Chapter Seventy Seven
Upstairs to the twins’ room to see how they handled the long session. I poke my head up into the room far enough to see that they are napping. I go back downstairs.
Janah, “Getting to be time for lunch.”
“The girls are resting, I’ll fix them a snack later. Want to eat here or go to the Village Diner?”
Janah, “Haven’t seen Mini in a while, that would be nice.”
I check in with Amaya, “We’re going to the diner, you guys want to come along?”
Amaya, “Hang on,” she comes back online, “Chloe just heard from Daria, they’re hungry.”
“Oh, I went up a minute ago, they looked asleep.”
Amaya, “They were sort of zoned out, Chloe tapped into Daria earlier.”
“Okay, we’ll wait.”
I reach out to Dasha, “We’re going to the diner for lunch, come down when you’re ready.”
Amaya and Chloe come out, five minutes later the twins come down and off we go.
Chuck greets us, “Hey girls, got most of you, where’s Nikko and Zi?”
“Taking care of our family business so the rest of us can goof off.”
Chuck, “Regular drinks?”
Chuck brings Diet Cokes, green tea, glass of water for Amaya, takes the orders and in light speed is banging down plates of burgers, tuna salad on wheat toast, turkey and cranberry on toasted sourdough, a grilled cheese for Janah, platter of fries, sliced pickle and coleslaw.
Chloe, Dasha and Daria are the burger girls, I’m turkey, Amaya tuna. Dasha slices her burger in two and puts half on my plate, takes half my turkey.
Dasha, “Toorkey looking gud.”
“Burger looks tasty too, no cheese today I see.”
“I like bleu chizz on burger.”
“Mini has bleu cheese I think.”
“For salad, not chizz only.”
“Ah, no you don’t want blue cheese dressing on it, not the same.”
I put a few dashes of Tabasco on the burger, Dasha gets hers with grilled onions and tomato, I take a bite, kind of glad she shared, it’s really good.
Mini’s fries are the best, crispy outside, soft and fluffy in, coleslaw not soaked in mayonnaise, just enough to add sweetness and it’s always fresh and crunchy. The details, fresh top quality ingredients, are why the diner is a money machine. I’ve seen it on slow afternoons a third full, never empty, breakfast, lunch and dinner it’s always busy.
Amaya, “I got a load of writing done, thank you Chloe and Daphne for cleaning up.”
Chloe, “I have a free afternoon, how nice, I think I’ll watch the world in Washington Square Park for a while.”
Janah, “Sounds good, I think I’m actually caught up.”
Amaya, “Girls, suppose we go home, relax for a while, then start polishing social skills?”
Daria looks at her sister, Dasha says, “Da.”
That settled, I tell Janah, “I’ll go with Amaya and the girls, I want to spend time on the qi dummies, perhaps when Dasha is finished, she can practice,” I turn to her, “if you’re tired from this morning, we can do the dummies another day, just let me know after you’re finished with Amaya.”
She is looking at me, I hadn’t asked anything so I don’t get anything but a blink. I love when she does that. Most of us always answer unasked questions.
All of the food is gone, must be time to leave, Mini comes over and surveys the damage, “Damn I’m good. Empty plates, the cook’s reward.”
“Hello handsome, the girls think you make the best hamburgers, but beware, Dasha is experimenting at home and hers are getting up there.”
Mini, “I can take the competition, keeps my game up. What would help make ‘em better Dasha?”
Mini, “I got blue cheese dressing.”
“She means the pure cheese, crumbled up on the burger, but she’s also experimenting with mixing it in the burger before she grills it. The jury is still out, but it seems to have more of a bleu cheese bite if it’s added, not cooked in.”
Dasha, “Da, meeks okay, better on top.”
I look at Mini, “There you have it. She’s also experimenting with adding crispy bacon. Not the half cooked crap you get on bacon burgers, crisp, so the burger crunches when you bite into it.”
Mini, “I’m gonna offer a bleu cheese burger, a side of bleu cheese, the customer can add how much they want. We’ll have a…what? A test market.”
“Be sure to get a fancy bleu, something like Danish bleu cheese, or Italian, gorgonzola, aged a thousand years, blah, blah, you know the drill.”
