Part III: Dharmalove
1. Security Precautions
Jennifer got up from her seat and peered past the bushes at the sidewalk in front of Open Secret. The others heard a man's voice, then her reply: "Oh, it's okay, officer ~ my friends and I are just having a private chat." She returned to the table and said, "It's deserted except for the guards. So the Kirtan is still going on."
"Really?" said Kirk. He looked at his watch and said, "My God, we've been here barely forty minutes. It seemed like hours ~ years ~ centuries."
"We warned you about the altered state," said Gavin.
"Oh, I'm not complaining," said Kirk. "What an incredible experience!"
"Can we talk about it more right now?" asked Jennifer.
"Unfortunately, no," said Gavin. "We have urgent business back in Soul Haven."
"Okay, so when would you like to get together again? I'd be happy to invite you to my place ~ it's right up the street."
"That's kind of you," said Aurora, "but we were hoping you both might want to come up and visit us. That way you could meet the rest of the family, and see in person what you already scoped out from above through the viewer."
Jennifer sucked in a fearful breath. Kirk saw her distress and said, "I'd honestly love to do that, but we both have, er, trepidations about going to Sonoma County."
"That's perfectly understandable," said Gavin, "it's hazardous turf up our way. But of course we'll send you an escort, like we do for our other friends who visit us from the Green Zone."
"Oh," said Jennifer, "that sounds good!"
"We have a set protocol," said Gavin. He took a card from his wallet and handed it to Kirk. "This is an official U.S. Government pass to visit friends or relatives in Sonoma County. It's not legally required, but it makes things a lot easier at the Marin checkpoint. Then you can just pull into the secure parking lot on the Sonoma side, and our folks will be there waiting for you. You'll have the option to leave your car there and ride with them, or drive in convoy with their vehicle ~ or possibly two vehicles, depending on the day's scouting reports of what might be going on in the vicinity."
"It still sounds kind of scary," said Jennifer, "but I'm willing to go for it."
"Hurray!" said Aurora. "I can hardly wait to have you there and show you around an' everything. There's some folks there I just know you're gonna love."
This effusive response reminded Jennifer of her nascent feelings for Gavin, which she was not able to sort out on the spot. She wished she could be alone with him just for a couple of minutes. She glanced at him and found herself in eye contact. He said, "There's another security measure we can take, but it's strictly for last-ditch emergency situations. Would you be interested in something like that?"
"Wow, I sure would!"
"Okay. Do you have a smart phone?"
"Yes," she said, and took it out of her purse.
"I can give you an app," said Gavin, "which will enable you to signal for help. The caveat is that it activates such a dire protocol that there are always consequences from its use ~ not for you, necessarily, but for us."
"Sounds heavy," said Kirk. "Are you sure it's a good idea?"
"As long as you and Jennifer understand this aspect of it, and hold it in reserve only for possible life-or-death circumstances, it'll be well within the Dharma. But nothing like that will arise in our usual procedure of meeting and escorting people from the checkpoint. It's only a hedge against the most unlikely probabilities."
"And to make me feel better," said Jen. "Right?"
Gavin gave her a heart-warming smile and said, "Of course."
"I accept," she said, "and I really appreciate your concern and willingness to do this. Can we download the app online?"
"No. I'll have to upload it to your phone from a special device, which by good luck I brought with me. It's in our truck, parked right around the corner. Would you like to stroll over there with me?"
"Why, sure!" she said. Then suddenly she realized that this whole conversation had occurred after she had felt an urge to be alone with Gavin. Gee, it's almost like he read my mind, she thought.
2. Behold the Man
Gavin and Jennifer stepped from the alcove and found that this time there was a smattering of people in front of Open Secret. They walked over and saw that the double door was wide open, though the metal detector was still set up. They could hear chanting from inside ~ Kirtan was still in progress. "Gee, it's going on a long time," said Jen.
A woman said to her, "Kalianna had to take a break after the Q&A ~ she was gone over half an hour."
Jennifer thanked her, then said to Gavin: "That explains it ~ she was offstage longer than she expected." The chanting suddenly got louder, an occurrence Jen recognized from her past participation in it ~ everyone was getting swept up into ecstatic egoloss. She could feel it from here, sweet tendrils of joy, the Kali Loka beckoning her, the surrounding space brightening with ethereal light.
She felt a tap on her arm, and the ambience vanished ~ she was standing on a dark street next to Gavin. "Oops," she said, "I guess I was getting into the Kirtan."
"Perhaps you'd like to go inside," he said.
"You mean with you?"
"No. As I said, Aurora and I have to be getting on home."
"Yes, of course. What was I thinking? Let's go to your truck ~ I'm sorry to be delaying things."
"It's okay," he said with a smile; "it's back that way." They went past the alcove again, and Jennifer noticed that Kirk and Aurora were absorbed in a lively conversation. They continued down the block and turned onto Third Street, which looked empty and foreboding to Jennifer. Gavin put his arm through hers, saying, "Is this okay?"
"Yes, by all means!" she said. Now as they walked she felt enveloped by a positive radiance ~ in fact she could see traces of color in Gavin's aura, each hue with a distinct feeling-tone. Yow, she thought, one touch of this dude and I'm getting psychic again!
"Here we are," said Gavin. His "truck" turned out to be a huge SUV. Jen could see that it was armored, though the plates were contoured over the body and covered with an elegantly detailed paint job. As he manually unlocked the passenger door, she noticed three men hanging out a short ways up the street, and caught a pungent whiff of some substance she could not identify. The men were looking at them, and talking in muffled voices. Gavin saw them as he opened the door. He took a deep breath and focused his eyes upward, then exhaled. With the next breath he drew himself up and thrust out his shoulders. This caused a sphere of light to emanate from his body and expand. The nimbus spread down the street, and when it encompassed the men they seemed to freeze wide-eyed, like deer in headlights. The next moment they began to back away, then turned around and walked swiftly in the opposite direction. One of them stumbled slightly as they turned the corner and disappeared. The light gradually faded out.
"Wow," said Jennifer, "I can see that nobody messes with you!" He lifted his eyebrows in an amused questioning look, as if he couldn't imagine what she was talking about. He gestured toward the passenger seat, but suddenly seemed to be taken aback. Something new flamed in his eyes. She didn't recognize what it was until he looked her up and down, slowly and intently.
She felt abashed and ravished, naked and exposed; she felt as if a blush had gone down her entire body along the path of his glance. And for the first time in her life, she reflexively tried to cover herself from a man's gaze. In the tangled uprush flooding her mind, one absurd thought rose to the surface: My God, how did I suddenly get so modest?
"You're very beautiful," said Gavin.
How many times had she heard these words from a man? It seemed like a thousand times, a million times. But now she was stupefied to realize that she didn't know what to say in response. Replies she had made in the past cascaded through her mind: "Yes, I know." "How nice of you to notice." "You're pretty good-lookin' yourself, dude." "Yep, and I'm hot to trot ~ how about you?" "Yep, but it's not gonna do any good for the likes of you." "Flake off, creep!" And many was the time she had replied with deathly silence or a haughty stare.
At last she grasped that not a single item in her repertoire fit this incredible moment. She released her grip on something deep in her viscera, then lowered her eyes and said in a soft voice: "Thank you." And she felt herself blushing again.
Gavin said, "I wonder if you feel a mutual attraction for me?"
Again she was speechless. It seemed that he could read her so well, perhaps her very thoughts and certainly her feelings ~ she felt like an open book to him. Surely he sensed her desire for him, yet he insisted on a verbal response that seemed redundant and foolish. Feeling as if she were trapped in a play and had to act the part, she stammered: "Y-y-yes, I do."
