Stories of Phil, Chapter 6

The clock showed 2:59 and Phil woke up wide-eyed awake. The room felt funny. He tossed a few minutes and rolled out of bed, grabbed some mexican blankets and folded them until he had his standard zazen setup.

He had given up using zafu cushions. After receiving a wrist watch from some alien named “Ald”,  a constant barrage of bat-shit omnipotent deities trying to gank it from him appeared almost every other day.

He dropped the mexican blankets in a stack in front of a blank wall.

“Blankets easy. Multi-functional,” he chirped.

He took his socks off, bowed to the folded blankets and sat on them in a half lotus posture and stared at the wall. Half lotus was his favorite “can’t get to fucking sleep” zazen posture. Other days when he was more limber he would do full lotus and occasionally he would slum with Burmese style sitting.

With no singing bowl he just said “Ding” and was off to reality. He’d given up singing bowls as well. They usually ran in the hundreds of dollars, and even though he could easily get the watch to make any singing bowl he wanted, Phil was, at heart, a minimalist.

Even with the most powerful piece of inter-dimentional technology attached to his wrist, he kept his simple, dumpy life as is. In fact, he had less stuff than ever.

He sat there in reality. Nothing special. A little uncomfortable but otherwise he was okay. His thoughts started slowing. The wall was there … blank … and blank …

And then it lit up like a big screen TV.

“Ding,” said Phil ending zazen. “Sheesh, can’t a guy get a few moments of peace?”

The wall morphed into a 3D image where he saw a team of ghostly beings frantically working. They were in a control room filled with computers and communication equipment was everywhere. Upon seeing Phil, one jumped up and ran to his supervisor. Phil could see him talking and waving his four arms but could hear nothing.

Phil morsed into his watch the following question. “Who are these people and how do I keep them from breaking into this universe?

A soft voice replied in his head. It was a female, non-emotional and unassuming. Insouciance incarnate.

“They are the Canta. A sophisticated race across many dimensions. They have a deluded being that thinks she is the true monad. Tell me to cross the dimension and change an equation within their system and I will do so and they will short out their entire operation. The extreme cost to rebuild it will delay them way beyond your life cycle.”

Phil morsed back.

“Great. Please do it but don’t harm them please.”

“Done,” whispered the voice.

Within minutes the apparition of the excited beings were confused. Their faces showed that things were going wrong – very wrong. Bedlam broke out. Smoke started spweing and just as their commander gazed down Phil eye to eye with contempt, the connection between the two Universes was severed right after Phil smiled and waved “bye.”

The wall was blank again. He got up, used the bathroom, brushed his teeth, ate a graham cracker, drank some almond milk and returned to the stacked blankets and sat down.

“Ding,” he chimed.

He sat for an hour and went to bed.

Nominated for the Gutsiest Being in the Universe …

“I will not attain enlightenment until all the hells are empty.”

– Jizo, AKA Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Oh Jizo, you look so cute, so powerless, so unimportant. And your mythology is so amazingly, astoundingly boss. The kings of hells and heavens don’t even know your name. And I think … that’s how you like it.

Shh … he doesn’t matter. He has no awards. No stature. No money.

But gosh darn he’s cute!

Phil Coaches a Tween

It was Saturday at 3:00 and Ted Woodland came to be coached on his hitting game. Ted hadn’t come to practice for over a few weeks. His mother had been gravely ill with cancer.

PHIL: “Hey, Ted!”

TED: “…”

PHIL: “Ted, are you okay?”

Ted started crying and Phil instantly knew. He didn’t force a hug he just knelt with Ted and felt what he felt.

“I-I-I don’t know whether or not she is in heaven,” he sobbed.


“M-M-Mom became an Atheist after her depression. S-s-she doesn’t believe she even has a soul.”

“I’m not very good at religion Ted but I know a lot about them. Tell me what does your daddy think?”

Ted wiped the snot from his nose on his sleave, rubbed his eyes and looked up.

“He thinks she’ll be in heaven with him anyway because they were sealed in the temple. He said he will call her name when the resurrection happens.”

“So what does Mr. Ted think?”


Ted turned and choked back more tears. And then he looked at Phil out of instinct.

Phil sniffed and felt a loose bugger in his nose. He took out a handkerchief and blew it free.

“Ted,” asked Phil. “Are you REALLY brave?”

Ted nodded with ferocity through tears.

“Ted, I can’t tell you the truth, but I can let you feel it. Would you like to feel the truth about your mommy?”