Mini, “Good, Chuck comes up with stuff. It has to be simple though, this is a diner, not Four Seasons.”
Dasha, “I haf burger at Four Season, Meeny burger better.”
“See? You’re up against an expert Mini, best keep you standards high.”
Mini points a massive index finger at Dasha, “Kid, you gonna get the best bleu cheese burger in the world next time you’re in, and I’m gonna mix up my ground chuck with a few secrets. You better stay on your toes.”
Dasha offers only the stare, if he’s waiting on a reply he’ll be dead first, he rumbles his throaty laugh, “Those girls could stare down a Vegas poker pro. Gotta go, orders comin’ in.”
Janah and Chloe wander off to the park, we go home and Amaya takes the girls to their room, She’s going to walk them through introductions, please and thank you, and the kinds of polite conversation in which a geisha is well versed. I change into sweats, tie my hair back in a ponytail and spend an hour punching and kicking Qi dummies, alternate with breaks for stretching.
Flying kicks yield the biggest buzz, turning kicks, like spinning kicks, the same, momentum adds significant power. The trick is to hit the right spot. We have three dummies in the shape of the human body, there is an ectomorph, and endomorph and a mesopmorph, skinny, fat, medium muscular. They have the feel of the body type, the fat one requires stronger contact on the pressure point for obvious reasons, the muscular one is nearly as difficult, sheet of thick canvas replicating muscle covers the pressure points, the ectomorph is easier. They are set with a dozen vital points each; there are allegedly dozens of nerve points throughout the body, but it’s overkill to add more than twelve to the dummies. Hit any one of them and a human not only experiences pain at the point of contact, he also has failure of nerve function in tissue further down the meridian. A sharp blow to the lower abdomen can cause legs to go numb. A hard knuckle to the inner wrist can paralyze the hand and lower arm, elbow to the bone just below the eye will produce facial paralysis and blurred vision. Practice is for habituating, so strikes come without thinking, same as endless repetitions of forms. Proper technique is built into the reflex.
The time sails by, I’m a sweaty girl sitting on the floor with a bottle of cold water. Long ago, I’d had it with lugging water from the store and installed a filtering system for the whole place, doesn’t matter if it’s the tap or the shower, dishwasher or toilet, it’s all filtered. New York tap water isn’t bad, good filters make it near distilled, there is no mineral buildup and we don’t create a ton of empty plastic bottles.
Amaya must have wrapped up the session, it’s pressing three, Dasha comes down the steps in a leotard and Adidas Adi-Luxe martial arts shoes. That’s what we use for practice, nice flex in the sole, added protection for the top of our foot when we kick bags or each other.
“How was your session with Amaya?”
Dasha, “We practice, Eemaya says we need for work, also better when we are to make relaxing people.”
“People have certain conversational expectations, I’m sure Amaya explained that. If you don’t reply, even though you haven’t been directly asked a question, they think you don’t understand or they said something wrong.”
“Da, we are understanding.”
Well, it’s progress, probably shouldn’t have let it go as long as we did, but they were mostly just with us and we’d adapted to their minimalist communication.
She moves along with three techniques, punch, front kick, knife hand, one dummy to the next, then back again. After three rotations, I demonstrate correct sidekick technique, another three rounds, then roundhouse kick, crescent kick, reverse crescent, spinning.
She’s a gymnast, hyper flexible, can easily kick over her head and strike the head of the dummy. She’s also quite powerful, when she connects with a pressure point it rewards her with a two, sometimes three second buzz. Her technique is good, she’s watched us practice and spar for the last five years, she’s practiced on the dummies many times. Daria and Dasha are nothing if not focused observers, they internalize what they see and replicate it well.
Amaya and Daria descend, Daria is in a similar outfit to Dasha, Amaya says, “Daria would like a bit of instruction on the bags if you have time.”
“Dasha, show her the hand techniques.”
Dasha takes her sister through proper punching, fist using the first two knuckles, thumb curled tightly over the index and middle fingers for added support. Use the two knuckles only, the ring and little finger knuckles won’t support hitting something hard and you will break the bones behind them. Back of hand and forearm in a straight line, not bent down or up, which weakens the wrist. Knife hand rigid, thumb curled in, palm heel with slightly bent fingers. Feel your hand just above your wrist, directly below the little finger. You will find a bone on the inside bottom corner. That’s what you want to strike with.
