Gaf could not shake the feeling that his dreams contained some answers about this cavern, but he couldn't remember enough to make any sense. The only thing that he could recall was being told that the cavern was not in Rachel, but someplace in Peru. He did remember the perilous climb up the cavern wall and the damage to his fingers and hands. They seemed to be fine now. On inspection, the dim light from the cavern ceiling proved him right. His fingers and hands appeared fine.
There wasn't a trace of a scratch or bruise. However, there did seem to be something odd about them. Holding his left hand up to the light he stared at it intently. It seemed Ok, but not quite right. "There's something different," he said. "but what the hell is it? Looks like the same old hand I've always had." Then in a shattering moment of understanding he shouted, "No, it's not the same old hand! The skin is smooth!" He quickly checked the rest of his body for conformity to his memory. The result was the same. The liver spots on his arms were gone as was the mole on his shoulder that had been there since childhood.
The old man couldn't decide whether it was the fungus he had eaten that caused this rejuvenation or, an astral body that he now wore in the afterlife. He had no reference points to determine what he was. The only way he had of determining "effect" was to attempt a measurement on his own body. He concluded that if he were dead then he wouldn't feel any pain and any mark he made on himself would disappear. The matches in his pocket quickly came to mind. He withdrew the pack and attempted to strike a match. The flint paper was crushed and somewhat damp; it took a few tries before he could get one to light. Finally, a brilliant yellow flame exploded into life. Then, with calm determination, he held the match directly under the ring finger of his left hand. He had concluded that if he was wrong, this finger seemed of less value than the others. There was no rational reason for the conclusion, it was simply a choice. The immediate and intense pain brought tears to his eyes, but he would not remove the match until he was absolutely positive that it was a physical event. He knew that expectation could produce pain even without a physical cause. He rolled his head back and forth as the flesh on his finger began to roast. The searing flame of the match burned into every nerve ending in his body. But he would not relent. He drove his consciousness away from his body. And gradually, the pain subsided. Ever so slowly it seemed to evaporate.
The match extinguished and he lit another one. This time the tiny flame licked and stroked against his finger, but there was no pain. His flesh was intact and simply did not react to the flame of the match. He stared in wonderment at the event and then, convinced that he was dead, blew out the match. This conclusion brought on a sadness and a sense of longing. He felt very alone and desperately wanted to see Molly one more time. The tears that flowed down his face were an acid reminder of the finality of his life. In those awful moments, the blinding truth took hold. Death was a black cavern that entrapped his awareness. He would now spend eternity searching these barren tunnels for his own existence. The haunting memories of his life could not be stilled. In the black depths of his despair he could hear the wailing cries of his mournful soul pleading for release from the agonizing memory of his life on earth. The pain of his loss burned its way into every corner of his awareness.
The match that had seared his flesh now lingered as a cherished moment of life. The smell of his finger, roasting in the dancing flame of the match, lingered in the cavern air and stung him back to consciousness. As he stared into the ceiling of the cavern, the intense pain of his finger flooded his awareness. Jumping to his feet, tears of happiness fell like rain as he savored the brutal pain from a very live finger. Not only was there pain, but the loose skin on the back of his hands, the liver spots on his arms and the small mole on his shoulder had returned. At first he believed it had all been part of a dream. 'But if it was all a dream,' he thought, 'Then how did I burn my finger? Did I burn it and then have a dream? But that wouldn't account for the change I saw on my hands.' Again, the old man realized that he was without any reference point. A line from a forgotten poem by Poe, slowly worked its way into his thoughts. "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream," he recited out loud.
The old man was hungry and thirst was again becoming a problem. He gathered fungus from the wall of the cavern then returned to the center of the cavern to eat. The fungus was still quite tasty, but did not satisfy his thirst. He knew he would have to return to the tunnel that had water. And yet, it seemed futile to go back to a place that would not lead him out of the cavern. Sitting quietly his mind wandered over his experiences. Yet, no matter how many ways he looked at them, there was no magnificent insight. If there was anything that could be called a reference point, it was the light from the ceiling of the cavern. However, it told him nothing other than it was subject to some type of cycle, like day and night. The tunnels offered little information because they seemed to be both entrances and exits. If they were a solid structure they would follow the laws of Newtonian physics. 'Could they appear solid,' he questioned, 'but actually be only two dimensional? But, if that were true, then how could a three dimensional object such as a person, fit into a two dimensional space?' The tunnels seemed to ebb and flow like the drawing of the box that appears different each time you change your focus of attention. However, it was possible to maintain one perspective of the box by simply concentrating on what you expected to see.
