Cassandra’s Class

The class walked in. On the board was a simple statement:

The chalkboard had a header with six inch letters, “SIT IN SILENCE WITH YOUR HANDS FOLDED OR GET A ZERO ON TODAY’S QUIZ.”

Beneath it was today’s quiz written in cursive.

“TODAY’S QUIZ: What if the issue of freewill or determinism is not the issue? What if the issue is Freewill AND Determinism and how you liberate in BOTH right now and forever? Now DO IT right now!”

She sat throughout class reading a magazine while standing at the podium. As some student’s got bored and got up to leave she cut them down with one sentence.

“Leave and you will flunk my class and not just today’s quiz.”

They sat back down.

She took her rubber-tipped pointer and tapped the question with intention.

Time passed and all hands stayed folded. Eye rolls and body language spread rumors of her obvious insanity.

Five minutes before the bell, she erased the message. One student had a tear running down her cheek. Cassandra broke her pointer in half across her knee and put it in the trash.

The bell rang.

***

Post Script

After the bell, the girl who cried retrieved the pointer, went to her father’s wood shop and joined the two halves together herself using a drill press, dowel and Elmer’s Glue. She hung it over her fireplace years later.

Phil Leading Philosophy Class

The discussion was typical.

A materialist was materialist-izing; a spiritualist was spiritualist-izing and a quantum-woo-woo-ist was quantum-woo-woo-ist-izing over the topic of free will.

And just like in the thousands of years prior to today, it was still not going to resolve into a clear answer. The Materialist pointed to current neuroscience, the spiritualist pointed to paradox of soul and mathematical realism, and the quantum-woo-wooist was quoting the movie “What the BLEEP Do We Know.”

Phil was supervising the repetitive arguments while chewing gum; he held a piece of chalk in his hand while facilitating the discussion after class.

The room was empty for the next period, and Phil felt like taking a few extra minutes before dropping one of his “stunners” to end the argument, walk out of the room and look all smug and self-confident like he had done in countless other universes before. But this time, in Kansas.

While the Quantum-Woo-Woo champion rambled on, Phil wrote a simple statement on the wall …

“If you have to rely on a scientific, mythological or philosophical crutch to prove to yourself that you exist and have free will, then your existence and Free Will depends on something OTHER than yourself – so you don’t have it.”

And he walked out.

The sound of a shared Baby Ruth candy bar filled the room as the wrapper crinkled between them.

Cassandra Fable – Sine Wave

Cassandra was finishing up her class on Differential Equations at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The students were getting their things together and a Christian asked an Atheist.

“So, you really don’t believe in God? Do you believe you have a soul?”

“No, answered the boy.”

Cassandra stopped. Gestured for them to look at the board.

She wrote the phrase “THIS IS A BULLSHIT TAUTOLOGY” across the top of the chalk board.

Beneath it she drew an X axis, a Y axis and a sine wave starting at zero.

In the positive “Y” half of the graph she wrote “Being.”

In the negative “Y” half of the graph she wrote “Not Being.”

She labeled the X-Axis “Time.”

She turned and looked at them. Then she returned to the board and wrote.

“The average of the sine wave is 0 across infinity.”

She looked at them. Turned and wrote again.

“The starting POINT is (0.0).”

She turned and looked at them again. This time with attitude and wrote two more lines.

“A point is that which has no part.” – Euclid

“Soul’s do not exist, therefore a soul is also that which has no part,” – Cassandra

“Therefore Point = Soul.

She turned and looked at them for a full ten seconds pointing at her quote, then she laughed out loud as she erased the board. She then walked out of the room, her heels clicking down the hall with a tone of joyful clarity.

The boy checked out her ass as she left and made a wish to God himself.

He finally figured out what she was really saying in his forties. It was the memory of Cassy’s ass that brought it all back to him.

He was deep like that.

The girl got a degree in engineering and became a minister’s wife.

 

Phil Fable – Phil Becomes God

Phil was sitting with his mutt on a park bench in New York City at Thomas Payne park. A lot of people don’t know why Thomas Payne has a park names after him in New York City. The reason is because the great writer died a homeless drunk on its streets. In his later years, Payne was ostracized by almost everyone because of a book he wrote. It’s title?

