24 Parables:

to be figured out is the line and name/caption

There is nothing more pitiful than the storyteller without his stories. He goes out to the people and listens to them, observes them, fights them, befriends them and is so amazed and frightened by them he spends his time reading over old pamphlets about democracy. Ah, they have stories! Do not some voices contain a spore that crashes into the brain and destroys some previous conflict? It is true but, then, the storyteller persists. After all, he sees the local culture and decides, ah, there are stories here. And yet, what is a story without a character? And what is a character without some moral intention? Have the gods confounded the story teller? He has passed in and through marvelous stories like owls through a grove of old trees. He will talk only to animals and babbling children for awhile to exchange fantastic shapes out of the joy of living.

Look into the present and local world!

Look into eternity.

He finds that the sense of things has enlarged beyond the realm of good taste. The barbaric people convince him that they worship what kills them and will have it no other way.


The world, centered in our reveries, leaps alive at the slightest suggestion of our freedom. We would bang away on the scabby shield that keeps us from the truth. Where are the guardians? It is nearly a chant we learn. Where are the guardians? Ah, they may be watching television!

The snaking weave-dance of the populace sneak into the cubby holes we have measured for special occasions. There is doubt but, as well, there is the clean disposal of their recollections. Buildings burn, babies cry, and people watch. They are astounded, nearly stunned, by the power they feel in themselves at the sight of what is holy to the people. A community of responses living in us/they disappear when we try to find them. The roar of canyons is omnipresent and is teaching us always that we exist at the end of something and at the beginning of something. We do not see the beginning but it stirs in us nonetheless. Yet, the speeches of all the great leaders of the world are posted along the valleys of the basin. Do they not have some kingly presence about them?


Looking back at youth we discover only scummy holes and faces that were once so close and intimate roll away at the first contact as though they were, all along, embarrassed by their struggles as we were in ours. Rooms that smell of used books; where the day is not complete without a walk through the neighborhood of our faltering dream. It is the place where we see ourselves for the first time hovering above the city and, then, rushing at some unimaginable speed into the depth of space. But we return still unprepared for the days tricks. We wish to see magnificent deeds enacted, we want to hear the shout that is profound. Looking back, we are a mere stick being manipulated by the power we seek to escape.

There is a stranger laying on the sidewalk that will lead to the discovery of the one possibility we deny ourselves.

However regrettable, we are the stick and perform well and feel a surge of pride. It is as though we have escaped or emerged from a tribe of people not yet categorized by the anthropologists. They chase us and yet we have resources they know nothing about.


Is not the saddest tale told about a man who sets out to create an interesting life? He goes through experience after experience that astounds him until something unexpected opens an inflated bag of guilt. No, it is shame and the shame is so powerful that he disavows all his hard-won experience as against nature. So now he spends his time wandering his cities and suburbs from one coast to the other drowning himself in the mundane so he will forget his youthful quest for the extraordinary. The quest that brought him to the discovery of shame. In his encounters with the people he quickly picks up on the fact that they have discovered penitence in him. They pick up an inhuman transience that moves through far-away places. The people, alternately, want to save him and destroy him. He appears as the most common man; terrified of his own tales that, at one time, drove his mighty spirit.


Who would stun the man, full of words, as the initiation absorbs him? Who would roll the wordless man out from the satchel of the tramp and tell him that the world has been re-created? Who would burn in the stead of the unwanted man who cries out the name of his children when the sun turns red? Who would fascinate the beggars with stories of their success? Who brings the world to him with a wink and a nod? Who would insist that heaven is an invisible city caught in the net of our innocent lies? The morning does not break easily for the man whose words can not form answers. He lies in his cold bed and dreams the guilty man will come and take him far away.


He was trained to be hard and to pass through strangers and acquaintances with professional efficacy. That is the way he conducted his life; never breaking his silence with the world. 'I know what the world demands; I am the world demanding.' His hardness brought him success and he traveled whenever he had the free time. It was while in Normandy, in the town of Rouen, that he stumbled onto a stranger while waiting for a dinner. The man sat in an empty seat opposite the American and looked at the American for a long time. When the American finally looked up he saw that the stranger had an odd and familiar look about him. It was as though he had fought battle with the person in his youth but now, separated by time, he was only a vague memory. He saw him, suddenly, as a rival fighting for the attention of a beautiful woman. They did not quite fight to the death but one of them, the American, won. And the American was haunted by the feeling that this particular person was not even a real person; a person with real desires, but, only a conduit to something missing in his own spirit. He had several nights of restless sleep before he had to return to the comforts of his American home.


