughts are
calmed, and the Observer focuses totally on what is happening
before us. Even if it is only for an instant, we 'identify' with
a character and vicariously live out what he is experiencing. We
become that person. What has happened is that the spirit travels
into that ultimate reservoir and 'lived through' another story."
Bo was snoring again.
"Some people don't like to read fiction, or watch movies, or
dream, or vicariously experience anything at all. They have
their own 'real' goals and they strive unceasingly to achieve
them. At the opposite end, there are artists who are constantly
delving into the ultimate reservoir, working through the
limitations of their mind and body to 'create' or actually 're-
create' that which they 'felt'.
"Thus we find the reason we are each different, although the
same. We all travel to that ultimate reservoir, but each actor
has his own limitations. We may all see the same movie, but
different parts have different meanings and different effects on
different people. Many times people can almost see a particular
idea in their head in a moment of absolute clarity. It seems
complete and whole, but they may spend hours, days, or even a
lifetime working to express a single idea in this physical
My head was spinning. I felt like I was going to pass out.
"Do you understand, Jack?" Id asked politely.
"Well, not exactly..." I confessed.
"Well, let's go back to the mind, then."
I rolled my eyes as the elevator descended back to the
Second Level. I felt really sick now.
"Let me try to explain why you're confused. People are born
into this world. They observe and interact with reality to
survive. To do this they receive stimuli and transmit stimuli.
Modern people are bombarded with an overwhelming amount of
stimuli each day. Our bodies miraculously process and store these
stimuli, usually without any conscious effort on our part. We
can tune into certain familiar stimuli, letting others go
unnoticed, or we can tune into new stimuli..."
My head was pounding. I tried to tune Id out. I'd had
enough. More than enough. I could see his words on a long
endless page. I tried shrinking the words with my mind so I
could get through it faster. Id rattled on and on, but I skipped
to the end of the chapter, and I suggest you do the same.

"...These stimuli are then processed. Consciously or
unconsciously these are agreed on, rejected, or left undecided.
They can then become part of our capsulation of memories. This
COM is a bank or reservoir which we can draw upon for further
interactions with reality. Because of the overabundance of
stimuli acquired, specific memories become faded, most become
lost (sometimes over time, sometimes almost immediately), or they
may mix with other memories. However, a certain amount becomes a
part of the composite person, that is our 'personality' which is
who we are to the rest of reality.
"We are all actually many different people. We act
differently with different people and in different situations.
When we're with people we've interacted with before, we often
just slip into the role we've grown accustomed to playing without
even thinking about it. Someone observing us objectively might
think we were completely different people if they compared the
way we acted in each situation.
"Whether this composite person is the person we think we
display to the outside world, whether it is the person others
perceive, or whether there is an objective composite person is a
matter of debate. For each observer's perception of the
composite person could be different, depending on the particular
actions observed, and depending on the observer's own capsulation
of memories.
"For, as you see, our capsulation of memories influences the
ways in which new stimuli are processed, and how much of the
stimuli become incorporated into our composite person. Thus, it
is an ever-changing composite person that is our tool for
interacting with the world. Or, in terms of the Ultimate
Reality, it is through the composite person that the Observer
sees the world -- our own rose-colored glasses, if you will.
"There is a constant interaction between watching and
observing and acting through the COM. Thus, the Observer may see
a situation or goal clearly, for this perception is perceived
without thoughts or ideas, but it must struggle through the
limitations of the composite person's thought patterns and
interacting abilities to put these visions or goals into ideas,
and then into actions.
"Thus we can see that our perceptions of reality are based
on our capsulation of memories, which is constantly changing with
new stimuli. Our own personal history consists of the events
that we performed in reality. However, as soon as the event has
taken place, it becomes a memory of the event, and is stored in
our capsulation of memories.
"If there were other observers of a particular event, each
would have his own memory of that event, and there would
undoubtedly be as many interpretations as there are observers!
"Sometimes we forget about an event that happened earlier in
our lives, and we see a picture of it, and are told by someone
else the 'story' of that event, and henceforth this new-old
memory is incorporated into our COM.
"Furthermore, we have become, to a great extent, a vicarious
society. Entertainment fills up our leisure time. And this
entertainment consists of books, TV shows, and movies, which give
us capsulations of others' lives, whether real or imagined. But
all these enter our COM. Initially event stimuli are tagged with
the particular individual who completed the event. However, as
time passes the tags become jostled and confused. How many times
have you scratched your head and said, 'Now who was I with when
such and such occurred?' How many times have you attributed a
certain action to someone, only to be reminded it was someone
"Even though we do not attribute vicariously experienced
actions to ourselves, the emotions and internal reactions
resulting from these vicarious experiences assimilate into our
composite person, depending on how much that experience
'influenced' us. Is it not true that sometimes people see a
particular fad, or personality type that they find intriguing,
and overnight they transform their entire personality into a copy
of the original prototype (with their own particular
interpretations, of course).
"Furthermore, isn't this what happens whenever we become
believers in anything. For a time we latch onto this new idea,
and it totally, or partially consumes us. However, fads die
down, and this new stimuli slowly fades from the composite person
as new stimuli are received. A certain amount will remain, the
rest is stored in the capsulation of memories. Often we
encounter experiences, live through them, and think we are past
them. But then we find ourselves acting a different way in
certain situations. The event has slipped in and influenced our
COM without our knowing.
"Since every event, 'real' or vicariously experienced, turns
into a memory, is it no wonder people often feel they have
experienced something, only to remember it wasn't a real
experience at all, just something they read about, or saw in a
"Actually, the end product is the same. That is, whether a
person vicariously experienced an event or 'really' lived that
event, it is the same in their own individual reality. When it
comes right down to it, a person is born and a person will die.
It is the COM which has molded him and shaped him and influenced
him to interact the way he did during his lifetime. We may be
molded and shaped by the way others perceive us, but we are
really all isolated entities whose reality is based on our
capsulation of memories. A person's history can be written by
several people, or by the individual himself, but this will
contain only events that transpired. What about the countless
intangible vicarious experiences, and hopes and dreams that were
lived in mere instants, but were no less real to the COM which
recorded and utilized them?"

Id finally stopped talking, and the pounding in my head
started to subside.
But then I saw that look in his eyes, and I knew he was only
getting warmed up. I looked over to Bo for help, but he was
still snoring in the corner.
Id opened his mouth and I screamed a primal therapy scream
so loud the elevator burst, and we plunged into the beyond and...



(Part 3)

A Somewhat serious,
sort of irreverent look
at life's most important questions,
for those who care enough to wonder...
but not enough to take it all too seriously!!!!

by Thaddeus Cogito

Part 3
copyright 1995 T. Cogito
e-mail c/o

When it's over
it's over?
We cease to exist?



................................and nothing.

There was no time.

No space.

No feeling.



When our physical body dies
our soul lives on?

An eternity passed. Or maybe it was only an instant?
Anyway, the next thing I knew, something was pulling
me...and I felt it...I FELT...and it pulled me, and tugged me...
I was running down this long, dark tunnel, and there was a
bright light up at the end and my ears were filled with this tiny
warbling rumble, and in the distance I heard the faint whisper of
crystal voiced angels calling me and comforting me, and whatever
it was that was pulling me, yanked me into the blinding light.
I was lost somewhere in eternity, and a song was drifting
through my existence.

Watching the rain falling down to the ground,
Voices may be calling but I don't hear a sound.
Guess I've got to try and be somebody here,
Only know I don't belong, only that is clear.
Did they tell you stories of happily ever after?
Saying you would find all that you were after?
Happiness would find you,
peace would rule your mind,
Love would steal your heart
and you would lead the blind?
Well, I don't know, but I was told...

I was lost and lonely 'cause I thought there was a Plan,
Now I know that isn't true and I am just a man.
I'll focus on the here and now,
I'll be what I will be...
If we would all just LIVE our lives
Then maybe we'd be free...

Did they tell you stories of happily ever after?
Saying you would find all that you were after?
Happiness would find you,
peace would rule your mind,
Love would steal your heart
and you would lead the blind?
Well, now I know...It isn't so...

When I looked up, I found myself sitting at my desk at work,
staring out at the rain. I had the oddest feeling that my life
just wasn't real. I felt far away, so far away from everything.
Mary jabbed me and whispered, "Joe, wake up, the boss is
I murmured something incoherent, and when I saw where I was,
mumbled some vague obscenities. Mary glared at me from the
cubicle next to mine.
"What are you complaining about?" she hissed. "You're going
on vacation in two hours, and I'm the one who gets stuck with
your clients for the next two weeks!"
"Sorry," I sighed. Two hours. The seconds ticked away
endlessly. Two hours was like eternity. God, I hated my job. I
hated my life. I'd give anything to be someone else.
Time passed by as it always does, and before I knew it I was
lying on a beach, alone and as miserable as ever. Maybe even
more so. Here I am trying to leave my life behind, at least for
a little while, and one of those depressing "What's it all about"
songs was blaring out of someone's boom-box, reminding me all
over again that my life is going nowhere.

As a boy I treasured
hopes and dreams and schemes.
Now a man I'm measured,
but life's not what it seems.

Drifting, sailing, lost in the dream.
Searching, wondering, what can it mean?
I don't KNOW you;
Do you KNOW me?
Can I show you,
or will you show me?

I've looked out there;
I've looked inside,
but there's no place to hide.
So every day
I try someway
simply to get by.

Drifting, sailing, lost in the dream.
Searching, wondering, what can it mean?
I don't KNOW you;
Do you KNOW me?
Can I show you,
or will you show me?

I finally gathered up the courage to tell them to turn the
music down, when I noticed some guy was standing there, blocking
my sun.
"Excuse me," I grunted. "Would you mind moving a little,
"Jack. Jack, it's me," the shadow piped. The guy reached
down to poke me, and I jumped to my feet.
"Look pal, beat it!" I growled. "I know Jujitsu, and I'm
not afraid to use it." This was all I needed -- some guy trying
to pick me up.
"But, Jack..."
"First of all, my name isn't Jack," I grumbled, and I wasn't
about to tell this jerk what my name was.
"But it is...I mean it was Jack. a previous
Great. I had a real joker on my hands. "Oh, and who are
you? Shirley MacLaine, I suppose?" I sneered.
"No," he sighed, rather seriously. I'm you. My name is
I started laughing. "You just said I'm Jack. Then you said
you're me -- And you're Bo. You can't even get your story
straight, pal."
"It's a long story."
"Oh, I bet! Look, Bo. Whatever you're selling, I'm not
interested. Now, if you don't mind, please, leave me alone!"
Then I noticed this loser was dressed in pajamas. They made
him look kind of familiar, somehow, but only in that creepy Deja
vu kind of familiar that makes you shiver because it feels so
The guy scratched his head and walked in circles around me.
I got in position, ready to defend myself.
Then he pulled off his slipper and pointed his smelly foot
at my face.
Now, that I wasn't ready for. "Peeyou!" I gasped.
"Now do you know who I am?" the guy giggled.
"Do that again and I'll break your foot!" I screeched pacing
in the sand. I really didn't know Jujitsu, and I couldn't just
run off -- all my stuff was here. I was in a quandary.
He leaned forward, real close, and breathed in my face.
His breath was not very pleasant, but it was familiar. I
reached down, grabbed my clothes and blanket, and tried to back
away from this weirdo. But he had me with my back to the
boardwalk, and there was no way to get past him without a
Then he started singing, if you could call it singing. I
held my hands over my ears!