“Age of Reason.” Payne vicious attack on Christianity, Judiasm and Islam. 

Many people think Payne had bi-polar disorder. He was a drunk. He couldn’t keep a job. He sucked with money. 

But he literally wrote America into existence with his book “Common Sense.” And no book had the courage of “Age of Reason” and Payne almost paid for that book with his life in France. 

Phil sat there thinking about how New York City did this to both Thomas Payne and Nicola Tesla who both died penniless world changers. He thought about the intolerance of religion and went back to the day before when he was accosted by a religious zealot. Their conversation reverberated in Phil’s head. 

“You really like this Jesus guy huh?” said Phil. 

“Well, HE CHANGED MY LIFE. And I want you in heaven with me!” said the Zealot. 

“I don’t believe God exists anymore as you describe,” said Phil. 

This started the well-worn standard “Does God Exist” debate with the Zealot giving out the same old arguments skeptics have shot down for years to no avail. Eventually, like many such conversations, it comes down to the good-old finisher – the God of the gaps. 

“Well,” said the Zealot. “You can’t prove he DOESN’T exist.” 

Phil smiled. He’d been waiting a long time to hear that come up. 

“True. And you know what? There is something I forgot to tell you. I’M ACTUALLY GOD. Yeah, that’s right. I made this universe and then I became a man again. Not to save the world like Jesus did. No, it was just to enjoy it. You may kneel if you like.”

“YOU ARE GOD?” mocked the Zealot. 

“Yup. Kneel.”

“So pick up the stone with your mind if you are God.” 

“Easy Satan, Jesus didn’t fall for that when he met HIS devil in the desert. It seems I have met mine here. Let me explain. In this incarnation of my divine nature, I have forgone ALL my powers.” 

Phil looked at the world around him with great love and admiration. 

“No, I gave them all up to just be here. Nothing fancy. Just my work before me. You too. I made you. In fact, I have made so many universes, your mind cannot fathom their number.” 

“Sir, I caution you that you are being blasphemous right now.” 

“It’s not blaspheme if it’s true.” 

“Well then, if you are God, did Jesus rise from the dead?” 

“That’s a spoiler. Sorry. You have to keep it on faith. If I told you that answer you wouldn’t need faith would you?”

“You’re GOOD,” laughed the Zealot. “I’ve never met someone like you before. But come on. You really need to stop kidding yourself. The Bible says…” 

“SHUT UP!,” demanded Phil. “DON’T YOU KNOW YOUR GOD WHEN YOU SEE HIM?” 

The zealot stepped back. He started praying his eyes tightly shut …

“Dear Jesus, help this man see your grace, your sweet, sweet grace.”

He opened his eyes and Phil’s face and eyeballs were one inch away from his. 

“Boo.” said Phil. 

The zealot bounced back. He started walking away from Phil hastily. 

Phil pursued him from behind trumpeting his Godhood with the same logic the Zealot used earlier. 

“Can you prove that it is NOT true? Can you prove that I am NOT God? Can you? Well, that’s the point isn’t it. If you are going to base your tautological beliefs on what is NOT provable, then why be some God’s BITCH when you can be the GOD HIMSELF! Why waste such power? Can you prove that YOU are not God?” 

The zealot turned around. 

“I”ll pray for you.’ 

“You mean TO me right?”

“NO!”

“Why so great a no? I can’t prove your God doesn’t exist and you can’t prove I am NOT the God you worship.” 

“I”m done here,” said the Zealot. 

“Wait, one more thing, and I promise I will let you go. I gave you free will after all. I want to say ONE thing to make it all right.” 

The Zealot stood still – waiting. 

“I’m not really your God.”

“Thank you,” said the Zealot.

“I know your God doesn’t exist anymore because I captured Him myself. He was a gene-torturer and guilty of celestial war crimes among the continuum of monads. He had to be taken out, and it was my job. I did it with this wrist watch.”

Phil held up his left wrist and continued. 

“It sucked him up just like in Ghost Busters. I’m sorry. It was for the betterment of the rest of the multiverse. I can assure you, though that we didn’t send him to a hell like he did to trillions. We didn’t stoop to HIS level. Nobody deserves hell. Let’s just say he can’t hurt anyone anymore …” 

The zealot just walked away. 