She’s not as powerful as Dasha, but she does well enough for a first try and, importantly, has proper technique.
“Daria, for today, front kick and side kick, Dasha will explain, you’ve seen us do them, then work on the dummies.”
She’s a dancer, has good balance, her kicks at first are tentative, but the power improves after the third round. Dasha takes her through a fourth then fifth.
“Excellent Daria, quick learner, what do you think?”
“Better to hit than get hit.”
“Always,” it pains me, thinking of her taking brutal punishment for no reason other than a malicious mother’s fear and confusion. Breathe Daphne, the girls are here now, not there.
Daria turns back to the dummy, starts in with hand techniques, then rounds of kicks until she’s exhausted. It’s clear there’s more going on than practice. Good for her, take it out on the things, pretend its mom, or a man who traffics in children. Whatever eases your tortured mind.
She plops down, deep breaths, sweating, Amaya brings more water, hands a glass to Daria, she takes it, looking at Amaya.
Amaya says, “Well?”
“Thank you Amaya.”
Amaya grins, “I am Master Acting Coach. In a year, you dears will be social adepts, able to draw out the most reclusive, settle the most obnoxious, ease through the complexities of human interaction like a neutrino through steel plate. You may not feel it, but you will fake it brilliantly.”
Chapter Seventy Eight
Janah and Chloe return, Janah comes to our room, I’m in the shower, she says, “Seems like Amaya made progress.”
“Yes, Amaya challenged her and got a thank you for her effort. Daria is smart, she’ll catch on quickly, Dasha will pick it up.”
Janah, “I like them blunt, I suppose it’s why we dithered on teaching them conversational niceties in the first place.”
“They won’t change much around here, they know we think it’s rather charming,” I turn off the water and step out, Janah hands me a towel for my hair, she dries me with another.
Janah, “It’s four, what time is tea?”
“When would you like it?”
Janah, “I think I’ll have a bath, how about forty five?”
I comb out my hair, do a quick dry, slip on a mini robe and go downstairs, I suppose Dasha is finished with her shower by now, I go into her head to ask if she wants to help with the preparations. After I see what Daria’s up to, I decide I can handle tea prep for today.
“Dahfoney… watch Daria feenish me.”
I’m smiling to myself, heating the water and selecting a couple different teas while my brain sees Daria’s head bob and her tongue busy, her hands underneath and over Dasha’s smooth thighs, the point of attack bare as a cue ball. I see Dasha’s body tremble, feel her climax, spasm and subside. I sense her relax, dopamine flood easing, serotonin rises along with oxytocin. Feels quite warm and wonderful.
Janah, “You turned on by tea prep?”
“Probably the snacks. Actually, it’s a secondary action, Daria was having fun with Dasha, she likes me to watch.”
Janah, “We do strange stuff.”
I find Nikko, “I see you’re on the way, tea in twenty.”
“Good, we ate a quick lunch, busy day.”
“Amaya, tea in twenty minutes.”
Amaya, “Just finishing off Chloe, she may take a while to return from the stars.”
Must have been lust pheromones floating around when Amaya was coaching the girls.
We sit around the dining table, “How did breakfast go?”
It seems like breakfast was yesterday.
Nikko, “Typically Asian. A lot of dancing around, Chang showed up along with his employees, two men. They asked questions, polite, but they wanted a lot of information, asked us for opinions of locations, better to have older building or newer one, costs and revenue per square foot of everything, retail, residential, warehouse, office, taxes, regulations. They kept apologized for keeping us so long.”
“Cripes, how long did you go?”
“Chang excused himself after breakfast, maybe an hour. They stayed another hour and a half. We kept ordering coffee and tea to placate the wait staff.”
Janah, “What is your sense of it? Zi no doubt read the auras.”
“Zi can tell you better than I can.”
“Chong heard enough. He started out wary of the Japanese girl, but as she rattled off numbers, he dropped his resistance. He carries some old prejudices, but he’s not stupid, he knows an expert when he sees one.”
Janah, “So you think he had a lot of answers already, he was checking your capability.”
