Mystical Differences

Katherine Phelps

Many, many are the times when we are living stories, many are the times when we too are a part of "once upon a time", but we do not know it until we get to the happily ever after. I was once a part of a story concerning two mystics. Like many mystics these two lived in dark and incense filled sanctuaries of meditation. And like many mystics these two ate simple foods which nourished the body and did not distract the soul. And like many mystics these two felt it was their duty to train up disciples in the one true way that they alone knew, but as it so happened, the one true way differed depending upon whether you asked Master Two-Flower who lived in the little temple of silence atop of the rocky mountain or Mistress Moonshadow who lived in the cave of song by the still lake in the forest. I was younger then and not so wise as I am now and I was the disciple of Mistress Moonshadow.

It was a confusing business being a disciple for one of these two. Anything Mistress Moonshadow did, Master Two-Flower claimed he could do better and any truths Master Two-Flower proclaimed, Mistress Moonshadow would claim that the opposite was true. If Mistress Moonshadow produced flame from the water, Master Two- Flower would produce a great fire from the stone and burn all of the brush around his temple and nearly the temple as well. If Master Two-Flower said that we must rid ourselves of the illusions of the body and seek the ecstasy of truth that is found in the mind, Mistress Moonshadow would say we must rid ourselves of the illusions of the mind and seek the ecstasy of truth that is found when you are at one with your body. If Master Two-Flower said that life is like an onion and its layers are like the illusions which keep us from seeing the kernal of truth that lays within and as we manage to peel each layer back, we cry a little from the transition, then Mistress Moonshadow would say Master Two-Flower is a bloody twit who has never raised, peeled or cooked an onion in his entire life.

Things went on something like this year in and year out for a long time. Though some of the disciples participated in the rivalry, others did not and were on friendly terms with one another when they met at the river to wash their ritual robes. In fact some disciples became quite concerned when discussing the teachings of their mentors with one another. Both of the mentors stressed the importance of seeking the truth, both stressed the importance of finding a relationship with the divine; yet, both held totally divergent views about how this was done. How could this be so, when they were told that only one path would lead them to these things? It became considered a matter of great urgency by the disciples that they somehow find a way to prove which mystic had knowledge of the correct means to enlightenment and which did not. It then came to pass that a select group of disciples from both mystics would come together and create a test whereby they could discover the answer to this burning question.

So, late one night when the mentors were fast asleep, the select disciples wended their way down the mountain tracks and through the mist enshrouded woods to a little clearing where they discussed just what the test should be. "We could make them grow stones so big that the other cannot lift it with their magic powers," suggested one disciple. "We could have a walking on water relay race," suggested another. Idea after idea such as these were offered throughout the evening and not a one seemed to satisfy the group. Then just before sunrise I came up with what, I thought, was a brilliant scheme. "What is it," I asked, "that both adepts have us strive for?" "Enlightenment," replied the other disciples. "Yes, but what is the nature of that enlightenment?" I urged them. "Release from the body. . .harmony with the body," were their varied answers. "Yes again, but I'm looking for something deeper still which they hold in common." They murmured amongst themselves to no avail. Yet, a look of realisation spread across the face of a particularly bright young follower and he stood bolt upright and cried, "We are seeking to become at one!"

I smiled. "Correct, therefore, we need to devise a convincing means whereby our teachers can demonstrate who between them is best able to achieve at oneness. And according to my studies, every enlightened being who has ever achieved this has done so through intense meditation, and at the time of achievement either manifested things such as golden haloes or simply disappeared from this plane of existence all together. Both of our mentors claim to have attained moments of at oneness, so it should be a simple thing for them to do so before witnesses."

Most of the disciples nodded in agreement with this. It only stood to reason after all. However, the bright young follower raised an objection, "According to all of the stories I have read, though, achieving at oneness can take days, weeks, even months. We could be waiting a very long time before we have any proof of who is the genuine keeper of eternal knowledge." Yes, that is true too, agreed the disciples and knit their brows and twisted the hems of their robes between their hands in frustration. This could be a problem. But I pressed my point.

"We shall have them meditate in the same room together and both shall know that the mystic who passes this test will most likely gain the disciples of the other. I imagine that shall be sufficient inspiration for them to quickly manifest." Not a single person at that meeting didn't grin at this elegant solution. It was only left for them to decide where the test was going to take place and who was going to take what watches in the coming days.

