The Chaos Bodhisattva -- by Alex Ranieri
At a point in time a long way from this one, an enlightened being, having turned from the joys of its state to return to the land of illusions as a Bodhisattva, came upon in purgatory an unpleasant sight. Seven beings, who presumed themselves enlightened, but in fact stood many lifetimes from unresurrection, were gathered around a piece of thin air, to which they bowed and in front of which they humiliated themselves as if the air had been animate. In fact it was the misfortune of these souls to believe they sat in front of the real Buddha. Upon noticing the soon-to-be Bodhisattva, who had merely been trying to pass this sad spectacle unnoticed, they hailed and welcomed it as if this were the place its enlightenment had been reached—this little shelf halfway up the cliff!
The enlightened being stopped, out of politeness more than anything and, in order not to make more Semeles, requested permission from these to pursue the downward path of the Bodhisattva. After conference with their thin air, the poor souls acquiesced with magnanimity, and declared they would await many new enlightened souls from their place next to the Buddha.
The enlightened soul continued its downward spiral, and the others stayed put through many different kinds of time, convinced at each moment they beheld the Buddha. At length, however, time seized them, and each wondered aloud why no one had come to join them at their place (poor souls, little did they know the ones who had passed the sight of them on the upward climb, unnoticed, and lamenting on their behalf). Filled with anxiety by this lack of developments, they determined themselves to return to the place they abhorred more than any other: the land of illusions (little did they realize, poor souls, how close it stood at hand).
They made what seemed to them the awful downward climb, though it was really not so far as could not be a pleasant stroll to a man. When at last they were in the heart of darkness what they found astonished. Everyone, men, women and children, behaved as though they were drunk, their actions utterly shameless, their bodies an indecipherable chaos—people behaved as though they were weeds, with no hope to curate out of them a garden. Even animals behaved in a way not formerly seen—the lion grinned with electric opium eyes, but did nothing besides count the blades of grass in the savannah with obsession, while the lamb tore off first his brother’s wool, then his skin, with his teeth.
In the middle of all this, the source of a constant but ever-changing circle of worship, sat the Bodhisattva. It had taken on the form of a most alluring boy, his beauty of the kind which humbles sighted poets, the kind only Homer could describe after memorizing its contours with the pads of his fingers. This beauty had an intoxicated tinge, the substance against which every child is warned, and yet even the oaks twisted to conform to the curve of his hip.
The souls, aghast and dismayed at this pageant, stopped a nearby old man, who had been dancing in a way completely unsuited to his years and wisdom, and whose lips were purple (the souls dreaded to consider if it wasn’t from wine). The old man looked at the souls as if they were behaving badly.
“We are achieving enlightenment!” He said, and would not be detained any longer, but regained his place in this mad and embarrassing parade.
Enraged by the trickery of this false prophet, the unenlightened souls fought through the circle of adorers, though its womb contracted, tight, almost impenetrable. They fought through many different kinds of time until at last they seized the Bodhisattva, tore him into seven pieces, and threw him into the abyss beyond creation.
After the Bodhisattva’s demise, the circle of adorers spun out into its old patterns, and for this reason we are all as far from enlightenment as we ever were.