Nikko, “That’s what I would have done.”
Zi, “He’s got properties in mind, we could tell from the questions, certain areas held more interest than others. He’s looking into commercial and industrial more than residential. There wasn’t much interest in residential, high or low end. He’s going to buy a condo here, but that has nothing to do with us, we don’t sell condos, we lease apartments and most of our stuff isn’t high end enough, even if he chose to rent.”
Nikko, “He’ll want to put on a good show, likely has a young wife who is into the finer things. He’s Central Park, maybe mid town Park Avenue or one of the Trump monstrosities.”
Janah, “Do you want his business?”
Nikko, “If he’s willing to pay our rates. He’s nobody’s pal, he will either decide we’re worth it, or he’ll cut a cheaper deal with someone else. If he won’t pay our price, he’s of no use to us.”
Nikko has a specific world view. She only leases commercial space to locals, despite the interest of several national chains, she keeps apartment rents as affordable as possible given our costs. Our retail space is never the highest in the local market, she wants the retailers to make money. If they don’t, she has to keep finding tenants. The trade off is that they are required to hold their stores up to our standards. Signs have to be certain sizes, not gaudy, no garish posters plastered in windows, the interiors must be neat and clean, staff can’t loiter out front smoking on breaks. Everything is in the lease, and she enforces it.
On the property management side, it’s different. She charges the same percentage to everyone, and it’s on the high end of management companies. Her offices are upscale, the staff dresses professionally, dark business suits, ties, haircuts, she provides allowances for all of it. Nikko and Zi set the dress standard, they don’t go casual even on weekends. Women flock to her, she has day care and the staff have free access to the clinics in our buildings. Finding and retaining highly competent employees has never been an issue. Clients have orderly, well maintained, spotlessly clean common areas, the space stays leased.
She makes us a ton of money, spends relatively little, most of it gets donated to The Sylk Trust, which is for the benefit of Amaya, Chloe, the twins and whoever else we decide to give money to. For now, it’s stacking up, fifty million as I recall but I haven’t looked in a while.
Amaya, “We had our first socialization session today, Daria and Dasha performed satisfactorily. I am absolutely confident they will come to handle social interaction flawlessly.”
Dasha, “Eemaya makes easy, just learn to make bullsheet.”
We laugh, “Amaya is an expert.”
“I am a unique creative artist, with incredible teaching skills.”
Amaya giggles, “Just do what I say, you need not believe it.”
Daria, “We will learn. We know what is expected.”
Dasha, “Eemaya says ees better to play along to expectation for Society work and when we have to make dealing wiz other people, not fahmahley.”
“But you still won’t care what people think.”
“Daria and Dasha worked over the Qi dummies, they’re picking it up, a gymnast and a dancer don’t have flexibility issues, they need to work on targeting. And kicking or punching something heavy is different muscle and joint strain. Dasha, with all her flips, handstands and tumbling is a bit better adapted. Daria will be sore until she builds up the support muscles around joints.”
Chloe, “Daria, how do you feel now?”
Daria shrugs, “Daphne didn’t let me go long.”
Chloe, “And between now and dinner, perhaps Janah or Daphne will work on your joints, reduce the soreness.”
Daria looks at her sister, Dasha says, “Dahfoney, you and Janah will make chee on Daria, I will make dinner.”
I look at Daria, “Is that what you want?”
“Da, thank you.”
Janah smiles, Chloe kisses Daria, I tell Dasha, “I will do qi on you, Janah will do Daria, we’ll order out. We had Chinese last night, what does everyone want?”
The answer is always pizza, but I thought I’d ask anyway. The girls lay on the mats, we click on satellite radio, electronic dance, turn down the lights. Nikko and Zi go to shower.
It’s almost six, Chloe and Amaya are on the couch watching a movie with the sound off, I work on Dasha, cold hand, then hot, gently massaging joints in the ankle, knee, shoulder and elbow, we gel pack them for twenty minutes.
After I remove the gel packs, Janah and I warm the joints, Amaya and Daria make cocktails, dancing starts up, Dasha and Daria adorable dancing together. They do exactly the same moves like a mirror image. Before I realize it, it’s seven thirty, security is buzzing and the pizza is here.
