There is no greater thrill than to dance
upon the sky,
dare the dizziness,
dazzle the huddled crowds below.
To step out
over the great emptiness
is a leap
On the wire
the long drop
In the packed auditorium, an embering glow wove the faces, ranked, row by row into the distance into a luxurious, many hued, living tapestry.
Above the seats, the private boxes were a necklace of gleaming golden light. Dominique, Carolyn and Marilyn sat in regal splendor in the largest, center box, like priceless jewels. Behind them, Armand and George ghosted the shadows.
In ranked splendor on either side the creme de la creme of the California social and political scene. The upper balconies swarmed with reporters, movie cameras, camera people and photographers, there to record a historical event; the dawn of a new age. Although nobody knew it then, a world infinitely stranger than anything any of us had ever known was about to be born.
I took a deep breath.
“You are probably wondering what I am doing here,” I began. “I am.”
Laughter rose, like incense toward the polished walnut paneled ceiling 60 feet above.
“They told me that there were a lot of important people here tonight. I'm a little concerned. Who's minding the store?”
Again the laughter swelled and grew into an enormous applause that went on and on. Finally, I raised my hand and signaled for silence.
“Thank you, thank you, that's all I have to say tonight. You can all go home now.”
I glanced up at the center box. Carolyn and Marilyn were red with laughter. Dominique only nodded. Carolyn made an O. K. sign with her fingers. I waved at her.
“My friend Carolyn, who I’m sure most of you know as MOTHER, tells me that everything is O.K. She needs to tell me that every once in a while because she thinks I get anxious and will just split, leaving her here to try to keep you entertained."
“Well, she's right, I do get anxious, just like any of you, even the most powerful and untouchable among you. None of us are immune to fear and anxiety, no matter what or how much we know. Beneath our sophisticated veneers we are all insecure children, afraid of the dark. How many of you felt uneasy during the moments of darkness that preceded my august presence? I did, and I’m the one who’s supposed to know everything."
“I'm serious. Darkness is the place where any thing can hide, especially things we refuse to admit exist. Each of us has only a short time upon this earth to learn and grow. So much of that time is spent in darkness. We spend one third of our lives physically asleep. How much of the remainder is spent psychologically asleep? I'm here tonight to bring some measure of light into that darkness. That is what I dot, aside from the fact that nobody else wanted to do it.”
A roar of laughter and applause filled the room.
“What I am here to tell you is that darkness is a good place to begin. The fertile black earth of the Mid-West or the California valley is there to receive the seeds that will transform it into a mother of endless bounty. Our personal darkness provides the same fertile field. It is this bounty that all of us hope to harvest. Together we will. I promise you that. For we are all on this farm together. Just like good farmers everywhere, we work to overcome the obstacles that conspire to deny us our just harvest. Our fear and laziness, our incompetence or indifference, our inability to tap that well of power that lies within each of our hearts threaten our crops. The ego envy’s the greatness within us. We trip over our own feet in our dance upon this fertile earth, because the ego conspires for its own ends. Some of those ends are separateness, greed, selfishness and judgmental small mindedness The ego is never neutral. It never desires balance. It wants control. It is clever. It knows how to scare us. It is the great trickster.”
I paused for a long beat.
“We hang between two poles. The darkness and the light. The gray areas that we think exist are only tricks of the ego. It tries to convince us to strike a balance between existence and non-existence. We are vulnerable.”
“When I was a child I had a ritual before I fell asleep. I would turn toward the wall and, for 15 minutes, count out the seconds. I waited, patiently for the time to be up so that I could fall asleep without fear that I would fall into the spaces between the darkness and the light.”
“Isn't this something that all of us have done- embraced whatever it is that gets us through the night? I am here to tell you that your night will never end through this acceptance of your limitations. That world without end WILL END while you pass your short season here toiling over crops of illusions that will NEVER bear fruit!”
“What are your priorities? That is the question. For life is over much too soon. Your illusions will be as nothing within the great yawn that will wipe away all who have not fulfilled their monumental task. Will you spend your fleeting moments with your faces pressed tightly to the wall, waiting for your 15 minutes to be over so that you can fall asleep? Sleep is never ending. Use your time while you can. Plant the seeds of light and nurture them.”
I paused for a long moment to glance randomly into the eyes of the intent faces before me. They were faces filled with interest, curiosity, bewilderment, smugness; faces filled with every imaginable mask that one can choose to cover the darkness within; faces filled with fear.
“As you crowd together tonight, all of you who can't afford the box seats like the fat cats hanging over your heads, don't envy them. They don't have it any easier than you do. they just have more money. But money doesn't illuminate one bit more of what hides within.”
The audience rose, en masse to applaud. I yawned and lifted my hand to my lips.
“Hay, Carolyn, how am I doing?”
“Great King! Great! Fabulous!”
“Thank you, thank you.”
I raised my hands to my ears
“You'd better stop clapping and cheering now. You're giving me a headache.”