She nervously closed her eyes, expecting him to make a move ~ to touch her, to caress her, to initiate something. Nothing happened. She opened her eyes and saw him standing before her with open arms ~ not wide open, but at a downward angle. He was looking at her with endearment, with luscious invitation, but evidently he wanted her to take the first step, to come into his arms of her own accord. Of my own free will, she thought almost ruefully. Even his inviting gesture was ambivalent ~ he could be just silently saying "look at me". There popped into her mind a saying she had read somewhere, perhaps in college: "Behold the man." She couldn't remember the text in which this statement had appeared ~ was it ancient history? It also seemed important to place the man of whom it was said: her mind raced madly trying to remember, but in vain.
It became pellucidly clear to her heightened senses that Gavin was radiating a force of erotic attraction, belying his stolid stubborness ~ he truly wanted her to come into his arms. Yet she had to be the one to take the step. She felt herself on the edge of a precipice: despite the intensity of her own desire, she had the power to say no, to step back, to decline. But in the pith of her marrow she knew with absolute certainty that once she had entered his embrace, there would be no turning back.
3. The Art of Love
After Gavin and Jennifer left the table in the little alcove, Kirk looked at Aurora and went through an inner somersault at realizing that he was now alone with this incredibly attractive young woman. His moment of groping uncertainty was instantly alleviated by her bright, warm smile. She said, "Did you get grounded okay from all that pellucid viewing? I mean, it's kind of like a roller coaster ride in the metasphere."
Kirk relaxed from whatever residual tension he might've felt, and said, "Oh yeah, I feel fine. How about you?"
"Well, I'm used to it. I've done it a lot, even sometimes without a viewer."
"What, you mean you actually fly in the metasphere somehow? Like. . . like astral projection?"
Her laugh was so ingenuous that Kirk felt enchanted. She said, "That's the classic term for it."
"Wow. Is it hard to learn to do that?"
"I have good teachers."
Kirk was feeling a little out of his depth in this arcane subject-matter. He said, "This Thule place where you live sounds more and more amazing. What do you do there yourself?"
"Oh, lots of stuff. I'm always busy, like everybody else. Sometimes it's hard to keep up, but we always find time to unwind together, and then it really gets good."
"Sounds cool. But I meant, like, what do you do in particular ~ do you have a job or career?"
"Yes. I practice the art of love."
For a moment Kirk's mind could make no sense of what he had just heard. When the meaning dawned and the implications unfolded, he was too flabbergasted to say anything but "Really?"
She must've sensed his perplexity because she said, "For us it's a completely honorable profession, like a doctor, for instance. And in fact it involves a lot of deep healing and therapy."
"I see," said Kirk, still at a loss for words. But he could almost recall something that seemed to fit the description she had given, something obscure, perhaps from classical studies. And then he had it. "So you're like... a hetaera?"
"Wow," she said, her features breaking out in sheer delight, "that's so cool that you know one of the words for it! Hardly anybody does out here in the Matrix. Usually they only know the dirty words. But yes, the hetaerae were the love-priestesses of ancient Greece."
Kirk felt almost heroic, but he was still cautious. He said, "And is that actually the word you use for it?"
"Only occasionally. Mostly we use the Hindu word Shakti."
"Ah ~ I think I've heard that from Jen. A little while ago she was talking about Shaktipat."
"Yes, a good Shakti can always give her lovers Shaktipat. It's a divine service, which the word conveys ~ Shakti is the wife of the God Shiva, and in some branches of Hinduism she's the first and most primordial Goddess, who co-created the world with her husband."
"I didn't know that," said Kirk. "So, um, how did you get into being a Shakti?"
"I was born into it, like most true Shaktis. The requirements have a big genetic component ~ or metagenetic, as we say, because we know that the genes simply imprint the dharma of the soul."
"Yow, this is kind of mind-blowing. What do you have to be born with in order to become a Shakti?"
"It's pretty specific: a strong combination of Vril, which I mentioned before, and yin."
"Huh! It's almost starting to make sense to me, even though it's like a whole new language. So you have to be a highly-charged gal who is very feminine, and. . . um. . . ."
"Right, that's what I was thinking, I just wasn't sure how to put it."
"That's very good ~ you got it, you worked it all out!" After a pause she said, "How about you ~ what do you do?"
"Oh, just the most humdrum, ordinary job on Earth ~ an IT engineer."
"Sounds like you're not happy with it."
"It would be okay if it weren't for all the rest of the crap going on in the world, like the breakdown of civilization, of which we just got a Godseye view, and. . . well. . . ."
"Are you in a relationship? I thought maybe you and Jennifer were, but you spoke of it in the past tense."
"You're very attentive."
"It's part of my spiritual discipline ~ and my art."
Kirk digested this for a moment, and became more attentive himself. He drank in Aurora's presence and appearance, letting the impressions sink in. She was auburn-blonde and rosy-cheeked with full lips and no apparent make-up. Her twinkling eyes were green as the sea and twice as deep. She had generous breasts modestly displayed in a loose patterned blouse; she had a knee-length skirt, flat shoes, and bare legs. His mindful attention rewarded him with an erotic rush, and the first tingle of an erection. "No, I'm not in a relationship," he said.
"Would you like to be? I mean, is that part of the reason why you're unhappy?"
Whoa!, he thought, this gal doesn't beat around the bush! "Well, um, yeah ~ but why are you asking?"
"Things are crazy-bad in the Matrix for everybody, but especially so for men. Most guys don't even realize how unnatural the relationship between the sexes has become. I'll bet if you spent some time with us in Thule it would open your eyes and maybe give you a fresh approach to love and sexual relating."
Kirk was bewildered. He said, "I guess you're right about the first part, because I hardly even know what you're talking about. Well, I've studied history, so I know a little about how it used to be, but it doesn't seem like it was very good for anyone, men or women."
"In Thule we don't live in the past," she said, "and are not resurrecting the old version of sexual pathology ~ but we've liberated ourselves from the new version, which is even worse."
"All right, you've got me really curious, and I'm looking forward to visiting your place."
"Would you like to get a little preview?"
"Sure ~ what have you got in mind?"
She slid her chair next to his, put her hands on his shoulders, and looked into his eyes. He was pleasantly astonished, and there could be no mistaking what he saw in her soulful gaze. He instinctively reached out and caressed her, and felt as if an electrical circuit had closed ~ his whole body was awash in erotic sensation. She responded fluidly, and they hugged and nuzzled. The next moment his mouth was on hers, and they kissed.
4. The Microcosmic Orbit
Gavin stood before Jennifer with open arms, barely a step away. She discovered in herself an unwavering will to take that step, and did. She felt it to be a footfall onto the far turf of a different world, and another absurd thought crossed her mind: One small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind. And then she was in his arms.
He embraced her, and she felt like she was being enfolded by God or Leviathan, a man of steel with a delicate touch, an iron vise nicely padded with feather-down. Her own arms closed around him of their own accord, and traveled up and down his torso, worming their way under his shirt and gliding around to his chest. She tried to kiss his lips but he turned them away, so she sucked on his cheeks and neck and earlobes like a baby at the breast, drinking a mysterious substance that thrilled her like nectar or amaranth.
She felt his hands stroking her back like a harpsichord, each new touch eliciting distinct notes of delight. With his left hand he took hold of her hair at the nape of her neck and pulled her head back slightly, forcing her to look up into his eyes. With his right hand he grabbed hold of a mound of her left nether cheek, gripping it firmly through the thin designer denim. With both arms he held her tight against him; she felt seamlessly bound like a bug wrapped by a spider in its webbing, utterly helpless, at his mercy.
She felt a finger press turgidly upon the base of her spine, and now at last he brought his lips to hers. The first flickering kisses were exquisite, like a butterfly stroking her rose petals. Then his tongue penetrated her mouth like a plug into a socket, sending currents of ecstasy rippling into her and cascading down through her body. Her own tongue played with his, twining around and snuggling together, generating incredible pleasure.