I must admit I never understood,
Is this life bad or good?
Is there a point to anything at all?
Every man lives a life
That's filled with tears and joy and strife.
He climbs great heights, but then he has to fall.
Is this life a dream?

That's what I say when I sleep at night,
When I'm loving the girl who's holding me tight,
When I wake up and find it's just another day...
Each day ends up like the last,
They fade away into my past,
And all I've found just seems to pass away...
Is this life a dream?

Went on a journey through my mind
Down the deepest caverns I could find
In search of answers that would set me free.
A silver bird spoke to me
In words that echoed silently
The wisdom of ages yet to be:
Isn't life a dream...

You don't know how grateful I was when he finally stopped
singing. But then he lunged forward and stuck my nose under his
I screamed, "This is disgusting!" But something clicked in
the back of my head. "Bo?"
"Yeah, Jack. Do you remember now?"
I did. I really did. I remembered this was all a dream. I
was so happy that I was just dreaming and I wasn't really stuck
in this boring life!
Bo saw it in my eyes. "Oh, thank goodness I finally got
through to you. Sorry I was so vulgar, but it was the only thing
I could think of that would jar you to your senses. Smells are
very closely linked with our deepest memories, you know."
I nodded, but my mind was far away. I remembered how I'd
leaped into this Chapter. I shivered.
"Bo, it was horrible. I...I...I was dead. I didn't exist
anymore. Well, it wasn't horrible, actually. It...well...I just
wasn't anything."
Bo was nodding. "Yeah, I know. So make some kind of
judgement, so we can get out of this chapter."
"Well, what's the question?" I stammered, still struggling
to regain my thoughts.
"I guess...reincarnation. Are we born again and again?"
I scratched my head. "I don't know. I mean, what about us
is reincarnated? Is it the soul that comes back in another body,
complete with a whole Karma of past lives...?"
"What's this Karma crap people are always talking about?"
"Well, it's like a report card, in a way. Karma keeps track
of all the good and bad things we do in each life. When we're
born into a new life, the karma of all our past lives comes with
us. Everything that happens in a lifetime happens because
something in our karma needs to be worked out. Our souls are
born over and over again until we've got straight A pluses all
the way down our karma report card -- then our souls are
perfected and we become one with the Universe, and rest in
eternal peace."
"Good grief!"
"Well, it's better than the other reincarnation alternative.
If the soul dies with us, and only the spirit lives on, then just
a deeper part of us survives -- a thread without real individual
identity, an extension of an ultimate consciousness -- you know,
like when we were waves in an ocean, and crashed and became One
with the ocean. So which is it? Does that unique part of us
inside that we consider 'us' survive or not?"
"I don't know. All's I remember is that being a wave was
awful wet feeling, and when we crashed into the shore, it kind of
hurt, as I recall."
I was thinking about it all when Bo pointed out that the
beach had turned into a tunnel with that glowing light up ahead.
I felt really nervous. I started shaking. "I don't want to
go through there again, Bo!"
Bo had a similar reaction. He was running as fast as he
could the other way. But he wasn't making any progress. Both of
us were floating towards the light.
Visions of life passed before my eyes. I saw flowers, and
springtime, and life so beautiful. And then it grew cold and
snow began falling, and the perfect flakes smothered the fragile
life that had bloomed.
I couldn't help crying. "I don't want to die. Even if it is
just a dream!" I screamed. And my sobs of protest flowed out
like a song.

Watching the snow falling down,
Covering the green green ground.
Thought spring had finally come around,
Now winter's back to bring me down.

I want to live...I want to live...I want to live!
I don't want to cry, and I don't want to die,
But I don't want to try no more...

Tired of going from day to day,
Watching the world just fade away.
Longing for another day,
Searching for a better way.
What does it really mean.
To be born and die and dream.
Is life just and endless Scene,
Whose actors throughout time scream:

We want to live...we want to live...
We want to live...
We don't want to cry; We don't want to die,
But we don't want to try no more...

As I looked up into the tunnel of white snowy light, I saw
the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, dressed in sheer wisps
of light. She was all the happily ever after dreams I'd ever
once upon a time believed. My perfect love. The soul mate I
have always longed for. And all around me I heard music. It was
a beautiful, distant, haunting melody. Voices whispered the
words as the vision of beauty held her hand out to me, beckoning
me into the unknown.

Once I had a dream.
I saw an angel dressed in white.
She smiled and said don't be afraid,
I will guide you in your flight.
She held out her hand
and led me through the night,
and when I awoke, her words
surrounded me like golden light.

She said:
'There's nothing in the darkness
that wasn't there when the lights were on!'

But I can't find anything in this world
to give me hope in the beyond...

You see:
Death has blue eyes,
like the skies and the sea.
Life promises us everything
but only Death can set us free.
She comes like a whisper,
a silver bell in the breeze.
She comes, oh so silently,
a voice in the trees,

'There's nothing in the darkness
that wasn't there when the lights were on!'

But I can't find anything in this world
to give me hope in the Beyond...

I know
Death flows like a river
to an uncharted sea.
Someday I'll sail her waters,
when She comes a 'callin me.
Some may try to hide,
Some walk proudly forth,
But all of them will die,
and no one knows what for...

There's nothing in the darkness
that wasn't there when the lights were on!
But I can't find anything in this world
to give me hope in the beyond...

I would prove the song wrong. I would find hope in the
Beyond and that hope was Love. But as I stepped slowly forward,
I could hear Bo's voice in the distance singing another refrain,
trying to shake some sense into me, trying to keep me from
walking into the light...

There are no angels of light,
No happily ever after
There's only this life
With its tears and its laughter.
I have no time for fear...
There is no Heaven above,
And as long as I'm here,
I've got to share all my love...

Because there's nothing in the darkness
that wasn't there when the lights were on.
But there's nothing here in this world
to give us hope in a Beyond...

I refused to listen and walked into the tunnel, reaching out
to touch the angel's hand. I could not look away from the blue,
blue heaven of Her eyes, for she was Perfect, and I was hers
And I realized suddenly it was Jill's face that I saw, and
yet as I stared into her eyes, all of Womankind flowed within
her. Billions and billions of faces and identities all reaching
back through Time until She was Eve and I was Adam and We were
the only Ones that existed, and she was part of me and I was part
of her, and we were in the Garden of Eden, and Life was Love and
Love was Life and my heart was about to explode, and the eternal
moment burst as her gentle fingers wrapped around mine and we
stepped into the Light.

I knew I was dead.
I had no body.
I was ALONE.
There wasn't anything physical around me. But I could feel,
or sense, or something. There was a part of me that was still
I tried to focus on whatever it was that was still alive in
me. I concentrated with everything that I was.
And as it became more real to me I "saw" that I was soaring
through the universe. I whizzed through space and time and all
of reality, unbounded and unchained. I was free.
It was exhilarating in a way. But as I passed through time
eternal, I saw the pain and suffering and the tears and the
torment, and I felt so sad.
Why? Why do they suffer so?
I saw people living and dying. And their children lived and
died, for generation after generation after generation, and for
the first time I felt the awesome wonder of billions of lives
spreading through thousands upon thousands of years, and I could
not believe that the same things just kept happening over and
over and over, and a song was blowing through the air, washing
the tears from my bodiless face...

War and fighting,
everybody's right.
Searching, stumbling,
blinded by the light.
Reaching for Truths and Reasons,
they keep on changing, like the seasons.
And I don't know how it keeps on going,
on and on and on and on...

It's a crazy world we live in.
Everybody's trying to get by.
Believing what they have to believe in:
Heaven, Hell, truths and lies.
Everyone's alone,
reaching out for something or someone
to believe in what they do,
to comfort them through,
and it's so hard to do...

Reaching for Truths and Reasons,
they keep on changing, like the seasons.
And I don't know how it keeps on going,
on and on and on and on...

I tried to shake away the overwhelming sadness that was
washing over my existence, and as I looked below I saw a little
boy blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.
There's nothing purer than that moment of silence when a
child truly believes his wish will come true. But I heard his
wish, and I didn't ever want him to know that it would never come
to be.

Every year I blow out the candles
and wish for the same thing:
Happiness for everyone...
But time hasn't changed a thing.
Every year is like the last,
the future becomes the past.
People cry and children die,
and I still don't know why.
I still don't know why!

I wanted to reach that little boy, but I couldn't. And I
watched him sit down in the middle of billions and billions of
people who hurried by, bustling on their way to some unknown
destination. I was fascinated, for I knew that boy was me in my
He sat on the ground and he refused to get up. "Come on,"
his mother whispered, tugging at his arm.
"John, you have to get up, now!" his father's voice
The boy swallowed carefully and remained as he was. He felt
his mother's warm hand relinquish its grip, and felt instead his
father's on his shoulder; it was firm but understanding. The boy
looked up slowly.
"Look, I know it must seem strange to you now," the father
said softly. "You're just a boy." He smiled and his gaze
carried up past his son to the faces slowly passing by. The
boy's gaze followed carefully, then withdrew.
"But there are so many people," the boy shivered. "People,
people everywhere."
"Look at them," his father pleaded, the grip extending about
the waist, still with genuine warmth. "It's hard for a little
boy to understand, but there really is something going on here.
It may look to you like a blur of confusion and strange faces,
pushing and shoving in every direction, but there really is
"What?!" the boy demanded, glancing up at the spinning
colors that floated about in every direction.
"Well, if you'll stand up, I'll show you."
The boy hesitated, then let the firm hand help him up from
the ground.
"Now see, we are all standing in a line," his father
"But a line goes straight," the son interrupted. "These
people are everywhere."
"This line goes in many different directions. Because you
are a little boy, you walk straight along with us, but when you
get older, you can take the diagonal lines, slanted lines,
backlines, bylines -- whatever you want. Now see, didn't I say
there was something going on."
The boy nodded and looked up at the people standing
everywhere; it still seemed confusing, but his thoughts
disappeared as his mother took his other hand, and the three
walked peacefully ahead.

I blinked and the boy was older.

"John, why don't you listen to your mother!" the angry voice
echoed through unobservant faces.
The boy called back annoyed, "I don't want to walk with you,
that's all. I'd rather walk with my friends."
"Well, don't stray too far away," the older voice warned as
he remembered his own younger years. "It's a long and winding
Line," he thought as he watched his son's blurred figure through
the people.

I blinked again, and the mass of people was still the same
blur of color, but the boy was older still.

"For twenty years we've been waiting in Line," another voice
complained. "There's got to be something more than this, John.
There has to be!"
John looked back at his friend with compassion. "But this
is all that there is. We have to wait in Line..." John's eyes
drifted far up ahead, past the endless bobbing faces, and he
wondered how far up his parents were. His thoughts slowly
returned to the nagging words.
"Come on, John. You've been walking all this time, too.
Haven't you at least wondered what's at the end of the Line?"
"Well, sure. Everyone has. But it doesn't really matter."
John remembered his father's reassuring voice from so long ago
echoing through his mind. "There has to be a reason for all this
waiting. And how could you be thinking these things now. You've
found a wonderful reason to wait in Line. You have someone to
love, and you're going to start a family now and..."
The friend shook his head sadly. "That's exactly why it's
so important to figure this out now...So I don't drag other
people into this mess with me!"

I stared down from my strange vantage point and tried to
hear what John's friend was saying. His voice reached my ears in
the words of a melancholy song.

As a boy I dreamed
someday I'd find a wife;
start a family of my own,
everything would be alright.
But I don't want nobody
staring up at me.
Starry-eyed he'd start to cry,
"Dad why?
Why do the people cry?
And all that I love just die?
Why does time always pass me by?
Why, oh why, oh why?
And why are there no answers, why?"