"The secret of the tunnels might have to do with what I expect," he mused. It was simple enough to test, all he had to do was set up an expectation and see if it materialized. "Well, let's start with something small," he said. "What I expect is a little more light in the cavern." Gaf concentrated on increasing the light and stared intently at the cavern wall. After about 15 minutes of staring and concentrating his eyes began to blur. The light never changed.
He concluded that simply thinking about an event was not necessarily the same as expecting the event or a second possibility was that expectation had no effect. He tried to find some instances from his experiences in the cavern in which there was a direct result from his expectation. The cigarette he found in the tunnel was an obvious one. However, he believed he had expected to find at least one cigarette in the cavern before entering the tunnel. The expectation had him on his hands and knees groping around in the dark.
The analogy of the box was compelling, but not complete. Expectation could account for what was seen, but Gaf thought it would be silly to assume that the drawing of a box actually changes. The box was simply a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional object. Gaf reached for a stone from the floor and drew a rough picture of a box. It then occurred to him that it was only the final product that was independent of him. The drawing could only come into existence by some activity on his part. He could make a drawing on a three dimensional surface, or he could simply visualize the drawing. Both cases required his participation. In effect he created both of the boxes. The assumption he would have to make is that the visualized box is no less in existence than the one he drew. The only difference between them is that one is reflected on a three dimensional surface, somewhat like a mirror. But even that difference seemed artificial. The argument could be made that the visualized box is reflected on the surface of the three dimensional creator. Gaf concluded that the only difference between the box he drew on the floor of the cavern and the one he visualized was the medium he chose to create the boxes.
It wasn't long before the old man's head started spinning with the complexity of the problem. It seemed impossible to draw a box without first thinking of a box. Therefore, there was in effect a third box; the one he thought of while he completed the drawing. In an infinite universe all boxes existed without limit to number. Number, like time was simply one's perspective and not a condition of existence.
If he made the same assumption about existence itself then all boxes always existed and it was only his perception that changed, reflecting the focus of his attention. The conclusion would then be that what exists is infinite. We do not create our reality, we simply bring it into focus by our perception. There is nothing to create because everything already exists. In a sense you get what you expect because what you expect has already occurred.
Frustrated by the problem, the old man scuffed out the drawing with his foot and said, "And that brings me right back to where I started. In this damn cavern not knowing if I'm alive or dead." It then occurred to him that his being alive or dead was as artificial as the boundary of number and time. And if all conditions always existed, like the boxes, then all conditions of Gaf always existed. It would require an awareness not affected by the conditions of existence. This condition could be met by the god concept independent of existence, or the god concept as existence itself. In the former, a god creates personal awareness independent of itself.
In the later, a god perceives multiple facets of its own personal awareness. In either case, a shift in focus of attention at the godhead level could produce an effect that would have the appearance of negating existence. It was the second case which made sense to Gaf, because it postulates a logical motive. A godhead independent of existence seemed more like a shallow exercise in creative skill. The motive for continuation of the creation would be as shallow as the impetus for the creation.
Gaf decided it was time to stop the brain sucking exercise and go and get some water. He entered the tunnel opening and began the dark journey toward the waterfall. To his amazement and delight the waterfall seemed to have shifted considerably closer to the entrance of the tunnel. He had been walking for only a few minutes when he felt the first cool drops splash on his hat. He then crawled on his hands and knees to search the tunnel floor for the edge of the pool. Within minutes he found the pool and soaked his burnt finger in the cold water. The numbing effect was nearly instant. He then bent over the pool and cupped his hand to retrieve a drink. In the absolute blackness of the tunnel an image began forming in his mind of the pool of water.
He wasn't sure if it was an image or the actual pool. Reaching down he could now see his hand enter the surface of the water. But, he could also see his hand in the water, even when he turned his head aside or closed his eyes; it made no difference. After sipping the refreshing drink from his hand, he leaned back against the tunnel wall. His thoughts began to drift over this experience but he refrained from drawing any conclusions. He simply accepted the event. It occurred to him that the process of drawing a conclusion was usually based on a number of possible alternatives. If each alternative received attention then it's existence would then be brought forward and into focus. If 'seeing' the water were the same as 'seeing' different aspects of the box, then 'not seeing' the water could come into focus as readily as 'seeing' the water. However, this would require an access to all possible conditions of existence. The most likely candidates would be the individual and the collective unconscious. The 'secret' of the tunnel might be to not focus directly on the alternative as an alternative but rather as the only choice that exists. This would require some method for inhibiting the alternatives at the unconscious level. Gaf surmised that it might be similar to looking at a star. The one you choose to see comes into focus much more readily by peering at it from your peripheral vision. The unconscious would be analogous to a sky full of stars, the stars being alternatives. Seeking a choice could then be analogous to the conscious mind. A successful hit would be the conscious mind seeking a choice from the unconscious by using a peripheral approach.
