“As soon as you die, you’ll find yourself in a dream, just as on any other night.” – Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata.
Whilst I had never heard Jay refer to our community as The Academy of Misfits, the name had quite clearly stuck, and had even started to attract interest and curiosity from around the world. In a period of just three weeks, for example, we had taken in seven new students from countries as diverse as Brazil, China, France, Russia, and the United States.
In a subsequent meeting, to discuss the issue, Rob suggested rebranding ourselves as the International Academy of Misfits, or I.A.M. – initials which were, after all, rather appropriate. However, Helen warned that it may lead to us being confused with the “I AM” religious movement of Guy and Edna Ballard.
Jay said little during the debate, appearing somewhat tense and distracted. His simple life as a hermit must surely have seemed a distant memory, amidst the laptops and flowcharts of our Monday morning meet-up. After observing him intently for several more minutes, I felt confident enough to stand up, grasp his hand, and lead him outside. The others were so engrossed in their discussion that they barely even noticed.
“I’ve created a monster,” he sighed, wistfully, his breath lingering in the cold winter air.
“No, you haven’t,” I sought to assure him, “but maybe…”
“Well, maybe it’s time we got back to basics. It’s been a while since you addressed the group as a whole. I think we all just need a little nurturing; a little nudging in the right direction.”
Jay took out his phone, which had just that moment stirred to life with the intro to ‘Know Your Enemy’ by Rage Against the Machine. “I swore I’d never get one of these,” he said, glaring at it with contempt. “What’s next, River… Facebook?”
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” I wondered aloud.
“You answer it,” he said, placing the phone in my hand. It seemed that whenever I thought I had Jay all figured out, he’d go ahead and do something unpredictable like that. I felt his eyes scanning me up and down as I contemplated what to do next. Was it some sort of a test, perhaps? I surely only had seconds to make a decision. As my thumb moved to accept the call, I heard Jay muttering something under his breath… “The D, the E, the F, the I, the A, the N, the C, the E.”
They say that girls can’t throw, but I was hardly typical – of anything – and so Jay’s phone was soon hurtling through the illusion of space toward the Atlantic ocean. As it disappeared over the edge of Tregellan Cliff, I half anticipated some sort of an explosion. However, this was Cornwall, I had to remember, and not Hollywood. And so there was no explosion. All that broke the silence was the sound of Jay’s laughter – which obviously came as something of a relief. “Like I said, Mr Sawyer, back to basics!”
“You’re paying for that,” he joked, grabbing me around the neck. At least, I think he was joking. In any case, our brief play fight led to an embrace of such genuine warmth and love that I questioned whether I could ever leave the Academy. Or, more specifically, whether I could ever leave Jay.
Later that day we all gathered in the main hall. Apparently now in a more playful mood, Jay informed everyone that he had locked us in, and that we had just fifteen minutes to escape the building. Immediately I looked up at the huge gothic windows, but there appeared to be no way of actually opening them, if they opened at all. Someone then remembered seeing a trapdoor, so a portion of the group hurriedly set about shifting furniture around and looking under mats. Someone else pointed to the ventilation system and suggested that it may be possible for us to crawl through it.
Perhaps somewhat predictably, however, we were all still present in the hall when our alloted time had elapsed. Jay looked suspiciously pleased with himself. What was he up to, I wondered. A moment later the penny dropped. “Oh no!” I shrieked, realising his deception, “nobody thought to check the doors.” After a briefly competitive dash to reach them, Helen found that they were, indeed, unlocked, causing the group to let out a collective and woeful groan – much to Jay’s amusement.
“Where do I begin?” said Jay, sitting down on the edge of the stage. “There are so many levels to this demonstration that we could spend the next three months discussing it. But let’s start with the basics, shall we? You all claim to be truth-seekers, and yet none of you thought to question what you were being told; to actually test the information for yourselves. It obviously never crossed your minds for a moment that you were being deceived. You also claim to seek freedom. And from the outside, at least, it certainly appeared as if you were trying to escape – combining your various skills and knowledge to that end. And yet here you all sit – deceived, defeated, domesticated – despite having had the freedom to leave at any moment. And this, really, is the plight of the entire human race. And so, in this respect, you have represented your species well. …Yes Claire, do you have a question?”
“Brilliant exercise! But if someone had actually tried the doors, what quality would you say they’d have been demonstrating?”
“Great question. Is anyone here familiar with Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection? …No? Well, he asserted that ‘neither skill nor knowledge is required to enable us to go to God, but just a heart determined to turn to Him only, to beat for Him only, and to love Him only’. Such honest determination would have freed anyone who possessed it from this building, this apparent prison, within seconds.”
“And why do we lack this quality?” asked Claire.
“Because you’d much rather play the game. And the game, of course, represents life – life within the illusion; life among apparent others.”
“So, on some level, we’re making a choice, and then deceiving ourselves as to the nature of that choice?”
“The choice was made long ago, from your perspective. Now you are merely observing the results of that decision. It’s a process, nothing more.”
“A process which never truly ends?”
“Well, in the words of William Blake: ‘The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall go after the death of the vegetative body’.”
“We create our own reality?”
“Our conditioning creates our reality. A person’s own imagination of themselves is what determines their experience. And just as they carry that illusory self into their dreams every night, so the charade will continue on into other planes of existence, once their life here has ended. But this little self, the mask, has nothing to do with who we truly are, remember, because we are all that is.”
“Okay, but how can an average person, with simple needs and desires, ever get to grips with actually ‘being God’?”
“It’s only from their own delusional perspective, which includes the apparent hierarchy of existence – you know, ascended Masters, Angels, Buddhas, etcetera – that the God concept seems so massive, so overwhelming. However, God is simply what is… Awareness. Everything else is the imagination of that awareness, just as you are the imagination of yourself. So do not be deceived by the games that you have been persuaded to play. The doors to your own unlimited potential, to your own freedom, are never truly locked.”
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