I blinked, and John's friend was crying. "There is no
answer. It's pointless, I tell you. It's not worth it!" His
voice lowered suddenly, and he drew closer. "I've seen a door out
of this horrid Line. Back a ways. I'm going through. Do you
want to come?"
John hesitated. "Come on, be sensible. What else is there
besides the Line? We all have our purpose for being here."
The other looked back. "Yeah, look at all these people,
John. People stretch back and forth forever. Now do you really
think they ALL have purposes?"
"Well, sure. Why not?"
His friend shook his head and sighed. "So long, John."
"Hey, wait!" John urged, but it was too late. His friend
disappeared in the mist of faces.

The young man was suddenly an old man. He stepped along
with unseeing eyes. Echoes of thoughts drifted aimlessly through
his brain. "No one really knows what lies at the end of the
Line. Some have wandered back and say they've seen from a
distance, but how can anyone really know until they've passed
through the Gate?"
He stared ahead, unsure whether he had heard the voices or
had said the words himself sometime long ago. He just stepped
along as the Line moved slowly forward.
The old man reached out his aged arm, but there was no one
ahead of him, and the arm fell limply to his side. His heart
surged with excitement, fear, and wonder as he heard the Voice
behind the Gate call his name.
He turned hesitantly to look back at the endless faces
stretching out behind; they stared emptily ahead. He turned
toward his long awaited destination; took a deep breath, and
stepped forward.

As the old man stepped forward through the Gate, I was
stepping with him. We were crashing down from the heights of
life, plunging into the unknown beyond. I knew I would find out
what we had been waiting in Line all our lives to see.
Down below I saw a dusty road that stretched from Heaven to
Hell and passed through life. I was falling toward the Road. As
I fell, I could hear another song rippling through the me that
was still alive in the Beyond...

Searching through the madness
for a reason to it all,
I see the children crying,
and I'm hearing voices call.
War and pain and suffering,
look out I'm gonna fall,
falling again...

When I get to Heaven
and I'm standing at the Gate,
They're looking at their watches
and they're saying that I'm late.
Don't I get an audience
with the Master Great?
Take a number, get in line,
you're gonna have to wait,
waiting again...

Then they throw me down to Hell
and I'm burning in the Fire.
The Devil laughs at me
as I'm sinking in the mire.
'Give your soul to me boy,
and I will set you free.'
I choose the pain and turn away,
no lies will capture me,
ever again...

When I get to Heaven
and I'm standing at the Gate,
They're looking at their watches --
forget it boy, you're late!
Don't I get an audience
with the Master Great?
Take a number, get in line,
you're gonna have to wait,
waiting again...

I looked up from the dusty road, coughing and gasping. I
should have felt great. I was about to find out what lay beyond
the realms of life. But from the song that had shaken my soul, I
knew this Scenario was not going to be pleasant. I knew it would
feel like I had felt so many times in my life. Like I still had
to wait to find out what was going on, even here, when life was
over. I was going to wait, and then I'd still never find out any
answers! And then I saw the creatures lurking in the shadows up
ahead, and I knew what I had to do.
"Look, there, another one thrown outside the Gates," one of
the creatures laughed.
"Oh, Master will be so pleased," the other agreed, his dark
grisly body rippling with excitement. They fidgeted with long,
sharp, tapering fingers, waiting in the shadows that lay to the
side of the road, beneath the jagged, towering mountains.
I licked my parched lips, and winced at the sun's
brightness. I wiped beads of sweat from my eyes, and with a
sigh, continued on down the dusty road towards my inevitable
"Here he comes!" the creatures snorted, and I continued
towards the shadows where they thought they were hiding from me.
I held out my hands in surrender as I approached them, but
they leaped out of the shadows and pulled me into the darkness.
I winced at their icy grips around my arms.
"Thought you could get away," they hissed.
"No..." I started.
"Master has been expecting you," they growled together.
I shuddered, and with a last breath of determination, pulled
free of their clasp. "Lead on, then," I said softly, and
angrily, following them down into the mountains. Unfortunately I
knew where the dream was taking me, and I just wanted to get it
over with as soon as possible.
The chamber roared in flames as we entered.
"Look, Master, we've found another one that They have cast
out," the creatures groveled.
The towering figure before me danced with fire. "Kneel,
Traveller!" he yelled, and the walls seemed to shudder, and the
flames rose and thundered.
I stayed where I was.
"Do you not know who I AM?"
"I know who you are," I said slowly, staring at the ground.
"Do what you will to me."
The fiery figure flared in anger. He reached out a burning
sleeve to knock me to my knees, but as he touched my head he
winced, and the room roared in a blaze.
"Fools!" he screeched. "He is mine on the outside -- scarred
and barren. But his heart is pure. Get him out of here. NOW!!!"
They pushed me out of the chamber, and up through the rocky
corridors, and out into the burning light.
I wiped the dirt from my lips and watched the two creatures
scamper back into the darkness.
I blinked in the bright light and looked back down the Road
to the shining Gates, and through the misty haze to the Golden
Of course the gatemen told me I'd have to wait my turn.
"But there's no one else here," I complained.
They shrugged and walked away, leaving me on my knees,
peering inside. I opened my mouth to yell something, but closed
my lips with a sigh. "God, you're not even going to laugh at me
as I dreamed You would?" I whispered to the dirt beneath my feet.
"Make all my arguments about why You were wrong to make life so
hard and cruel for them seem like folly; make it seem as if I was
the one who was wrong? are as silent now as You always
I wiped the tears from my eyes and turned to face the road.
My gaze followed its winding path out, out forever, and all along
both sides I saw life with all of its billions and billions of
lives, and I turned back to the Gates and a song was raging in

They don't know you like I do,
They don't see what you put them through,
but I do...

It's time to open up their eyes,
and show them all you say are lies.
But we could run and scream and hide,
and you'll still take us for a ride,
with your lies.

They don't know you like I do,
They don't see what you put them through,
but I do...

I stared at the dusty road and tried not to look off to the
sides where the people cried, and their pain filled me with such
a great sadness that, by this point, I was pretty much completely
devoid of all feeling.
I got to my feet, and tottered on with my hands clutching my
ears, trying to drown out the pain-filled cries. I could feel a
voice of hope and promise trying to reach me from somewhere so
far away. But it couldn't penetrate through the Pain.
I stumbled on, lost and alone, and I couldn't stop myself
from falling into the Void, and another song was floating from
soul, trying to reach a God who has always been silent.

You can take me down,
show me round,
I won't be found.
For I, I must go there,
filled with cares,
I'm going down.
Going down...

I don't know just what you mean;
I can't hear above the Screams.
You say that there are hopes and dreams;
they're only lies, foolish lies.

Life takes us for a ride,
there's just no place to hide,
Someday we all must die.
Why do the children cry;
can't we all just fly
up through the sky...
up so high...

I don't know just what you mean;
I can't hear above the Screams,
You say that there are hopes and dreams;
they're only lies, foolish lies.

Fortunately, Bo eventually found me.
Was I glad to see him.
"Bo. Bo, we're...we're dead!" I gasped while I hugged him
"Well, you're sort of dead," he corrected. "I, technically
don't exist, except in your dream. Right? Or...well, that Id
guy said I'm your active consciousness. So I'm unconscious right
now, while you're having a field day inventing this bizarre
dream. But then I'm supposed to be your 'guide' too, so I guess
I'm stuck wherever you are...which means I'm dead, too. Geez,
Jack. You know, as your active consciousness I'm perfectly
content with just living. I don't know why you have to obsess
yourself with this quest for Answers to such 'deep' questions.
Look where it's gotten us. Oooh, this being dead thing is giving
me the creeps....I don't like it at all!"
"That's what I just said. Now, how do we get out of this
chapter. It is really creepy being dead, even if it's just a
dream...and this Chapter just doesn't seem to ever end."
"I know what you mean...but, hey...look, here comes a
Chapter heading.
We read it together:
"Chapter 12 B 1/2. Is there a purgatory?"
"I don't remember that one on the menu," Bo complained.
I didn't either, but we both found the idea of being able to
jump through a Chapter rather inviting, even if it was only a
Sub-Chapter. It was like we would be able to put something
behind us. And the sooner we got through this whole being dead
thing, the better. We leaped without looking back.



(Part 4)

A Somewhat serious,
sort of irreverent look
at life's most important questions,
for those who care enough to wonder...
but not enough to take it all too seriously!!!!

by Thaddeus Cogito

Part 4
copyright 1994 T. Cogito
e-mail c/o WritersCoOp

CHAPTER 12 B 1/2
Is there a purgatory?

We hadn't really thought about what it was we were stepping
into, but when we landed, we weren't too happy. It looked like we
had entered a prison complex. There was a man waiting for us.
There was something comforting about him. Something loving,
and knowing. "Welcome," he whispered softly like a bird cooing.
"Oh, brother," Bo muttered as our robed host motioned for us
to follow him into the complex.
The man spoke as we walked along. "You will remain in
Purgatory for seven days and you must stay in your room at all
"Oh, great," Bo grumbled. "Life plus seven days in this
dump. Hey," he called, yanking on the flowing robes. "This
purgatory thing. It's just some Catholic rhetoric. It's not
even in the Bible, not that that means anything to me."
The man ignored him. "Come, my sons."
"What are you supposed to be my father, or something," Bo
Honestly, sometimes that Bo is a real devil's advocate!
"I AM the Holy Spirit..." our robed host said quietly.
"You? You're just a person," Bo laughed. "Jack here has it
pretty well proven that there probably isn't a God, but if there
were a God he'd be a deity. He'd be an Everythingness. Not
matter or energy, but an Ultimate Consciousness..."
Our host said nothing as we walked along.
It felt like we had been walking forever. My mind was a
blank. I just felt a gentle peace. But Bo's brain was in
"So, let's get this straight," he mumbled. "We're in
Purgatory..." He looked over at me. "Well, come on Jack, figure
it out, would you!"
I walked along, without a word. Without a thought.
Bo clicked his tongue, extremely annoyed. "Well, Jack here
ain't talking. But I ain't spending seven days here. My time is
precious; I only exist in his brief, bizarre dream, you know. So.
We spend seven days, big guy. What, then we go to Heaven, or to
Hell, right?"
"Not in this scenario," I whispered. Somehow I knew.
"Jack is right," the Holy Spirit sighed peacefully. "You
will pass through Three Levels. This is the First. On the
Second Level you will meet the Son, and on the Last Level you
will meet the Father. All the while you will become purer, and
purer as you examine your life and figure out how you should have
done things. By the time you reach the Third Level, you will be
the person you should have been."
"So, what then, we get rewarded with eternal Heaven?" Bo
"After the Seven Days, life will end in bliss."
"What's the point of the seven days, then?"
"People always regret things they've done in their lives.
This gives them a chance to find peace by learning to live the
way they've always longed to. My poor son, Jack, here, only
passed with a D, you know."
Part of me knew this was all a dream, but it felt so real,
so finite. And yet I wasn't afraid. "What about Jill?" I
whispered with teary eyes. I needed to know.
"I can't tell you that," the Holy Spirit sighed.
"Please," I begged.
"Oh, tell the dummy, would you!" Bo groaned.
"Well, she gets a B+."
I felt happy. I sighed. I gave in.
We met Jesus as we passed to the Second Level. And God, the
Father on the Third. They seemed like mere men. Wise teachers,
perhaps, but God? "We have manifested ourselves in a way that
you can understand," they explained. I moved sheepishly along.
Bo, however, was laughing the entire time. "Come on, Jack,
tell them this is impossible. Let's get out of here!"
But it seemed so real to me.
"Jack, you were such an angry young man. You longed to love
God all your life, but you couldn't believe in him, because you
knew that if you did, you'd hate him for the way the world was.
The way HE made it. Don't play this crazy game. Don't give in to
them. Snap out of it!"
We sat together in our room on the Third Level. I felt
pure. I felt forgiven. My life was complete.
Bo was pacing the room, staring in horror at the clock.
"Three minutes to go. Then it'll all be over. Life will end in
'eternal bliss', whatever the Hell that means!" Bo growled.
He ran over and started shaking me. "Please Jack, get us
out of here. Your whole life has been a Purgatory. You've been
waiting and waiting for something that never came. Stand up and
fight this. It's wrong. It's not fair. Don't be led like a
sheep to the slaughter. If this scenario is right, then God is
wrong. Life is too cruel. You can't give in to that kind of
My mind was drifting in the clouds. "What should I do then,
Bo? Be cruel like life as a protest to the God that created it.
No thanks, pal. That's what I call giving up." I sighed.
"Should I be good, to try and prove that I'm good?"
Bo's fists were clenched. His face was beet red. "What good
can a man do in his lifetime? Does it really make any
difference? Countless good people have tried -- the world is
still the same...But you live and try because you're alive, and
because you CAN make a difference in your own life and in the
lives of those around you, not to prove something to a God who
doesn't exist."
I wasn't even listening. I was totally swept up in a wave
of purging warmth. "Even if I tried to be a good person, I could
never be totally good. How can mortal good compare to the
immortal that created goodness. I could never say, 'see I'm
better than God,' or worthy or...No, I have lived as best I
could. I have made many mistakes, but now I am forgiven."
Bo shook me. "No, Jack. It's wrong. Say it's wrong."
The clock rang and it all melted away.