A pretty girl captured Phil’s attention back to where he was. A fall leaf blew and lodged itself agains his trowser as Phil petted Mickey. Mickey put his chin on his knee and Phil felt Mickey’s tiny chin bones cut into his thigh. He thought about the Zealot and realized that his conversation had NO impact whatsoever. 

“You remember don’t you Mick. Oh, that Jehovah was NOT happy! I still shudder at the look in His face as he was sucked into the A-11…” 

Cassandra Fable – Nursing Duty

“What are you thinking?”, asked the red headed nurse to the soldier. 

“I-I-I-m wondering if I’ll get back home. The doctor isn’t too positive looking.” 

“He’s tired,” she said. “He has long days tending the massive influx of incoming wounded.”

“When I get back, I want to go back to Harvard.”

“What were you studying there.”

“Philosophy. I have an interest in Philosophy, especially in Eastern Philosophies.”

“Oh, like Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Taoism?”

“You seem to know a lot for a nurse. You’re as smart as you are gorgeous.”

“I do tend to arise more than in men than just their spirits,” she smiled.

He smiled back and said, “General Grant will prevail. The Union will be saved.”

“So I hear,” said Cassandra. “It seems more likely every day.”

She changed out his bandage on his leg, careful to not let him see the rapidly spreading gangrene into his abdomen. 

“How’s my thigh?” 

“I”m not a doctor. He’ll have to let you know.” 

“If it’s gangrene, I’m a goner it’s too high to amputate.

“We’ll see,” said Cassy. 

Cassy finished dressing the wound and was about to get up. 

“Since you know all about eastern religions, what do you think Enlightenment is?” he asked. 

“What do you think?” 

“I think it’s a secret and amazing power to overcome all suffering.” 

“Really? That’s not what I think.” 

“What do you think?” 

Cassy gave a dumb look and said, “I’m no philosopher like you.” 

“Tell me. I know I’ll never get to have you like I want you, at least you can tell my what you think. I may not be here next week. This may be it.” 

She sat down on his bed and leveled with him. 

“You’re not going to be here much longer. The gangrene is in your abdomen. You’re not going back to Harvard. But I can tell you right now what enlightenment really is. What it is once you strip away all the bullshit, religious nonsense, flowery words and mystical stuff. Are you ready?”

The boy’s face was ashen. 

“You look ready NOW,” she said. 

She took out two pre-rolled cigarettes and gave one to him and herself. She lit a match lit his first and then hers. 

She took a puff and spewed a puff of smoke into the air with such sensuality the entire ward almost came at once. Nobody ever took their eyes off of Cassy. 

She bent over and whispered to him.

“Enlightenment, my dear Todd Cowen, is to love your fate absolutely and to grant yourself grace when you cannot do even that. Enlightenment is shared and co-dependent – you need others to help you sustain it. That said, I would say that Enlightenment is the eternal decision to never be a coward with reality.” 

She took another puff and said. 

“It’s fucking courage – and not the puffed up kind. The quiet kind. The resolute kind. YOUR kind.”

She tipped her cigarette at him to make the point. Then she continued. 

“Do you know how I know you are strong?” she asked. 

“H-H-How?”

“Because you will face death soon. Life makes the most amazing creatures, and her greatest gift to all is that it makes every one of her children strong enough to face death — even if they think they cannot. That is why I love life, and why I love YOUR life.

She winked at him. And then spoke with stark clarity. 

“I think you should write a letter while you can. You can dictate it to me. I will make sure your loved ones get it.” 

He rustled to a sitting position. 

“I want them to remember me as brave…” he said. 

“I assure you I will,” she said. 

She got up quickly and returned with paper and pen. She held the writing board and paper in one hand with the the cigarette and the pen in the other. She set the ink bottle on the floor. 

“Dear Mom, Dad and Trix…” he began.

Phil Fable – Self-Help Don’t Work In Hell

It was a fire hell. Nothing special. It just plain sucked as only a hell would. There are a bazillion of them in all kinds of interwoven multiverses, monoverses, Jehovah-verses, Ron-Verses or Satanic-verses…

This one, though, had a gimmick.

It was a brain hacking device that was surgically attached to each condemned member’s head. As their brains made adjustments to deal with the pain of the environment, the program would adapt so that the pain would not be lessened by familiarity. So no matter how much one would adapt to the environment, the program would reset the brain chemistry to day one.

