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Updated: May 24

Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities.” Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 2, Verse 47

Perform all work as an offering to The Supreme.” Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 3, Verse 30

I Once upon a time there was a hill. People called it Halfway Hill. Once upon a time there was no house atop Halfway Hill. There was only a tree. People called it The Tree of Dreams.

II The Tree of Dreams would call to the young in their sleep."I have seen it! I have seen it! A fortune in gold and silver and fiat and crypto awaits me atop HalfWay Hill!" one youngster would exclaim one morning upon waking. While somewhere else, in another bedroom, in another bed, another youngster would awake exclaiming "I have seen her! I have seen her! A voluptuous and seductive diva awaits me atop Halfway Hill!"

"Such is the nature of The Tree of Dreams" the older people would whisper – sometimes jealously, sometimes cynically, sometimes encouragingly - as they watched one youngster after another pack their backpack and set out – lusty, possessed, ambitious, fixated - like a pilgrim embarking upon a holy quest - in the direction of Halfway Hill.

On the youngsters would travel – on and on - for years – through their twenties, through their thirties – on, and on, and on... They would tumble into unforseen valleys, and brave giddying heights. They would suffer depressions and despair, receive blessings, know revelries, and taste every fleshly delight – until some, though not all, would arrive, one day, in middle age, at pilgrim´s rest, atop Halfway Hill.

Once there atop Halfway Hill they would indeed find their chest of gold, or prince, or princess, or palace, or priceless steed, or place in the imaginations of men. For The Tree of Dreams kept its promises - and to those who arrived atop Halfway Hill it bestowed that with which it had beckoned.

Some of these middle aged men and women would sing and dance with joy. Some would give thanks to the Gods. And eventually all would rest a long-sought rest, and sleep for days and nights on end.


Now, from there, atop Halfway Hill, they could see both ways. Now - most interestingly, and most shockingly - now, for the first time - they could see the countryside on the other side of Halfway Hill.

On the side from which they had arrived they could see the young approaching - enchanted by the visions of The Tree of Dreams – but now, on the other, they could see people descending, and continuing on – and on, and on – getting older and older – steadily approaching another tree: The Tree of Waking, also known as The Tree of Unknowing... The tree known most commonly as The Door of Death.

For there, atop Halfway Hill, after those first few days of rest and elation - all was revealed... There, atop Halway Hill, it was revealed that no gold could pass through the Door of Death, that princes and princesses aged, and palaces decayed - and that the imaginations of men faded.

"You tricked me, you liar, you thief of my life!" some would rage - and they would kick at the trunk of the Tree of Dreams, and toss their gold coins down the mountainside. "I let myself be seduced by my lust, by my ambition, by my narcissism!” others would lament, and they would roll about in the grass atop Halfway Hill, sobbing, for weeks.

IV Then, one day, once upon a time, there arrived atop Halfway Hill a man of many skills - a man who knew to make walls from stones, and roofs from reeds and mud, and chimneys that gave warmth without filling a room with smoke - a man who knew how to work wood into doors and windows, a man who had been called by so many names on his journey to Halfway Hill that he no longer knew which was his, or if indeed he had one of his own.

“It is just as I had expected!” said this man of many skills, and names, and no name - as, for the first time, he beheld, in the disatance, The Tree of Waking, known also as The Door of Death. “For it was always obvious that HalfwayHill would lie halfway – why else would it be called Halfway?”

And he looked the Tree of Dreams in the eye. And the Tree of Dreams looked at him. “You want the journey to Halfway Hill to be an inbreath” he said loudly, defiantly “a journey of taking-in... And you want the journey away from Halfway Hill to be an outbreath. A journey of letting-go... But I do not wish to stop taking-in, and I have long been letting-go. I have long been breathing both in and out, and I intend it to always be so!”

It was as if midday had kissed midnight, or a spellbound blade been pried from a stone, or a great koan cracked, or a timeless riddle unravelled, or The Chosen One finally chosen – and The Tree of Dreams bowed before the man of many names and none – bending its trunk forwards, and lowering its branches to the ground. “What then do you dream?” the good tree enquired. “I wish to build a house here atop Halfway Hill” the mysterious man of many skills replied. “Then it shall be so” said the kind tree. And so it came to be.

And The House Atop Halfway Hill was built - stone by stone, branch by branch, breath by breath – both a coming and a going, both a receivng and a giving back. It was, as the Tree of Dreams had expected: a simultaneously perfectly selfish and perfectly selfless construction.

And then, one day, after many more years - his masterpiece complete - the Man who Built the House atop Halfway Hill lay down on the warm ground just in front of the excellent fireplace he had built, and in his mind´s eye the Tree of Waking woke him - and he passed through the Door of Death. The Tree of Dreams and the Tree of Waking, as if entwined, watched over him as he passed. He kissed their sacred bark, and whispered “thank you both – thank you for my life, and thank you for my death - thank you that I have existed at all!” And The Tree of Dreams and the Tree of Waking rained showers of petals upon him - petals that were somehow also a vision – a vision of time that had no beginning and no end, and therefore no middle. And therefore no Halfway Hill.

For my son, Ibrahim, on the 41st anniversary of his birth.

Mark the Mystic Activist, Aragon, February 2024

Image by Igor Morski

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