Is there a Heaven?

When we materialized in this Chapter of all chapters, I
expected us to be filled with total bliss, to be One with all
Creation, to be HOME.
Unfortunately, we were wading in some polluted grey clouds,
and Bo was pointing at some tarnished Pearly Gates.
I shivered. They'd already rejected me there once in this
dream already. I wasn't going to try again...but, Bo was pushing
me. "Come on, Jack, let's move it!"
I tried to stay where I was. I didn't feel like I was ready
for Judgement yet. The Purgatory Peace was gone. I felt like
sinful old me again.
Bo dragged me over to the line that stretched out in front
of the Admittance Desk. As we stood there I noticed it was
actually quite a long line. Why there must have been billions of
people waiting in it.
We waited and waited. Then I noticed this guy standing on
the sidelines, jumping up and down like crazy. "OK, boys and
girls," he was laughing with effervescent enthusiasm. "Let's do
our jumping jacks. Lift those legs a little harder. Oooh, we're
going to have so much fun when we get inside. We're going to eat
everything we want. We're going to stay up late and do whatever
we want to. Oooh. Oooh. It'll be so much fun!"
"Do we all get to go to Heaven?" I called.
"Of course!" the aerobics instructor laughed. "Everyone goes
to Heaven -- as soon as you lose enough weight to slip through
the eye of the needle. Now, let's pump those legs and do some
real jumping jacks and smile and..."
"Oh, brother," Bo groaned as I started flailing my arms in
the air. "This is making me sick. Come on, let's get out of this
line. You can rent the video later if you really want to!"
We excused ourselves through the cheerful overweight faces
as they puffed and strained their way to salvation.
"Hey, look over there," I pointed. There were animals lined
up for as far as the eye could see. Lions and lambs waited
peacefully together.
"They're going to Bestial Heaven," Bo muttered as he dragged
me over to a clump of bushes. "Look, they'll be changing the
Scenario in a second. Wake me up when they do." He leaned back
on the branches and closed his eyes.
I gazed up and down the long line, looking at the endless
array of faces. Then I noticed these two cherubs pulling back a
Page. The line was gone.
"Bo, wake up," I nudged.
"Huh? Oh...yeah. You go and try to get in. If you make it,
I'll sneak in behind you." He yawned and closed his eyes again.
I shrugged and walked nervously up to the desk.
A rather tired old guy looked up absently. "Leave your
worldly possessions on the table and step through the Detector,
please," the guard mumbled.
"Huh?" I stammered as I checked my pajamas for possessions.
If he expected me to take them off...No way! I stepped through
the Detector gate and an alarm went off.
"All right, step back!" the guard grunted.
"OK, OK, you can have the pajamas," I pleaded as three burly
guards dragged me back to the desk. "I failed because I didn't
enter the way I came into the world, right?" I offered as the
guard fumbled through some pages on his desk. "The pajamas came
with the dream, but you can have them, if..."
"No Holy Spirit," the guard muttered. "You can't enter."
"Did you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior before you
"Uh...I guess not."
"Then, you can't enter."
"But aren't you going to weigh out all my good deeds against
the bad ones..."
"That's a different Scenario. In this one you just have to
accept Christ as your savior."
"You mean it didn't matter what I did when I was alive?
Just as long as I repented the second before I died?"
"You got it, bub. The answer, I mean. You don't get to go
to Heaven."
"But anyone can get in, as long as they accept Christ that
last second before they close their eyes for the last time?"
"That's what the Book says."
"Even Hitler?"
"Look, bud. Beat it. You don't get in!" He leaned up and
stamped my forehead with a big red "REJECT!" stamp.
I was mad. "I want to see the manager!" I demanded.
The guard started to laugh hysterically. Then he kicked me
and I went flying into the bushes.
Bo shrugged when I explained what had happened. "Hey, look
Jack. They're changing the Scenario again."
The cherubs folded back another Page. Everything looked the
same to me.
"Trust me," Bo insisted. "Now go try it again!"
I started to walk forward, obediently. "Hey, don't you think
this REJECT stamp on my head will kind of influence his
Bo pointed behind us at a river flowing gently. "You can
wash it off in the River of Life, but it won't matter in this
Scenario. Honest."
I sighed and walked forward.
The guard looked up. "You again? I thought we took care of
"But they changed the Scenario. Didn't they?"
The guard pulled out his Book. "Oh. So they did. All
right. Well, have a seat."
I sat down.
"Now passport, please."
"Huh?" I swallowed.
The guard rolled his eyes, then leaned forward and reached
deep into my soul.
It felt awfully strange having someone fishing around in
there, but even stranger when he yanked my passport out.
"Ouch!" I gasped.
The guard rolled his eyes again, and began thumbing through
it. While he read he tapped away on a giant adding machine, and
I could see with each entry a "+1" or a "-1" spewing out the top
on a strip of red tape.
"You did what?" the guard gasped.
I blushed, even though I had no idea what he was referring
to. I watched as a big "-3" came out on top.
I sat back in the chair and felt about a foot tall.
The guard yawned. "That about does it," he said, closing
the passport and handing it back to me. "Now, for the grand
total..." He pressed the "Total" key and the adding machine
clunked a few times, then spewed out a "+1."
"What does that mean? Did I make it?"
"By the skin of your teeth, son. By the skin of your teeth!"
I jumped out of the chair. "I made it! I made it into
I guess I got a little carried away. I was dancing, and
jumping up and down. But why not? You spend your whole life
hoping that there will be a Heaven, so that all the craziness of
your life will suddenly be justified. Now, I'd found out that I
was going to Heaven. What a feeling of relief, and joy, and
I probably would have stood there forever, jumping up and
down like a nut, if Bo hadn't pushed me inside the Gates. We
fell on the green, green grass. "Wow," I giggled. "The grass
really is greener on the other side!"
Bo rolled his eyes, and then helped me up.
Just then a scooter-like flying object zipped by, then
backed up. "Hey, you dudes need a lift?" the purple-haired youth
called. He cleared a space on back by pushing aside a couple
dozen six-packs of beer. He popped one open and downed it in
four seconds flat, then burped so loudly the Gates shook.
"PARTY!" he screamed, and smashed the can on his forehead.
He turned to us again and flipped us a few beers. "You dudes
coming, or what?"
"Uh, no thanks," I stuttered, but Bo stuck his hand over my
mouth and pushed me onto the scooter.
For days we drank and partied all day and all night. Girls
fanned us and fed us grapes and we had sex with more beautiful
women than any Casanova could have imagined in several lifetimes.
Bo would have loved it if we could have stayed there forever, and
actually I might have as well, although looking back of course, I
say it would have gotten boring really fast.
Anyway, fortunately, or unfortunately, the cherubs flipped
the Page and Party-Time was over.
This new Eternal Paradise was not exactly like the previous
Scenario. Actually, it wasn't anything like it.
First of all we had no bodies.
Second of all, Heaven wasn't material in any form or
fashion. It was blissful, for sure, an eternal bliss that went
on and on for all Eternity. That is, until they changed the Page
on us.
The next Heaven was a golden city with diamond paved
streets. It was pretty much like earth in a lot of ways, except
everything was perfect, and everyone was happy -- there was no
death, no pain, no suffering, no tears, no disappointments, no
injustice, and the skies were not cloudy all was
Speaking for both of us, we would have liked to have
continued experiencing different Heaven Scenarios forever. But
the cherubs were getting a little jealous having to flip the
Pages for us while we got to experience Heaven's splendor in
every conceivable form. I really can't blame them. From what I
can tell, a cherub's life is nothing to write home about.
Anyway, they were polite at first as they pointed to the
next chapter. "IS THERE A HELL?" was not exactly a very
appealing sequel to the wonders we had so far experienced in
Chapter 12C.
We stood our ground. After all, two puny little cherubs in
diapers were no match for the two of us! We headed off into the
clouds, looking for more Heaven scenarios, while the two cherubs
went back for reinforcements.
The next thing we knew, there were millions of these chubby
little guys pointing rather unfriendly cupid arrows at us. "Go
to hell," they yelled.
It didn't look like we had much of a choice at this point.
"Well, we'll just run through the next Chapter," Bo
The hordes chased us to the end of the wonderful Chapter,
and we jumped into the abyss.

Is there a Hell?