Staring in the direction of the pool Gaf could see a shimmering on the surface of the water. It seemed as if the water itself was now becoming brighter. He closed his eyes and could still see the water. Very gradually, the shimmering seemed to spread up and outward. He then opened his eyes and the effect was becoming more pronounced. Within moments the walls of the tunnel came into focus, then started to recede. The scene gradually became brighter, as if lights were being slowly turned up in intensity on a stage. Then two images began to take shape along with a backdrop of beautiful mountains. He was back at the pool with Saint Michael and Rendell.
The events that took place had been so gradual that Gaf simply accepted what he saw. However, it did occur to him that he was simply napping at the side of the pool. He reached out and very aggressively pinched Rendell's arm.
Rendell responded by yelling, and in his outburst screamed "What did you do that for!"
" Just checking," answered Gaf.
Rubbing his arm Rendell said, "Pinch yourself next time."
Michael was becoming impatient and said, "Ok, you've had your drink, can we get on with it?"
With that same blank look, Gaf said, "Get on with what?"
Quite frustrated, Rendell said, "Gaf, you have got to stay focused."
" How can I focus on anything, since I just got here."
Michael had been down this road many times and was as frustrated as Rendell. "Gaf, 'You,' that is the you that is here, didn't just get here. We have been talking about personal awareness. You think you left. In truth, another part of your personal awareness shifted to the cavern, but this part of you remained here. Get it?"
The experiences of the cavern and the thought experiments came back into Gaf's consciousness. However, there was no way to establish any solid reference point. He said, "If I were here as you say, whoever you are, then I would remember what we were talking about."
" Your memory is really the key issue. The reason you fail to remember is that you are not yet able to maintain personal awareness of all conditions of your existence. Occasionally you brush along the edges of these existences. The experience of deja vu is the encounter one has with their own personal awareness in another existence. You might call it an 'almost memory'. Dreaming is simply an extended experience of deja vu."
Michael explained their friendship and what they had been attempting to accomplish. At times Gaf seemed to understand, but it was extremely difficult for him. Then he would question his sanity or the fact that he was dreaming.
Saint Michael explained that it was an experiment in having a personal awareness that was focused in the manifest shift along the continuum and then focus the self into the non manifest while still maintaining focus of the manifest. In this sense, the entity has full personal awareness in both existences at the same time. It is not just remembering, but actually participating in both, knowing that both existences are in effect. They believed that this might be one of the first steps toward achieving transmutation back to one complete awareness. The danger was that the attempt could easily result in a loss of all identity. In that case, the entity would drift for eternity in a sea of insanity without any hope of being rescued. Gaf had volunteered to make the attempt.
"Uh Mike..is that what people call you," asked Gaf?
" That's what you have always called me," answered Saint Michael.
" Ok Mike, I've tried to follow what you said, but you've got to admit that a lot of it is pretty slippery. For example, you mention shifting along the continuum. The concept implies a starting point and an ending point. If we are talking about infinity then there is no start or end."
" Not so, old friend," said Michael with a wide grin. "At least not in this case. Infinity, by definition, is all inclusive. Therefore, an alternate form of existence with a beginning and an end is possible simply because we thought of it, which as you know creates the reality we experience. The problem is that there was a starting point to this form of existence, but it was an endless loop. Some of us believe that the end point is the gateway to the all inclusive personal awareness."
Rendell laughed at Michael's unsuccessful attempt at humor and said, "It only gets complicated when you attempt to explain all the possible ramifications and components. It's not as complicated if you stick to just a few basic issues. Such as realizing your personal awareness in more than one existence at a time. An analogy would be having a game of chess with your reflection in a mirror. However, in this case you are sitting between two mirrors; all reflections have personal awareness and are fully experiencing being in each reflection."
"A little like meeting yourself in time?," asked Gaf.
" Almost," answered Michael. "In this case, you not only meet yourself, but each self is fully experiencing the personal awareness of the other self. Right now, you experience yourself as sitting and talking with us. However, there is another 'You' that is in a cavern in Peru. Both self's are fragments of a potential complete self. When you can experience being here and there at the same time you will have touched the edges of transmutation. The final condition is the contraction of all individual awareness' back to the one."