She was so deeply in bliss that some barely-conscious part of her mind marveled that all this was merely a hug and a kiss ~ it was better than even the best acts of intercourse she had had in the past. And then something happened that was totally beyond anything she had ever experienced. A pulse radiated from the finger at the base of her spine, curled around her bottom, came up the front of her body, and reached her vagina, where a photon of bliss exploded, driving her wild. If she hadn't been restrained in the adamant bonds of his body-lock, she would've reflexively flailed about and probably fallen over. She had barely recovered from the burst when the pulse moved on up her frontal axis, producing another convulsive charge at each chakra, with a flavor of energy according to its nature. It rose until it connected with his tongue in her mouth, expanded for a luscious moment to fill her head, then traveled down her spine, again triggering each energy-center like a firecracker. When it completed the circuit with his finger at her base chakra, Heaven and Earth erupted, time and space turned inside out, the Sun exploded, and she was gone.
A heartbeat later, incredibly, she was back ~ but she was no longer Jennifer. She was a radiant latticework of pure energy, encompassing the circuit of force which continued to pulse around and around from her north to her nether pole, a grand celestial
orbit in the microcosm of her own body. The ineluctable pulse began to emit a white light which grew in brilliance until everything vanished in its glow. In this way the being that had once been Jennifer attained the ultimate illumination, becoming one with its own non-being. Now even the ecstasy paled and faded into a sphere of limitless magnitude, a consciousness with a Godlike indifference to all and everything. Then this, too, passed away, and nothing was left but a vestige of an echo of a lost chord that sounded something like OM.
5. When a Rose Is a Rose and More
As Kirk kissed Aurora, he seemed to be imbibing a sweet, tingling essence from her lips; maybe it's Vril, he thought. It trickled down inside him until it reached his genitals, or more accurately his sex chakra. Suddenly something expanded ~ physically it was his phallus, which sprang up to its full height faster than he ever imagined possible. But it seemed like it was merely a part of a larger erection, as if something subtle but potent was rising up along a central axis within his torso. This mysterious inner lingam pulsed and throbbed as he sucked the Vril from Aurora's mouth. As it rose it stirred up incredible sensations, triggering pleasure admixed with pain, and joy with sorrow. When it reached his navel he felt a great fear ~ he felt terrified that some vital organ might rupture and he would die. The column of energy seemed to encompass this fear and cover it with a substance that dulled it, like an oyster coating a harmful particle with layers of pearly mucous. Then it continued to rise.
When it reached his heart he felt another unaccustomed sensation, but this one was very pleasant ~ and it soon became glorious. It expanded beyond his boundaries into a glow that enveloped him and Aurora. It was generating a magnetic pull between them, drawing them closer until their bodies actually seemed to merge into each other. The bliss of this mystical union was the most wonderful thing he had ever felt ~ at least since. . . since when? And with whom?
Suddenly he identified the feeling ~ it was love. The realization overwhelmed him, like the dawning of a hundred suns. He had become one with this woman ~ and he loved her, he loved her!
But there was more. The throbbing interior lingam advanced up to his throat, where it encountered another obstacle, a tense knot which began to vibrate with a painful grating sensation. But then the tip of the rod broke through the dense mass, and he felt it sharding away till it was gone. He had an urge to shout with joy or to sing, but his mouth was still filled with Aurora.
The shaft of power rose right up into his head. When it reached the center of his brain he began to see heavenly vistas stretching away to the horizon, but these quickly faded as the lingam made a final thrust upward. Now it seemed like a hollow tube, and inside it was a filament that connected his heart with the top of his head. It glowed incandescently as a burst of energy rose to his crown and went nova, exploding slowly into a boundless sphere of pure white light that somehow contained all that is, was, and ever shall be. And the light was merely the visual aspect of the substance of the sphere, which was all-embracing, everlasting, deliriously blissful love.
After what seemed like an eon, the divine unity fissured in two. Kirk opened his eyes and found that Aurora had gently broken the kiss and was looking at him with mirror-like eyes behind which the rapture of the love still glowed. She sat back and their arms slid apart with a last lingering caress. Little sparks of light flickered in the space that opened between them.
It seemed impossible to express the enormity of what had just happened in merely human words ~ and perhaps it was unnecessary, because Kirk could sense the lovelight still surrounding and flowing through both of them, perfectly shared and truly mutual. He could almost read her thoughts, and he could surely read her feelings ~ they two were in love.
It was Aurora who finally breached the heady silence. "We call it Dharmalove," she said.
It took a few moments for Kirk's cognitive mind to re-engage. He wasn't sure what the word meant, or how love could be qualified. He said, "A rose by any other name."
Aurora laughed in her delightful girlish way. "I love how you do that," she said ~ "always the perfect mot for any occasion." He flushed with prideful affection. She continued: "But how do I love thee ~ and thee me? Do we get into a relationship after one kiss?"
His head spun from the implications. "Yow, that whole trip was just a kiss ~ one kiss! And I feel like we went to the ends of the universe and back. And that we've been in love forever, even though we've just met. Because it's, like, the love of God. It's so erotic, but it's totally divine and blessed."
"That's it ~ you did it again ~ that's Dharmalove!"
"The exact definition: sacred sexual love."
6. Touched by a God
A disembodied consciousness slowly coalesced into form, and attained an initial inkling of self-awareness. The first thing it realized was that it was yin, and it remembered that it had coupled with yang and gone back to the state of cosmic non-differentiation. Now they must be fissuring apart again, and the yin being struggled to regain a foothold in the world of form. She felt like a baby getting reborn from the womb of the universe, cradled in nurturing arms. Yes, she could feel her body now, and it was being lifted up gently, carefully, and set upon a seat that was leathery-soft. The arms withdrew, she heard a soft "thunk", and feared that she had been left alone. But the arms returned on the other side of her body, one around her shoulders and the other stroking her face. She felt comforted, protected, and loved.
The woman opened her eyes and remembered that she was Jennifer. And here was Gavin, whom she loved more than life itself, looking at her soulfully, a beatific smile on his face. She remembered that she had the power of speech, but found that it had not returned to her yet. "Don't worry," he said, "in a few minutes you'll be fully restored, and better than you ever were before."
She was already glowing with happiness, but she wished she could figure out exactly what had happened, the cataclysmic event that had brought her such deep felicity. "We kissed," he said. She was perplexed because it seemed like he had answered her thought. "I did," he said; "I can read you just fine."
Jennifer made a great effort to force words from her vocal chords, but succeeded only in stuttering. Her thought was focused on what she was trying to say: You're a Siddha!
"I am," he replied, "but my telepathy-Siddhi isn't always this lucid. Our wavelengths are finely melded now because of the powerful coniunctio we just went through."
She tried again, spluttering "K-k-k-kuh-kun-kun-yuh-yuh-yoonx-ee-o-o-oh?"
He laughed delightedly. "Very good! Your first word is Latin, no less. It's an alchemical term ~ 'conjunction' in English."
"W-w-we shoo-sure did conjoin!"
They laughed together and joyfully hugged, sitting in the front seat of the SUV.
"Okay," she said, "now that I can talk, tell me why that kiss was so, um, out of this world. I felt like you were making energy go up and down my body in a circuit."
"It's called the microcosmic orbit, a tantric technique."
"Oh, of course! But I've had a couple of lovers who did tantra, and nothing like this ever happened."
"They were probably not very adept, and had not enough Vril."
She remembered the impressions she had while phasing back into physical form, and said, "I can see that now ~ and they definitely didn't have enough yang."
