Karl wrapped his coat close to himself, the flashing neon signs bounced in the puddles as he walked the filthy streets of the city center. He would’ve been faster taking the subway or one of the flying buses but he avoided the cameras and face detection systems whenever he could. This was a cold, wet spring and the streets are dirtier than usual in what was already a filthy part of the city.
You were never far though from screens and cameras, soldiers, police and droids regularly patrolled the streets and their body-mounted cameras could detect you from 50 meter away. The machines were always learning more and they always knew where a person had last been. Pinpointing people who had gone off grid wasn’t difficult as the machines would look for previous patterns and make their best guess at finding them.
Karl fostered romantic thoughts of bringing the algorithms that ran the planet to a crashing halt, what would the world look like without data running the show, he wondered. Would we really live free? Are we too far gone? We’d still need operating systems for things like public transport, the sewerage systems, other utilities, the power grid, the solar and wind energy, hospitals, schools. Fuck, there are too many thing, how would humans even be able to run these things if we took control again. We need the machines but not the way they are, they should be our tools, instead we’ve become their tools. They map out everything for us, they give us our daily choices of routes to work and what to eat and who to meet all the while harvesting more and more data so they can predict the outcomes. The element of chance is gone. It’s as if everything now is preordained thanks to the machines learning everything. We have the illusion of choice but we don’t really have any choice. All these thoughts bounced around his head as he made he was southwards across the city.
He turned a corner then and arrived at Ben’s building. Ben Forthe was an old writer who still produced a cultural zine, one of the last ones going in the Western hemisphere. It was mostly cultural news, music, films, books and art and some political writings that always questioned the role of the machines in society. He’d served time in prison on a few occasions for sedition, each time he left prison more inspired to take down those in power.
Karl walked into the lobby, the stench of piss filled the air as he approached the elevator, it was a walk of ten flights of stairs up to Ben’s rooms but a route he’d rather take than try his luck in the elevator. As he trudged up the stair he heard the howls and wails of the locals in the building and Karl wondered to himself why Ben insisted on living in such a hellhole. He knew the answer was because there were no cameras or tracking equipment in the building so Ben could keep a low profile but Ben had such a reputation with the authorities that they almost always seemed to know where he was anyway.
He knocked on the door, Ben opened it immediately.
-I’ve been waiting for you, you’re late.
-Sorry, I avoided the cams, I walked and then when I got here…someone’s been pissing in your elevator again.
-Still you’re late. Here, take this and drink that.
He handed Karl a small white pill and a glass of water.
-Bit early in the day to be getting off our heads isn’t it?
-It’s not those type, you’ll see. Take it and I’ll tell you.
Karl placed the tablet on his tongue and swallowed it down with a gulp of water.
-What have you given me?
-My boy, it’s time we put all this pussy-footing around to bed. There’s a revolution coming but it’s not like any of the revolutions we’ve tried before against the machines. We’re not going to fight them tooth and nail and iron anymore, this time we’re going to dig deep into ourselves and find the love and joy that’s in us. We find this and we bring humanity together as one and then we can defeat them.
-Why have you given me drugs?
Ben sat down at his desk and poured himself a glass of red wine.
-I’d give you some kiddo but it’ll fuck with the concoction, or at least I think it will, so probably best to not mix them. He was tired, too many strange things had happened over the last few days since he first made contact with the Secret Chiefs, a group of spiritually enlightened beings he had only heard legends about and didn’t believe in their existence until he undertook a meditation ritual with an inmate on his final day in Canyon Clay prison.
-In a few moments you’re going to meet someone, well something…have you heard of the astral plane? It’s a bit like that, there are entities that live there who want the best for humanity. Usually. There’s some assholes there too but you can weed them out quickly. There’s a test, ask them for a name and if they can give you one you can trust them, the ones that can’t name themselves are good-for-nothing and you can tell them to get fucked.
-Are you for real Ben?
