Part II: A Godseye View
1. Dharma Combat
The atmosphere crackled with tension in the crowded room at Open Secret, but then Rachel began playing a sweetly dolorous tune, which drew Kalianna out of her angry interface with the man in the audience. She sang a few lyrics with a good-bye theme, then said: "That wraps up our get-together, except for the Kirtan. Us soulmates all like to chant together for awhile to lift our spirits and experience communion. Usually we roll right into it, but this time I need to tend to some business backstage for about twenty minutes. So feel free to take a break, then you're all invited back for the finale."
Kalianna and Rachel disappeared behind a curtain, and the room was suddenly filled with voices and the commotion of people leaving their seats. Jennifer and Kirk immediately turned toward the man who had betrayed such a preternatural presence. He was looking at them with a big smile, and so was his female friend. As they all stood up, he said, "Would you like to chat outside?" They assented, and the young woman led the way down the aisle to their right. They maneuvered through the throng, and emerged onto a sidewalk that was almost as crowded. Now Jennifer took the lead, and brought them to a little alcove by an unused side door. It was partly concealed from the street by shrubbery, and had a small table with four chairs, all empty. "Well," said the man, "looks like it's just for us."
They seated themselves, and he said, "Now we can do the introductions in a nice ambience. I'm Gavin Paneskos, and this is my cousin, Aurora Reinhold."
Jennifer and Kirk introduced themselves, and as they shook hands all around, they both noticed a heightened energy from physical contact with Gavin and Aurora. And in fact it did not diminish as the four sat at the round table. "Gee," said Aurora, "the Vril is very high here."
"Vril?" said Kirk.
"It's our word for psychic energy," said Gavin; "or actually a specific kind of it."
"There were some pretty mind-blowing kinds of psychic energy going around inside," said Kirk. "And you seemed to be tapped into it."
"I saw it too," said Jennifer, "and not all of it was positive. Gavin, can you tell us anything about what was going on?"
"What did you see?" he asked.
Kirk and Jennifer looked at each other. "I don't know if we saw the same stuff," he said to her. "Did you know that you and almost everyone else were totally tranced out when Kalianna was giving her first spiel?"
"Yes, it has that effect. She does it on purpose ~ it's like Shaktipat, but using her voice instead of physical touch. It transports you into her alternate reality, the Kali Loka, where she reigns as Goddess. Did you experience anything like that, Kirk? I always wondered if it only worked for her soulmates."
"Yow," he said, "that's almost exactly what I saw and felt ~ at first."
"Something happened to change the vibe, and it got weird ~ she turned into a giant female demon, like those icons of Kali as the Goddess from Hell."
Jennifer looked shocked. Gavin said, "I wonder which side of the vision is real ~ or both or neither?"
"My mind is still reeling from it," said Kirk. "But when I came out of it, you and Aurora were the only ones who weren't tranced. And then Kalianna tried to zap us with the evil eye or something, but you blocked it with an invisible shield."
"What?" said Jennifer, "that's crazy! Except. . . oh my God, it's like what I saw later on." She looked at Gavin. "You and Kalianna seemed to be fighting a psychic battle."
"Yes," he said with a wry smile, "the War in Heaven and Earth has already begun ~ in fact, it's been going on for a long time. The dharma combat you witnessed tonight was a mere skirmish, but it was very important in the larger scheme of things."
"This is incredible!" said Jennifer. "You mean that you're on the opposing side to Kalianna?"
"And without even hoofs and horns or a pointy tail! But of course this human form may be merely a clever disguise."
Aurora giggled delightfully. "At least for the horns," she said.
"Ssh! Don't give away too much!" said Gavin, rippling with ironic humor.
Jennifer looked confused and disconcerted. Kirk said, "Unlike Jen, I didn't come here with any irons in the fire. My life has been so messed up by the nitty-gritty guns-and-bombs-and-gang-war here on Earth that I never heard that it's also happening in Heaven, or the metasphere, or wherever the heck it is. From what I've seen tonight I think there must be something to it, but I'm totally clueless as to which side is which or where I fit in, or if I do at all."
Gavin said, "Would you both be interested in hearing our side of the story? It's fairly well known in certain places, but what publicity it gets on your media is always distorted."
"Or outright fabricated," said Aurora.
"Our media?" said Jennifer. "It sounds like you live in a different country."
"We do," said Gavin; "it's called Thule."
"I never heard of 'Thuley'," said Kirk, "but it sounds more like a different world if you have some kind of separate media network."
"It's just that it's outside the Matrix," said Aurora. "We can tune into the media-grid whenever we want to, and we often do for strategic info an' stuff. But we're aware that the media-generated worldview is a mass fantasy concocted by the forces we oppose. So none of us waste any time getting ourselves indoctrinated by TV or other so-called entertainment media."
Kirk asked, "When you say 'the Matrix', do you mean like in that old flick?"
"Right," said Aurora. "All of our people are unplugged from the Matrix, and those of us who were lucky enough to be born and raised in Thule were never plugged into it in the first place."
"And where exactly is Thule?" said Jennifer.