A powerful venom slips into and out of the mind; we are not sleeping. There are noises and a voice and, alert, we are open to a rage unsuspected even when we raged. It is like a beautiful commandment that fills us with hope, with abundance when we surrender to its taste. It fits into the folds of our mind and hides until it hears a secret word passed through the streets by the secret people. And so the venom drops and expands rapidly through the mind, driving out the deer and meadows that had filled the memory in the off-day. Snakes and enraged genie swirl through the mind. We are driven to the desire to destroy those who taunt us; those who we feel hold some secret message that contains the key to happiness. Or, the key to our eternity. Or, the key to our illusions. while we are intoxicated we are in pain and driven into the grove of White Oak trees where there is spirited singing, They tell us then, 'do not move rapidly; let the blood cool down.'


Life immense and free. Yet, demanding to be reduced down to a fragment. And the fragment creates a myth out of panic, a myth of absolute power so that one is either with it or against it. It is at this stage of things that the healthy soul laughs. What? The whole dissolved into thousands of cults? Where then is the potential to be large and differentiated according to the dictates of the single spirit? The unique people turn out to be historical after all. Are there not chains on the necks of all people born into this period of time? The immensity and freedom do not guarantee success or happiness. Far more suffering goes on in the immense and free existence but it is always redeemed by joy. Perhaps that is what the cult and the members try to gun down. They are threatened by the excitement life takes on when everything is thrown over but its freedom and immense pleasures. The structure of morality, even, is discovered through the emptiness of the sky.


The sky immense? Is there not another sky in another universe? We are made real by what connects us with distant skies of the common universe. Perhaps, one day, we roll into a valley unmarked by the species that destroys. The valley is filled with the sky's pleasure. It is a color running through the solid fabric of its own dream. Machines are heard cleaning the last vestiges of an abandoned city. Happy women tend the flowers that list to the sky's abundance. We are aware of an abyss of dark space that drives the planet and its sky for millions of years. We see then, the creation of the gods. Are they not purposes and desires tossed out on a moonless night? We intuit from the turbulence of the universe that it will be a long time before the adventure begins.


If we could reach out and embrace the events that pass us we would. But, on our first try we find ourselves in the middle of a terrible fire that wants to consume our aspirations. We fight to extricate ourselves from our curiosity and when we are finished the event that has consumed us is down the river; a mere picture that we weakly respond to. It floats still with an enthusiastic band of persons whose destines are formed by the event. Soon enough another one appears and just as we begin to disappear into its implications we pull back and understand, with some joy, that we are free after all. The great event surrounds us, now, on all four sides and has amplified its messages so we stand helpless and passive. Even at this point we treat the event the way Buddha treated the advancing horde of demons under the Bo tree. Do we not want to set a precedent for future generations? The events appears to rob us of precious energy so, now, we avoid contact with it at all costs and learn, rather, the art of conversations and defense.


The victim is hounded out and set on an impossible task. He must do it without speaking but, rather, speak in signs whereby he makes it absolutely clear to several of the more significant personages what he is about and what he is attempting to do. When he first begins they look at him quizzically. They know his task but are determined to see him go through the task. And, finally, they do not know beforehand what it is he is attempting to sign. The victim clears the small area he has to work in and tries again. He clears his throat even though he is forbidden to say anything. As he enacts what it is that has driven him to be a victim he hears the worst sound possible--laughter! No, they are not getting it. The laughter has a kind of sense to it that penetrates the victim and makes him abandon his plan of attack. When the laughter dies down the little space is cleared away once again. The victim now does something totally unexpected. He removes his shoes and forces his head between his legs so that the top of his skull is exposed to the significant personages. His gesture is grasped immediately by the personages and they curse him angrily. If a gun were available they would shoot him, on the spot, without fuss.


We inflate our time and capture the world by accident. Does it punish us then? Does it perform, like nature, astounding acts of defiance? Does it, perhaps, send out the dust motes of a profound pessimism and seed them in the clouds that are always approaching? Are not our men always standing on watch? And then something pulls us back from the world and scolds us like a mother from old traditions. 'I warned you not to venture too far and now look at what you've made of yourself.' But even the mothers voice is not enough to save us. We must believe that something holy exists at the center of us and saves us just as the world turns to crush the spirit out. And when it pulls us back it reduces the vestiges of world back to dust motes. Motes neutered by our new expediency. The world is no match for the holy; worlds upon worlds are revealed by the holy. Treasure on treasure is revealed by the holy. Do we not shout for joy when the world becomes nothing but itself once again? We ask, were they as excited and joyful at the discovery of truth before there was an age of articulation? We see them in our dreams and they concur.


They do not know, but then, they do know something. What they know diminishes the proportion that we may know. So, are they the enemy? Are they the dreaded ones who have been predicted? Are they the pleasant scourges who kill everything in their path but the petty and murder wishes of schoolboys? They do not know just as the ancient sailor did not know that one day a man such as himself would float in space. Captured by the raw sea air and the rigging the sailor and his fellows pass their time making up songs and elaborating on their scenes of cities they have passed through. They do not know but are ready to harm those who do. Beautiful women seduce them back to the old way where the women are still versatile; where they are not thrown to the side. They do not know because their minds have been emptied of beauty and stuffed compactly with facts and truisms. They do not know the world passes over the walls of the dikes and creates panic in the lowlands. They do not know.