" Some people might conclude that a contraction would be an end to personal awareness," said Gaf.
" You're right," answered Rendell," And that is why Lucifer and his cohorts have been sabotaging our efforts. He and others fear a loss of personal power. This then lead to a confrontation between those seeking transmutation and those against transmutation. On your planet it is known as ‘ 'the war between good and evil'."
" Just how do you fight a war when all combatants are infinite," asked Gaf.
" Think of it as a battle of movie directors," answered Michael. "Each of us creates a personal movie of existence that is based on what we believe. If I believe that my personal power is limited then I would create a movie of an existence of limited personal power. The movie I create can be influenced by the strength of will of another awareness. The script for my movie could also change according to the influence that other awarenesses have over my belief system."
Rendell then said, "The movie is projected through a concept similar to the device you know as a virtual reality computer. We believe that our existence is the movie and we lost site of that part of us that is watching the movie. It seems that we have all contributed to the creation of a movie theater. Unfortunately, the gateway leading out of the theater was hidden. We don't know whether this was intentional, or an oversight in the process of creation. However, it is unlikely that our universal personal consciousness would not have left some sort of tether back to the entrance of creation. The Infinity Vortex, what you call the cavern, is an attempt to see past the movie and reach for that tether."
" That's a lot of 'Ifs,'" said Gaf. "Even if it is there, how do I recognize it?"
" Your own personal awareness," said Mike," like ours, was fragmented at the point of creation. The tether's remains intact. It is assumed that if you touch the edges of transmutation the tether will flow into the stream of creation. Think of it as an 'SOS' transmission."
" This is nuts," said Gaf. " How the hell is one asshole, blindly walking through tunnels, going to accomplish what holy men have been trying to do for centuries."
" But that is exactly the point," said Rendell. "The gurus, holy men and great teachers all get caught up in the expansion of the fragmenting of personal awareness. They fail to reach the tether because they become more involved in the movie. Humans call it the 'ego'."
" Well I've got plenty of that," answered Gaf. "How is mine any different?"
" Ego is the energy that creates the structure of the paths we walk. When belief in the structure becomes the focus of attention our personal awareness expands to fill the structure. The result is reverence for the structure which then conceals the path." Laughing out loud Gaf said,"I think you just implied that I'm an irreverent asshole."
" Partially true," said Rendell. "The basic core of your personal awareness, if I use your terms, is 'an irreverent asshole without belief in any structure'." Saint Michael interjected and said, "The cavern is a projection of thought, developed by manifest awareness in Rendell's form. It's purpose is to force a search for personal awareness without any reference points from any of the movies. Belief in structure would negate the effect of the Infinity Vortex."
" Even without a belief in structure my own reference points come from memory. How do I get past the memory of what I think of as personal awareness?," asked Gaf. "That shouldn't be too hard a problem for an irreverent asshole," laughed Rendell.
" Cute answer," said Gaf. "And if I can't answer the question I go completely batshit."
" That's the risk you take," answered Saint Michael. "The journey is perilous, but the reward brings forth the gate keeper who holds on to the tether of creation." "How do we know that it's not just another movie?," asked Gaf.
" It may be," answered Rendell. "Some of us believe it is worth the risk and some do not. That's what the battle with Lucifer is all about. He would just as soon maintain the status quo. What he tells others is that we are all likely to extinguish ourselves into oblivion." Then as an after thought Rendell said, "Of course, he is aware of the Infinity Vortex and will do just about anything to stop you."
" Oh!," exclaimed Gaf. "How the hell am I suppose to deal with that?"
" It's Hell you will be facing," answered Michael. "He can't interfere with the Infinity Vortex itself, but he can influence what you believe. If we interfere, we simply create more reference points from the movie which makes the whole task pointless."
" Doesn't his interference do the same thing?," asked Gaf.
" Yes, but it can also act as a force to move you along the quest. That is, if you remember the task you set out to complete. Help from us would only lessen the impact of that force and could result in a whole new scene; your belief of rescue from evil."
The conversation with these dream characters was becoming tiresome for the old man. His mind was having difficulty processing all the information. He wanted to know more, but the pull of sleep was impossible to resist. As he began to slip into his consciousness in the cavern he heard himself ask, "Who is the gate keeper?" The answer from Rendell echoed off the tunnel walls as the old man woke up. "Who is it that asks the question?"