"We have provinces or colonies on four continents," said Gavin. "Our own is right here in Northern California, and we live in Sonoma County."
Jennifer was seized by a terrible intuition. She said, "You've got to be kidding!"
"Yeah," said Kirk, "it's dangerous up there, with all those drug gangs and terrorist groups."
"It's probably less dangerous," said Jennifer, "if you happen to be in a terrorist group yourself. Like the one I heard about on TV just tonight ~ they attacked the National Guard. Am I right, Gavin?"
"That's the latest case of fabrication," he said. "It was the Norteños who attacked the base."
Now it was Kirk who was astonished. "But wait a minute, does that mean you're admitting to being in this terrorist group?"
"That, of course, is a distortion. We're people engaged in a life-and-death struggle, defending our homes, farms, and families by the best means at our disposal. And we've gotten pretty good at it."
Both Kirk and Jennifer were flustered and speechless. Aurora said, "I guess this brings us back to the original question: would you like to hear a little about our side of the whole thing?"
After a moment Kirk said: "Y'know, I really would. I have a feeling it's gonna be a lot more interesting than chanting with Kalianna. But how about you, Jen?"
"Well, the Kirtan usually goes on for about a half-hour. But now that I'm getting over the initial shock of hearing all this, I'm wondering why I'm not. . . well, terrified. That's how I would've imagined myself to react in a situation like this, confronting someone who's part of the forces my spiritual teacher says are destroying the world, and who admits to being a. . . a. . . ."
"How about 'warlord'?" said Gavin. "I believe that's the most popular media term."
"And is it accurate?"
"Oh, he's the best!" said Aurora, with an admiring glance at Gavin.
"Wow!" said Jen. "So there it is. Yet somehow I don't feel afraid of you at all." Her mind formed the words: In fact, I'm really turned on by you! But she caught herself before she voiced the thought.
2. Masters, Supermen, and Übers
Aurora put her hand in Gavin's, resting on the table. They looked at each other and took a couple of deep breaths in unison. They squeezed hands, released the grasp, and sat back smiling at Kirk and Jennifer. Then Gavin began speaking: "Aurora and I were raised in an intentional community that shares a deep spiritual bond. We worked hard to become self-sufficient because we knew that the world order was breaking down, and were not caught by surprise when it manifested dramatically in the economic bust and the political fragmentation that followed."
"How were you able to know that in advance?" said Kirk.
"For one thing, we took the planetary alignment to be in Aries."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "so that's really a big deal, like Kalianna says. I was never sure how seriously to take the whole trip about those astrological events at the turn of the millennium."
"Yes," said Gavin, "but astrology only reveals the framework of reality, not what can be done within it. Its reliability is limited to these broad patterns. It's possible for an expert astrologer to divine exquisite details, but those are subject to fluid elements like human free will, and have a much lower probability ratio.
"Another major factor in our foreknowledge was and continues to be our contact with higher conscious forces who have a Godseye view of the world. They know what's been going on since the beginning of history, and are able to evaluate current developments in that light."
"Are they like the Ascended Masters?" said Jennifer.
"What people usually mean by that term is conflated with a lot of fantasy and with projections of their own desires. However, the notion does overlap with reality in certain limited ways. There are souls who have transcended the human condition but are still actively involved with humanity. Many of them have developed superhuman powers."
Kirk said, "I've heard plenty of stuff about these guys, mostly from Jennifer and some of her friends. But my big question, which none of them were ever able to answer in a convincing way, is: if there's this great benevolent brotherhood that oversees human affairs, why is everything so screwed up? I mean, it was always pretty much the pits, but now it's gotten downright hellish."
"Well," said Jennifer, "I'm sorry you weren't convinced, but I still think the bad stuff is a matter of human free will, like Gavin said, plus the fact that the Godseye view of the Masters can see what's really best for the long term, like thousands of years. So they weigh the short-term sufferings and self-inflicted disasters of humanity against that."
"Both of those observations bear a lot of weight," said Gavin, "but the bottom-line answer is that not all the 'Masters' are benevolent."
"Oh my God!" said Jennifer.
"Yow!" said Kirk, "you mean it's true that they use secret powers and psychic mind control to manipulate everybody into supporting a New World Order?"
"That's the other extreme," said Gavin: "occult conspiracy theory, usually with a strong paranoid flavor. But the more astute researchers often strike veins of truth there too."
"Come to think of it," said Kirk, "This is what came to mind when Kalianna was talking about the 'secret inner circle' that she's so happy to be a member of."
"Yes," said Gavin, "a lot of conspiratologists would recognize her associates, at least in the lower echelons of her circles: bankers, media moguls, individuals with all manner of psychic talents, and would-be 'post-humanists' ~ those who want to attain superpowers by merging with the machine."
"Now I'm the one who's not convinced," said Jennifer. "I always imagined that her inner circle reached up into the ranks of the Masters. Have I just been naïve?"