Dasha and I retrieve, crisp it up in the oven and keep the extra on warm. The rest of the evening is spent in our own private dance club. Champagne, cocktails, pizza, dance, repeat. It’s almost eleven when we realize we’d been through three silent martial arts movies, danced for three hours with intermittent breaks for pizza. Everyone danced with everyone, it was just splendid. Daria and Dasha beautifully uninhibited, personalities we, and perhaps they, didn’t know existed.
Janah, “How stupid of me. Daria loves dance, why didn’t I translate that into an evening of abandon? It seems so obvious now.”
“J, everything seems obvious after the fact. Look, we found an outlet for them, let’s appreciate that. They had a great time, I think Daria almost smiled.”
Janah, “It’s such a relief to see them release, Between Amaya and Chloe’s unrestricted love, and our unconditional acceptance, we may have snatched our precious twins from a descent into psychopath hell.”
“We rescued Amaya, Chloe, the twins, and we opened every door. There’s no higher calling.”
Janah, “We have been generously rewarded for the risks we take, the message is clear.”
“Yes, take more.”
Chapter Seventy Nine
Janah and I are at the temple, the twins are out shopping, and by themselves. Hope nobody screws with Daria, it could get ugly. Chloe is on a photo shoot, Amaya decided to be her gofer for the day. Nikko and Zi are making money out of money someplace.
A few disciples destined to be contemplatives and scholars have asked Janah to discuss consciousness, I’m sitting in.
Disciple Jane, his last name, asks, “We studied the literature on consciousness, its appears to be without scientific explanation. There is no understanding of how it operates, or even why.”
Disciple Lin, “Yes Master J, it is like quantum physics. The scientists have managed to cut the atom into smaller and smaller pieces, then use math to hypothesize the existence of smaller invisible bits of energy called strings. Then the trail stops. The construction of the universe seems to be based more on probabilities than on specific laws, how is it all bound together? A thing is in two places at once, depending on whether it is measured as a wave or a particle, and the spin of two particles changes simultaneously over great distances, violating the speed of light limitation.”
Disciple Davis, “Is it insoluble, or that we must collect more data, math, knowledge?”
Janah, “You want to know if the universe is explainable in general, consciousness in particular.”
Disciple Lin, “Yes. None of us are physicists, Disciple Long is a first rate mathematician, we can understand the research. It seems a quandary.”
Janah, “Let’s leave the generalities of the universe aside for now, perhaps the discussion of the specific will lead to a way of thinking about the general. What do the teachings say? Not that we should get stuck on them, but to begin the dialogue.”
Disciple Davis, “Simplified, the one is many and the many are one.”
“Yes, so is life a series of discreet events?”
Disciple Lin, “It seems that way, but there are many things going on in just one individual all the time, multiplied by all living things, multiplied by climate and environment, there are incalculable events all happening at the same instant and moment to moment.”
“And a change in any one of them can bring about a change in some of the others, even many of the others. If I get lost while I’m driving, I wind up someplace I didn’t intend to go. That can result in a thousand different events other than the one I set out for, a new friend, an accident affecting someone who would never have been touched had I not gotten lost, a change in my own perception, near endless possibilities from one mistaken turn.”
Disciple Davis, “Your point is that everything is interaction of discreet events, and further, the events themselves are frequently unpredictable.”
“Yes. Richard Feynman said, ‘You can’t say A is made of B, all mass is interaction.’ He was speaking of the concrete, but can’t it be applied to conscious perception as well?”
They are quiet for a time, Disciple Jane says, “If we change ‘made of’ to ‘causes’ it becomes you can’t say A causes B, all life is interaction.”
“Can you think of an example?”
Disciple Lin, “If I strike a blow to my opponent, can I not say it causes him pain or injury?”
“Of course, from where did the blow arise?”
Disciple Lin, “From my intent.”
“And where did intent arise?”
He’s silent, then, “So even saying the blow was caused by intent is incomplete. I see what you are pointing to. No matter how far I go back, there is a thing that came before. I could just as easily say that the injury was caused by my birth.”
Janah smiles, “Or by his.”
The Disciples laugh, Disciple Jane says, “The next time someone complains of injury, I will tell them it is their fault for being born.”