Ted nodded.

“Okay, we really can’t tell where and who we are in this Universe of ours. It sucks. But we CAN feel things. But feelings are sometimes wrong too. Have you ever noticed that?”


“This is going to be hard,” said Phil. “So I gotta ask you. Are you really tough?”

Ted nodded. Phil took a baseball bat and gave it to him.

“Right hand only Ted.”

Ted held the bat in his right hand.

“There are two truths about you and your mom I want to show you. One is the truth that she and you both have souls and you are going to be Gods someday in the Mormon Celestial Kindom. Now squeeze the bat with your hand and try to feel that truth completely and growl like it was absolutely true.”

Ted squeezed the handle and growled.

“Did you feel anything strong?”


“Try again.”

Ted tried again. He squeezed harder and growled more.

“Yeah, I can feel something!”

Great now I have ANOTHER truth that is absolutely true. Hold this other baseball bat in your LEFT hand and put the other down. Now. I want you to embrace the idea that your mother is right and there is no soul of you or her and that it is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH. It will feel sad, so growl a little as you squeeze the handle as hard as you can. But admit that you were totally wrong before and embrace that as the truth even though it may feel really sad.

“Those two things can’t both be true!” said Ted.

“No they can’t. Not if the universe is sane.”

Ted dropped the baseball bat. “This is stupid.”

“Yes, it is. Absolutely,” said Phil. “But for now, I want you to embrace this stupid okay?”

Ted’s face softened.

Ted growled as he held the other bat in his left hand and fully accepted that life was empty of soul and pointless.

They went back and forth from right to left a few times with Ted squeezing the truth of soul and the truth of no soul with the baseball bat as the object of each immutable idea.

“Okay Ted, now take BOTH bats and extend your arms in front of you. Touch the bats like this.”

Phil held both bats in front of him arms extended with the bats making an “X” shape touching each other and gave the final instruction.

“Imagine these two truths are like magnets opposing each other and that you have to force them together. They both destroy the other, but you force them into being in unity even though their unity will create insanity. And then, be the true you anyway.”

Phil gave the bats to Ted.

“And growl,” he said, “You gotta growl. You won’t be able to hold this for long Ted. These two bats will fatique you quickly with your arms extended. You can’t hold them forever, but you can FEEL them and the truth about insanity that comes from forcing them together.”

“I’m going to time you,” said Phil. “Hold the opposing bats until I say stop. When you get tired growl even more. If you feel helplessly sad growl ESPECIALLY more. Growl until you roar.”

Phil looked at his watch.


Ted extended his hands touched the bats and his face showed the strain.

Phil started pointing to each bat one at a time while Ted strained to hold the X and shouted their polarity.

“No soul!


No soul!


No Soul!



Ted started to growl.

“Thirty seconds to go Ted.”

Ted growled more. Holding the bats was becomming unbearable.

“Twenty seconds Ted.”


“Ten seconds left.”

Across the park a couple was strolling wistfully when they heard the sound of a roar shaking the trees.

“Wow!” said the woman. “That sounds like the roar of a God.”

“Huh,” said the man, “It sounded to me like the roar of soulless nothing.”

“We both can’t be right!” they said together and laughed.

“Jinx!” she said pointed at her beau.

Two baseball bats hit the dirt and Ted looked up fiercely at Phil.

“Be and be not,” he said.

“Be and be not,” said Phil.

Ted looked up at a late afternoon moon.

“She’s gone forever and lives forever.”

Ted left and Phil walked to a tree and started tapping morse code onto his wrist watch. He went home and the doorbell rang.

“Sir, I don’t know why, but I feel it would serve the good of the Universe to give you a large vegan pizza.”

Phil thanked him and gave him a tip worth more than the price of the pizza if it wasn’t free.

Phil and Susan (Part 2)

Phil was eating a Quarter Pounder with Cheese small fry and water when his Softball Protege’ Susan texted him.

SUSAN: “Choosing sanity while simultanously believing two mutually exclusive postulates of existance is STUPID. We aren’t built to think that way.”


SUSAN: “It’s painful. How do you do it?”

Phil replied with a url attached.

PHIL: “Watch this.”


Phil and Susan (part 1)

“Keep your eye on the ball Susan. I know you have heard that since you were six, but try to FEEL with your being the center of the ball. The exact center.”