-Karl, I’ve never been more for real about anything with you before. I told you something happened in prison didn’t I? On my final there I did a ritual with a man named Joyce, he’s an old occultist, he’s been serving time since the last revolt in ’79. I had a full-on vision and the voice told me how humanity can be saved. She gave me the recipe for what you’ve just taken too and we’ll be able to help more people by inducing visions for them. The answer for humanity isn’t just in fighting the machines. We need to awaken to ourselves, strip back on everything with think we know and find the truth that’s there within us all. That truth is love Karl, we’ve forgotten how to love, we can’t even tell the truth anymore, we don’t even know what truth is. Our days are planned for us by the machines and their data harvesting, they give us the illusion of choice but we don’t have any choice at all. None. But here’s the thing; we do have a choice, we have the choice to look for truth and love and freedom. Am I making sense?
-I think so.
-You’re going to start feeling a bit wobbly soon. He pointed towards the sofa. -Go and lay yourself down on the couch there, get comfortable, it’s not going to last too long but what you’ll hear and see will be profound. Karl, I have great belief in you, I’ve seen you many times with people, the patience and love you have for people will be of such great help for what comes next if we want to help people. But the choice is yours, if you want to help.
-Well, I think you could’ve given me the choice before you gave me whatever drug this is.
-Ah yes, indeed Karl. You’re correct. Sorry, I made a judgment call on that. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission as my old man used to say. I wasn’t sure whether you’d take it or not so I had to be sure. But once it’s all done you’ll have your choice. It won’t take long. Lay back now and close your eyes. He, she, or it will be with you soon.
Karl felt sleepy suddenly, a wave of tiredness washed over his mind and he was gone. A moment later he was walking in the city streets again but they were empty, calm and quiet and the city was never empty, calm or quiet.
-Where am I? He asked himself. He recognized where he was but it was all slightly different. It was still a dreary place but less so. He felt a presence then, he was being watched. But it didn’t have the insidious feeling of being watched when he didn’t want to be seen, it was like he knew a tame animal was looking at him from afar. He felt whatever this thing was loved him, cared for him and wanted what was best for him. He turned a corner then and saw a giant eye in the sky looking at him.
Karl’s words wouldn’t come. What was this thing and how did it exist? His thoughts halted as he searched and searched for how to put what he was seeing into a context that made sense.
-Be not afraid, it said. -Ben informed us that you would be coming Karl. He speaks highly of you and we know you too. You have many gifts and, should you choose to help, you will be able to help humanity in this dark time.
-What is your name?
-Good, you remembered to test what you met. I have many names but you Karl may call me Ain.
-I don’t really understand what’s going on, am I here or just off my gills in Ben’s living room?
-You are both.
Off to his left side he saw an image of him laying on Ben’s couch in his living room, Ben was furiously typing on his console and keeping an eye on Karl.
-If you have heard of the Astral Plane then you are there, you’re living body is at Ben’s apartment but you’re also here with me. Maybe you’re heard of liminal spaces? This is also one. It is a place that isn’t tangible but one that exists under the correct circumstances. You are here to speak to me and I to you. You see, Karl, all humans have the potential for truth, love and freedom. I am one of a group of beings who decided a long, long time ago to help humanity. Ben and his friend Joyce were the first humans to contact us in a very, very long time. He has spoken to us about you and he has great belief in you Karl. He thinks you can, and will, bring people together to help in humanity’s hour of need.
-I see, that’s quite a bit to put on my shoulders, do I have any choice in this?
-All humans do, you don’t have to do anything. Maybe you do not know it but your line of ancestors contains many healers, or you could call them doctors and teachers, an amount that’s more than average. You can try and look up the records if you can find them. You all have roles that suit you better than others Karl, what Ben has told us about you fits with your karmic history.
-I’m afraid that if I do something…I mean, maybe it’s too late and we’re doomed anyway.
-You could do nothing and find out.
-True, I guess. Since I’m here than, can I ask you some questions?
-Yes but time is short for you, what Ben has given you to induce this vision doesn’t last long.
-What is life?
-Would you agree that the universe is made of energy?