There is a madman that haunts the imagination of the ordinary man; a figure that runs through the imagination breaking bones or pulling jaws apart until there is a sickening sound. They forget about the madman until they see or hear something horrible happening; some act of craziness played out in the horrid light of the modern city that denies consciousness rather than re- awakens it. It is the light that reveals rows of absent-minded faces scanning the daily paper and seeing themselves enacted from top to bottom next to the madman enacting his deed.

"Perhaps this madman was like me, reading the newspaper and then, this thing, this thing within took over. Now his life is destroyed. Does the world sit on the shoulder of men waiting for one of them to relent and show the true nature of things?"

They want some evidence of the madman! What? Is this the role the artist plays? The artist has only one thing to teach; that is, all is transformation. Learn the laws of transformation. Transform, even, the madman into some divine object that leads to wonderful things. But, if you do not learn the transformation- beware! Hell welcomes you; demons coronet you!


The reader of books is shamed along the way. The deeper reader of books is killed. Ah, but the deepest reader of books is secretly liberated and pulls manna from the summer disease that fills the hallways of the palace. And he enters the hovel where the spearmen enter, suddenly excited. They forget the guest and quickly run outside where a crude stage is being erected. He listens to the hurried conversations trying to find out what the stage is going to contain. This, he figures, is not a town that erects and destroys stages casually. No, something genuine is occurring. Something is flowing through the area indicating that the four known quarters of the gateless city extend, out, to a world.

Oh reader of books, remove the finger from your delicate orifice! Would that the maker of words and books do so, as an act of love, rather than one of hate and necessity. Oh, reader of books, you can not see the faces of those who have created your slight diversion. The faces remember the alleys of youth and when they read about the ruins of Rome. The faces arm themselves when the world begins to burn. The faces lie to tell the truth. The faces enter realms that destroy sensibility.

Ah, there are realms of books. They are made of books, oh reader of books. The world does not grovel at their feet or turn its mighty head when they pronounce their next agenda. Rivers of mud stop the advance of migratory people. Their flag is stolen from them and they panic. They consult the reader of books who tells them their cause is lost.

"What do I have to do with people I gave up on many years ago?


His mind, packed with the knowledge of what had been done, finally reduced it to a strip of film. On this film danced thousands of characters and scenes, some aggressive, some passive; most of them silent. The loudest voices gave out orders. The most appealing voices were of children playing unless consciously between the lazy dogs and instruments scattered around the rectangular yard.

On this film are the smoke of many fires.

On this film are the silent and stealthy movements of famed people.

On this film are old ancestors toiling in the heat and cold, blaming themselves.

On this film are the noxious acts of human beings, amplified for the pleasure and instruction of the alert.

So, he kept the film in a box and when lazy or needing some stimulus would remove the box from his secret hiding place and play it over again, this time speeded up so all the gestures appeared to him as a machine run amok. It was as though the gods in men wanted to show how absurd they look.


Communications of the air meet midway between the oceans and dispersing laughter and gossip. Suddenly a city falls into their midst and they do not know what to do. Bitterness exhumes those who have built the city and they swirl in anger through the broken streets. Later they are seen despondent at the feet of the oppressors while a constant roar of jets is heard above them.

Communications of the air hear the distant sounds of battle and know they are safe. More cities will slither from them just as the city will incubate more communications of the air.

What great bird will deliver the manna they seek?

And when it falls the dancing whirls through the sky of grey. Lost, then, is the cohesion of what debilitates the fine frenzied mind. It finds a magnificent teat in the nick of time. Ah, a holy day! A day for sacrifices; a day when God is real.

The earth is severed into wafer thin segments to allow the evil souls out into the vacuum they seek. The root-stem fills with health once more and lost, once cherished animals appear from an opening in the woods.

Does this mean we must hear the laws again?


The enlightened man had spent years gaining his wisdom. He had retreated to the deep valleys where no sound exists. He had brought with him a thousand troubles, very specific, and related to the thing that the people worshipped.

"I am concerned with what the people worship and so go into the wood to purify myself," he told his friends.

Years passed and they forgot about him. Did he not forget about himself? He desired more than anything to drive the oppression from him and bring hope back to his disillusioned people.

His friends collected one evening for dinner and were shocked to find their old friend there, among them, half in disguise. The astounded friends couldn't believe it and began to probe him about his experiences. He revealed to them a vision that he could not explain by mere words but expressed anyway. For days on end they celebrated. Great and good health seemed to return to the people.

Filled with the power of acceptance he went to the people and as he revealed his vision was appropriately torn to pieces by the starving women.