“K,” said Susan while choking up on the bat. Susan was 19 with an average physique. She was a physics student at M.I.T. who was an up and comer in fast pitch softball.

Phil returned to the pitchers mound, circled the softball and release a blinding curveball from his hips directly at Susan.


The softball went directly toward Phil’s groin. Phil reached down and caught the ball with his glove before he had time to think.


Phil and Susan laughed. They pointed at each other while walking toward each other until tears brimmed.

“THAT was close!” said Phil, “Let’s end it here.”

“Sure,” said Susan, “Tomorrow.”

They both went home. But later that night Phil got a text from Susan.

SUSAN: “Do u think I have a soul?”

PHIL: “No. And I am absolutely sure and it is an immutable reality. But ask me that EXACT question again RIGHT now.”

SUSAN: “Do you think I have a soul?”

PHIL: “Yes. And I am absolutely sure and it is an immutable reality.”

SUSAN: “That’s insane!”


SUSAN: “How do you hold two mutually exclusive concepts as true?”

PHIL: “Will power. A whole bunch actually.”

SUSAN: But these ideas exclude each other. And if it is tru the the universe itself is insane!”


SUSAN: “So what keeps you from going mad?”

PHIL: “A decision to be sane anyway”

SUSAN: “You BLOWHARD! I should have hit that ball faster this afternoon! :- )”

PHIL: :- P

Phil Levels Up

Phil didn’t start out Awesome. It was a gift.

He was for many years a crappy zen student on earth # P2,300,459X. He would go to Zendo and do the occasional retreat, but mostly he was found reading, playing games and watching videos and doing weird things he thought were meaningful.

He did sit Zazen every day though. And for years he had been doing koan practice at a Zendo. But then he noticed something. His teacher never actually SAT Zazen with everyone.


Oh, he would come sit right before he was to do a lecture in a retreat, but that was it. Other than that, he would only appear in the Zendo to do dokusan (a student/teacher sesssion).

One day, Phil had an interview with the teacher.

“How is your koan practice?” asked the master.

“I’m done with koan practice,” said Phil. “Honestly sir, I think this koan stuff is a bunch of crap. All it does is keep me in front of a teacher with him or her dangling a carrot in front of me and me trying to chase and not chase after it. I’m done with that. I prefer the Soto Zen approach of no koans at all and just letting reality be the koan.”

His teacher’s morphed his facial muscles into a practices look of disappointment.

“As your teacher, I want you to continue.”

“No. Fuck that. I’ll just sit Zazen just like you don’t.”

“Phil, you need to know that I have been doing this for thirty years and we are NOT a Soto Zendo…”

“Yeah, but NONE of that time have I seen you sitting here unless you are picking up a dokusan fee.”

His teacher smiled like he was proud of Phil.

“Phil, you are good student, I accept your point of view, but if you are not going to accept my instruction, you may leave the Zendo.”

“Thanks, ‘may’ means optional,” said Phil, “So I choose to continue to come and practice Zazen in quiet. I just don’t want dokusan anymore.”

“No, ‘may’ is my polite way of saying please go away – for good.”

Phil saw this coming. He reached into his pocked and took out the envelope.

“Nope,” said Phil.

He threw down pics of the Zen teacher with a tell-tale slap on the ground.  The pics showed the teacher getting oral sex from the prostitute that Phil hired to seduce him. Per her report, it took 30 seconds to bag the trick and HE appoached her when she walked by his car.

The teacher banged his fist on his knee in triumph.

“EXCELLENT! I knew only you would find out the truth about me! And I also know you are not the kind of person who would turn me in for this. You aren’t going to do this even IF I throw you out – ARE you?”

Phil’s face showed distress.

“Wow! How did you know?,” said Phil. He couldn’t help feeling impressed at his teacher’s insight.

“I know a Buddha when I see one.”

“So why do koans if we’re enlightened already through the Soto practice of Shikentaza or Just sitting?”

“Just the way things work here Phil. Helps pay the property taxes. Koans are the financial gravy train of Zen. But believe me when I say the gravy is thin. I also know you are never going to reveal that I said that to anyone either are you?”

Phil sighed again. He gave a gassho with his hand and let the screen door of the zendo close behind him as he left. He walked through a park and noticed a tree and approached it. He decided that even though he was not welcome there anymore, he was going to keep his zazen schedule anyway.

He walked into a park and looked up at the sky. He pondered the UFO mysteries as he gazed at Venus. Tonight, she was particularly bright.

“Hi there,” said the alien.

