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.

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