Half-crazed after they saw a vision of Christ, a small group of people moved to the city from a rural town. The vision filled them and dispelled the rancid feelings that they were bumpkins; that they were looked down on by city folk. Across the valley, driving, one of them had suggested that perhaps they were the last apostles. And that the final apostles were empowered to tell the people the end of the earth, the end of all we know. They were shown that the city was an empty construct of an old and dying soul. They were shown the collapse of all the systems in place that created the infrastructure. They were shown how the people would go mad, would become hysterical when they realized that they carried the truth. They prepared themselves for the skepticism that would greet them. It was a shock, then, when they first arrived and drove down the long and crowded main avenue. For there, hanging out the windows and lining the streets by the thousands, were demons of every description; howling, waving, smirking, laughing as the group drove its car slowly through.


The music says that every potential lay in the mind and
stirs to life as the soul whispers. Lively and moving
without resistance the soul finds itself, suddenly, in a huge
room that is crisscrossed by an astounding number of fiber thin
string so to move at all one must predict (an impossible task)
how one array of string follows into the next array. Rather, the
soul staggers and attempts to absorb the whole room and grasp in
a moment of time how it is configured and the way to move effectively
in it. Much music is made by the decision the soul makes! After
awhile it becomes the trumpet of its own freedom. From inside
itself it celebrates the glaciations that produce stages of
growth. From the blueness comes the sounds of women preparing
themselves to sing. The soul is curious about them and seeks them
out, not wanting to burst in on them, suddenly, and frighten
them away. The soul does not yet know or comprehend that the
women are prepared for anything and welcome an interruption
in the laborious practice that has taken them this far. The
soul waits for the divine conversation that signals that the
world is ready for its entrance on the stage of things. It
hears itself and is happy.


Let us walk, then, high in the Sierras before the earth is
littered with complexity. We are sufficient and move our
spirits into deep space where we praise the silent face of
the universe. The silence obscures the sound of our feet
gliding and stepping quickly over the thawed ground. Yes,
nothing threatens us, not even the nature that could clamp
down at any moment and extinguish us. Therefore, we whistle.
We whistle high in the mountains, nearly drowning in the pure
air with pure thoughts about pure sex and pure adventure and
the purest death available to the animal. And we know that the
universe has been created and what created the universe
created us, a walker in the mountains and his silent companion;
so that when we feel slightly impaled on a significance we express
through mute and wild gestures, as though, a tribe of enemy men
are climbing the hill to where the women are.


We wander the coaxials of our summer reveries. As we pass through
the transformer our minds light up with stupendous facts about
the geography we are in proximity to. It knows, instantly, the
name of all the plants in the ecosystem of the region. It knows
the few animals that grace a wonderful oasis and which trees
are susceptible to winter frost. The mind travels forward, out
of the range of the land, into the resistance of other human
beings who question the existence of anything so unreal as a message.

But haven't you ever sailed down the Amazon River, hatless,
listening to the musicians of Manaus?

Haven't you ever escaped the robber and, twenty minutes later,
dreamed the most grotesque dream of your life?

Are we not the source of our mutual entertainment and delight?

We begin wishing for the end to our complexities. Must we
travel far to find its source? Doesn't it contain a vestige
of what is not ourselves before we started?

All we hear are the disharmonious cries for help embedded in
the lines


Suddenly, in the canopy of a great machine, suspended in space
the instruments seem alive; they seem cut-off from any knowledge.
I hear the rhythmic vibration and the constant roar of the
engines but it is as if, at any moment, I will drop through a
trap door if I do not press the right button.

And yet, the machine is so much a part of me it is unimaginable
that I would part from it without some fight. It exerts great
pressure on me and in a moment of wistfullness I simply hope
that it takes me to a place of excellence and beautiful women.
Perhaps it will take me to a newly formed country in the midst
of joy and turmoil. We are not allowed to see the great machine
that surrounds us but it informs us, always, that it is with
us and knows us. Perhaps the rumors that the original inventors
are in the bowels of the machines has distracted us enough to save a
momentary lapse of concentration. The inventors are disagreeable people
who explain nothing of what they do.


Who was the wicked man who, like the Roman, wanted not to possess
wealth but to rule those who possess it? Grand stories are revealed
from the opening of a hidden cave where the aroma of some intoxicant
empties into the fresh, uncut air. A woman; it is always a woman,
presses ointment between her breasts and prepares to meet the man
she loathes. He tells her his secrets. She is remembering what he
said last time and whether it did, in the end, make a difference.

The wicked man, unerring in his precision, describes to her
a place in the city where she will find friends. And find the
man who thinks he is perfect. Bring me this man and you will be

The wicked man would stand on the ledge of the mountain and
watch the people move single file through the valley, counting
each one and remembering them; their habitats and dreams.