Hell was awful hot. I was feeling pretty toasty as I fell
and fell
and fell...
It seemed the only thing down there in this bottomless pit
was a hot fire that shot up from deep within, like a volcano
spewing up its insides.
Let me tell you, it hurt. You would think that after
experiencing this constant, agonizing, eternal pain for a while
you'd become desensitized, and eventually stop feeling anything.
That works on earth, but not in Hell. It kept hurting and
hurting as I just kept burning up.
While I burned forever, I noticed the profile of a face in
the darkness outside the fire.
It was the most beautiful face I'd ever seen. It was Love
incarnate, pure and wonderful -- the face of the Son.
Then he turned his head, showing me the other profile, and I
winced as the flames licked my soul. The image of pure Evil was
burned in me, forever emblazoned, like the brand of a hot iron.
I was trembling, about to burst, as if I were a delicate
crystal being shattered by a piercing, horrible note of
discordance. And then the face turned to look at me full on, and
it was the face of age and wisdom -- the face of God, and he
laughed and laughed at me.
The laughter filled my existence, and if the burning fires
hadn't assured me that this was truly Hell, that laughter
certainly did.
Far off in the distance I heard a tiny voice of hope calling
my name. Slowly, I turned like a mindless, empty fool and saw Bo
waving his hands to get my attention. I wanted to run to him,
but I just stood there burning, and listening to that horrible
I could still hear the thunderous laughter after Bo pulled
me through the fire and we were standing in a thick, black void.
My soul was steaming in the coolness, and slowly the aching
pain subsided.
"Thank goodness I finally got you out of there!" Bo gasped
as the color came back into my face, and my brain was functioning
once again.
I nodded in agreement.
"What was it like?" Bo asked softly.
"Hell is hell," I sighed as my heart raced and pounded.
"Thank goodness we're out it!"
"Well, actually, we're still in Hell."
I turned and watched the wisps of fire behind me fizzle and
disappear. "We are?!!!" I gasped.
"Well, yes. In this Scenario, Hell is an empty void that
you have to spend all of eternity before I
disappear and leave you to another scene of eternal misery, come
over here and look at what I found."
I was still feeling kind of groggy, so Bo dragged me over to
a one-armed bandit floating in the vacuum.
"Look, read the display...well, we don't have time -- you
seem to still be a little disoriented. Basically it says if we
hit the jackpot, we get to experience all the Heaven scenarios
all over again."
"Huh? I thought you said this is Hell."
"Well, yeah. It's some dumb scenario that insists that if
we get everything we want forever and ever, it will become so
eternally boring that we'll go mad. You saw it on Twilight Zone
I shrugged in disbelief.
"Jack, let's give it a try. You remember how great it was.
If that's Hell, let's go for it!"
"Why don't you try it?" I suggested. I was starting to
remember that episode, and it did turn out that pleasure forever
could be torture.
"I can't pull the lever. It's like King Arthur's sword
Excalibar -- only you can pull it's your dream, so it
makes sense."
Bo dragged me over, and, reluctantly, I pulled the lever.
We watched together as the windows spun faster and faster.
We waited to see three cherries, or pots of gold, or whatever was
supposed to show up. But when they stopped spinning, it just
The slot, where the prize was supposed to come pouring out,
opened, and a page unraveled.
"CHAPTER 12E! Our souls become One with the universe when we
It wrapped around us, and we suddenly became One with the

Our souls become One
with the Universe
when we die?

Becoming One with the Universe was fine, if you're into that
sort of thing.
Personally, I'd already been through it several times in
this dream, and that was enough, thank you.
I mean, I love my fellow man and all that, but becoming this
mishmash with everyone else? I don't know. Call me old
fashioned, but I sort of missed being my own person, you know
what I mean?
Anyway, when we landed outside the Chapter an eternity
later, I did have a vague sort of warm feeling, but I was glad to
be free of the ocean, and be just a wave again.
I could tell by the look on Bo's face that he agreed. We
looked at Chapter 13 floating in front of us.
"More of the same," we shrugged.
I yawned a big yawn and sat down. "I don't like this being
dead thing very much," I sighed.
"You're telling me!" Bo snapped.
"Let's just rest here, a second," I panted. "I don't think
I can go on with much more of this."
"Me neither."
Just then we heard someone calling us. The One-Armed Bandit
was rolling through space with its lights whirling. "Wait up,
guys. Come and Play me again. Be a winner..."
Bo and I looked at each other, jumped up on the count of
three, and leaped into lucky 13.

When our physical body dies
the soul also dies,
but the spirit lives on?

Again the One with the Universe thing. Except this time we
didn't even remember anything when we popped outside Chapter 13.
A deeper part of me may have lived on, but the "me" that I
think of as me didn't.
Admittedly, it felt sort of good inside, but I was left with
a nasty taste in my mouth.
I was pretty happy when Chapter 14 pulled up, and I pulled
Bo inside before it had even come to a stop.

No one dies?
When we "die" we wake up
from the dream called life,
and live forever?

A clock rang and I jumped up in bed. I just sat there
blinking in the morning light. Jill sighed beside me and nudged
me with her elbow.
"Honey, turn the alarm off, already."
"Huh?" Absently I flicked it off. Then I started to giggle.
"I'm alive, I'm alive!"
"What's that honey?" Jill sighed.
I jumped out of bed and stretched like I'd never stretched
before. It felt so good to be alive.
I headed for the bathroom to take a shower, but Bo was
sitting on the can, and the smile disappeared from my face.
"Does this mean I'm still dreaming?" I gasped. It had felt
so real. Better than real, in fact. It was wonderful, it was...
"Sorry, Jack," Bo sighed. "It's just another Scenario."
"Yeah, so what happens in this one?" I barked as we walked
through the walls and out of the house. Everything looked so
bright and alive.
"Well, you woke up, and now you're alive forever."
"But it looks just like my real life," I protested.
"Well, sort of. Except no one ever dies."
"Well, that's good, isn't it? Or is it going to get all
twisted around like another Twilight Zone episode?"
We passed some people while we walked along. They beamed
and smiled at each other.
"People seem happy enough. Now don't tell me. There's no
death so the world becomes overcrowded. And plants and animals
don't die, so there's no decay, and that means nothing can grow,
and everything will choke out everything else. Oh, and people
get bitter and bored from living so long that they develop ways
to torture and hurt each other we never could have imagined
before in our wildest nightmares."
"No, no, it's a perfect life. The universe is big enough
for everyone. People and other organisms settle on the millions
of habitable planets out there. And they work on making every
world habitable. No one has to eat, or kill anything to survive.
Each organism just experiences life to the fullest. Forever."
"So what's wrong with it?"
"What's wrong is it doesn't exist, Jack. It's just another
silly, wishful-thinking Scenario!"
"How do you mean. Maybe it does exist. We die and we go to
a perfect world. I like it!"
"Jack, you're not thinking right. We already went through
this in one of the Heaven Scenarios, remember? It just isn't
going to happen. Why would there be a perfect world after we
die? If there is anything after death, then there must be a
spiritual realm, and if there is a spiritual realm, there must be
a creator, and why, pray tell, would whoever created it all,
create a miserable life, and then a good one afterwards?"
"So we can appreciate the perfect one more!"
"Eeeeehhhhh .... wrong answer ... No way, Jack!"
"Well, I'm staying here. I'm not leaving!" I protested as I
headed back for Jill and home. But it was all gone. We were
floating in the empty void once again. I started to cry, but
then I saw another Chapter approaching. No, it was a whole
section. I wiped away the tears and read the heading: "WHAT'S
"Look Bo," I laughed, pointing wildly, but Bo wasn't
"Oh, boy, we get a bonus adventure. Why am I not
surprised?" Bo yawned.
"We can't pass this up, Bo. This is the REAL Question.
Come on," I urged, tugging on his sleeve.
"Look Jack. I can sum up the whole thing for you in one big
yawn. You don't need to check it out. A) There is no meaning to
life. B) Life stinks. C) Well, C is the peach. You know the
Frank Capra, warm, fuzzy, "It's A Wonderful Life," angle. The
idea that the key to happiness is to be thankful for what you
have in life and make the best of the little things, and make
sure you have someone special to share it all with and plenty of
loving know that same angle Thornton Wilder won a
Pulitzer Prize for in "Our Town" -- take the time to really live
your life while you have it because it's precious and it's over
much too fast...the old Christmas-time magical It's A Wonderful
World feeling that makes you so sure there's a wonderful plan for
everyone, and you're so happy you're alive, and...oh gosh, I'm
starting to gag..."
"But Bo, that's IT! We're alive to LIVE!"
"Yeah, and then the warm glow starts to fade, reality hits
you in the face, and it's back to trying to make a buck so you
can pay your bills. It's all a bunch of hooey..."
"Just keep your stinking opinion to yourself Mr. Bodisatva.
I'm going to check this Chapter out. It's...Hey, where's that
Chapter going. Hey come back. Come back here. You scared it
away, Bo!"
We were all alone again in the empty void of Death. The
tears were streaming now.
I cried for quite a while. So long in fact, that a river of
tears was swirling around my feet. I rubbed hazy droplets from
my eyes and saw I was wading in my sadness. And above my head a
raincloud was rhythmically pelting me with sorrow.

Rain, beats upon my windowpane.
Pain, pouring down like rain...

"Cute, cute," Bo was muttering, as he floated on a raft in
front of me, comfortably sipping an umbrellaed-drink. There
wasn't any rain falling on him, by the way.
I shrugged, preoccupied with my task of trying get out from
under the raincloud. I sloshed in the river of sadness, lunging
this way and that way to no avail. And then I thought I saw an
island in the distance, whispering sweet promises of hope. But
the rain fell harder, and the world became darker, and I was
drowning in my sadness, and my heart was crying out through the
night of my soul.

Thought I saw an island of hope
in the distant haze.
Thought I'd make my way back home at last.
But now I'm sinking in my sadness,
drowning in a sea of sorrow. Sea of sorrow.
Throw me a life line.
Take me away.
I'm tired of crying.
I want to go home today.

And then I heard someone calling me.
I stared through the storm, listening. It was the voice of
Love that I heard before, in different chapter. Love was the
lifeline I needed. Love would rescue me. Love was the Home I
was struggling to reach.

Love is a refuge from the storm.
Love is the light that keeps us warm.
Love is the Truth that sets us free.
Love waits here for you and me.

Love, sweet love, you must never leave my side.
Love, my love, you and I will make it right.

Love is more than a state of mind,
Love is a Heaven we can find.
Love is someone to share your life.
Love gives you strength to face the Night.

Love, sweet love, you must never leave my side.
Love, my love, you and I will make it right.

Flashback images rippled across my brain, fighting to reach
me through the rain that was still pouring on my world. Beyond
the cloak of sadness that was suffocating my soul, I saw myself
with my True Love, laughing, without a care in the world, and
another song was rumbling in me.

I don't know maybe
it was just 'cause I was in love,
But all I saw was you baby,
and that was just enough.
I'm lost and all alone now.
Time is going by.
The rain is falling hard now.
Baby as I cry.

I was crying again, but She was still whispering my name,
and I tried to follow Her voice through the pouring pain and the
drenching darkness. And there was a soft light in the distance,
and I walked towards it, and stepped out of the rain, and there
She was. That hazy, elusive vision of Love that dances in the
back of the mind. The One we project onto people that we meet,
hoping they will be Her -- the One who makes us whole.
And she was standing in front of another Chapter. "What is
Love?" it declared, and I started to weep tears of joy, and a
ladder lowered down towards me, and the rest of the song was
roaring in my soul.

One day I came out from the rain.
Saw you standing there.
You called out my name.
There went my pain.
Left me laughing with no cares.
Baby take me home again.
Baby can you stop the rain,
Oh, baby take me home again.

One day I'll awaken,
it will all have been a dream.
I'll be standing in a Garden
so wide the end can't be seen.
All around me people will be smiling,
All standing hand in hand.
Bells of love will be ringing.
We'll be in the Promised Land.

"Bo, look. Look!" I laughed as I climbed up out of my
sorrow and began ascending this ladder of love.
My other-self was still wallowing in my tears. He just
shrugged. "It's the wrong dream, Jack," he said matter-of-factly
as he floated further and further away. "There are only 3
questions in this dream. Three Big Questions!"
"But...Well, maybe this is really the most important of all
Questions. I mean, thinking about Life and Death and Reality...
that's all well and fine, but now that I'm tasting it, it doesn't
seem that important. I mean I'm realizing that we're all really
so alone, and I guess all my life I've just really been searching
for someone to share it all with..."
I looked back up, and there She was, and she was getting
closer, and the Chapter's throbbing letters of desire made my
heart soar. When I looked back down I saw I was very high, and
Bo was so far away. "Well, I sighed, and my hands were sweaty
and my heart was pounding. "I've got to go for it. I don't need
Answers anymore. Love is all that matters. Love makes us" And then I laughed for joy as, of course,
another song was filling the air.