He chuckled, and slightly squeezed her arm. Their faces drew close, and they dwelt for awhile in each other's eyes. Then Jennifer said, "I want to kiss you again, but I'm afraid of what might happen!"
"You have nothing to fear ~ that coniunctio packed enough wallop for a month, let alone one night. Sometimes a kiss should be just a kiss." And so they kissed.
Jennifer went into rapture as they kissed and hugged, but reality maintained its usual solid form. When their lips parted she said, "I love you so much my heart hurts!"
"Is it distressful?"
"Not at all! It's the most incredible thing that's ever happened to me. And I'm starting to remember the peak of the experience ~ I got enlightened! The greatest goal of life which I never thought a piddling novice like me could attain. I thought I'd have to wait for a couple of hundred incarnations at the very least. And now ~ yow! ~ here it is. I've been to the OM and back."
Gavin smiled and said, "So now you're all that you ever can be? Nowhere left to go, just hang out with the bodhisattvas?"
"Aw, you have to play the spoiler! You're right, I know that it's not a one-shot proposition. But it sure is a giant leap on the path."
"I agree, and I affirm your enlightenment. So what do you really think you'd like to do now?"
She snuggled up to him and said: "Be with you forever and ever."
He didn't respond, and after a moment she looked up at him and said, "Oh ~ I guess that could be complicated, huh?"
"Yes. Our work tonight isn't finished."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you ever gotten Shaktipat?"
"Yes, from Kalianna. Why do you ask. . . ooh, of course! Besides using tantra in our kiss, you must’ve also given me Shaktipat. Right?"
"Actually it was Shivapat."
"Shivapat? I never heard of that. How is it different from Shaktipat?"
Smiling wryly, he said: "You tell me."
"Oh my God ~ yeah. What happened here with you was a whole 'nother world beyond what I experienced from Kalianna's touch."
"And how long did that last?"
"About two weeks."
"That's not bad ~ she's got some pretty potent Shaktipat. But one of the aspects of Shivapat is that it doesn't wear off ~ it can last forever."
Her eyes widened. "Does that mean I'll be in bliss for the rest of my life?"
"No. Bliss is all of a piece with the rigors and suffering of life. The Satguru with Siddha-powers can take on himself a large share of the karmic burden of his adherents, and grant them a degree of blissful deliverance from it. But the true teacher does this only for a time, for a specific purpose, usually to enable the student to accomplish spiritual aims which would have been impossible for him without intervention. At that point the blissful gift can and must be withdrawn."
"That makes sense. But what does it have to do with me ~ and you ~ right now?"
"Pull back from me, and you'll see."
It took a moment for the import of this request to register on Jennifer's mind. She disentangled her arms from his body and tentatively moved back from him on the seat ~ or tried to. "Whoa," she said, "I feel like I'm in a cocoon. Or like a baby trying to get out of a womb."
"Both of those are very accurate images. You're going through a literal spiritual rebirth, but because I instigated it, I have to help you through some of the stages."
7. Dharmalove Troth
"I felt like we became one," said Kirk to Aurora. "I mean, literally."
"Yes, it's wonderful, isn't it? Did anything like that ever happen to you before?"
"I think on acid, but it was more amorphous ~ I became one with the universe. I never experienced unification with an actual other person, until now." He looked at her in a state of amazement. "So I guess you made it happen? Like, this is your Shakti-Vril power?"
Aurora put her hand on his and said, "I've had the Dharmalove experience with a lot of people, but it's still real love, deep love, bonding us together."
"Oh, I have no doubts about that," he said. "I can tell it's real, because it's here now ~ it's almost overwhelming. But where do we go from here?"
"Well, it sounds like you're planning to come up for a visit. Depending on what happens then, all kinds of things are possible."
"Like. . . a relationship?"
"A certain kind of relationship ~ a mutual Dharmalove relationship based on our individual dharmas. I'm a Shakti, and that establishes the general nature of my side of it. Do you see?"
Kirk was struggling to get a grip on the situation ~ the intense new feelings and the strange new world that Aurora and Gavin seemed to live in. He shivered slightly and said, "I guess I have a rough idea of what you mean. But then what's my side of it? The word 'dharma' was hardly even in my vocabulary before tonight, so I don't really know what my dharma is."
"I understand," said Aurora, her hand warm on his and her heart warm with empathy. "In this case, if you wish it, you could be someone who would like to receive the special kind of healing that a Shakti can provide."
He drew in his breath, and almost, but not quite, withdrew his hand. He said, "Um, that's a little different from what I was hoping."
Her voice became slightly less soft. "We don't do the 'boyfriend-girlfriend' thing in Thule, if that's what you were thinking. Our society is completely different from the Matrix, especially in the whole sphere of sexual relationships. They come in many forms, but with us they're all Dharmalove. Nothing less is acceptable."
"Okay, but how is that different from genuine romantic love, as it's usually understood?"
"That's one form of Dharmalove, if it comes with a troth bond."
"'Troth' is an archaic word that we revived for a special purpose. It's a form of commitment more binding than promises, pledges, and anything that can be exacted by civil laws or religious commandments. It's certainly more binding than the fly-by-night polyamorous sluttery that passes for romantic love in the Matrix." She squeezed his hand slightly and added, "No offense, I hope."
"Whew, that was a mouthful! But no, no offense ~ I'm glad you're being frank. So how are you bound by the troth? What makes it so powerful, if it's not enforced by laws or anything?"
"You could say that it's enforced by the laws of nature, under the command of Spirit. Usually the laws of nature, especially human nature, are under the command of matter ~ so if you break your marriage vow, or dump your girlfriend because the lust wore off, you only suffer material consequences, like a lawsuit or a vendetta or whatever."
"So what happens if you break your Dharmalove troth?"
"In the first place, it's harder to break ~ the spiritual powers evoked by the troth override normal human weakness to a great degree. It takes a concerted effort of will to break the troth, even in small matters ~ and then there are consequences proportional to the degree of the violation."
"But who inflicts the consequences?"
"Usually nobody ~ they just happen. Are you familiar with the old mot 'instant karma'?"
"Yow, that's a mindfuck! But how. . . I mean, what. . . who. . . ."
"This is a lot to take in at once, and unfortunately we don't have much time. A lot of it you just have to see and experience to understand, and that'll have to wait until we get together again in Soul Haven. For now, about all I can say is that I think you'll be pretty amazed at what can happen in the kind of relationship I'm talking about."
"Okay, I'll be open to new possibilities. It's just that. . . well, it sounded like therapy or something."
"You can call it that if you want, and it certainly has that aspect. We call it Seelenheil."
"Oops, sorry, another new word! I tend to forget how much we really have our own language in Thule. But it's a German word that means literally soul healing. The vernacular meaning among the Germans is 'salvation' ~ like, the spiritual kind. And I think you'll find that the difference between Seelenheil and Matrix therapy is like the difference between salvation and getting your head shrunk physically by a voodoo witch doctor."
Kirk felt abashed. The vibe from Aurora's hand seemed like it was flowing into his heart and making it glow. "So what do you think?" she asked. "Would you like me to be your Shakti?"
"Since you put it that way ~ gosh, yes! I can hardly wait."
She took her hand from his, drew his face to hers, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "That seals our first troth," she said.
8. The Aegis
In the SUV, Gavin said to Jennifer, "Let's see, we came here for an app."
"Oh, that's right ~ somehow it totally slipped my mind."
He reached under the seat and came up with a metal box. He touched his finger to a colored spot on the front and it popped open, revealing an array of devices neatly arranged in compartments, like a well-organized toolbox. He selected a tubular object with some instrumentation on its surface and a prong at one end. "Okay, let's have your phone." She handed it over, and he inserted the prong into the charging socket. In a moment there appeared on the screen an icon of an eye in a circular setting. He typed something on the keypad, and the eye blinked. He unplugged the instrument and said, "There, it's all set."