"No," said Gavin, "because it does. But again it all hinges on the real nature of those 'Masters'. The theorists who assume they're all simply evil would take that word in the sense of masters and slaves. Whereas the Pollyanna camp assumes that anyone who has attained the more exalted stages of psycho-spiritual development must be a saint or a Boddhisattva, dedicated to the salvation of humanity and all sentient beings."
"So what's the true story?" asked Kirk. "What's your view of the Masters, or whatever you want to call these supermen?"
"Ah, that's close. We call them Übers."
"As in Übermensch?" said Jennifer.
"Right ~ the word reflects the origin of the concept of the superman, at least in modern times. Except we shorten it to 'Übers' for verbal convenience, and because they're not all men."
"They're not all ascended either," said Aurora. "In fact, in our usage of the term, Kalianna would qualify. Or almost."
"She needs one more breakthrough," said Gavin. "I think she's right on the threshold, but if the opportunity presented itself to her right now, she'd take a giant leap in the wrong direction."
"And so she wouldn't become an Über?" said Jennifer.
"Oh, but she would," said Gavin, "and that would be the worst possible outcome for the rest of the world." He looked grim as he added: "And for herself as well."
3. Secret Wars
"I'm getting the impression," said Kirk, "that you don't see the Übers in simple, dualistic terms of good and evil. Maybe they're like a higher level of human life, with the same complexities of motivation and broad spectrum of ethics."
"That," said Gavin, "is an excellent impression."
"In which case," said Kirk, "the War in Heaven must not be God and his angels vs. Satan and his devils, but something a lot more complicated, just like human wars."
"You're on the right track," said Gavin, "but there are differences. Among higher beings, positive spiritual motivation is a much more potent source of strength and power than it is among incarnate humans. The will to serve Spirit and one's fellow beings, even the adversary, has tremendous practical force. It can win battles, and in the higher realms it's always the key to victory in war. Species of beings with this upward orientation have a tremendous tactical advantage over those more susceptible to the lusts and pleasures of the descent into matter, and who therefore tend to be self-serving."
"That makes sense," said Jennifer. "Does it mean that the positive forces are destined to win the secret war that's behind the global crisis?"
"No. In the realm of dense matter the darker forces have the advantage. It's easy for them to manipulate incarnate souls who share the downward inclination, which is always the majority of people, and in times like these it's a vast majority."
"So," said Kirk, "you seem to think that Kalianna is aligned with this downsliding darkside, if that's not too dualistic of a term to use. Why do you think that?"
"And anyway, what's the alternative?" added Jennifer. "What do you stand for? So far the biggest contrast I see is that Kalianna promotes peace while you seem to relish warfare."
"That's a very fair question," said Gavin, "because that's certainly how things appear to be. But appearances can be deceiving. Think back on the scene you witnessed psychically in Open Secret."
Jennifer gave a little gasp. "That's right ~ she seemed to be furious at you ~ and Kirk said that before that, she attacked you directly."
"The promotion of peace," said Gavin, "can be a deadly martial tactic, especially if the war is being fought on fields that are invisible to the onlookers.
"And now, if I may, I'd like to answer both your questions. Kalianna makes no secret of the kind of world she's trying to create, so whatever judgment she may deserve pivots on what that would really be like if it came to pass."
"It would be paradise!" said Jennifer. "All the worst problems of history would be solved ~ it would actually be a change in the human condition, as Kalianna said."
"But would it be an improvement?"
"Of course! How could it not be?"
Aurora looked at Gavin and said, "Can I do the honors on this one?"
"Be my guest," he said with a smile.
Her sparkly demeanor turned deadly serious as she said: "The war is a battle for the soul of humanity. Before the breakdown, the world was turning into one big mechanical hive or ant farm. People were driven by the goal to get wired into the Matrix and stay that way, to be constantly mobiley connected to their networks of fellow ant-bots and robo-bees. And of course they were still plugged into the previous layers of zombie-hypnotic movies, TV, and games. Nobody seemed to notice that this all caused a drastic decline in self-awareness, empathy, autonomy, and all the other qualities that make up the human soul. "
Jennifer was shocked. "It can't be that bad!" she said.
"My mind is blown again," said Kirk. "The only remotely similar thing I ever heard was that cell phones cause cancer or that media immersion shortens your attention span. I didn't know it affected my soul. Well, to be honest, I didn't really know if I had a soul. I was never very religious or spiritual, except for what rubbed off when I was dating Jen."
"Forgive me," said Aurora. "I know that life is still pretty much that way in the parts of the world that are still in the Matrix."
"It's okay," said Jennifer. "I guess we shouldn't take it so personally."
"Yeah," said Kirk, "and if there was some way I could escape from being a wired-in worker-bee, I'd jump at the chance."
"I'd like to get out of the mess too," said Jennifer, "but I've been pinning my hopes on Kalianna to do it ~ and she says that tech is the way."
"So the question," said Aurora, "is the real nature of technological civilization. I think the problem we're faced with is the same as when the characters in the movie tried to explain the nature of the Matrix to the people who were still wholly inside of it. Maybe the only way is to show you what it looks like from the outside. Can we do that, Gavin?"
"Yes, if they're willing." To Kirk and Jennifer he said, "Would you like to take a look through the eye of God?"