No more Searching.
No more Waiting
for answers that can't be found.
No more Longing.
No more Listening
for an unheard silent sound.
'Cause I found you.
You brought the Light
into the night.
You made it right.
I found you.
You gave me hope.
Taught me how to cope
with the night.
You brought me Life.

I was drifting
on an endless ocean.
I had a notion
I'd always be alone.
You came by sailing,
my heart went trailing,
At last I felt at home.
'Cause I found you.
You brought the Light
into the night.
You made it right.
I found you.
You gave me hope.
Taught me how to cope
with the night.
You brought me Life.

I finally reached the top rung and with a renewed strength
that only love can bring, I pulled myself effortlessly up to the
Higher Plane and ran towards the Chapter of Love. She was
getting clearer now. More and more real.

They say love is just a feeling,
a need to be fulfilled.
But there's an emptiness deep inside me,
my heart keeps trying to fill.
Yet all those loves
are but reflections of
a dream of
And you are all those dreams come true,
yes you are all those dreams come true,
and how I love you...

She was smiling, and another foreshadowing future-flash
flowed through my soul and I saw us together in the rain. But it
wasn't a rain of pain. The droplets were sweet and wonderful and
we were together, forever.

Dancing in the rain with you.
Teardrops falling from my eyes.
'Cause I can't believe it's true
I found a love like you.
Holding you close,
I never want to let you go.
And the rain washes our cares away,
Laughing all through the day with you.
Dancing in the rain...

My heart was about to burst because She was standing there
before me, reaching out Her arms, and the world was about to be
filled with Wonder as we touched for the first time, and we
embraced, and kissed, and when I finally opened my eyes...
My Perfect Vision of Love had turned into Jill again.
I guess she sensed my disappointment, because she looked so
hurt, and she pulled away from me and sat down in front of the
Chapter. "Jack," she whispered, not daring to look at me. She
turned sadly to face the Chapter, and she knew I was afraid to
walk inside with her.
The warm glow was gone. It's true that Jill looked
beautiful, but she wasn't my perfect match. We didn't really have
that much in common. Not really. And she didn't really know the
me inside. I knew she could never touch my soul. She could
never be that Vision of True Love, and we could never live
happily ever after.
Jill was crying as the clouds were forming around my brain
once again, and a song tried to shed some light on the darkness
that enveloped me.

All those pretty Dreams,
how they taunted me
to believe they would be true.
I'd find a Perfect Girl,
live in a Perfect World,
and all pain would be through.
But as I went through time
I found that only in my mind
could I see that reality.
Life is just a dream
with nothing as it seems,
I know I'll not be free.

Well I guess I'm just an ordinary guy.
So I'll find myself an ordinary girl.
I'll live my life in an ordinary world of dreams.
I guess I'm just an ordinary guy,
that's all it means!

But the song couldn't reach me. So another song tried to
convince me that I shouldn't let the Vision of LOVE blind me from
finding love.

I don't believe in happily ever after,
but I believe in love.
I'm just a fool who rather dream than try to live
in this world.
But I want someone
to share my life with me.
I want to hold her,
and love her
with all my heart.
I don't know how long
we will be together;
but as long as we are,
I will love her...

It was no use. I had seen True Love. No mortal could ever
fulfill that Vision. But I would search for Her forever, and I
would settle for nothing less than True Love.
Suddenly an elevator door opened in midair, and Id peeked
his head out. "You know," he began, "in the beginning there was
LOVE. This Ultimate power and energy manifested itself as two
consciousnesses -- Yin and Yang, or Adam and Eve, if you will.
Every man and woman has descended from them. Every woman is
Eve's consciousness 'reincarnated' throughout time in bodies of
infinite diversity, clothed in facets of the complex simplicity
of her personality. No mortal offspring can ever capture Eve's
perfection, for she is the Ideal in a perfect world that has
never been. And yet, all women are Eve, just as you are all
Jill was smiling as she nodded and wiped the tears from her
eyes. "Listen to him, Jack..."
Id continued. "And when a man and woman fall in love, they
feel the Ultimate in its purest form, for in that moment of love
they have become ONE, transgressing the limitations of their
physical bodies in a physical world. In fact whenever people
"love" others with compassion and empathy, giving completely of
themselves, without expecting anything in return, in a wondrous
instant they FEEL that Ultimate, they feel our true nature --
they feel LOVE. Don't you get it?"
"Nope!" I snapped, and I hit the elevator button. The door
closed on Id's smug smile and he disappeared, leaving me in a
choking haze of confusion.
I was empty, completely devoid of all feeling. I watched in
my stupor as the nasty little cherubs that I'd seen in Heaven
popped out of the ground and fell from the skies. And they led
Jill away from me into the Darkness.
Now, part of me wanted to scream and run after her. But I
didn't budge. Only after she was gone did I feel a great, deep
loss, like a part of me had just been ripped away.
But I wouldn't even admit that much to myself. I was too
preoccupied, because the Cherubs were rolling the Chapter up, and
my heart was screaming with pain. "No!" I gasped, and I leaped
forward. "My True Love is waiting for me in there!"
The cherubs lunged at me, like swarms of bees, tackling me
to the ground. But I kept rising to my feet, and they fired at
me with their arrows. The sharp points pierced my soul, but I
would not stop. The pain was so great, but I struggled on, and
then the Chapter was gone, and they pushed me over the edge of
that great plane I had ascended, and I fell from the lofty perch,
and plunged back down towards Despair. But as I fell, my heart
cried out for Love.

In this whole wide world
there's only one girl
that I can love forever.
Don't know where to find her,
but someday I will.
And then we'll be together,
forever...and ever...
Somewhere my love is waiting,
somewhere my love waits for me.
Someday we'll be together,
my love and me!

Fortunately, good ol' Bo was there to catch me and my broken
heart. "Look, Jack," he sighed, trying to console my
disappointment. "You've still got me. I'm always there to share
it all!"
I pulled away from his grip and frantically reached up to
the Heavens, searching for the Chapter of Love. But it was gone,
and I turned back to my friend and saw hurt and jealousy, and I
was surprised. I put my arm around him.
"Look, Bo. You're the greatest and all. And of course,
you're my closest friend, forever and ever. But Love is...well,
Love is something I've always dreamed about. I mean I always had
this happily ever after vision of Love. It was going to be
special when I finally found my One True Love. I mean, well, in
real life we've got Jill, and she's great and all, don't get me
wrong... but...well, she isn't the Love I Dreamed about."
I blinked and saw that I was suddenly lying on a black
leather couch. Bo was sporting a curly moustache and he looked
quite stuffy in a crumpled brown suit. "Would you like to tell
me about it?" he inquired with a monotonous detached voice.
"I..." I sighed, and then Bo was counting backwards from a
hundred, and I started to drift off, and my mouth was spurting
out my deepest longings like a leaky faucet.
"Well, I always believed there was a Perfect match just for
me somewhere in the world. I used to lie awake at night
whispering my phone number to the darkness, honestly believing
that She would hear my thoughts and She would call me, and
suddenly life would no longer be so mundane. There would be
Magic and there would be Love, and God would be Alive, and the
skies would open up, and God would wave his hand and right all
the wrongs, and my True Love and I would be in the Garden of
Eden, and we would live happily ever after in eternal bliss..."
Bo was slapping my face. "Snap out of it, Jack. This is
nauseating. Come on, we've got important Questions to answer.
Just forget about this eternal Love crap."
But when he slapped me, it finally shook some sense into me.
I saw them leading Jill away in my mind's eye, and I knew what I
had done. I broke into tears. "No, Bo. Love is the most
important thing. I know that now. I just want to go home and
hold Jill..."
"Wait a second, Jack. Jill can't read your mind, and the
skies didn't open up when you met, and we certainly aren't living
happily ever after with her..."
"I know Bo, but suddenly I'm realizing that there will never
be Magic in life. Never. That wonderful, blissful, head-over-
heels-in-love feeling that you first feel when you fall in love,
it can't last. You're just blinded by Love and you project all
the ideals of Love onto that person, and they can never live up
to it."
"But, by working on a relationship, and devoting yourself to
that person you've chosen, you'll have someone special to share
your life with, you'll have a friend, your closest friend... and
it's so much better than having to walk through this lonely life
alone...And each person helps his mate when he stumbles, and
together you can try to share some of the many happiness in life
with the people you care about -- your friends and family, and
others life brings you..."
Bo sighed. "We went over all this at the beginning of the
Chapter, Jack, and it's as boring now as it was then!"
I pulled a pillow over my head and threw myself down. (The
couch had apparently turned into a bed!) "I'm not getting up,
Bo," I groaned. "I've thrown away the best thing I ever had.
I'm going to just sleep forever...until I wake up and I have Jill
I cried until I drifted off to sleep.
When I awoke, Bo was impatiently puffing away on a cigar as
he rocked back and forth in a chair beside the bed.
"I'm still here?" I moaned.
"That's right, pal. You gettin' up yet?"
"NO!" I grunted and pulled the pillow down harder. This
time as I drifted off, one of those darn songs rocked me to
sleep, reminding me of what I'd lost.

Slept all day today,
Couldn't find a way
to convince myself
it would be a new day.
How else can I say
what I have to say:
I need you!

I need you!
I can't see the sky,
I need you!
How loud can I cry:
I need you!
There's nothing I can do
without you!
Come hold me,
I'm lost without your love.
Come love me.
Can't live without your love.
Come show me
the love that I first knew
with you.
I need you.

Searching for the sun,
Hoping life will come,
but only you can make me smile.
How else can I say
what I have to say,
I need you!

I refused to open my eyes, but my back was killing me. I
tried to stretch and turn and nothing felt right. "Oh Bo. I
don't want to be dead anymore," I moaned, finally sitting up.
No answer. "Bo!" I gasped trying to find him through
the darkness.
"Uh, coming," Bo called, and as he came running into view,
he tossed off a party hat, brushed off confetti, flipped away one
of those Hawaiian flower rings, and wriggled out of a wet suit,
before he dove back into his chair, picked up a magazine, and
then put it down, pretending he'd been sitting there the whole
I did a double take and almost forgot about my sadness.
"You ready to get up, pal?" Bo wheezed.
And then the pathos hit me again like a brick wall. "Yes,
Bo, I want to live. I want to go back home, wake up and have my
life back."
"It has been a long night," Bo agreed.
"Well, how do I get back?" I demanded.
"Click your heels three times and say there's no place like
home...pinch yourself...I don't know what to tell you, pal. It's
your dream!"
"We...we've got to figure it out. I've had enough of this
philosophic nonsense. I just want to live my life and forget
about these questions. They really don't matter. I just want to
hold my wife, and live each moment to the fullest. I never
really appreciated the things I had. I was always waiting for
'things to work out.' Well, I know now, whatever life deals you,
make the best of it...Help me, Bo. I want to go home."
"What, you think I'm your guardian angel? You're no Jimmy
Stewart rushing home to tell Donna Reed how much you love her,
pal. They would never have consented to be in this script! They
only played wholesome, or at least normal characters. Normal
people don't think the thoughts you think, Jack. They don't
question life so much that they forget how to live, and they
don't kill themselves in their dreams so that they can learn how
to live again. They just live, Jack. This is your dream; you
figure it out!"
I was about to start balling again when Bo gave me a good,
swift kick in the pants. "You can quit making such a fuss, Jack.
Here comes another Chapter. Looks like we're finally going to
wrap this crazy dream up!"
I sniffled, "SO, WHAT'S THE ANSWER?" I read. My heart
leaped. My new-found resolution to forget about philosophic
questions quickly faded away. I suddenly had the fever "to KNOW"
once again. "Come on," I laughed and pushed Bo ahead. "Before it
gets away!"