A roar of laughter filled the room.
“I mean it! Too much of a good thing makes me tired.”
The room slowly silenced.
“Now I’m going to talk to you about a favorite subject of mine.” I paused for a long moment. “Myself.”
“Things happen to me. Most of the time they happen without much involvement on my part. I have to admit it, I’m lazy. Whenever I can I let Dominique, or Carolyn, or Marilyn do all the work and they, in turn, pass it off on somebody else. That is, everybody but Dominique does that. Dominique never lets go of the power, as, I imagine, many of you know through some personal experience or another that I'm sure would make fascinating telling.”
I paused. Nervous laughter shuddered furtively through the room.
“Fortunately, for me, I have been able to make laziness work in my favor. In other words, I have taken what could have been a real detriment to any personal growth and accomplishment and turned it into a factor that works for me. Anything can be turned from a negative into a positive factor. Even our weakness can be an asset to us. We can never be half-hearted in our application of whatever it is that makes up our personal tools. There is no half way here- no part time God that rules this universe. If we aren't all here we are nowhere.”
“For those of you who might wonder what I mean, here's an example. Each of us has within us our own tool-kit. We have everything we need to become as Gods here, but it isn't a part time job. If we are only looking for part time work we can apply at the hamburger joint.”
Applause echoed through the auditorium. It engulfed me in wave upon wave of energy.
“Now, don't misunderstand me. You might think that what I’m saying is that we have everything we need to do what we need to do and that all we have to do is use the tools we have. If it was that easy I would have done just that. I'm always looking for ways to avoid work. Especially the kind of work that involves a lot of frustration. Believe me when I tell you that what I am talking about tonight took a lot of patience on my part to learn. Any of you who know me at all know just how short an attention span I have so you can perhaps imagine just how well I dealt with it. If you can't I'm sure that any one of those three beautiful women that sit up there, like the royalty they are, in that center box, would be glad to tell you in great detail. They were the ones who had to put up with me through it all. My loves, will you please stand up so everybody can see how beautiful you are.”
I began to clap.
Dominique rose slowly to her feet. Carolyn and Marilyn, waited for a heartbeat before they rose, in unison, to flank her. Proud and beautiful, they gleamed like precious jewels as spotlights illuminated them. They stood like the statues of goddesses come to life, raised up before the crowd. The audience below turned as one, to whisper about them-to marvel and envy them. The cinematographers above them struggled to get them in their sights. I stood, silent and allowed them their moment in the light.
“You can sit down my loves. Don't steal my thunder.”
More laughter and then, thunderous applause.
“Yes. It was these women who kept me sane, through the search I thought would never end. It was they who provided the endless support and encouragement when I thought all hope was lost. All of them, but especially Dominique, who has been with me from the first, buoyed me up through the long night of the soul as I searched to find answers to the problems that I painted such a simple portrait of. You know what I finally discovered, after all that work. I discovered that it's all a con. I took myself way too seriously.”
I waited patiently as the whispers and questioning looks spread through the audience. I gave my word's time to sink in. All these sophisticated people were so proud in their special vision of themselves and their place in the world. All those people thought so much of themselves. Now they wondered whether I was playing a joke on them, and, if so, what the joke was.
“It makes you a little nervous doesn't it. You don't know what I mean. With just a few words I've pulled the rug out from under what you thought was just another speech about things that were self evident to all of you. Well, NOTHING IS OBVIOUS BUT FAILURE!” I yelled.
Shocked expressions spread like ripples on a pond.
Cranked up I began to pace the stage.
“Failure! What is failure? Failure is to try to do something the hard way. I thought I deserved success because I nearly broke my spirit on the path toward enlightenment. I thought I was somebody pretty special because I worked so hard. God was I naive and self serving. It might sound great to work hard and struggle because, after all, that's the good ol' American way. RIGHT? That's the pioneer spirit! RIGHT? BULLSHIT! That's the fool's path, that's what it is. That’s what I finally learned.”
I paused again to let the words sink in.
“All of a sudden cracks have opened up in your understanding haven’t they? Like the divided earth after an earthquake, chaos threatens to engulf everyone of you doesn’t it? You’re like the Egyptians who were engulfed by the sea when Moses brought the waters to their senses and they closed firmly and forever upon the past, aren’t you?.”
In the utter silence I continued. “Now that I have thoroughly confused you let me tell you what I mean.”
“Life is too short to waste a lot of energy and precious time wandering around in the desert searching for water when it's all around you. It was the same for the chosen people being brought through the parted waters. Do you think any of them wanted to try to do it on their own? Can you imagine what foolishness it would have been to have any one of them say ‘Wait a minute, I don't want to take this guy Moses' word about all this stuff he said God said. I want to have my own talk with God. I want to make my own waterway to the promised land.’”
“You know what God would have said to any one of those people? He would have said GOOD LUCK SUCKER!”
As careful laughter began I paused and allowed it to grow, slowly as it finally began to become clear to them what I was doing.