“CHRIST!” yelled Phil while turning around, “You scared the shit out of …”

” of … of…!”

The alien waved. Then he did the Spock “Live long and prosper” hand sign to be cute.

The alien was slender, and not like anything in any Sci-Fi movie. He was human looking in many ways but obviously … not. The biggest difference was in his lips. The top lip was red and the lower lipo was ebony.

“Okay Phil, now for the questions to see if you are really as good as our scouts say you are. First of all, what is your soul really AFTER you drop body and mind?”

Phil answered without a blink.

“The soul is the paradox of the impossible-nothing intentionally not existing.”

“Good. What is your mind and human experience?”

“Everything I experience as ‘I’ is an illusion. It is a product of the universe and my body. I have what feels like free will but I really don’t. It’s a dream. If ‘I’ exists, it’s not the ‘I’ I think it is.”

“So how do you know if you dropped the false ‘I’ and are living naturally as a free paradox?”

“Body and mind just vanish with their delusions and then I can observe my body/mind make delusions. THAT act of observation is the paradox of the impossible nothing. Whenever I’m aware of its awareness, anything I want to do naturally is the will of the Universe. Unless, of course, this also is a created delusion in another universe.”

“Not bad. Tell me about you and the Tao, and me and the Tao.”

“The Tao and I are not separate. We are I-Tao. Or in Steve-Jobs-ese – ‘iTao.’ The you and the Tao are not separate. You are the You-Tao or in You-Tube-ease – ‘YouTao’. But your YouTao and my iTao are NOT the same. We are unique, but fully Tao, yet we share a common reality that is beyond time and space.”

“So what about science and this fantastic claim you are making?”

“Science will NOT support this because it is outside of its system. A system cannot understand itself. Any attempt to prove the existence of iTao will fail and provide only evidence that it is not likely to exist. Scientists aren’t wrong at all about there not being an observable soul, and they are being intellectually honest in saying so. Science kicks ass in every universe and its wrong is superior to the wrong of superstition. Cuz the way I see it I like Science’s wrong better.”

“Okay then, so what creates Universes?”

“There are infinite ways to make universes. For a soul to exist in a co-created universe, dynamic paradoxes arise from beings that are themselves dynamic paradoxes. And the paradoxes are all based on mutual exclusive declarations with each raging for dominance over another in infinite ways.

“Okay. So how then to two contradicting truths ACTUALLY create a Universe?”

Phil took a long, slow inhale through the back of his teeth and looked deep into nothing and just let it flow.

“Here is my best guess. Different beings hold different truths that motivate them toward acting for their creations. For exampke, two cement workers don’t have to both be Christians to build a sidewalk. Each of them are doing it for a lower reason – a paycheck. The Christian thinks his work for the paycheck is for God’s glory and the atheist wants to advance humanity. The key is how each of them observe the universe through their life lens. If one can convince the other to change their primary way of observing life, the Universe of the other CHANGES into the Universe of the convincer but with the SAME sidewalk and chewing gum circles.”

He took a deep breath and continued.

“BUT … it’s still the same Universe – just like how if a Christian convinces an atheist to become a believer, the sidewalk they built together STAYS the same, but the effects of the shared reality are now different. But in any case, the truth, the REAL truth is never static. It’s evolving and can never be finally defined. It CAN however, be experienced fully. It can be drawn upon. And we can become it. But to do so, we must not BELIEVE in it at all while trusting it completely. We must abide fully as both it’s delusional product with no free will at all AND its omnipotent master with complete and total free will. We can hold that paradox by the balls. For this reason, the differing points of view of infinite Taos can co-exist and create a universe.”

“That doesn’t answer the question beyond psycho-babble bullshit,” said the Alien.


“Okay, let’s go on,” said the Alien, “How does this happen when there are no co-creators at all?”

“In such a Universe, it’s exactly as Science describes. It comes out of nothing and nobody creates it at all. Also the EXACT same universe can be created by a Supreme being that is so advanced technologically that he can make it happen just because he says.” said Phil.

“So how do you know which universe ‘you’ are in and if ‘you’ are really ‘you’ at all?”

“You don’t,” said Phil. “That’s the gag.”

The alien smiled big.

“Yes, that is the gag. My name is Ald,” said the alien. “Nice to meet you Phil. So … um … one last question. Do you have free will?”

Without a moment Phil declared with a crazy certainty.

“No. I’m just a hunk of meat.”