They were too astonished to speak. He continued: "It requires an altered state, which is never without some risk, though I feel in this case it'll be minimal."
"But how can we get into a high state on the spot?" said Jennifer. "I usually have to sit in lotus for at least a half-hour before it comes on. . . except in special circumstances, like with Kalianna." She stopped short, remembering how contact with Gavin had delivered her into an exalted state.
His eyes twinkled as he said, "That part will be easy. We just need your free-willed assent."
"Yes," said Jennifer, "I trust you ~ though again, I'm not completely sure why."
"I'm in," said Kirk. "What do we have to do?"
"Let's join hands," said Gavin, "and go with the flow."
4. The Pellucid Viewer
They held hands around the table ~ like a seance, thought Kirk. After a minute or so he noticed a subtle spinning motion, as if the air around them, or perhaps the whole external scene, were revolving. When he glanced at it, though, everything seemed perfectly stable, nor was there a breeze. A few moments later, Jennifer slightly squeezed his hand; he looked at her, and she motioned with her eyes at the table top. Kirk looked down at it, and suddenly shuddered with vertigo: the round surface was a porthole through which he was viewing the ground far below, or so it seemed.
"I think we've established the nexus," said Gavin.
"How are you doing this?" asked Jennifer, incredulous.
"We call it a pellucid viewer," said Aurora. "The scene is coming from a variable observation point in the sky ~ or actually in the metasphere."
"But the scene is in daylight," said Kirk, "and it's night here."
Gavin said, "In the metasphere it's possible to access more than the basic four-dimensional continuum. We can alter the view at will across a broader spectrum ~ time as well as space." The scene shifted as if they were swooping across a vast expanse of territory, panning in and out and varying the angle to the ground. It went through several changes of day and night, and then a complete cycle of the seasons, all within a couple of minutes.
"It's spectacular!" said Jennifer. "And I feel as if we're actually flying and floating in the air."
"In a way we are," said Gavin, "but it would probably be too unsettling to experience it that way, so we retain the overlay of the physical setting around us."
"Whoa!" said Kirk, "you mean somehow we're really up in the sky?"
"Not physically," said Aurora, and tightened her grip on his hand. His fear dissipated, and he felt more grounded.
The view shifted to a stationery point just to the northeast of San Francisco, a couple of thousand feet higher than the top of the TransAmerica Pyramid, which they could see as a landmark in a semi-panoramic view of the entire Bay Area. The focus was much sharper than human eyesight, and they could discern the flow of pedestrians in the streets as well as car, train, and maritime traffic. There was also military activity at certain places, since this formerly paradisiacal piece of geography was now a Green Zone, its felicity secured by a concentration of armed might within heavily-fortified barricades.
"This is amazing," said Jennifer. "I really get a sense of looking through the eyes of God."
"Actually it's 'eye', singular," said Aurora. "God has only one."
"You mean like on the back of the dollar bill?" said Kirk.
"Yes," said Aurora. "But you ain't seen nothin' yet! This is just the 3D view, the portion of reality made of hard matter. We call it the terrasphere."
"That's right," said Gavin. "Should we add a couple of dimensions and show you the metaspheric overlay?"
Kirk tensed for a moment, then said: "I guess that's the whole point, so yeah, I'm ready."
"Me too," said Jennifer.
"Okay," said Gavin, and the view began to change. It was subtle at first: vibrations arose from the people and traffic and buildings, then gradually became visible currents of energy. It coursed through the landscape in a pattern concatenating on a number of focal points, one of which was the blinking red aircraft beacon atop the TransAmerica Pyramid. It began to look as if a giant living creature was sprawled across the city and the surrounding area. Jennifer thought she could make out the shadowy forms of arms and legs ~ and the beacon was at the crown of its head. It became more tangible, and now she could see that its body was actually constructed of the city and towns themselves, and of the objects and people they contained. The streets and railways and shipping lanes were its veins and arteries, implying that the people who traveled in them were its blood cells. Refineries, factories, and other industrial facilities were major bodily organs; the communication network and media were its sensory apparatus.
Jennifer struggled to digest the import of this incredible imagery. Evidently we're all part of something larger than ourselves, she thought ~ something invisible, that we're not aware of. She wondered if the creature were sentient, and if it exerted some form of control over the miniscule humans who were the cells of its mystical body. Was it a God or a beast or a titan, or what?
The view sharpened, and its form became more solid, if not yet pellucid. Jennifer gasped, and cast a frightened look at Kirk. "Do you see it too?" she asked.
"I sure do," he said; "it's a fucking robot!"
5. The Macrobot
It was a gargantuan robot overshadowing the urban landscape, the larger numenal form of the collective life of the Bay Area. "We call it the Macrobot," said Gavin. "It's a real monstrosity, isn't it?"
"To say the least!" said Kirk. "What is it really, and how did it get there?"
"And is it just here?" asked Jennifer. "Or are there robotic monstrosities in other places too?"
"It's a hyperdimensional development of technological civilization," said Gavin. "There are always such forms in the metasphere, but before the modern age they were always human. Well, of course there are also the collective metaforms of the animal species, and they're in pretty bad shape today too, though they haven't turned into robots."