“An exaggeration that supports the point, there is no definable cause and effect, only actions and consequences. If I steal property and get caught, I will go to jail or pay a fine, but the cause of theft or the cause of being discovered is not so simple. We have strayed away a bit from the question, which is can consciousness ever be explained; the detour may take us closer than a straight line.”
Disciple Davis, “I think I’m following the trail. The intricacies of consciousness remain unexplained, despite neuro-imaging, direct contact in surgery to the brain itself, all of which can only say one part is active during one activity, like seeing, or touch, another for reactions like fear or disgust or joy. But like quantum physics, knowing the parts brings us no closer to an explanation of how, surely not why.”
“The how gets explained mechanically, this hormone does that in most cases, but does something else in others, this nerve send signals to the heart, others to muscle, or the knee. The why seems obvious, something has to happen in order for the machine to operate.”
Disciple Davis, “Yet there is no how or why of consciousness.”
“Perhaps we look through the wrong end of the microscope. Daphne likes to say, no matter what you want to do, you have to do something else first.”
The disciples stop and think this over, Disciple Lin laughs, “It’s true. If I want to take a shower, I have to turn on the tap, get the temperature right, undress, and I could take all the steps back further and further, ridiculously back to being born, as we discovered earlier.”
Disciple Long, “Have to be born to take a shower.”
Disciple Jane, “So being born causes showers. It seems being born causes everything.”
We laugh, Buddhism of the absurd, which is more frequent than less.
Disciple Long, “You said the wrong end of the microscope, can you elaborate?”
Janah, “We look for the explanation of quantum physics by making things smaller and smaller, then discover there is nothing. We look for explanations of consciousness by going deeper and deeper into the mechanics of the brain and end up at nothing. What if we’re going the wrong way?”
Discussion stops, each one is working it over in their mind. Janah always has a thread, sometimes she doesn’t have answers, but the monks are used to her leading them to contemplate things from a different angle.
Disciple Davis, “Ah, I’m on to you Master J. You are thinking of the Void.”
“Yes, but why?”
More silence, Disciple Davis, “Nothing contains everything, and we are discovering that when we cut thinner and thinner everything becomes nothing. And the Void is nothing and not nothing containing all to the end of infinity and beyond.”
Janah, “Remember the microscope, the scientists set out to find the operant of consciousness within the brain.”
Disciple Lin, “But….oh, the other way round means consciousness is the operant.”
Silence is getting to be a way of life around here, and this one lasts a long time.
Janah, “Please do not accept it as an answer. I am taking an adjusted page from Sherlock Holmes, ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ My observation doesn’t eliminate the possibility that consciousness arises and is entirely in the brain, I am rather posing yet another question.”
Disciple Lin, “Of course. You say if we can’t find the mechanism of consciousness where we believe it to be, where else might it be.”
“And if it is the operator, does that at least hypothetically explain anything?”
Disciple Long, “You seem to make consciousness God.”
“Or does consciousness allow for the creation of God? As it allows for all material and immaterial.”
The dialogue closes, Janah’s given the contemplatives much to contemplate.
An interesting thread of the twins’ personalities is that while they have no empathy towards others, they also have few opinions. They have their personal preferences, Dasha likes gymnastics, Daria dance. But they wouldn’t argue for one over the other. And they have few, almost no, opinions about other people, bad actors excepted. We talk it over at tea.
Janah, “It makes sense, they don’t care enough about other people to bother thinking about them.”
“We try to have as few opinions as possible regarding people or politics, I have opinions about religion as far as I don’t want anything to do with it. I suppose some people see Buddhism as religion, but Shaolin Buddhism doesn’t have Gods or worship anything. There aren’t rules in our Buddhism, just ways of approaching the world in order to free yourself, not to bind yourself by imposing religious thought.”
Nikko, “You and Zi took vows in Shaolin.”
Zi, “True. Those are part of priesthood, and we use religious terms, like priest, and offer blessings if asked. It touches some points of religion, but the vows are personal commitments, you don’t have to take them to be Shaolin, just to be a Shaolin priest.”
“Yes, and priests of more structured religions take vows, so I must agree there are intersections between Shaolin and religion.”
