A book wrapped in cellophane and enclosed in a cardboard box was carried by a crate over the ocean and washed up on the beach of the Land of Fools one day, for who knows what reason. A man, who regularly strolled the beach in search of driftwood, discovered this treasure and carefully opened it up. Inside were pictures of lovely scenery with happy people all smiling joyously. There were beach scenes of multitudes of different races and sexes frolicking in the surf, sailing through the waves, and sunbathing. Others were of mountain vistas overlooking the rolling waves with happy hikers and laughing picnickers enjoying themselves. Everyone in these pictures had a beaming smile on their face and appeared extremely healthy and happy. There was no discord, with all races, ages and sexes participating in group activities together. Furthermore there were no pictures whatsoever of anyone frowning or consumed with pain from sickness, injury, emotional difficulties or stress.
After cogitating for a while over the pictures of his new-found treasure the man decided that it must be a picture book of Heaven. He immediately shared the book with others in his community. By virtue of his enthusiasm and assuredness, combined with logical reasoning – “What else could it be?” the man convinced the other inhabitants of his town that it was a picture book of Heaven that had miraculously washed up on the beach that day – “God’s will.” – “To be sure.” – “Mysterious, as always.”
Propelled by the group enthusiasm the organization grew relatively rapidly – with ordinary citizens from all walks of life, near and far, coming to see and eventually even be cured by what they now called the Book. Powerful is the Mind. Duplicates were printed and distributed. Churches were formed and built. A hierarchy was formed - with priests, bishops and the like. Schisms occurred based upon different interpretations of the contents of the Book. Some held to the original vision of Heaven; another group claimed it was a picture of Nirvana and yet another claimed it was a metaphorical vision of the Enlightened state. Of course each sect had their own method for achieving the mythical state of around-the-clock happiness shown in the Book. And of course each group claimed their sect was the true one - aligning themselves with opposing governments ‘for the greater good’ to protect their ‘True Church’. Wars were waged over whose side was right. And entire civilizations rose and fell – depending on whose army or whose vision of the Book was stronger.
Finally a stranger came from a far off land. Curious about the enthusiasm of the people of the Land for the Book with its pictures of Paradise, he eventually, after many bureaucratic snafus, was allowed to view the Book.
The Stranger immediately exclaimed: “Why, that’s not a picture of Heaven. That’s just a guide book to some islands which are just off the coast of the main land where I reside.”
“No. Really. I’ve even been there. It’s quite nice, but it’s not Heaven, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, or anything like that. In fact I got sunburned and stubbed my toe on some sharp rocks..”
“How can that be true when everyone in the Book is smiling, healthy and happy?”
“The guide book shows everyone at their best to entice tourists to visit the islands and spend their money.”
“I speak the truth. I’ve not only been there, but I could take there too. It’s a great place, just not Heaven. People have problems there just like anywhere else.”
“Please. I have Direct Experience of what you’ve just seen in pictures.”
“Watch your words stranger. You’re entering dangerous territory.”
“But you’re mistaking the Image for the Reality.”
“That’s it. Lock him up.” – “This guy is dangerous.” “He doesn’t seem to realize that our entire culture and consequently each of our individual lives is centered around the Book.” – “We need to put him away before he spreads his dangerous doctrines.”
Stranger: “Hey, just kidding, guys. I bow down before your Book with its Image of Heaven. No need to get riled. I was just passing through.”
“Well,” eyeing him suspiciously, “Pass through swiftly and you’ll see no harm. We are a loving people after all.”
And the Stranger left the Land of the Fools with its Book as soon as he could.
Muttering to himself as he passed through the City Gates, “I keep forgetting that people frequently get violent when others attempt to pop their bubbles.”
Ironically the Establishment created a story of torture and chains for this man, who dared question their authority, to discourage their citizenry from following a similar path. Strangely enough the Stranger was eventually deified as a god who had sacrificed himself to save them from Delusion and Misconception. Amen.
“Hmmm?” thought the Stranger as he wandered the lonely road by himself, “In pondering the absurdity of the situation I realize that this vision of around-the-clock happiness is the carrot that gets many through their difficult lives – a security blanket which protects them from the monsters lurking everywhere. Who am I to strip away their illusions? The truth is bitter and difficult to swallow for those whose palette has been calibrated for candy coated sweetness of the ‘feel-good’ delusion.”