"And to answer your question, Jennifer," said Aurora, "there are macrobotic metaforms all over the Earth, wherever the old tech superstructure endures. They're all part of a larger entity which encompasses the entire planet. Before the breakdown it was all a perfectly integrated creature, a global Macrobot hardwired into society everywhere. It still dominates the world, but now there are some gaping holes in it, which allows life to rehumanize in those areas."
"You mean this thing just sort of grew," said Kirk, "as society became mechanized?"
Gavin said, "Its growth was assisted by certain Über groupings who benefit from the situation."
"How do they benefit?" said Jennifer.
"We'll show you," said Gavin. The point of view in the table top panned into a close-up of the mechanical face perched at the top of the TransAmerica spire. They could now see that it had a pair of giant TV screens for eyes, a speaker-grill for a mouth, satellite dishes for ears, and some kind of filtration device for a nose. It was truly a hideous caricature of a face. "Now we'll do some special effects," said Gavin, "to highlight the operating techniques."
The Macrobot tilted its head and its eyes generated a beam of iridescent light focused downward onto a building that Jennifer recognized as a TV station and general media center. A TV screen formed in the air in the beam just above the top of the building, and on it appeared the image of a popular female singer putting on an act with her band. Her image was magnified to many times lifesize on the huge floating screen. Then another highlight appeared: Jennifer and Kirk could see through the walls of many houses and observe the people watching the show on TV. They saw energy flowing from the bodies and auras of the people into the many small TV screens, which transmitted it in a networked pattern of glowing filaments into the larger screen above the studio. The singer seemed to suck the energy into her body, which expanded in size. It outgrew the screen, and she seemed to be floating in the air as she sang and danced, and kept expanding. She finished the song, took a bow, and the burgeon of energy she had accumulated was now sucked up the beam into the eyes of the Macrobot. The singer shrank back to her previous size in the screen, which then dissolved. The red beacon at the top of the Macrobot's head suddenly seemed to fill with light and expand. It discharged a bolt of energy upward, which sizzled for several moments, then dimmed, and the red beacon returned to its usual state. The pellucid viewer then reverted to the panoramic scene.
"My God!" said Jennifer, "what did we just see?"
"You got a peek behind the slick outer surface of the Matrix," said Gavin, "at what really goes on, all the time."
"You mean," said Jennifer, "that watching TV always sucks people's energy like that?"
"It sure does," said Aurora. "That much is known even to the mundane critics of Electrotopia, as we call it: TV and other media put people into a passive, trance-like state, makes them susceptible to suggestion, and drains their energy. What the researchers don't know, of course, is what happens to that energy."
"If I can make any sense out of what we saw," said Kirk, "the energy evidently goes to the media performers. But I'm not sure how literally to take it, or what the rest of it meant. Just what exactly is this invisible continuum where it all happened?"
"It really is an extension of the space-time continuum," said Gavin. "You could call it the fifth dimension. We also call it the metasphere, or the numenal realm."
"Is it like the astral realm?" asked Jennifer.
"The astral is one layer of it," said Gavin, "the next finer density after hard matter. There are lots more beyond that, but they're not relevant to the task at hand. This is just the introductory demo, and time is short."
Kirk said, "Why did the singer seem to get bigger when she absorbed the energy of her viewers and fans?"
"For the same reason your stomach gets bigger when you eat food," said Gavin. "She wasn't really floating above the building, but you literally saw her astral body grow as she took in that sustenance."
"But then the Macrobot evidently demanded its due," said Jennifer.
"Right, you got it!" said Aurora. "Media stars are a big part of the aristocracy that serves the Macrobot, whether they're consciously aware of it or not. And it always siphons off the major portion of their spoils."
"And when the energy shot up to the sky from the top of the Macrobot's head," said Jennifer, "was it going to the Übers, like you said?"
"Yes," said Gavin. "In fact that's one of the major transmission-nodes on the planet, since it's directly connected with the Silicon Valley complex farther south in the Green Zone."
"Is that why the building is shaped like a pyramid?"
"Yep," said Aurora, "They built it that way on purpose."
"But," said Kirk, "just who and what and where are these mysterious Übers who are feasting on our vital juices? Okay, so they're in the 'metasphere', but is that anything like outer space?"
Gavin and Aurora exchanged an amused look. Then he said, "Some of them are not native to Earth."
"So then they're extraterrestrials?" said Kirk.
"More like Überterrestrials," said Aurora with a grin.
"What's the difference?"
"I'm afraid that would take too long to explain right now," said Gavin. "But if you're interested, we can all get together another time."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "I'm definitely interested in pursuing this. But there's one big thing that bothers me: the media say that you're white separatists, or supremacists. What's that all about?"
"There's a big difference between those two generalizations," said Gavin. "Do you see it?"
"Now that you mention it," said Kirk, "yeah, I can see how a bunch of people who just wanted to be left alone by other kinds of people would definitely be a whole 'nother case than people who thought they were superior to everyone else, and even wanted to rule over them."
