Pure womb of darkness.
Two sparks flash, then a third.
A fourth spark fills the darkness with sudden sun-like brightness.
Five candles are lit and placed into lanterns -- one for the center, one in each of the corners.
Above -- a lattice of vines form a roof.
Just beyond the open-air lantern-lit platform -- an orchestra of night sounds.
A low rumbling growl -- not menacing; more like a purr of satisfaction.
A jaguar rubs a smooth dark shoulder against rough tree bark.
I think to myself: Thank goodness. He sounds well-fed.
Hanging beneath bell-shaped leaves, tree frogs chant in both worlds.
A hand appears in front of me holding an earthen cup with symbols I don't recognize.
I take it and look up into a face that seems ancient yet ever-young.
The same hand then flaps like a wing; motions to me to imbibe.
Beberse todo, beberse todo. Drink up, drink up.
A cloud of tobacco smoke fills the air above my head
as bunches of leaves, feathers, dried seed pods
tap my back, my chest, my crown, my limbs.
The singing begins.
All lanterns are extinguished.
I lean back onto the woven mat and settle-in to my "dreaming station."
Body sprawled out, I feel utterly alone against the cloak of night.
Am I even human, or just a small bug turned on his back on the floor of the jungle?
The face of every one I've ever loved pass in front of my mind's eye.
There have been so many -- each a story of joy, sadness, friendship, disappointment.
A deep breath fills me as if something other than me is now doing the breathing.
I hear prayers and songs being uttered. I get lost in them.
I think of my parents: Have I been a good son?
I think of friends: Have I been good to each one?
I think of my job: Am I doing anything worthwhile?
I think of my apartment: Will it turn out to be my cocoon or my coffin?
I think of my late teacher: I wish we could take a walk in the desert again.
I think of different lovers: Why couldn't we find what we were looking for in the other?
I raise my hands in front of my face.
I no longer have skin or bones.
I am nothing but a tightly-bound collection of luminous strands, slowly loosening, separating.
All but one fall to the woven mat beneath me.
A single flowing strand moves outward into the jungle and carries me along.
The only thing I am sure of is that my heart is still beating, and that...
I am the jungle.
I've never not been the jungle.
I am the stars.
I've never not been the stars.
I see a man fishing.
I have never not been a man.
I see a woman collecting water.
I have never not been a woman.
I see a child chasing a dragonfly.
I have never not been a child.
I have never not been a dragonfly.
I have never not been a river, a jaguar, a frog calling the rain.
The single luminous thread that appears to be 'me'
is pulled from deep in the jungle valley into the high hills above.
Suddenly I am in a new body -- brown feathers fluttering in the wind.
Eyes sharp and clear -- the whole world vibrant again.
I hear a voice say:
Withdraw all investments from illusion.
The doorway beyond the heart's suffering is open.