"What is it and what does it do?"
"The app is called ÜberAegis."
"Ah, I see ~ an aegis is a kind of shield, a protective device."
"Exactly right, and it works by virtue of the Übers themselves. That's why it should only be used under the most dire circumstances."
"Do they begrudge giving their protection?"
"Not at all ~ they're happy to do it when the dharma warrants. But the mechanical device gives the user the power to call on them by his or her own judgement ~ and humans don't always have the discernment needed to know the dharma in a given situation."
"But if I use the Aegis and it's not the dharma, will they come anyway?"
"Yes ~ and that's exactly the point."
"Yow, now I get it!"
Gavin nodded gravely, and said, "All you have to do to activate the signal is press the icon ~ the firm touch of a fingertip."
"And then what'll happen?"
"You'll find out when and if you ever need to use it. But be assured that the response is always swift and effective."
"I do feel assured, and I deeply appreciate you're being willing to trust me with such a. . . a loaded device."
He laughed. "Yep, that's a good word for it. Now we'd better be getting back to Aurora and Kirk."
"In our first trippy kiss," said Kirk to Aurora, "a lot of incredible stuff was happening inside me. Some of it was so strange that I'm not sure how to talk about it, or even if it's a good idea to try."
"Oh, I think it would be a very good idea," said Aurora with a gentle laugh. "Your Seelenheil has already begun, and it's important that you have conscious insight into the process."
"It sounds like you already have some idea of what I was going through."
"Yes, I had a good pellucid view of it, and to some extent I was directing it."
Kirk was astonished. He said, "That's some heavy psychic power you're talkin' about there, gal!"
She touched his hand and said, "You can call it that if you like, but it's mostly a matter of empathy."
"Well, I've known some highly empathic people, including a really special XGF, and none of them could do anything like the kind of stuff you're talking about."
"A lot of people have the raw capacity ~ it's inborn. But my natural empathic talent got a lot of special development and fine-tuning in my training. And some of the Shaktis I learned from were Siddhas, and they were able to infuse certain kinds of powerful energies into me by direct transmission. So in all modesty I can't take a lot credit for my abilities. And I still have a long way to go."
"What's a 'Siddha'?"
"A teacher with psychic-spiritual super-powers."
"Whew! I guess I'm just gonna have to get used to the fact that I'm dealing with a lot of stuff that I never imagined was real, or possible."
"You'd be amazed at what's possible if you open yourself up to the dharma."
"You mean, like, my destiny?"
"That's a good way to put it."
Kirk relaxed back in his chair for a moment, thinking. Then he said, "Okay, when we were kissing, I felt like I had a big cock inside me. Do you mind if I use words like that?"
"I prefer it, if it helps your thoughts to flow. And semantically speaking, a 'cock' has a lot more yang than a 'penis'."
He laughed. "Yeah, that's really true! But this phantom cock was putting me through all kinds of contortions ~ some of 'em were good and some were scary and painful. Any idea what that was all about?"
"Yes ~ it was the Ramalingam. You could call it the phallus of God the Father. My Shakti-kiss triggered its opening in you, and enabled it to rise."
"Now that's a mind-blowing concept ~ the phallus of God! But I think I actually heard of something like it, from Jennifer a few years ago. At Open Secret they had a display of Hindu talismans, and one of them was what she called a Shiva lingam."
"That's the best-known version, and they're all one in the end ~ or I should say in the beginning, since it impregnated God the Mother and gave birth to the universe. But our version derives from Shiva's counterpart Vishnu, the God whose lineage of Avatars included Rama, and is now incarnate in the world as RamaSpirit."
"Gee, so there's a whole theology behind it."
"Yes, but don't worry about that now. Just focus on the experience you had."
"Okay. What are you going to do?"
He answered her only with a loving look, then held both his hands in front of his chest, palms facing Jennifer. He began to move them slowly toward her, and she could feel them generating a field of force that was pushing her away. The cocoon she felt wrapped in was her love for Gavin, which evidently had formed a literal attachment of her aura to his. Now he was psychically pushing their auras apart, gently enough to ease the pain of separation. She tried to help on her end by moving as far back as the invisible bonds made possible, a limit which gradually expanded. Finally she felt the door handle against her back, and at that moment she tangibly perceived the edge of the front of her aura slip away from that of Gavin, and rebound into its normal spheroid shape. "There," he said, "you're free of the first fetter."
She relaxed and moved closer to him on the seat, but not into body contact. She said, "I feel like my umbilical cord has been cut."
"Ah ~ your psychic perception is still very sharp."
"I still love you."
"And I love you ~ and I always will. But now it can be the mutual love of adults."
She was thoughtful for a moment, then said, "Shaktipat is said to be the touch of the Goddess."
"Right ~ Shakti bestows it freely on her devotees, and is happy to let them go on their way. But Shiva ~ he's a real hardcore dude. Once you let him get his mitts on you, he's not gonna let you go till he's good and ready."
"Wow, I can see it. And I can see how a lot of us mortals would still want to be touched by a God."
He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips.
"Okay. The scariest part was when the lingam got to my gut. I felt like I was going to die."
"That was the Manipura chakra, your navel, and I felt what you were going through. You've got a really tight knot there, probably the core of your karma for this whole lifetime."
"The chakras are like your spiritual DNA ~ they carry the imprints of the history and evolution of your soul through all its incarnations. You may have been born with the knot, or it may have been formed or at least tightened by traumatic experiences in this life. But whatever the combination of circumstances, it's no accident that it's there."
"So how can I get rid of it?"
"To be frank, it'll be a tough nut to crack ~ but with time and effort and a little divine guidance, it can be done."
Kirk looked distressed, but after a moment he said, "All right, I accept it, and I'm willing to deal with it. But further along, the lingam seemed to set off all kinds of beautiful fireworks ~ I fell in love with you and the whole cosmos!"
"Your heart chakra opened. It's called Anahata. You could say that that's the name of the ultimate mystic rose."
He laughed in delight. "Okay, I get it about the names. Then it hit my throat ~ what's the name of that chakra?"
"Visuddha. And something special happened there too. Do you remember?"
"I sure do. It felt bad at first, but then there was a kind of explosion, and I felt great ~ almost like an orgasm."
"That was another knot, but it wasn't as severe as the lower one, and the healing force of the lingam was able to break it open. It got cauterized and dissolved."
"Yeah, that's what it felt like! You mean I got cured of a mess of karma?"
Now Aurora laughed. "You sure did ~ it was a real Seelenheil. You'll find that you'll be able to think and speak more clearly, and if you work at it, your powers of spiritual discernment will increase tremendously."
"Wow! And it happened all at once? Like when Jesus said, 'Arise and walk' or 'open your eyes and see', and all that miraculous stuff?"
"It only seems simple and miraculous when you don't know the vast amount of adeptship that goes into it. Jesus was a Siddha, and after his crucifixion he became an Über. And of course the whole time he was working as a vessel of a Higher Power, whom he called his Father in Heaven. I'm not advanced enough yet to loose the strap of his sandal, but I, too, serve as a vessel. Voila, your 'miracle'."
"So you're saying it came from RamaSpirit?"
She nodded silently.
10. The Cure for Hardcore Karma
Aurora suddenly lifted her head, as if listening. "Gavin and Jennifer are coming back," she said; "they'll be here in a few minutes."
"Huh!" said Kirk, "now I know why you're so down on cell phones an' such ~ if you're psychic you don't even need 'em."
She giggled and said, "Gavin and I are on such a close wavelength that we can convey a lot to each other psychically, but there's a big limit to the amount of detail, and so we do talk on the phone when the need arises. But listen, do you have any other major concerns or questions about the Seelenheil experience you just went through? We'll have to postpone the in-depth follow-up till another time."