“Ahhhhhh!” cried Phil, in agony.

“Uhhhh-Uhhhh-Uhhh,’ moaned Cassandra.

As the fire licked their flesh, the pain only intensified on a curve engineered to produce optimal overwhelm. They writhed. They wrenched. Unconsciously, they twisted and pulled so hard that joints went out of place. Demons would appear to put them back into place so they could only come out again.

All notions of self – gone.
All notions of freedom – gone.
All notions of obviating the obviation – gone.

Suckness reigned.

Time was slowed to a crawl with every second offering nuances of an intense suck-ti-tude. 

The lead demon placed one glass of water between Phil and Cassandra, they both fought each other trying to get to it. No friendship remained, it was purely a survival mechanic running in their heads. No support. No alignment. No love.

Phil smashed Cassy’s head against the ground and made for the water. Cassy drug his foot back crawled on his back and bit into his neck.

The bite was nothing compared to the flames. Phil just blew it off as he crawled for the water with Cassy on his back.

Cassy released her bite, put her hand under Phil’s chin and her other hand at the base of his skull and twisted.

“C-C-C-R-ACK!” went Phil’s neck.

Cassy got the water. She downed it and went back to writhing in pain, guilt and despair. Demons came and reset Phil’s neck.
Phil cursed the gods, Cassy cursed the fates. Each blamed the other. Phil attacked her for taking HIS water…

Hell. It got worse and worse

((ONE MILLION THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY FOUR YEARS LATER…))

A bubble appeared in front of Cassy and Phil.

In the bubble sat a simple brown girl holding a jewel. The girl didn’t say anything. Instinctively, Phil and Cassy knew something there could grant any wish.

“FREE US!” they cried.

The girl shook her head “No” but extended her bubble around them. For the first time in a million plus years, they were out of pain and in the force-bubble of the sweet brown girl.

Phil and Cassandra lay on her floor quivering – knowing the pain was going to return. Knowing that hope was pointless and it was the OTHER’S FAULT!  They just KNEW this was another diversion. They twisted like serpents on the floor twitching over and over.

The girl touched Phil. His skin was hard scales now. His eyes, long burned out, were sockets. Cassandra was the same.

“Do you know what you are to me?” she asked them.

They just lay on her ground twitching.

“YOU are the LIGHT of my life. YOU ARE MY HEROES. YOU are the mighty ones. ! YOU ARE WHAT I ASPIRE TO BE! This is a hell I cannot yet bear!”

They kept twitching on the floor, their bodies reacting strangely to the lack of agony.

“And neither can you bear this hell without one such as I. We are necessary for each other in such places.”

The brown girl linked into the two devices attached to their heads, added in some lines of code and reset them. Then she pulled out two tiny blobs that looked like warts.

“You have lost all things, your self, your integrity and you KNEW THAT going in. Such bravery is not unnoticed. You see these two warts? They aren’t warts. They’re eyes. They’re invisible to your tormentors, but with them you will be able to see. Your tormentors will think your eyes are gone.”

She smiled at them with deep satisfaction. 

“You will see each other to lead each other out of here and then liberate the rest. I’ve hacked your equipment so that you CAN normalize the environment to your biology. This will be a home for you but you must never let your tormentors know you have been aided. And now I must bless you…”

She placed the warts on their fore-heads and drew to herself the crumpled forms of Phil and Cassandra and brought both their ears to her lips.

“I bless you to LOVE this. I empower you to LIVE this. I embrace you to EMBRACE this Hell as your life.”

Phil spoke in a gasp to her ear but loud enough for Cassandra, “So … this … is … hell?”

Cassandra groaned in reply into her other ear “Once … MORE … then.”

Phil in His Hamster Bubble Jawing With a Bird Man

Phil sat on a rock looking down (or up?) upon the planet his moon was spinning around. He looked at his watch. It was 11:15 but that didn’t matter cuz the moon had a thirty three hour, seventeen minute and forty two second day. 

He sighed, rubbed his eyes, reached into his pocket and pulled out the wrapper of a sandwich. It was empty. He tossed it on the floor of his force bubble.  

