Today I have a meeting with the Master. I’m terrified of him and try to block out the things I’ve heard him say in the past. It never works and his voice seems to follow me everywhere. There’s this thing I’m really ashamed of. I ingest voices in my head from other people. A person I admire, such as the Master, will say something I find profound, puzzling, hip, reflective of wisdom, etc. And then this person as well as their personal affects will find a way to worm him or herself (and the set of affects) into my mind as a separate controller of my own conduct. I know this because I wrote it to myself in a letter I brought with me to the temple. It was something I hoped to cure by staying at the temple. I am worried that today’s meeting will cause a refreshing and a refueling of the voices in my head I associate with “The Master.”
I have two friends at the temple, Novice Chewing Cow and Novice Wasted Life. My name is Novice Moron. The Master gives us our names.
Though we are not allowed to discuss our meetings with the master under any circumstances, I can see through the looks on my friends’ faces that they are also destined to meet with the Master either sometime today or sometime tomorrow. They look as scared as I am, though all of us try to hold it in.
The Master has two Head Monks who deliver on his orders. No one meets the Master. Head Monk Jishu and Head Monk Big Stick called us out of our sleeping bags at 2:00AM this morning to begin cleaning the restrooms. Chewing Cow got fifty slaps because there was a small fleck of urine on the outer rim of one of his toilets. Jishu asked him if the fleck of urine was “something you should expect yourself to do something about or something you should let exist in the harmony of the Universal Order.” He stuttered and behaved awkwardly, as all of us do when asked these kinds of unanswerable questions. Jishu bent Chewing Cow over the latrine and slapped his ass fifty times while chanting the Love-Song of Supreme Mental De-Conditioning.
Chewing Cow and I were in the dressing room when he turned to me and said, “I don’t know if I should be doing this anymore.” He shimmied his robe up and over the bright and pinky ass. There were multiple hand marks on it.
“We just have to persevere,” I told him. “One day all of this will make sense…”
Wasted Life was in the corner of the room reading an old book of philosophy. He looked up at Chewing Cow. “Fools seek counsel from those they doubt,” he said. “And how could you not doubt a Moron?” All three of us laughed with varying degrees of mirth and self-consciousness.
We were splitting up for the day after visiting the dressing room. We would be entering our UnAdulterated Mind Space for the rest of the afternoon. The UMS is a place where you are forced to confront the fact that you have an inner monologue that ruins your appreciation of life. You are not asked to watch your inner monologue in hopes that you can stop it. You are told multiple times that you cannot stop it. You are told that all the actions of the world only turn the world around further in an endless cycle of something meaningless, insincere and ultimately frustrating. You are also told that you cannot expect to escape from this cycle by practicing UMS. Everyday one of the head monks will bring out a story based on someone else’s life, someone else who has practiced UMS and can now behave charmingly, hilariously, and/or do things most other people would be much more nervous doing.
I entered the door that held the portal to my UMS. “I am ready again to listen to the sounds of my own thoughts ruining my life,” I told myself. “If I listen carefully there is a small chance I may deliver an answer to the Master that he will approve of, and after that I may say a higher quantity of charming and witty things, no longer ruin my life, and be less bothered or nervous by the basic details of my existence.” I sat there and grappled with my thoughts.
When you begin UMS there is a counter that begins to count down until the time you don’t need to do UMS anymore. Your goal is to not look at it, or to look at it and find it funny or meaningless, and to feel no influence of your timer counting down on the state of your mental health. The timer read “1 hour, 57 minutes, 20 seconds left.” I was very upset that I’d have to be doing UMS for that long until I was done. This confused me, though, because I had to see the Master soon after that. I thought, “I am ruining my life by thinking so much.”
I thought for a very long time. I thought about not thinking about my thoughts but not allowing the non-thinking of thoughts to become its own kind of thinking that will only make me more miserable. I thought about the way the UMS felt on my shins and my calves. Both began to ache when the timer mercilessly, patiently, completely apathetically reached 1:34:11. I thought a much longer time. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I thought, how self-defeating the thoughts were, and how badly I wanted to find the Magical Mind-Release Lock-Switch that I was told I’d find after spending a long time in UMS.
By 1:22:58, I was dreading my meeting with the Master so much that I hoped UMS would go on forever.
By 1:04:32 I wanted to leave the temple and was quite convinced a life as a simple merchant would be more appropriate for who I was as a person.
I had one hour left. One hour before I’d hear the Master’s heartbreaking verdict on the progress of my soul.
When the timer hit 1:02:14 I stared at it in earnest supplication. It took all I had not to hypnotize the timer into speeding itself up. Please, please, Novice Moron needs to find the answer.
At 1:00:32 I was about to have the first genuinely fulfilling moment of my day upon realizing I made it to the HOLY HALFWAY POINT of UMS. But when the timer reached 1:00:01, the display changed. It was the pictoglyph signaling an imminent meeting with the Master. This was wrong. I had an hour left of UMS. This was wrong, this was wrong, this was wrong.
I carried my broken heart to the Master’s dungeon.