He thought for a moment and said, "There was a sort of electric charge that went from my heart to the top of my head. It crackled and glowed for a few seconds, and then came the last and most glorious peak of the whole trip. Were you able to scope that psychically, or empathically?"
"Yes, I was right there. It's called the Amrita nadi, a subtle conduit between the heart and the crown chakra, which is named Sahasrara. If you know just where the switch is and how to click it on, it makes it easy to parlay a heart opening into that higher Samadhi."
"So you literally blew my mind, on purpose!"
"Yep. Are ya mad at me?"
"Hell, no! I can hardly wait till we do it again."
"Don't worry, I have a feeling your mind is going to stay blown for awhile, in a really good way. But now I have a question. You talked about how you're unhappy with your life; what would be the most important way you'd like to change? What is your heart's desire? What would you really like to do, or to be, most of all?"
"Whoa, that's a biggie! But I know the answer. I. . . I'd like to. . . . Damn, it's embarrassing!"
She took his hand again and looked at him with liquid loving eyes. "That's what a Shakti is for ~ someone to share your deepest, darkest secrets. And I'll never tell ~ that's an ironclad part of our Dharma troth. Nobody could even pry it from my mind psychically, if anyone were so inclined."
He squeezed her hand and shed a tear, then swallowed hard and said, "I want to be a real man. All my life I've felt like a wimp and a loser with women, even though I've had some stimulating relationships and usually do pretty well in bed. But you know what I realized when you opened my heart? I never really loved a single one of them! It was all just lust and romantic delusions. Only now for the first time in my life have I discovered what love really is ~ with you."
Aurora's eyes welled up too. They embraced and shared exquisite feelings. They sat back, and she said, "It took a lot of heart to say that, Kirk. You're a real man already in my eyes."
"It feels great to hear that. But what do I have to do to make it completely real, inside and out?"
"All right, let's get down to the nitty-grits. You have a very yang physique: broad shoulders, narrow hips, and probably well-muscled if you stay in shape."
"I've slacked off on that in the past few years, but I used to. I played football in high school and college ~ even made the varsity."
"That's great. But I suspect that something must've happened in your childhood that damaged your yang, since you seem to be well-equipped genetically."
"Like what kind of thing? Traumatic events?"
"Yes, it could have been psychological or physical, or a combination of both."
"Let's see ~ I caught pneumonia when I was two years old, and almost died."
"Wow, that's it! That's exactly the kind of thing that can impact a boy's yang. That, and the many traumas that can happen when he's still in the womb."
"But if the pneumonia had such a drastic impact, it'll probably be pretty hard to fix the damage."
"Yes, but the good news is that it is possible, and that it can be done in this lifetime. Men with genetically low yang have to work toward future incarnations for the total cure."
"Okay, I'm starting to feel encouraged, sort of. So is there a kind of therapy or something that I have to go through to work the cure?"
"There is, but it's very challenging. Have you ever been in the military?"
"No way! All the wars this country has gotten into over the past seventy years have been totally nuts."
"I totally agree, and I admire your discernment. But what if you had a chance to fight for something worthwhile? Would be willing to put your life on the line?"
"Damn, another mindfuck! But is this what we were talking about?"
"Yes, indeed. Mortal combat is one of the best cures for impacted yang."
11. Circuit of Love
Gavin and Jennifer were still holding hands as they stepped back into the alcove. Kirk noticed this, and as they sat down at the table he felt strangely warmed by an effusive glow that seemed to envelope the four of them. They all looked around at one another and smiled.
It was Jennifer who broke the pleasant silence: "I feel like we all know each other better."
"Yes, things have changed for the better," said Gavin. "Sometimes it doesn't take long."
Kirk and Jennifer made eye contact, and seemed surprised at what they saw. "I think it's us who have changed," he said. "Something pretty nice happened between me and Aurora. How about you and Gavin, Jen?"
Jennifer found herself blushing again, and a thought flickered across her mind: This must be the first time Kirk has ever seen me blush ~ after all our physical intimacy. Still blushing, she said, "We shared a kiss."
"So did we," he said, and faltered at the challenge of describing what an incredible kiss it was.
"Let's do a little circle again," said Gavin ~ "not for the viewer, just to pick up the new vibe."
The four joined hands and sat meditatively around the table. After only a minute or so, Kirk noticed the spinning motion again. Something seemed different about it, and after a few spins he realized that it was going in the opposite direction: the first time it had gone counterclockwise, and now it was clockwise. He glanced at the tabletop, but there was only the flat, mundane surface. Aurora had his right hand and Jennifer his left, with Gavin sitting across from him. The love that had blossomed between him and Aurora seemed to be flowing as a tangible energy from her hand into his, and continuing around the circle till it came back to him with the added energies of Jennifer and Gavin. He looked around at their faces, and was amazed to discover that he loved them all.
When his astonishment wore off, he began to pay attention to the subtleties of what he was experiencing. He realized that the feeling of love had an erotic charge only in relation to Aurora, and he was surprised that his lust for Jennifer had mysteriously dissolved.
This is incredible, he thought ~ a mindfuck, a miracle. Yet somehow I think I've experienced something like it before, long ago. Then he recalled that he had had the same strange inkling when Aurora's kiss had opened his heart. He cast his mind as far back into the past as he could, and finally it came to him: it was with his mother and sister when he was a little boy. That was the only time in his life that he had known real love before tonight ~ it was the love of family.
He made eye contact with Gavin, and suddenly the whole thing escalated ~ his heart was just bursting with joyful, exhilarating, beatific love. And now he remembered that as a child he had loved his father too.
Jennifer was also filled with the love that flowed around the circle. She quickly identified it as familial love, perhaps because she had a strong residual sense of herself as newly reborn, and so it wasn't surprising that the baby should find herself surrounded by loving kinfolk. Yet whenever she looked at Gavin she became aware that a thrilling erotic undercurrent lent its potency to the flow.
Aurora looked warmly at Kirk and Jennifer. "Welcome to the family," she said.
12. The Kin of Aries
Kirk and Jennifer were startled to find their feelings reflected so well in Aurora's words. They looked at each other, and then Jennifer said, "We're very glad to be here. But I don't fully understand how this is happening, or exactly what it means."
Kirk said, "That applies double for me. I feel the family connection, and it's wonderful, but now I have to wonder just what is this family. I guess we saw it from a distance in the viewer, but is it all those people? Or a smaller group of blood relatives, or what?"
"Oh, that's right," said Jennifer to Gavin: "you said that you and Aurora are cousins."
"Yes," said Gavin, "but not genetically. We sometimes use such terms to give people a sense of our genuine kindred relationship."
"Right," said Aurora. "And to answer your question, Kirk, we have several thousand 'cousins' ~ and brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces ~ and even mothers and fathers with more adult children than you could count in a month of Sundays."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "so this. . . this bond we're feeling is actually shared by lots and lots of people."
"It sure is," said Gavin. "We call ourselves a sodality ~ a brother-sisterhood."
"Does the family, or sodality, have a name?" asked Kirk.
"I recall something on TV," said Jennifer ~ "they talk about 'Ramarites', the followers of Ramar."
Aurora turned up her nose and said, "They call us lots of other stuff too. But that ridiculous name is just to make us sound like cultists or something."
"So does the group actually have a real name?" said Jen.
"Yes," said Aurora, "we're the Kin of Aries." They didn't react, and she explained: "The family of the Ram."
"Oh, of course!" said Jennifer. "For a second I thought you were saying the name of a classic Eastern text ~ y'know, like the Kinavada."
Gavin laughed and said, "You're not the first person who got that impression."
