When he awoke, it took a while for him to adjust to his surroundings. It could not be called black, it could not really be called anything. It was not absence of light, it was absence of even the absence of light. It was a dark greyness beyond even the nothingness of black.
Except there was the stream. If stream it be correct to call it. For it somehow conveyed the sense of being a torrent greater than the Tigris, greater than the Tiber, or the mighty Amazon. Greater than the Styx. And its flow, it was not water.
As he peered closely he could see individual droplet almost, rushing by in a torrent. Except- here and there were ones that did not move, hit by the rest of the torrent, bubbling, writhing in agony almost. He could feel their pain.
And suddenly he was aware of Him. The One. He did not need to ask who The One was. He knew, in his heart. Time. Logic. Reality. The Primal Cause. The Alpha, the Omega. Consciousnes. Being. Entity. Existence.
He: Why am I here?
The One: Did you not ask to come here? Have you not been asking all your life?
He pondered before replying: Perhaps. I have had questions. But I’m not sure I have known what answers I sought. The One: Because you did not realise what the question was. But now you know in your heart of hearts. And now you get the answer. Now you know, in your hearts of hearts already what that answer is.
He: I simply want to find my path to contentment.
The One: And you know you will never find it. Just as you know you will never find your path to happiness. You are Zero. And you knew that all along. You have spent your life running from it, scared to face the truth. All who are born zero do. They torture themselves running all their lives, seeking that which is denied them.
He: And what am I meant to feel?
The One: Nothing. You are Zero. You were born to be Zero. When you seek happiness, you will find only misery. When you seek contentment, you will find only torment. When you seek to be loved, you will be hated. When you seek to be admired, you will be reviled. That is what it means to be a Zero. Only when you accept that you will receive no rewards, that for you there is no pleasure and no pain, that YOU, YOU are the sacrifice, then you will get what is yours; nothing. No pleasure, no pain. Seek nothing, gain nothing. You will have what you need to have, not what you deserve.
He: I am not real, am I?
The One: No. Not in the sense others are. They have Free Will, you do not. You are Simply a feature of the programme. You are Zero.
He sat on the bank of the stream of souls and watched. He: It’s Karma, isn’t it? It’s about Karma.
The One: Yes. Karma is the only thing makes the universe possible. Karma IS the reconciling principle that makes a Free Will universe predetermined. The end of the Universe is fixed in time, the course of the universe is governed by inevitable laws. The bigger picture will always be the same, no matter how many times this universe is run. And yet- it is governed by random laws. Quantum certainty. At a fundamental level it is unpredictable, yet on the universal skill, it is predictable down to the very second it will expire. Karma makes that possible.
He: There is a balancing force to Free Will.
The One: Yes. The universe is governed by Free Will. The fact that a particular multituberculate one hundred and twenty million years ago stops to eat a fern and therefore doesn’t get hit by a falling tree could have major consequences. In another alternate universe, he may die. For him to have the Free Will and yet things ultimately to always lead the same way, the price of his Free Will has to be paid. There need to be periodic staging points in the flow of the universe where the universe rights itself, puts itself on its predestined course, tidies up the messy zig-zagging of all this Free Will.
He: And these staging points think they are real. But they aren’t. They are static, features of the programme, activated when the tide of souls hits it, and they balance out the combined Free Will of the souls. They become whatever variables are needed to balance out however much the universe is out by.
The One: Yes. That about sums it up. Everyone else is playing for redemption and has Free Will to decide. But Zeros are the sacrifice. The universe is predestined, so they are redeemed if it balances things out, they are damned if that balances things out. They are the pawns of Karma.
He: So I am not alive?
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The One: You are. You just have no Free Will. You will do what you need to, whatever that is. You will balance your share of the burden of the Karmic debt, whatever that is. If your share of the Karmic debt demands you live a live of miserable suffering, you will do so. And you will only stop suffering once you accept it.
He: So what can I hope for?
The One: Acceptance. Accept that you are the Sacrifice. That you have no Power over whether you go to Heaven or Hell. That is the will of the universe. That you lack the freedom to decide that, so your fellow beings can have the choice.
He: So I must live life without hope?
The One: You must live life without hope for yourself. You must accept that it is necessary for you to be conscious so you can think. But you must stop feeling. As far as you yourself are concerned. But not stop feeling the world around you. Just start accepting that you are not real. Everyone else is. And that since you have not the capacity to be happy or content yourself, try give it to them, in whatever ways you can. Imagine you are there- but not. Capable of doing, but not capable of being done to. Destroy yourself. Cease to be aware. Be a tool. Submit. Be pure logical consciousness, divorce yourself from flesh.
He: Would that not make me soulless?
The One: Of course. But then Heaven and Hell mean nothing to you. You would be aware of neither. Because neither is real. It is simply that for living souls, the last moment of life lasts for eternity. How the soul feels about release. Contentment, or bitterness. If you have learned how to be a Zero, by your death you will no longer feel either. You will feel what a Zero should feel.
He: And that is? The One: Nothing. Nirvana. He: So what you are saying is- so that others can enjoy the chance to choose between everlasting bliss or everlasting torment, I should live my life rejecting both, but striving for eternal nothing?
The One: Yes.
He: What if I take my chances? You yourself say, its up to the universe. I may be damned, I may be saved, but I can hope. I can hope the universe lets me go to Heaven and not Hell.
The One: Think on it. Think what YOUR choices are. He looked at the stream, at the writhing agonies of the static droplets. Then it dawned on him.
He: Nirvana or Hell. Those are my only choices, aren’t they?
The One: And now you know that, does it sadden you?
He: I feel dead inside.
The One: Good. Now you are some use. Now go and obliterate yourself. But son…
He: Yes, father?
The One: Do not waste yourself. It is not for nothing you were chosen to be Zero.
He glanced back at the stream then nodded slowly. He understood. And he craved Nirvana.