"Okay," said Jennifer, "I can see that too, but still, why would you even want to be separate? As far as I can imagine, the only motives for that would be racist."
Gavin said, "It used to be possible for people to coexist geographically without compromising their collective spiritual integrity. This is no longer possible in today's world, so we have to resort to geographical separation just to have any sustainable boundary at all."
"I don't get what you mean by 'collective spiritual integrity'," said Jennifer.
"Our white soul," said Aurora. "Every race has a collective soul. So do other kinds of human groupings, but race is the most basic."
"I never heard of anything like that at all," said Kirk; "but as I said, I was hardly even clear on the concept of an individual soul."
"I actually have heard of something that might be similar to that," said Jennifer. "There's a school in the East Bay that teaches a path centered on what they call the indigenous mind. The idea is to trace your ancestors back to the time when they lived as a bonded clan or community, in touch with nature and their own collective identity. Groups of people of the same ethnicity get together and research the knowledge and folkways of their tribe or culture, and even perform the ancient rituals. They say that this evokes 'ancestral remembrance'."
"That's it!" said Aurora, "that's exactly what we've done. We tapped into the indigenous mind of the white race, and remembered our collective origin."
"Origin?" said Kirk. "You mean you somehow remembered the process of evolution?"
"We discovered that the white race didn't evolve on Earth," said Gavin. "Our ancestors came from the heavens."
"That sounds pretty far out, even for me," said Jennifer. "You mean they came in a starship? They were ancient astronauts?"
"Aha," said Kirk, "I'll bet they were Überterrestrials."
"Right!" said Gavin. "They didn't need a spaceship because the world they came from wasn't a physical planet. It was a spiritually exalted sphere called Thule."
"And that's where you got the name of your earthly country, or colony, or whatever?" asked Jennifer.
"Yes," said Aurora, "Thule is actually our spiritual homeland. The original terrestrial homeland was a colony of Thule, and that's how we think of our present territories."
Jennifer and Kirk digested this surprising information for a couple of moments. Then she said, "So when the races get mixed, like they are today, it somehow diminishes the white collective soul, which came from Thule?"
"Yes," said Gavin, "that's a very astute analysis. You're picking up the gist of it very quickly."
"That doesn't mean I agree with the analysis. I'm just working it out logically."
Kirk said, "I still don't get how race relates to spiritual stuff, and even if we're descended from Überterrestrials, I don't see what that has to do with a collective soul."
"Maybe it's time for another pellucid view," said Aurora.
"I agree, said Gavin." They had relaxed and broken hand contact, but the table top still held the panoramic image of the Bay Area. "Should we go for it?"
"Oh, yes!" said Jennifer.
"I'm into it too," said Kirk. "It just blows me away how you can do that without tech." He bent down for a moment and looked under the table. Jennifer laughed.
"Okay," said Gavin, "let's join hands again." They did, and the view began to change. It seemed as if they were flying north. Marin was on their left and the Bay on their right; then both fell away as Sonoma County appeared below them. Gavin said, "That's Petaluma to the west and the town of Sonoma to the east. And now we're over the Valley of the Moon."
"Home sweet home!" said Aurora.
The view swooped low, and they glided over an area of crops, cows, homes, and barns, with people at work on the land. Beyond a line of trees, a large contingent of uniformed men were engaged in military maneuvers, obviously a training exercise. On a road they could see trucks loaded with produce interspersed with SUVs and well-armed Humvees.
"This is Thule?" asked Jennifer.
"This settlement," said Aurora, "is named Soul Haven. I was born here, and Gavin and I were both raised here."
"So it goes back to before the blowout?" said Kirk.
"It's been in the family since the 1960s," said Gavin. "My mother was born here too."
The viewpoint now hovered over the area, and expanded so that they could see some larger buildings nearby, and the city of Santa Rosa a little farther north. They were startled when five fighter jets flew by in tight formation, armed with missiles. They arced around and landed at the Sonoma County Airport, just beyond Santa Rosa.
Kirk said, "How do you manage to sustain your own country with all that firepower around? I mean, don't those jets harass you and bomb you?"
"No," said Gavin, "because they're ours."
Kirk and Jennifer were speechless in astonishment. Gavin continued, "In a long, grueling battle about ten years ago, we managed to secure the airport. Then we enlarged it for our air force. It's all still too small by international standards, but it's growing, and we have other bases in our northwest territories, all the way up through British Columbia."
"This is unbelievable!" said Jennifer. "And we never hear about it on the news. They make it seem like it's just ragtag bands of terrorists and such."
"But how do you train the pilots and everything?" said Kirk.
"A lot of military personnel have defected to Thule," said Gavin, "including a fair number of high-ranking officers. So those pilots were all trained at Colorado Springs."
"Is Santa Rosa in your territory too?" said Jennifer.
"No. Santa Rosa is a lot like Baghdad after the Empire invaded Iraq in 2003. What's left of the old peace-keeping forces is like an occupying army constantly besieged by many factions who are hostile to it and also fight among themselves. Aztlan claims the city as the capital of the northern part of Alta California, but the Norteños are more powerful and supply most of their weapons. The black street gangs were no match for them until the Black Panthers went through a resurgence, and are now a big presence."