"Okay," said Kirk, "but I'm still just really boggled at how sudden all this is. I kissed Aurora and all kinds of psychic stuff happened, and now. . . ."
He hesitated, and Jennifer said, "It did? Like what?"
Kirk looked nervously at Aurora. She beamed a smile at him and said, "It's fine with me if you'd like to share some of what we experienced. You may find that it wasn't as unusual as you might think."
Kirk inhaled deeply, then said: "Well, for one thing, I got my chakras reamed out, from the bottom up. Then at the top I had a peak experience of absolute, all-and-everything, unconditional, everlasting love."
"Oh my God!" said Jennifer, "that sounds like what happened to me when. . . ." She glanced at Gavin, who nodded his head and radiated approval. She continued: ". . . when Gavin kissed me." And now she blushed a scarlet red.
13. Dharmalove Flux
Gavin and Aurora made a hand-squeeze, and the four released their grasp and sat back. They were still bathed in a loving radiance. Gavin said, "We should confess that what happened tonight was not entirely spontaneous on the part of Aurora and me. Whenever any of us venture out into the Matrix, we're always on the look-out for high-calibre Thuleans whom we think might be open to making league with us. We can never be fully certain who'll respond and who won't, but we had a good feeling about the two of you."
Jennifer said, "So you mean that when you complimented me and sort of opened up the romantic interest, you were thinking. . . you had an idea that. . . this other stuff would happen?"
He smiled innocently. "Yes. Everything I said was true, and everything I did was sincere ~ but my motives were not only romantic."
There was a brief collective silence. Then Kirk said, "Thanks for your honesty, Gavin. It does make some things clear, like how my passionate kiss with Aurora wound up as a healing." He turned to her. "So if that was your ulterior motive ~ hey, it's a damn good one, and I'm happy with how it turned out ~ our Dharmalove troth."
"Dharma what?" said Jennifer.
"We made a commitment," said Kirk, "for a kind of spiritual healing relationship, with romantic overtones."
Aurora laughed in delight and said, "I'm glad you're coming to Soul Haven, Kirk. You've got a gift of eloquence, and probably lots more to share."
Jennifer looked more perplexed than before. Gavin said, "Dharmalove is our word for spiritual communion with erotic overtones."
"And undercurrents," added Aurora. "It actually has a broader range of meanings than what you and I talked about, Kirk. It definitely applies to bonded romantic relationships, but sometimes we also use it to describe the collective aura of love and empathy we all experience as we go about our daily lives together."
"Oh," said Jennifer, "you mean like what we just experienced? The beautiful sense of family feeling?"
"Exactly," said Aurora. "We call it the Dharmalove flux."
"Just goin' with the flow?" said Kirk.
"That's it ~ when everybody is just naturally given up into it, we can sense the overarching presence of RamaSpirit ~ we become aware that we're all part of the Godbody. And it makes amazing psychic stuff happen, all in the flux ~ synchronicities like you wouldn't believe, sometimes outright miracles."
"Including telepathy?" asked Kirk.
Gavin answered: "When it gets really good, we find that we're thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings, all of us together."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "that's a miracle, all right! But I'm still confused about how this wonderful sense of family kinship has an erotic underbelly. You don't practice any kinds of. . . y'know, weird sexual stuff like incest or pedophilia or anything? Forgive me if I'm being impolite."
"Not at all," said Gavin ~ "our community really is unique in many ways, and you have a need to know. And the fact is that our collective sexual practice is very restrained ~ much more so than what you're familiar with here in the Matrix."
"Does that have to do with the troth bonds?" said Kirk.
"Yes," said Aurora, "but there's more. We cultivate orgone, which is sexual energy, by conserving it and accumulating it, rather than wasting it on every passing impulse."
"That makes sense," said Jennifer; "in fact it's a principle of tantra."
"It is?" said Kirk. "For a minute there I was starting to think it might be repression."
"Nope," said Aurora. "That's what I meant when I said that we're not going back to the old version of sexual pathology. But in the new Matrix version, everybody is obsessed by sex and constantly blows out their orgone on self-indulgent sizzle-pizzle, whether it's solo, dual, or musical chairs."
"Sizzle-pizzle?" said Jennifer, laughing.
"That's one of our quaint expressions for unloving, licentious sex," said Gavin. "In Thule we settle for nothing less than real Eros, which is sexual love. And the answer to your question is that the Eros you and Kirk experienced was transmuted here in our circle into a different form of love: Philia."
"Ah," said Kirk, "familial love. That word is most often translated as 'brotherly love', but of course it's between all close relatives, not just brothers."
"Okay," said Jennifer, "but how exactly does it get transmuted? Is the Philia fueled by Eros?"
"Yes!" said Gavin ~ "you nailed the exact formula."
"It's spiritual alchemy," said Aurora; "we change the primal urges and feelings into their higher forms, like lead into gold. But of course there are lots of stages in between, which is where the challenges come in."
"It sounds like you're talking about sublimation," said Kirk.
"That's the basic process," said Aurora, "but we have lots more layers of it than what you might be thinking. "
"All right," he said, "I guess I'll have plenty to learn about that. But what I'm thinking is what I learned in history: in the Victorian Age and up through the 1950s, sexuality was tightly controlled by social taboos, and all that undischarged orgone was channeled into other activity, like the whole business of building a technological civilization and conquering the world. I think it was Freud who first called this 'sublimation'. Then starting in the 1960s, the postmodern pundits said that basically it was just an excuse for sexual repression, and that the world would be better off if we all just followed our natural impulses."
"And everybody did just that," said Aurora with a grin, "and the world lived happily ever after. Right?"
Jennifer laughed. Kirk said, "Gee, since you put it that way. . . ."
"We implement the true, original meaning of 'sublimation'," said Gavin, "from long before Freud. Do you happen to know what that is?"
"Well, let's see," said Kirk: "'sub-limin' means 'below the threshold'. . . but other than that, I guess I'm not sure."
Gavin looked at him and said: "To make sublime."
"Wow," said Jennifer, "I didn't know that. It raises the whole concept to another level."
"Yep," said Aurora, "the magical-spiritual level, where we commune in the Dharmalove flux."
14. The Talisman
"Time for us to get rolling," said Gavin.
"Should we exchange phone numbers?" said Jennifer.
"By all means," he said, and pulled from his pocket an ergonomic-looking device with a small screen.
"I've never seen that type of phone," said Kirk. "What brand is it?"
"Custom-made," said Gavin, and set it on the table in front of Kirk. "It can do a few things that even the most advanced Matrix models can't."
"Like what?" asked Kirk.
"Like your phone number," said Gavin.
Kirk looked at the screen, and saw the digits of his number appear on it in quick succession. "Holy shamoley!" he said, "how the heck did it do that?"
"It has a telepathy feature." Kirk was agape. Gavin continued, "As soon as I said the words 'your phone number', you thought of it preconsciously, and the phone picked it up."
"Wow! What kind of technology could produce something like this?"
"We call it 'psychotronic': a mechanism imprinted by human psychic power. But it has some limitations."
"Somehow I'm glad to hear that. But what sort of limitations?"
Aurora chimed in: "It only works if the user has those psychic powers, and they have to be at Siddha-level. I have to settle for a standard brand." She set her purse on the table and took out an ordinary cell phone.
"Oh," said Jennifer, "what a beautiful symbol!" On Aurora's purse was a leather patch with an image of an Aries sign in a flaming heart.
"It's the RamaDharmalove sigil," said Aurora, "the Aries-Heart. It's always nice to encounter someone who appreciates it. Would you like to have one?"
"You mean you have another? I'd love it! And thank you so much for offering."
"How about you, Kirk?" said Aurora. "Would you like to have a sigil?"
