The Swamp



*** DRAFT ***

Between renunciation of relative world illusions and nirvana (heaven, etc.),  lies the swamp of disillusion.  It is a bardo - a state between the life you left behind and the life that lies ahead.  It is unknown to you when or where you will emerge so be patient, you may be in this for awhile.

You've kissed the void and thrashed around in it for awhile.  Relative world illusions have been identified and managed to some degree.  The landscape looks hazy though it is lit by a noticeably brighter light.  You'll likely be thinking that you're nearing the end of this arduous journey.  You're not the numbed-out, dumbed-down person who stepped onto this path not so long ago.  After having dismantled your 'self' bit-by-bit, you're anxious to begin putting things back together.   You feel like you've already been through enough, but rest is not forthcoming.  You stand now before another crossing.

You've screwed apparent reality, but you've set aside concern.  There is no desire to go back; you are drawn further down the path.  You'll try to convince yourself that this is better than living within delusion but, down deep, you'll question your sanity if you start to believe it and even doubt your integrity if you make statements to affirm that regard.  You may not long for the life behind you, but you will wonder if this one is better.  But, in bardo, the new life has not yet begun.

Just as you were about to congratulate yourself for having cracked conceptual reality, materialism and what you identified as ego, the view before you appears like that of the wreckage of a sunken ship.   The light is dim.  There is starkness and disorientation.  Seepage from below the waterline makes its way to pollute the surface.  It's a heartbreaking realization - a naked and startling surprise.

You're not yet out of the illusion.  This swamp before you is its underbelly that you hid from view, bubbling up from the dark hold of the subconscious like oil seeping from a run-aground freighter.  The illusion you tamed in consciousness was apparent if not self-evident, this one was rarely seen.  You notice it now as it rises before you in a silhouette of shadowy figures.

The swamp stretches out over the path ahead in way of the other shore and blocks your return to the world you thought you knew.  The distant shore you seek is still not within view and there is little here to support you.  Swamps are dangerous, shadowy, dank and stark - inhabited by familiar creatures you begin to recognize for the first time.  Slow down - this is the place to surrender.  You can't fight the monsters - you'll just be fighting yourself.  You can't push through this.  You'll only get tangled in the weeds, you'll spend allot of energy to free yourself and you'll then likely just push ahead and get entangled again.  You have to surrender to the slow currents that carry you, making only minor corrections to a course that seems preset.  The heading isn't clear anyway, so why insist on charting the course.  This is where things get serious, so pay attention and learn quickly.

You're looking intently for the source of the light that will lead out but, the light you see is distant, diffuse and unfocused.  This realm of the disillusioned is littered with the corpses of those who have gone before you and soulless beings of the undead.  It's very important to keep your spirits up.  Depression is not forgiven here though you may feel entitled to it.  You'll get angry and frustrated, but know there are serpents in the swamp that feed on your rage.  More than anything, this can mire you in the muck of the swamp.  Use this time to heal your passion - an angry person cannot enter nirvana.  You'll be afraid, but the swamp monsters will sense your fear, track you down and devour you if you don't manage it. Avoid any impulse to attempt an escape - it's too easy to get lost here.

Here you realize that the other was only part of the problem.  In this new light is revealed the swamp that is you on the other side of illusion.  The shadows have been there all along and seen by others, but you have glossed them over into the background colors of your fabricated illusion.  Here they are, visible now upon the path to the other shore.  There's nothing behind you and there's nowhere to go.  You woke up, you never left - you had a dream.  Step now into the light and behold your rebirth with fresh awareness and a beginner's mind.  Look around; find your curiosity; get interested in what appears.  With any luck, this will be the last time you will ever see this place.