"Damn, I'd sure hate to live there!" said Kirk.
"That's what most of the white people decided," said Aurora, "and lots of them came over to us for refuge. Our population more than doubled within a few years. Eventually a lot of them moved to our northern provinces, where there's more space. But of course the same thing is happening in cities outside the Green Zones all over the continent."
In a voice resonant with shock and awe, Jennifer said: "Civilization is breaking down."
"The Matrix is unraveling," said Gavin; "the Empire is crumbling. And some of us are very glad."
"Now let's take a look at the metasphere again," said Gavin. The viewpoint ascended until they were observing Soul Haven and the surrounding area at an angle perhaps a thousand feet up. Now once again they could begin to see the vibrations rising up from the people and the landscape ~ and feel them too: it gave Jennifer goosebumps and sent a shiver up Kirk's spine. Once again the form of a giant living creature began to appear over the scene, but as it coalesced they could see that it was completely organic and human.
The figure clarified into the shape of a man ~ and a magnificent man he was. He glowed with energy ~ there was a halo around his head and a shimmering nimbus around his whole body. At first they thought he was clothed simply in light, but as his form became completely tangible they saw that he wore a breechclout. He was clean shaven with short blond hair and silvery eyes that were certainly pellucid. He had a look on his face of deep compassion, and his radiance transmitted to them a sense of benevolence and a feeling of well being. "He's a God," said Jennifer.
"That's right," said Gavin, "or that's certainly one of many accurate ways to describe him."
"How would you describe him?" asked Kirk."
"He is surely a God to us," said Aurora, "but as you can see by the way his form interpenetrates and interacts with the people and the land and their activity, he's not separate from us. We're all a part of him, members of his mystical body. Our favorite way to describe the whole numenon is that it's our Godbody."
"It sounds like what Christians believe about their collective relationship with Jesus," said Jennifer. "Is this being like Christ?"
"In a sense he is Christ," said Gavin, "but in a special way that Christians wouldn't agree with ~ because he's also Krishna, and certain other deities of the ancient Thulean pantheons."
"By 'Thulean'," said Kirk, "do you mean the various branches of the white race?"
"Yes. What you're looking at is the latest embodiment of the white collective soul."
Kirk and Jennifer gave a simultaneous gasp of realization. Gavin continued: "The white soul went through some terrible trials in the twentieth century, and suffered the backlash from hundreds of years of karma. Kalianna nailed it when she said that the 1999 eclipse marked 'the end of the white man's world' ~ but the obvious implication is that this was then the same being, the same collective soul, that was reborn in the planetary alignment of May 2000."
"Yow," said Kirk, "that does seem to have a sort of archetypal consistency to it. I mean, all this stuff still seems pretty far out and speculative to me, but I see the point."
"You can see the reality," said Gavin, beckoning with his head toward the Godlike being. "This is RamaSpirit ~ born in the sign of Aries on 5-2K."
Jennifer was astounded. She said, "I never doubted the existence of spiritual beings like this ~ in fact it's a confirmation of some of my deepest beliefs and dreams. But the fact that it's the opposite of what Kalianna says about it just throws me for a loop."
"Yes," said Gavin, "you're caught on the horns of a spiritual conflict not of your own making."
"Please help me to understand," she said. "How is this being a manifestation of Aries?"
Aurora looked at Gavin with a mischievous grin and said, "Speaking of horns. . . ."
"Ah!" he said. "Okay, watch."
On the head of the giant man there appeared what looked like a pair of buds. In a moment they sprouted and curled outwards, and there stood the man wearing the horns of a ram, sparkling with golden highlights in the Sun.
"Well, that beats Wolverine's claws," said Kirk.
"Is this also a kind of special effect?"
"It's more than that," said Gavin. "We peeled back another layer of astral substance to show you something that's really there. Or more accurately, RamaSpirit can manifest at will different aspects of his basic Godform. But no matter how you look at it, he really is the Ram of Aries."
"I'm impressed," said Jennifer; "in fact, I feel strangely moved by this whole spectacle. But Kalianna says there's a new Avatar connected with the 5-2K alignment, and claims that she's it: a physical incarnation of whatever divine force or being came into the world at that time. Of course she would be the Taurean Avatar. So on your side, do you believe that there's literally a Ram Avatar?"
"He's on our side, all right," said Aurora with a smile. "He's proven that many times and in many ways, spiritually, physically, and in the heat of battle. Without him we'd probably all be dead or in a Matrix prison somewhere."
"Whoa, that sounds pretty literal to me!" said Kirk. "What's the name of this Über-hero?"
Aurora glanced at Gavin, then said: "We call him Ramar."
"Oh!" said Jennifer, "that's what the news announcer said was the name of the leader of the terrorists. . . er, I mean. . . ."
"It's okay, said Gavin," "we've run that one through already. But yes, Ramar is our leader and spiritual teacher, our Acarya and Murshid all rolled into one."