-It is not, there are two forms present everywhere, one has energy the other does not and within the one that has there are three types. To begin, there is is-ness and is-not-ness. What you experience thanks to the wonder of human consciousness, is the is-ness. You cannot experience what is not but it is underlying beneath everything. If it didn’t exist then nothing could come into existence.
-I’m not sure I understand. But what you’re saying brings to my mind the Yin-Yang symbol.
-On the Yin side you can imagine the darkest of dark nights, the complete and utter emptiness of a vacuum and the coldly-death of nothingness while on the Yang side you see light, life, hope and love and you see that neither can exist without the other and the different parts are found in each other. There’s no light without darkness, no love without knowing hate and no life without death.
-Yes, I understand.
-To learn more, when you return to the waking world, you should learn about a philosopher called Parmenides and in particular; his idea of forms. He was one of the first to teach such things and his influence lead to what you people in the Western world call logical thought. Albeit, it wasn’t rooted in logic but if you do learn more about him and his philosophy you will learn that too. Form 2 is Yin, Form 1 is Yang. Form 1, he said did not exist and it doesn’t because it cannot be perceived by humans or most life forms but it is there. Form 2, Yin, contains everything a human can experience.
-Why am I here?
-Your world is in danger, humanity has turned away from truth; which is love. Your people have lived so long now under the influence of algorithms, machines and data that they’re forgotten what it is to be human, your world has fallen into the trap of logic while failing to understand that logic must be balanced with what is non-logical, the preposterous, the absurd and the implausible; art, laughter, chance. Humans have almost forgotten that miracles happen.
-That’s because we’ve been under the boot of the leaders for so long now…
-That is correct.
-Why am I here, I ask you again.
-Where there is hope, there is a chance. Ben and his friend found a way to contact us and we want to help humanity to live in love, in truth and be free. At one time many humans were in touch with us but the old ways died out many, many years ago. The flame has never gone out though, you and Ben and others can now rekindle it for others.
-But what can I do?
-There were once ancient teachers, called the Bodhisattvas, it was their role to help people reach high stages of spiritual enlightenment where they attained the truth of human existence. In doing so they took a vow to remain in Form 2 even after death to help humanity attain truth, love and freedom. But they grew weaker and weaker as humanity rolled down the path to disaster. Karl, you will return to the world and teach them the ways of the Bodhisattvas, the Buddha, and other spiritual sages and gurus so that you can help humanity towards their true goal.
-I know nothing about these people.
-You do not. You can either accept this or not. You can learn about these sages and teachers, or not. You can choose to help your fellow humans or not. You all have free will after all.
Time seems to come to a stop for Karl, he felt an aeon pass in his mind. What this thing was asking for was too much. He hated the algos and the corporations who ran human life into the dust. But he was just one person, one person against the machine. Well, with Ben and Joyce it would be three but who even was Joyce? How many people would they need before they could even make a challenge? There’s no hope…but, there has to be hope otherwise we’re dead already, he thought, and we already live as if we’re dead so we’ve fuck all to lose. Maybe it’s better to die fighting for hope than to just exist at the whim of others.
-Ain, I accept and I will learn.
-Our time is coming to a close now
-Will we meet again?
-Yes but not many times. Do you have a final question?
-What will be my first teaching to people?
-Tell them about Yin and Yang, Form 1 and Form 2 and that within Form 2 there is all the energy and life that humans can experience, this includes all matter and thought forms and spiritual experiences. Within this Form 2 there are three types of energy; harmony, passion and restraint. They go by different names in different world traditions. For you Karl, you need to learn about the Hindu Gunas, these are the same energies I speak of. Harmony is Sattva, Passion is Rajas while restraint is Tamas.
-A person who is afflicted with too much restraint, or tamas, will be fearful, depressed and have a dull mind and are easily influenced. You can see already there is an over tendency towards tamas in your world now, so one of your commitments while teaching will be to restore balance and more people towards more harmony by rekindling human passions and making them energetic again. But without forgetting that it is the balance of these three energies which leads people to happiness, truth, love and freedom.
He awoke with a start on Ben’s couch.
-Welcome back kiddo, are you in?