So, what's the answer?

The One-armed-bandit was waiting for us again. It winked
and we both shivered. "Come on boys, give me a whirl," it purred
We turned and ran as fast as we could. But when we stopped
to rest, kneeling on the ground, gasping for breath, we heard the
Fortune-Blaster whistling amusedly behind us.
I stumbled to my feet, ready to try to flee again.
"Ah, just pull the darn thing," Bo wheezed, holding my leg
with one sweaty hand. The other was clasped to his chest.
"But..." I argued.
"Maybe you'll strike it rich this time."
"Yeah, right," I snickered.
"Anyway, one thing's for sure," Bo panted. "We'll never get
away from it."
The Fortune-Blaster wheeled over beside me and flashed a
huge smile.
"Come on, Jack. Pull it already!" Bo pleaded in agony; the
thing's wheels were resting on his toe.
I sighed and closed my eyes, expecting the worst when I
pulled the lever.
I yanked it down, and then jumped back.
I expected an explosion. I expected an earthquake. I
expected something.
But, except for the fact that it rolled off Bo's toe,
nothing happened.
I leaned over and looked at the three windows. The first
one had stopped, but the other two were still spinning.
In the first window there was a bowl of cherry pits, and
under it was some writing. I leaned even closer to make out the
fine print.
"God is an amoral consciousness which created us to
experience itself! When we die, either our spirit lives on to
become One with the Universe and the soul (that is the inner us
that we think of as ourselves) is lost forever, or our souls are
reincarnated over and over until we reach Enlightenment or
Perfection, at which point we become One with Everything."
An inner peace was washing over me. I hardly even noticed Bo
moaning as he rubbed his toe and waved his fist at the One-armed-
bandit. But as I stared at the Answer, I felt that peaceful
feeling flushing down the toilet of my soul.
"Hmm..." I sighed. "You know, I knew that, rationally, that
was the only explanation of 'God' that made sense. I just knew
it. I suppose it's comforting in a way, but then what happens to
that inner part of us? Do we survive after we die, or don't we?.
I guess that's the part we can never know...It is true that I'd
much rather believe that ultimate consciousness is Love, like
that idiot Id said, rather than just an amoral everythingness...
but, of course, then you've got the same problems as that good
God scenario...there's no way Love could have created all this
Bo was grumbling again and I followed his rolling-eyed gaze
back to the Fortune Blaster. The second window had now stopped.
Bo leaned forward and started reading the inscription beneath the
cherry pits. "There is no god. We are all a part of Nature and
the eternal cycle of Life. When we die, we die. It's all over.
Our atoms are recycled over and over throughout time." He
stepped back, and while he rubbed his foot some more, he gave me
a smug, smirking "I told you so."
"Oh, I forgot about that possibility," I admitted.
But then Bo was rolling his eyes and pointing back to the
Fortune Blaster yet another time.
The third window had stopped. A wave of panic swept over me
as I leaned closer to see what it said. I couldn't tear my eyes
away. It was another bowl of cherry pits. And underneath it
declared, " God is evil!" I shuddered, and could barely whisper
the rest. "Life is a joke to torment us. When we die we either
burn in hell, or worse yet, we have to do it all over again!"
"We definitely proved that one wrong!" I gasped as I jumped
"Yeah!" Bo agreed. He was shaking too.
"Well, what the heck is this supposed to mean, then, Bo?" I
demanded from my Bodisatva.
"How the hell do I know?" he groaned.
"But, you're supposed to be my guide. You've got to know
"Well. It sounds like the conclusion to me."
"Yeah," I agreed. "But it's three conclusions. Which one
is right? Am I supposed to choose, or is it telling me that it's
one of these three, but I'll never know which one?"
"What do you mean? Probably I'm supposed to choose, or
probably we'll never know?"
"I don't know, Jack!" Bo yelled. "Just pull it again.
Maybe it'll choose the right one, or... heck...I'll pull the darn
He grabbed it, and tugged.
The handle broke off. Lights flashed and glared. Sirens
roared at us. The Three Conclusion blared at us, and bolts of
electric current leaped out and zapped us.
The world was hazier than usual. I shook my head to clear
the cobwebs, and peered at the three windows. Inside I saw faces
looking out at us.
They weren't happy faces.
They weren't happy at all.
Nervously, we backed away as the One-armed-bandit's jackpot
slot opened, and the angry faces, attached to angry people,
started to slide out.
They were tiny at first, like little prizes from a gumball
machine. But as they fell to the ground, they grew to life size.
More than life size. They were giants -- angry giants -- and the
place was soon filling up with much too many of them.
We looked around frantically, but a humongous TV screen was
blocking our escape.
Bo grabbed my hand and we jumped through the glass, and into
the next Chapter.

What's the world going to say
when you force them to think about
the 3 Big Questions?

When Bo and I burst through the Chapter, two pies flew out
and hit us in the face, and we heard circus music playing behind
the canned laughter.
While we struggled to our feet, letters started pouring down
from the sky. They kept falling and falling until we were
completely covered with mail.
We climbed through the paper mountain and poked our heads
out the top. There were bright lights blaring down at us, and we
squinted as we tried to see where the lights were coming from.
"All right, commercial break. You've got ten minutes till
we're back on the air," a voice boomed from somewhere beyond the
The lights went off, and we saw cameras pulling back, and
people rushing out of the giant room that we were in.
We were on a TV set, and the director was heading towards
"This is only the hate mail from the first half-hour," the
director said, nonchalantly from the bottom of the fifteen foot
mountain of mail. "We've got fifty-two dump trucks from the
second half-hour. What do you want us to do with them?"
Bo and I looked at each other and then back at the director.
We shrugged.
"Whatever," the director sighed. "OK, it's getting close to
air time."
The cameras rolled back in, and someone held up his hand,
"In ten, nine, eight..."
We watched as the director's eyes went wide, and he gasped,
and though he tried to stay where he was, he was yanked across
the floor like he was being pulled by a giant magnet.
We watched as his feet were flying in the air behind him,
and he plopped down in front of a television set. And though we
could see the muscles in his neck straining as he tried to look
away, the magnetic force would not let him.
Meanwhile, we decided to jump out of the pile of hate mail
on the count of three. But apparently we jumped a little too
hard, because when we leaped, we burst through the forty foot
ceiling, and kept going.
From our cloudy position we could see that every one of the
five billion inhabitants in the Chapter were, like the director,
imprisoned in front of their television sets.
And as we crashed through time zones, we saw some of the
Chapters we'd just lived through being re-enacted. Only it was
slightly different. They were showing these mindless sitcoms,
except the characters were Bo and me, and the philosophic
adventures we had experienced were sliced in between the canned
laughter and the inevitable slip on the banana, tumble down the
stairs, and cream pie in the face.
It was awful. But the next half-hour was worse. There
wasn't any slapstick in this segment. Our odyssey was sandwiched
in between exploding cars, machine gun rat-tat-tatting, and other
action adventure scenes.
Finally there was one of those marathon commercial sessions,
and everyone sighed as their straining muscles relaxed, and they
pulled out some paper and started writing about how awful it was
that we ruined their favorite shows by sticking in that
philosophic crap.
Then we were falling back down to the set, and the cameras
were rolling and this huge crowd was coming towards us.
I started counting quickly, and as near as I could tell,
there were about 5 billion people in the angry mob. Less the
camera man, of course, but somebody's got to shoot the picture.
Bo and I gulped and turned around to run in the other
direction. But all the Chapters were there, dancing around,
laughing, and blocking our way. "Ha, ha, ha! You didn't really
prove any of us!" they sneered and hissed, and the angry mob was
breathing down our necks. "All this philosophic mumbo-jumbo is a
lot of crap!" the Chapters added as the angry mob grabbed us.
They threw us into the air like a couple of beach balls.
We'd been through this once before, and we liked it even less
this second time around.
"Why'd you have to go and try to open my eyes," one man
cried as millions of hands tossed me into the air. "I was happy
not worrying about all that crap. Now it keeps me up nights!"
I fell and a woman spat at me before another million hands
heaved me up to the sky. "It's hard enough getting through life
sometimes. People like you are always trying to force their
stupid ideas on people. We're just not interested!"
"Yeah, you sit there safe in your fancy house, bored of
life, so you think about garbage like this, while other people
are living hand to mouth, trying to get food into their kid's what if we have to believe in fairy tales to get us
through, they're all we've got..."
I felt awful. "I'm sorry, everyone," I gasped as I plunged
down, and then up, again and again.
I felt this huge wave of sadness and hopelessness, and I
couldn't shake the feeling out of my head that I had created it.
That's not what I had wanted to do!
"You've left us no choice, but to feel dismal and hopeless,"
a child cried. "Without our beliefs to hold on to, how can we
live? Should we all just lay down and die now? Is that what you
"NO! NO!" I yelled.
"Tell them it was all a joke," I heard Bo shriek from
Under the circumstances that sounded like a good idea. "It
was just a joke," I squeaked as they started to drag us away.
"What are you going to do, nail us to a cross?" I gasped as the
image danced through my head.
"Figures you'd say that!" an angry man growled. "You
philosophers all got a Christ-complex. Nope we're just gonna
hang ya!"
That was certainly reassuring.
"Say you're a liar!" someone demanded.
Sure. I could do that. "I'm a liar!" I gasped.
"Say, everything you said was a lie."
"Everything I said was a lie," I agreed, as some not-too-
nice looking nooses became all too clear just ahead.
"But wait," someone screamed. "That would mean you're
telling the truth, but if everything you say is a lie then..."
"Look," I yelled. "I saw that paradox on Star Trek too.
They stole it from an ancient Greek philosopher named Epimenides.
Look, I was just trying to figure it all out for myself. I was
wrong for trying to drag anyone else into my own personal
struggle to find Truth. I'm sorry. I'm just a fool. Now
good night."
Everyone suddenly felt better. They started clapping, and
they dropped Bo and me to the ground, and wiped their hands of
everything we had said. Then they went back to thinking exactly
the way they had before.
They went home and did exactly what they would have been
doing if I hadn't bothered them with my silly ideas. Which of
course was turn the television on.
A polite, handsome announcer was just starting to read a
message from a piece of paper. "We apologize for the preceding
program. This has been a test of the emergency broadcast
network. In the event of a real emergency, such as an all-out
global thermo-nuclear war, we would have shown you our regularly
scheduled, mindless broadcast, so that your last few seconds on
Earth would have been spent in pleasant distraction.
"But since it was only a test, our producers thought they'd
give you something new and different. They knew it would be a
confusing two hours, and that your brains would probably turn to
mush, but as they pointed out, your brains turn to mush every
night from the crap you watch anyway, so at least your brains
would get a little workout for once in your lives.
"Those producers have been fired. We would like to
apologize for their lack of judgement."
The announcer looked off to the side and there was Bo on the
I looked around the barren desolate land all around me, and
saw that I was alone. There was just me and this television
sitting there in the middle of nowhere. Bo was starting to
speak on the TV set.
"Look folks, we're sorry. If you got anything out of
tonight's program at all, just take this. We're alive. Who knows
why. Just try to be happy in your life. Try to make other
people as happy as you can. And when it's over, it's over. If
there's anything out there, you'll find out. If there isn't --
you won't...So cheer up. It's only a stupid show!" He turned to
the side. "Is that what you wanted me to say?" he asked. "Oh...
right." He turned back to the camera and smiled. "And
now, we bring you back to our regularly scheduled program,
already in progress." The smiled widened just before the TV
It was suddenly like the lights had gone off everywhere. I
couldn't see a thing. It was completely dark.
It was dark all over.
There was nothing.
Nothing at all.