"Huh?" said Kirk.
"Those are the Hindu and Sufi words for 'guru'," said Jennifer.
"Gee, you're very well versed," said Aurora.
"Thanks," she replied. "But then my next question is, how does the incarnate Avatar relate to this Godbody we're looking at? Is it like an outgrowth of his astral body or something?"
"That's not a bad hypothesis," said Gavin, "and there's definitely a connection like that. But there's more to it. A human being who reaches the heights of attainment, an Avatar like Christ or Krishna, can merge with the living spirit of a people in such a way as to become a literal deity to them, or part of a larger pantheon ~ he can join the existing family of Gods and Goddesses. But even in the absence of such Avatars, or new candidates for the job, a group of humans that's bonded by blood or spirit or both always manifests an entity similar to this."
"So it's like the indigenous mind," said Jennifer.
"Right," said Aurora, "but as you can see, it's more than just a mind ~ it's a complete spiritual being."
"Our generic name for it," said Gavin, "is 'metazon', short for meta-zoan: a metaphysical life-form."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "it makes sense. And I guess in the case of more primitive groups and tribes of people, their metazons woudn't necessarily be Gods like this one ~ they'd appear in whatever form reflected the collective soul."
"You're right on top of it again," said Gavin. "Would you like to see more?"
"What, more metazons?"
"Yes, there are always lots of them around. The metasphere really got crazy in postmodern times ~ all kinds of bizarre new life-forms sprang up from the impact of technology and media on the living substance of human souls. Now some of the old metazons are having a resurgence, but they've changed in strange ways ~ they've interbred with the Macrobot."
8. Metazons, Monsters, and Demigods
They turned their attention back to the viewer, and saw RamaSpirit raise his arms. His visage changed to that of a guardian on the alert for danger. Energy radiated from his hands, generating a field of energy that encompassed the Thulean territory. The shape of this protective shield was irregular, and beyond its boundaries were dark shapes in a strange array of human and semi-human forms. Many had distinctly Hispanic features, while others looked like stylized Mayan or Inca deities and demons. Others resembled icons of Jesus, Mary, and Catholic saints, but with dark skin and distorted forms. There were monstrous beings clearly bent on destruction, and some of them harried the borders they shared with other metazons. Battles and skirmishes broke out, in which victorious entities usually ate the losers.
Then a larger being came tromping through the field of conflict. It looked like a gruesome alien warrior from a combat video game. It had bright red skin and scales, and weapons growing right out of its partly-robotic body. It laid waste the smaller creatures, and ate them or forced their obeisance. "What the hell is that thing?" asked Kirk.
"The Norteño metazon," said Gavin."
"What about the rest of them?" asked Jennifer. "What is this whole congeries of weird-looking beings?"
"This," said Gavin, "is a pellucid view of Latin America. It would look very similar all the way down to Cape Horn. The main difference is that in the areas that remain semi-civilized, there's still a strong Macrobotic superstructure, and less gratuitous violence."
"But," said Jennifer, "why is it so different from your Thule metazon?"
"It's the outcome of an indiscriminate mix of races, religions, and cultures, compounded by the overall degenerate trend of civilization, plus certain metapolitical factors unique to the region."
"Look," said Kirk, "something else is happening."
Another metazon had ventured into the immediate area from the direction of Santa Rosa, and engaged the action in a variety of ways, sometimes fighting and sometimes intermingling. It was also clearly of a Latino nature, but had a different cast to it: its martial action seemed more organized, its internal dynamic more orderly, but perhaps by the same token it was also more robotic and mechanical. "It's Aztlan," said Aurora. "They often make forays into the surrounding turf for strategic reasons, like recruiting, drug and weapons trafficking, and just trying to keep a high profile."
Suddenly their attention was drawn by an individual presence within the Aztlan metazon. It was larger than its comrades, and was completely human in appearance ~ it had the form of a man of regal bearing. They felt a positive radiance from his aura, in striking contrast with the generally noxious throng around him. "Who is that?" asked Jennifer.
"Emeliano Zapata," said Gavin, "the Mexican revolutionary hero. The Aztlanistas idolize him, and for good reason: he was a man with a lot of true nobility in his character, and this carried over to his life in the metasphere. As you can see, his astral body has expanded. He's a veritable demigod."
"Damn," said Kirk, "I'm astounded that all this stuff is happening in a place that I never believed existed, namely anywhere beyond the good ol' material world. In fact I'm still not sure I believe it ~ I'll have to wait to see if this is just some kind of trip that I'll come down from afterwards."
"Man, some people are just too skeptical for their own good!" said Jennifer. "To me, seeing is believing. But I admit I have a million questions about this whole experience."
"We'll have to finish up soon," said Gavin. "We can talk about when to meet again, but let me just add the technical point that the metasphere is actually composed of a finer density of matter."
"Yes, I understand that perfectly," said Jennifer.
Gavin and Aurora squeezed the hands of Kirk and Jennifer, then released them and relaxed back into their seats. There was a sense of collective exhalation, and the unearthly scene in the pellucid viewer melted back into a mundane table top.