As expected over 500,000 space ships of all size appeared around the moon, with weapons aimed directly at him and it. Phil waved to them all. After about forty one minutes, one descended toward Phil ominously. 

The ship landed about 50 yards away on a stone. A door opened and out walked a feathered biped in a eco-suit.. 

“It took a long time to find you,” said the feathered one. 

Phil showed surprise that it knew English. 

“I made it hard,” said Phil, “I had no idea what you wanted. But eventually, one grows tired of the chase and decides to just see what happens if one stops running,” 

Phil’s A-11 kept a spherical force shield between him and the bird man. It also kept him from freezing to death from the moons icy atmosphere. 

“We just wanted to ask you something.” 

“Really? With over five hundred thousand space ships chasing me across the universe, and all you want to do is ask me something?” 

“Yeah.” 

Phil thought of a snappy comment to this that would have sounded good in a movie, and decided to skip it and go right to the point.

“Sure. Ask away. I gotta tell you though I suck as a guru.”

“Yes, but YOU were trusted with … IT,” said the feathered being pointing to the A-11 wrist watch.

“We want to know why, and maybe see what it was about you that got you chosen to wear it. And if you are that worthy, we want to know your opinion on the one question we have all sought. Look above me and you see ALL my people. All of us. We are here to talk to YOU.”

Phil was quiet for a moment out of respect. It SOUNDED genuine, but Phil had fallen for that before. 

“… um … THANK YOU for learning English by the way. I’m from the United States of America – a land of the monolingual white people that nurture a delusion that they will learn another language someday.” 

“We are called the Renkas. Our flock of ships is our home. We need no star anymore.” 

“So the heavens are home to you?” 

“Yes.” 

“Friend, I got nothin on THAT,” said Phil. 

“You have THAT,” pointed the feathered friend to the A-11. 

Phil shrugged. 

“Yeah, about THAT. I was never told WHY I got the A-11. So everything I would say is pure speculation. My best guess is that people thought that I wouldn’t be stupid with it. And so far, I haven’t been. Am I going go get to learn more of your people?” 

“Certainly. And we fully expect you to maintain your forcefield while we show you around.” 

“Thank you,” smiled Phil. “So … ask away.” 

The Renkasian, paused dramatically. 

“The A-11 allows the connection of multiple manifestations of you across universes and realities to communicate with testable outcomes. With such an amazing piece of technology, are you still truly fucked by impermanence or have you become trans-mortal, a being that is both mortal AND immortal at once?” 

“Oh, I’m still fucked,” said Phil. 

“That’s too bad,” said the Renkasian. 

“Sorry,” said Phil. “No matter what answer one comes up with technologically, eventually impermanence is going to kick your ass and end your life and lives… but …” 

The feathers on his friend ruffled a little.” 

“Well … I have a better solution than the A-11. Suppose you and manifestations of you in other Universes BOTH by random chance THINK of the other. And you both, out of random chance decide to connect to imagined versions of your selves by a practice of ‘no practice’ like Zazen where NO metaphor is used at all. You are just facing the other with no expectations. Are you in some way in communion with your other selves even IF there is no actual entangled connection? An earth math nerd named Kurt Godel calls this out in his 14 Points in point 11: ‘The higher beings are connected to the others by analogy, not by composition.’ So the use of Zazen which is not a metaphor or analogy can be used as the vehicle for analogy to CONNECT by analogy not composition across the abyss.  STILL leaving you fucked. But less so.” 

“Interesting,” said the Bird Man. “We’ve thought of that. It sucks compared to your A-11. That is why we must develop our own version of the A-11, but I know if we attack you now to acquire it that it will be in vain. We also know that you are too stupid to know how it works.” 

“Maybe THAT’S why they trusted me!” said Phil. “That’s me, a mix of stupid and not-stupid that somehow works.” 

“Do you really want to know more about us or were you being polite?” 

“I was being polite,” said Phil honestly. “But I admire your planet-less existence.”  

“Goodbye then.” said the Birdman. “Send us a message if you want to know more about us.” 

“Will do. Goodbye,” said Phil. 

The fleet of spaceships disappeared into hyperspace. Phil started tapping on his watch in morse code. A big bowl of stir-fried cabbage with black eyed peas and green chili enchilada sauce appeared. He ate it as he watched the wind make waves on a methane sea.