And then, I woke up.
It had all been a dream, of course.
But I had this great story now, and I could write it all
down. Right? Three months later it was done. I'd written it:
I was kind of proud of it, actually. It sort of summed up
all the crazy things that had been floating in my head for all my
It was like I had captured a deep part of myself. If I had
to leave something behind to say that, 'these are my innermost
thoughts' it would have to be this book!
Besides, I know people had thought these thoughts before,
it's just that everyone was too afraid to voice them. THE THREE
BIG QUESTIONS just felt like something that had to be said.
I wasn't sure that it would be able to help anyone. But it
was the kind of book I wished I'd come across when 'figuring it
all out' was the most important thing in my life. It wasn't now,
and this book had helped get it all out of my system. Maybe it
could do the same for someone else, too.
Anyway, you'd never believe what happened.
It was a best-seller.
No one read it, of course, but everyone bought it.
It was the "IN" book that everyone had to have on their
bookshelf to show that they weren't superficial, and were capable
of pondering over the deeper questions in life. But of course,
no one actually had the desire to read it, because, heck, it's
all a bunch of crap, anyway.
But that's not all.
Some producer, who, of course, hadn't read the book, decided
he was going to make a miniseries out of it (You know, I always
loved the way that word looks. I love to pronounce it
'miniseries' as in rhyming with miseries -- meaning small
miseries). Then the Miracle happened.
The miniseries was supposed to be aired on this fledgling
network opposite the big Tuesday Night Shows. But something
happened. Somehow it ended up on all the networks, not to
mention every channel on the dial.
No one is exactly sure what happened, but there are several
The most probable is that an inept terrorist group had
planned to air a propaganda film, and had locked the Emergency
Broadcast System into their satellite transmission.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) they hooked into the wrong
Once anyone knew what was happening, the authorities tried
to shut the system down. But the EBS system had never been used
before, and no one was sure how to turn it off.
Other theories range from Divine Intervention to aliens, to
a publicity stunt to raise the ratings of the fledgling network
that had originally intended to air it.
Anyway, whatever the reason, The Three Big Questions was on
every channel on a cold, wintry Tuesday night from 8 until 11
(They decided to make it a one-night miniseries extravaganza).
That night, Jill and I watched the credits and we clapped
when it said that it was written by me.
"Well, what'd you think, honey. Was it worth all those
years I drove you crazy pondering life's great questions?"
She didn't answer.
The phone rang.
"You get it," I gasped. "It's probably the Nielsen rating.
They said they'd call."
Jill's face was a complete blank while she listened and
said, "Uh, huh," a few times.
"Well what did they say?" I gasped as soon as she hung up.
"Well," she hesitated. "They said it came in absolute last
place." She put her arm around me. "Sorry, honey. The world
wasn't ready for something like that. But, at least you've got
"But it was the only thing on TV!" I moaned.
She sighed. "Apparently, for the first time in the history
of television, every one turned off their sets for three hours."
"It's just as well," I sighed. I had felt kind of strange
sharing my crazy beliefs with the world anyway. I didn't want
anyone to get screwed up or anything because of me. Well, at
least I wrote it. I got it off my chest. Now I can start
When we went to sleep that night, we snuggled, and I felt
really good.
"Guess I'll have to go and get a real job, again," I
"Sorry, honey."
But actually, living a plain old mundane life didn't seem
such a bad proposition anymore.

Don't worry.
It's only a Dream!

As soon as I drifted off to sleep, Bo was waiting for me
under an apple tree that overlooked a valley of green.
"Well, what did they think?" he laughed, knowingly.
"Nobody paid any attention," I moaned, plopping down beside
"Eh, so what. You didn't really do it for anyone, except
yourself. You finally got it off your chest, right?"
"Yeah, but I didn't really prove anything, Bo. Not really."
"Did you really think you could?
"No. I guess not."
"Besides, Jack, don't be so hard on yourself. You explored
almost every possibility. You must have finally satisfied that
longing inside."
"Hmm. I suppose. But the possible Answers don't seem too
appealing, somehow. I mean, the best-case scenario is that there
is this ultimate consciousness out there, that we're all a part
of, and it experiences Life through us."
"So? Jack, that's exactly the conclusion that the Hindus
came up with 5000 years ago, and the one that many today are
discovering anew. But what about the no-god possibility? You
live your life and when it's over it's over..."
"I don't know, Bo. They just don't turn me on."
"Why not?"
"Well...I guess I was just kind of hoping there was this
kind, misunderstood God out there, who'd wave his hand and make
all the wrongs right, and everyone would be happy and...I don't
know, I'm just kind of disappointed."
An apple fell from the tree and I ducked reflexively. "You
know," I sighed. "I almost wish I'd never even tried to share my
crazy thoughts with anybody!"
Bo grabbed my shoulders and shook me. "Look, Jack, don't
say that! This whole thing has been a dream, and you've got to
wake up and write it all down. So get a grip on yourself!"
"It was all a dream? The miniseries? Our crazy adventures?
It didn't happen?"
"Of course not! You didn't think they were going to try and
pass this book off as nonfiction did you. An anthropological
study of a philosophic odyssey, like some others have claimed?"
"No, I guess not. But it seemed so real..." Then my eyes
lit up. I'd been given a second chance. "Bo, I'm not going to
write it!"
"You've got to!" he screamed, and he stood up over me.
I looked up, but the sun was behind him, and I couldn't see
his face. "But, Bo, it's going to get a lot of people upset. You
said it yourself before!"
"Jack, you've got to write it all down. It's the only way
you can set it free. It's the only way you'll set yourself free.
And besides, you owe it to Humanity."
"But what for. Why should they question what they believe.
Let them keep their heads in the sand. They'll be happier."
"But Jack, you don't understand. There are other people out
there searching for the Truth. The need to know burns in them
like it burned in you. You've got the Truth, and it can set them
"I do?"
"And just what is the Truth, oh great Bodisatva?"
"Just that it's all a Joke."
"Now, hold on there. I never wanted to hurt anyone with all
these crazy thoughts, but it's not a joke to me, Bo! These
questions mean a lot to me..."
"I didn't mean what you said is a joke. I meant, life is a
"Lighten up, Jack. You take everything much too seriously.
The Truth is just that we can never know the Truth. So stop
wasting your life searching for Answers, and just LIVE! You've
got to learn to enjoy the dream while it lasts."
I sighed. "What, you want me to walk on the wild side.
Live fast and die, young. Is that what 'living' is all about?"
"No, of course not! Life is to be treasured. What I mean
is learn how to LIVE. You walk through your life blinded by the
past, with your eyes on a future that's always just beyond your
reach. You have to learn to treasure every moment. Experience
it while it's happening, not sit around after it's over wishing
you had it back because you never appreciated it while you had
"Uh, huh. You're saying the secret to life is that age old
saying, 'Seize the moment.' And of course, let's not forget,
'life isn't worthwhile unless you have someone to share it all
"Exactly. Now you're talking."
"Look, that's the conclusion I came to before, and you pooh-
poohed it!"
"I was just playing devil's advocate. You were right, of
"Oh," I sighed, a little overwhelmed at first. But I
couldn't help just chuckling to myself as all those important
questions seemed to fade away. "So, this is all just a dream,
huh?" I sighed, leaning back in the green, green grass.
"Am I married to someone named Jill? I mean, in my real
"Well, you're married, but that's not her name. And your
name isn't Jack, either. It's all fiction, I tell you. You're
not real, Jack. You're an imaginary character. Jack and Jill --
don't you get it?"
"Huh?" I must admit, I was kind of disappointed to find out
that I didn't exist. But then again, maybe I did. It wouldn't
be the first time that Bo was wrong. Still, Bo was right about
one thing: what does it matter? I never will know the Truth, so
maybe I can just stop searching and LIVE, even if it is all just
a dream.
Bo was tugging at my sleeve. He was pointing at those
butterfly women.
"Come on, they're calling us."
"But...what's going to happen. I'm all confused, now. Am I
going to float up to consciousness and awake where the real me
will be with Jill, or whatever her name really is, or am I going
to disappear into the reservoir of imagination and join Eve in an
Eternal moment of Bliss... or are we just going to fade into the
horizon chasing these elusive visions of beauty..."
"Who knows, Jack. Who cares. It's only a dream."
I sighed, and then we flew off after them into the sunset.
The End.


So, there you have it. My masterpiece. All the answers to
life's greatest questions in one convenient, hard-to-swallow
The 3 Big Questions is a culmination of a lifetime of
wondering what it's all about. When I finally decided that it
was time to share this philosophic odyssey with the world, I had
the hardest time convincing a publisher to even look at a
manuscript that deals so irreverently with such sacred topics as
God, life and death. The manuscript was met with as much anger
and outrage as I know this book will receive in the years to
But I can't blame anyone for condemning this book. People
believe things because they need to. Everyone needs something to
believe in, or to look forward to, or to strive for -- to help
them make it through their lives. That's why we can have "faith"
and believe in something, even when everything we see around us
screams that it can't be so. When things are going well, we
haven't a care in the world. But, without our Beliefs, how could
we make it through life's trials and tribulations?
That's why I always swore that I wouldn't let anyone see
this, if I ever finished it. I know my explorations, for many,
are not encouraging at all. As a matter of fact, they threaten
the deepest feelings of hope -- no matter how vague and tenuous -
- that most people harbor in their hearts. And I don't want to
hurt anyone.
I honestly hope that I haven't hurt any of your heartfelt
beliefs. Admittedly, I have selfishly written this book mostly
for myself. So that I can let go of the longing inside. So that
I can stop searching once and for all. So that when I am gone, I
will have left behind the deepest feelings harbored in my soul.
But I honestly believe that this book has something to offer
for many others besides myself. I offer this book to those who
can't stop wondering what it's all about, no matter how many
times they think they've found the Truth.
I offer this book to those who are not content with
believing what they've been told to believe, or what they need to
believe, just because it is comforting to do so.
I offer this book, not as one who has seen the Light, but as
one who is haunted by its elusiveness.
Most creative efforts offer something to Humanity --
insight, entertainment, awareness. But the greatest works offer
Hope. I always wanted to bring Hope to Mankind -- the Ultimate
Answer that would wipe away the tears and right all the wrongs.
Unfortunately, there is no Magical Answer.
Yet what I offer you here is this. There may be a God, but
there might not. Our souls may live on forever, or this life may
be all that we have. The Truth is you'll never find proof of any
Answers in this lifetime. But, what does it matter. Life is
meant to Live. So, if you take nothing else from this book,
please take this: "Life is not easy to understand, nor is it
always good. But as long as we're alive, let's make the best of
it." Helping others to make the best of their lives is one thing
that really feels good inside, so try to be as happy as you can,
and help others to find happiness.
Some may wonder why I seem to have taken these 3 big
questions so lightly. Sure they are important -- they're
literally a matter of life and death. But you have to learn to
laugh at the absurdity of it all. When it's over, it's over --
you'll find out the Answers then. Or maybe you won't. Who
really knows? Who cares. Just live your life!
And forget the stupid BIG QUESTIONS.
Now close this book. It's over!
Put it on your bookshelf, or better yet, burn it, and go
back to your life...and LIVE!
Anyway, have a nice life.




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