"Why, yes I would," he said. "And since you call it a 'sigil', I'm guessing that it has some kind of magical powers."
"This is a surprise, Kirk," said Jennifer; "usually you're so skeptical. Since when have you begun to believe in magic?"
"Hell, after having a phone read my mind, I'm ready to believe in anything!"
Aurora laughed. "Magic is a science too, you know ~ in fact the oldest human science of all. Like all of our sacred symbols and talismans, this sigil does carry a charge of Vril, which can have a magical effect. But in this case you don't need any psychic powers for it ~ everyone who shares the love of the Ram will receive its grace." She searched in her purse and pulled out an ornamental pin with the sigil, about the size of a half-dollar.
"I'll tell you what," said Gavin, "why don't give that to Kirk, and I'll give mine to Jennifer." He opened the top button of his shirt
and took from around his neck a chain which bore the sigil as a pendant.
"Oh my God," said Jennifer, "I can't take your personal jewelry!"
"You can if I want to give it," he said, "and I do, very much. And these gifts entail the next stage of the Dharmalove Troth, if you both wish to accept it."
"I feel a kind of momentum for it," said Kirk. "I guess that's the Dharmalove flux. But what are the, um, boundaries or requirements of the new troth?"
Gavin looked at Kirk and Jennifer and said, "It's more of an awakening than an obligation. You'll both find yourselves becoming more sensitive to the fact that you are Thuleans, and will become more aware of the realities involved."
"Have we really become Thuleans already?" said Jennifer.
"You were born as Thuleans," he said, "but this vital self-knowledge was suppressed by your upbringing and indoctrination in the Matrix. Now you'll begin to recover the truth that's already inside of you. Some of the things that you'll remember will be very joyful, and others will be sorrowful, or even painful."
"Sounds heavy," said Kirk. "I can't help thinking about those scenes in the Matrix flicks."
"Ah," said Aurora, "you really are tapped into the flux. That's exactly what it's like."
"Which scenes?" said Jennifer. "I didn't really care for those movies that much, and don't remember them too well."
Kirk said, "Like when Neo finds out that his whole life, and the whole world, is a mass computer simulation. I guess the joyful part is discovering your true humanity, and the scary part is facing the desert of the real."
"A painful part that did make an impact on me," said Jennifer, "was when Neo awoke in his physical body and found that he was plugged into a mechanical pod."
"That's it!" said Aurora, "that's the biggest, hardest challenge: getting unplugged from the Matrix and learning to live in the real world."
"Yes," said Gavin. "Right now the two of you have awakened to the truth about reality, but you're still living in the Matrix ~ your lives and what you perceive to be yourselves are layers of illusion. We won't be able to help you get out of the pods and establish a true presence in the real world until you come home to Thule."
"Home?" said Jennifer.
"It's where the heart is," said Aurora, fingering the Dharmalove sigil.
15. Hearts, Two Pair
Gavin held up the chain of the Aries-Heart necklace with his two hands, beckoning to Jennifer. She tilted her head toward him, and he slipped it around her neck. She touched the medallion and felt a warm energy ~ or was it just from having been nestled against his chest? She looked into his eyes while holding the sigil, and there could be no doubt: it was radiating power, transmitting his love.
He put his hand behind her head and pulled it toward him again, then touched his forehead to hers. She closed her two eyes and the third one opened, a singular orb shared by her and Gavin. She surrendered herself up to it, and was lost for a timeless moment in an immense sea of silver light, at One with All ~ though somehow above it.
Their heads moved apart. She opened her eyes and saw that the silver radiance had condensed into a sphere encompassing the four people around the table. She felt at One with them all.
Aurora proffered her sigil to Kirk, saying: "Pin it over your heart", and he did. She held up two fingers of her right hand in a benediction gesture, then extended them to the sigil and touched it with the tip of her middle finger. Energy fairly sizzled along her arm and into his heart, magnified
by the sign of Aries. He felt a torrential flood of erotic love for her, with a strong penumbra of feeling for Gavin and Jennifer which was loving but not erotic.
They joined hands again, and the energies felt by each became a fluid continuum shared by all. They basked in the sweet communion, and seemed to remember a past that stretched back to before they were born, and caught fleeting glimpses of a far future. "Gee," said Jennifer, "I can almost see where we came from and where we're going."
"The main thing," said Gavin, "is the 'we'. If we remember who we are, then our whole destiny will become pellucid."
They squeezed hands again and broke the circle, but the feeling of connection remained. "So I guess we'll pursue it in Thule," said Kirk ~ "our destiny, our ancestral remembrance, and. . . our identity."
"Yep," said Aurora, "and I think it'll keep unfolding for you in the meantime, right from now."
16. Psychic Surgery
"Gee, I guess we should finish exchanging phone numbers," said Jennifer.
"Good idea," said Gavin, and nudged his psychotronic phone toward her on the tabletop.
"That's a pretty spooky piece of tech," said Jennifer. "What if I just don't think of my phone number, and type it in?" Gavin nodded and gestured to the phone. She looked, and her number was already there.
"Don't think of a purple elephant," said Aurora, giggling. "But the rest of us will have to do it the old-fashioned way."
The three exchanged phones and numbers, then Jennifer handed her phone to Gavin. He waved it off and said, "Check your contact list."
"Oh!" she said ~ "a new number is there, with your name."
Kirk found that Gavin's number was also on his phone. "Let me guess," he said: "you telepathically signaled your phone to send the number to ours."
"Right on the button," said Gavin; "or rather, without need of a button."
They began gathering themselves up to leave, when suddenly Kirk felt a twinge in his abdomen. He made a slight grimace, which Aurora noticed. "Is anything wrong?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," he said. "Something happened to me while I was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge today. It seemed like a mystical experience or an acid flashback or something, and ever since then I've been getting freaky little pinges in my gut."
"Would you like me to look into it for you?" said Gavin.
"What, you mean psychically?"
"Yes. Just turn this way a little." Gavin put a hand on Kirk's shoulder and placed a forefinger on his abdomen about an inch below his navel. "Well, well," he said, "it seems that you have a foreign object in your dantien."
"Huh?" said Kirk ~ "how could that have happened, and what's a 'dantien'?"
Jennifer said, "It's a psychic center in between the navel and sex chakras. But what kind of 'foreign object'?"
"It's hard to tell," said Gavin, but I think it can be easily removed. Is that okay?"
"You mean right now?" said Kirk. "What'll it take, psychic surgery?"
Gavin chuckled and said, "You could call it that, but it’ll be easy. Just take a deep breath." Kirk inhaled, and Gavin pressed two fingertips into his solar plexus. Kirk felt a rush of force going into him. There was a feeling of tension, a fleck of pain, then a sudden release. He exhaled, and felt wonderful. Gavin said, "there might be a slight irritation the next time you go to the bathroom, but then that'll be the last of it."
"Wow," said Kirk, "thank you. But it's pretty mysterious. I wonder if the whole episode was somehow connected with meeting up with you?"
"It's possible," said Gavin, "but let me ask you this. Are you glad of the encounter?"
"And how! I feel like my life has suddenly expanded into another dimension."
"So if the object inside you had some sort of connection with it, then we can probably imagine that the dharma was served."
"Probably," said Kirk, "but still, I can't help but wonder. . . ."
"We're way late," said Aurora; "they're expecting us in Soul Haven. If you're still concerned about this when you visit us, Kirk, we can talk about it some more then."
"Okay," he said, "that'll be fine."
There were a pair of long hugs: Gavin and Jennifer, and Kirk and Aurora. Each ended with a kiss, then they all made reluctant farewells. They stepped out of the alcove, and with a flurry of hand-waves, Gavin and Aurora set off swiftly down the street to the SUV.