Phil with the exact same deep conviction declared.

“No. I have total free will and can create anything within my imagination.”

“How can you say both?”

“Because the Tao is fucking insane. It’s a paradox.”

“YES! Said Ald. The Tao is insane! And that is the reason it cannot be mastered and only served. You cannot solidify a contradiction!”

Ald handed Phil a wrist watch. It was a standard issue World War 2 Benrus wrist watch. The watch famous for the line “Gentlemen, synchronize your watches” in old WWII movies.

“It’s dumpy,” said Phil.

“That’s CLASSIC dumpy to you, Phil. This watch is so normal that nobody will dare desire to steal it from you as a watch. Also, all the wear is faux – kind of like how they distress denim jeans. It will ALWAYS look exactly like this. It won’t scratch – ever. I programmed it to understand your version of English. Use Morse Code by depressing the face on it to spell out commands.”

Phil was stunned. He stammered, “What does it do?”

“Almost anything.”



“Why are you giving ME this?

“I’m asking you if you are willing to use it across infinite universes to help kids that play better baseball. They need a being to teach them to face their fears and understand the universes of raging paradoxes and the limitless power and utter helplessness within the paradox of the be/not-be soul. If you teach them correctly, you will never have to say a word about the Tao or anything. Your presence will liberate them. They will just seem to figure out the answers like they were their ideas all along. However, you must practice your sitting everyday. And you must hide this from everyone. You also must never tell them that you practice Zen or anything about the soul/no-soul paradox. If you don’t want to do it, give me the watch back.”

Phil blinked. He blinked again. He blinked a third time deeply and quipped.


“Baseball? Really? I don’t even play Baseball. Okay, where is the camera?!”

The alien smiled.

“And since you called yourself an iTao … there is  ‘one more thing’ before your life is in deep peril.”

Phil steeled his gaze.

“Almost every God in the Universe-Continuum wants your wrist watch, Phil. So don’t be surprised when a pan-dimensional demigod with five heads comes raging at you with an army of snarling green demons wearing blue jumpers.  Just figure out a way to survive.”

Phil laughed out loud.

Ald got stern. “You have three minutes before they are here, Phil. Your first power-crazed demigod is cracking this Universes’ physics as we speak. I’ve  adjusted the timeline of his arrival unbeknownst to her. She thinks she’s going to arrive before I give the watch to you, but she’s actually going to bust through in three minutes. Since you don’t know how to use Morse code yet take this card.”

Phil took the card. It read, “The International Morse Code.” The universe started shaking like an earthquake. But instead of the ground, it was space itself. stars, clouds, earth. air, water EVERYTHING was shaking.

Ald picked up the pace.

“I took the liberty of providing you a portal to another Universe run by yet ANOTHER whacked out supreme being.”

Phil felt his knees going weak and he yelled out.

“Even though everything was shaking nothing is breaking. No …. no … no …”

“You can use the watch to transport anywhere in the Universes but it takes time to code in the information. Time you often don’t have RIGHT NOW.”

The sky showed a bright shining crack from pole to pole. It was getting thicker.

Ald looked at his watch.

“Yup. It’s time. Now, for the reasons you can clearly see above, you always need a portal close by to get out of the way of a Supreme Being that’s hell bent on getting your watch. Use the watch to create portals as SOON as you arrive to another Universe.”

The sky above them opened like a flower and a torrent of hideous green demons in blue jumpers descended from the sky.

The portal opened next to Phil and the Alien. It was suspended two feet off the ground within an ornate picture frame.

“Just dive through the Art Deco Picture frame and I’ll catch up to you sometime soon. Just use the watch if you need me.”

“I hate art deco.”

Ald laughed. “I know that. I chose it just for you.”

Ald dove through first abandoning his ship.

Phil beheld the descending, snarling mass of big ugly peeling out of the sky portal.

“I get a tool more powerful than the Green Lantern’s ring and the most enlightened minds of the universe want me to fucking coach BASEBALL TO KIDS?”

But somehow, it felt right. He knew somehow he could trust Ald. He was strangely calm as the hoard descended.

“Well, I guess I need a catchphrase.

“Cowabunga? Nah. Thats taken.”

“Geronimo? Nah. Bow ties suck.”

The hoard was less than a hundred yards away when Phil screamed in terror at their snarling drooling hungry eyes.


He dove through the portal with the worst catch phrase ever as the portal shut behind him, leaving the snarling demons on the other side.