“So you finally figured out what I’m setting you up for.” I said and laughed.
“Our way to salvation isn’t the way of the cross filled with pain and suffering and sacrifice now for pie in the sky when you die. That is...” I paused and sought out particular faces among the crowd, “...Unless that’s what gets you off. In that case the customer is always right. We’ll make sure you get just what you think you deserve.”
Nervous titters darted through the crowd.
“In general, this dance we do is a feel good thing. That’s the PSYCHENETICS® path to an enlightened life.” I covered my lips as if to yawn. As the applause washed over me.
Someone yelled, "GIVE THEM HELL KING!"
I whispered, “How am I doing girls?”
“Congratulations my love, nothing will ever be the same.”
“Give 'em hell King!”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I held up my hand.
“OK. Now that we understand each other I'm going to get down to the real purpose of this event. I want to sell you a little snake oil.”
There was more laughter.
“Yes, that's right. This is a sales pitch, and the product I am pitching is
PSYCHENETICS. It's PSYCHENETICS that's going to open the gates of heaven for you and, in the process make me and my coconspirators rich beyond our wildest dreams. Remember now, I'm not leaving you in the dark here. I warned you in front that this was a con. I'm here to pitch PSYCHENETICS to you. If you don't want to hear what I have to say you can leave now. It won't hurt my feelings. You will either get lost out there on the highway and call me up and beg me to help you find your way home or some other pitchman will hook you with a con more subtle than this one. I’ll wait a long moment to allow you to leave before I get started.”
I paused and paced the stage for a minute while I mimed looking at my watch.
“Could you bring a chair out here for me. I’m tired. Make it a comfortable one. I'm not interested in suffering.”
There was another fit of applause.
From the wings two stagehands carried a plush recliner. I sat down, tipped the chair back and raised the leg support.
“That's more like it. Now we can talk.”.
“PSYCHENETICS/THE OPERATORS MANUAL® teaches you everything you need to know to learn to drive your vehicle. Step by step it explains the way you work. Some tech manuals are written so that nobody but someone who already knows all about how things work is the only one that can understand it. It’s not like that. It's for people like us. WE have a lot to do and we don't have the energy to learn a whole new language. It comes with a money back guarantee so if, after a test drive, you wonder why you wasted your time and money reading and understanding things you couldn't care less about or already knew you can bring it back. If you like what it says and can figure out from there how to put the ideas it expresses to work on your own it's all you need. this center and others like it will soon be available throughout the civilized world. At any time you can schedule an appointment with a councilor, available to help you with issues that aren't totally clear to you, either in concept or application Each of these centers will provide everything you might need in the way of back up assistance. I invite you to come back when you have time to take one of the tours. See the available facilities and program opportunities first hand. If you are too important to wander around with a bunch of other people, you can request a personal tour. If you really want to throw your money away you might even convince me to do it myself. We will make sure that you know exactly what we have to offer you in the event that you want it and can afford it.”
“O.K. Here's how it works. Think of these centers as your home away from home. You can come and hang out any time, day or night. You can take classes, relax in the health club, get a great drink or meal, meet with your friends, stay overnight, have a private party, or take a class. There are topics for everyone- everything from ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT TO IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE to ZOOMING TO WEALTH THROUGH CONNECTING THE DOTS. You can buy a book or a tape series on any subject that might interest you. You can enroll in seminar training so you can teach a workshop or do private counseling. The purchase of one of our franchise centers is also a possibility. We provide all the tools through the franchise licensing program. You will learn everything from how to do it and where to get the money to final set up and opening night.”
“Someday you too could sit on the stage of your own center just like I am now, and add your personality to proven techniques. You and your flock become very good friends and, in the process take part in what to me is the most exciting game in town. PSYCHENETICS®.”
“Oh yes, I'd better warn you that if you do become successful, don't be surprised if I try to talk you into some investment scheme. I never seem to have enough assets available to do what I want to do. That's why I'm here tonight, to try to plant some more seeds so I can harvest a bigger crop, so I can buy some more land, to plant more seeds to grow more crops.”
Another roar of applause filled the auditorium. People in the audience began standing as the spot-lights stirred the floor.
I stood up, yawned and stretched.
“O.K. That's enough for me. there will be a two hour break so you can sample the great buffet and then Dominique has a few things of her own to talk about. After that Carolyn can answer any questions you might have and set you up for a tour. Then Marilyn will tell you a little bit about the franchise program. Right now lets take that break. I'm tired.”
I raised my hand.
“In closing, think of all of life as a dance, and this as your introduction to the dance. Have fun!”
I waved. The audience was on its feet. The applause was deafening. I left the stage, exhausted.
Backstage was frantic. The girls ran up, all at once, excited and laughing. They hugged me and we clasped hands. Around and around in a circle we went, the stagehands laughed and clapped as we turned under the lights.
Around and around like a relentless wheel we rolled toward the future.