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Bingo & The Dark Night of The Soul

Updated: May 11, 2023

One night in a city, while walking home, not long before dawn, Bingo felt impelled to be honest.

It wasn´t a sober feeling, and it wasn´t a pleasant feeling. Bingo felt pushed along, bullied even, by The Impulse to Honesty. He felt he had no option other than to look his existence in the eye.

And so he did.

Bingo stopped walking and looked down at the street he stood upon - and although he still had names for the stuff it was made of, and although he still understood its usage - he didn´t know what it was.

Bingo looked straight ahead at the walls of the buildings that surrounded him - and although he still knew that shops were for shopping in, and that people housed themselves in houses - the Impulse to Honesty now melting his perception made what were once facts seem like nothing more than agreements.

Finally Bingo looked up at the slits of sky visible between the tops of buildings, and felt forced to admit he knew nothing not only about streets or shops or houses, but about the universe within which he stood - neither what, nor where, nor when, nor why.

And worse still: the unrelenting Impulse to Honesty now obliged him to conclude that even this not knowing was unknowable. That is to say - it nudged his mind over its own edge, into admitting that not only did he know nothing about anything, but that, therefore, he couldn´t even be certain he knew nothing.

Such were the dire consequences of his intense Impulse to Honesty. Such were its torments.

II And so it was that Bingo wandered on along the empty pre-dawn city streets, his world intersecting occasionally with the worlds of other pre-dawn city wanderers...

On he wandered - haunted by whispers around corners, by whistling winds in alleyways, by the voices of hidden tempters and temptresses, by invitations to forbidden intuitions, and by words of warning engraved in stone on invisible thresholds.

Bingo wandered on, past clusters of people laughing - unable to stop and enjoy a joke with them, because to stop and share time with people who could laugh - that is to say, with people who could distinguish funny from unfunny, people who could make such distinctions with assurance - felt overwhelmingly complex.

For Bingo everything was now funny, and therefore nothing was outstandingly funny. Yet these happy clusters shared a bold capacity to make such a differentiation almost instantly - which felt dizzying.

Bingo wandered on, past clusters of people grieving - unable to stop and empathise, and maybe even cry awhile... Because to stop and share time with people who could grieve - that is to say, with people who knew the value of others and things, and were thus able to lament their losses with confidence, proportionately - felt equally overwhelming.

For Bingo everything was tragic, and therefore nothing was exceptionally tragic. Yet these sad clusters shared a fine eye for contrasting degrees of awfulness - which made him feel quite queasy.

The Impulse to Honesty felt to Bingo, like an enchantment, a cursèd enchantment. Not a bright, intelligent, curious, awakening impulse - but an impulse that arose from a mysterious masochism in his soul. A self torture. The condemnation to be forever-after answering the unanswerable. Not an enlightened choice, but a helpless obedience. Not intellectual, or even spiritual bravery - but a punishing possession.

And so it was that Bingo wandered, on and on, haunted by falling, fading, dying habits of mind - until he came upon a park. A place set aside in the city - for trees and cats and pigeons and grass.

III Onto the city grass he stepped - grass no more meaningful, nor more meaningless than the city streets - and yet grass that pulled at him in a way that the streets had not.

The grass pulled at Bingo´s ankles, and pulled at his knees - and pulled and pulled, until he fell.

Down and down fell Bingo. Down onto the pre-dawn city park grass he fell - like an acorn into mud, or a coconut into sand, or rain into the ocean, or evening into night, or dawn into day.

On he lay, on and on, like a shrub on a lawn - as if he belonged. And something inside Bingo subsided.

The grass felt gentle, not harsh like the light of the lampposts. And the grass spoke softly, not abrasively like the traffic. The whispers of terrors beyond the borders of knowing settled into quietness. And like the Ouroboros: Bingo´s Impulse to Honesty bit its own tail, and his mind became eerily empty.

The sun rose over the city. The wind in the alleys warmed up. The grass in the park, and the hair on Bingo´s head, were also warmer now - now that the sun was upon them.

Bingo felt no impulse to move. Lots of people saw him lying there, on the grass - as they walked through the park on their way to work that sunny morning. Some people judged him lucky, some unlucky; some remarked to themselves that he was the creator of his own reality, others that he was the victim of personal or collective karma; others wondered whether he was a conscious or unconscious expression of divine Lila - the universe´s delight in itself. Bingo had no idea. He only knew that he didn´t even know whether he didn´t know. And so his mind was empty, like the mind of the grass.

On and on lay Bingo, through the busy city morning - looking up at the sky looking down at the park, and the park looking up at the sky - and watching people´s legs walk past. He no longer felt the Impulse to Honesty. Nor did he feel opposed to it. He just felt wonderful.

Mark the Mystic Activist, Catalunya, Spring 2023.

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