Janah, “The difference is in approach, Shaolin don’t tell everyone else how to be, nor do they seek converts. The rules regarding killing are clear, self protection or in defense of the innocent. We don’t kill or injure to protect the honor of God, or of Buddha. Daphne and Zi agreed to refrain from intoxicants, a vow frequently broken by some Shaolin. I’m in a paradoxical position, I enjoy wine and champagne, and appointed Abbess, but not Shaolin. Only in an order like ours is such a thing possible.”
Zi, “The old Masters saw a Buddha, having you was a major boost for the temple, they made the obvious choice.”
Janah, “I’ve never been comfortable with that, I had no epiphany, but then the texts say chop wood, carry water, get enlightened, chop wood, carry water. So, if there was a moment of enlightenment, I must not have recognized it.”
“Chloe is bodhisattva, she never had a defining moment.”
Chloe, “There was a time, I didn’t see it as either insight or bright light, when I went from resisting my sister’s treatment and hating her, to simply accepting my situation. I can’t say I was suddenly grateful for cold leftovers in a bowl on the floor, or saw being kicked as the pathway to anything but pain. It just seemed less humiliating and painful when I dropped my attitude about it. It was like I saw it happening to a young girl, but I was the observer only.”
“That was your moment, you had no way of realizing your realization, no framework to hang it on.”
“Might have made it easier, not having an idea about it.”
“That’s exactly it, Chloe. A conception of it is only thought, we deal with that at the temple. Students and disciples often carry on like Buddhists, talk the talk, but never cross the bridge.”
Amaya, “What do you do then?”
“The thing we do best, nothing. As Nisargadatta points out, the fruit clings to the tree until it is ripe, only then can it let go. The ripening cannot be hurried.”
Amaya, “No advanced placement to enlightenment, cannot skip a grade?”
We laugh, “Nope, intention only, with no deadline.”
“I am Chloe, do I not get AP?”
More laughter, Janah says, “No more than you can get adorable freckles or violet eyes. Fortunately, Chloe doesn’t fade back to unrealized by merging with you.”
“I am no doubt the reason for her continued realization.”
Nikko, “We were exploring opinions before everybody got enlightened.”
“Can you be happy and be opinionated?”
Chloe, “I don’t know, what would a happy opinion look like?”
“Like the positive thinkers, life is great, people are splendid, I’m going to be a millionaire.”
Nikko, “That’s not opinion, that’s delusion.”
“Good point, let’s see, I think we’re talking about opinions that something or someone should be different than they are.”
Amaya, “That springs from unhappiness.”
Chloe, “Seems right.”
Janah, “So we can have opinions, or views, about ourselves, like your positive thinker, and be happy? When we want someone else to be different, it has to come from dissatisfaction, discontent, a kind of unhappiness or we wouldn’t want them to change.”
“Then we might ask what happens if we are never dissatisfied, forget dissatisfied with ourselves, but with people or things.”
Nikko, “Then improvements are either slow or nonexistent. In a product, the manufacturer can keep selling crap if no one complains. Same with a service. When it’s another person, a relative, friend, spouse, perhaps some alteration of behavior is called for. We rehabilitate abusers, you aren’t suggesting we get out of it and ignore them?”
“No. It’s not an opinion in the sense I mean. I don’t need an opinion, it’s a fact, they’re harming innocents. Take something smaller scale, a husband is loud, tells inappropriate jokes, dresses like a slob. His wife’s dissatisfaction is less an opinion than a fact, he is loud, he does tell stupid dirty jokes and he is a slob. In any case, she isn’t happy or she wouldn’t be dissatisfied. The first step is to make him aware of his behavior and see if he will downsize it. The second step is divorce.”
Janah, “We can say an opinion is a belief, and a belief is not a fact, otherwise it wouldn’t be a belief. If I hold to a misguided opinion, I can have the temporary illusion of happiness until the facts come crashing down on me. An example would be the preacher’s wife who thinks her husband is just ducky until he’s caught in a motel having sex with a man.”
Dasha and Daria have been listening, I ask, “Dasha what do you think about it?” “No opeenyon.”
She brings the discussion full circle and we move on to higher matters, like dinner plans.