Things were swiftly planned and when the time was right, two delegates, one from each school, went to each mystic in turn and put the test before them. Since I had come up with the idea in the first place, I was, not surprisingly, one of the delegates. First we went to Master Two-Flower's little temple of silence atop of the rocky mountain. "Oh, great and holy Master Two- Flower," we said, "beloved of God, wielder of the power of Kec, member of the Golden Brotherhood, your disciples seek of you a boon." "What is that my children?" asked Master Two-Flower. "We ask that you subject yourself to a test whereby we can be certain that you and not Mistress Moonshadow is the keeper of eternal knowledge concerning the one true path." Though purple is considered a most spiritual colour, Master Two-Flower turned at that point seven shades of most un-spiritual purple in succession. His cheeks puffed out and he looked for all the world like a steam engine about to explode from a surfeit of over-heated steam.

"You should know, your very souls should vibrate with the certainty, that I alone hold the TRUTH!" You could tell by his voice that he was speaking of TRUTH in capital letters. "How sad it is that your spirits are so confounded that you should be deceived by that, that woman!"

"But Master Two-Flower," I ventured, "This test need not be for the benefit of your own followers who have already shown great wisdom in taking up your teachings. This test shall be but a beacon to those dear lost children who have been following after false guides. By attaining at oneness and manifesting a sign to witnesses, you could more than double the number of your devotees and become renowned as one of the greatest of teachers and holiest of holies."

Master Two-Flower's eyes lit up, greedy for definitive recognition. However, he composed himself into one of his most peaceful and detached of semblences. "Your thoughts bear some merit, my daughter," he said. Not wanting to miss the opportunity of the moment I added, "And besides, Mistress Moonshadow says that she can manifest so fast that you won't know what hit you." Master Two-Flower's eyes flamed in outrage. "I shall show that brazen hussy, excuse me, misguided wench, a thing or two. They don't call me Two-Flower for nothing!" I left it to my partner to explain the details of the contest to Master Two-Flower later; next we had to visit Mistress Moonshadow and elicit her participation.

We found Mistress Moonshadow performing a complex ritual involving standing in the coldest part of the lake holding a knife in one hand, a crystal in the other and dancing around in the all together, technically known as skyclad or, in common parlance, buck naked. She sang and wailed at the four cardinal points of the compass invoking the water goddesses to give her strength. When she was through, we politely applauded from the shore. Mistress Moonshadow gave a sweeping bow, scooped up a fish and threw it to me. "For dinner tonight," she said.

This was going to be tricky; especially while trying to hold a wriggling fish. I handed the fish to the other disciple to whack against a tree. "Oh powerful and compassionate Mistress Moonshadow, daughter of Gaia, beloved of the three-fold Goddess, mother of all who seek your aid, your disciples request of you a boon," we began. "What is that my children?" asked Mistress Moonshadow. "We ask that you subject yourself to a test whereby we can be certain that you and not Master Two-Flower is the keeper of eternal knowledge concerning the one true path." All of a sudden we became painfully aware that Mistress Moonshadow held a large blunt object in one hand and a long sharp one in the other. She held each up threateningly in turn as she tried to decide which would be the better weapon to inflict bodily harm upon Master Two-Flower.

"The Goddess within you, your very bodies should speak to you with certainty that I alone hold the TRUTH!" You could tell by her voice that she was speaking of TRUTH in capital letters. "How sad it is that your inner knowing is so confounded that you should be deceived by that, that man!"

"But Mistress Moonshadow," I said, "This test need not be for the benefit of your own followers who have already shown great wisdom in taking up your teachings. This test shall be but a beacon to those dear lost children who cannot see what a ridiculous, immature, male chavinist pig is Master Two-Flower. By attaining at oneness and manifesting a sign to witnesses, you could more than double the number of your devotees and become renowned as one of the most powerful of teachers and compassionate of holy mothers."

Mistress Moonshadow's eyes lit up, delighted with the thought of demonstrating her obvious superiority. However, she composed herself into one of her most motherly of semblences. "Why, my dear daughter, would I want to do a thing like that?" I could tell that Mistress Moonshadow was relishing in being convinced. "Because (please excuse my language Mistress) he would bloody well deserve it." Well, that was all it took to get Mistress Moonshadow in on the deal.

So, on the appointed morning both mystics met at the clearing in a little shack we had constructed for the purposes of the contest. Both were garbed in the full regalia of their respective affiliations. Master Two-Flower wore over a silk shirt a long white jacket with two red and gold flowers fiercely emblazoned upon his chest and back. These flowers memorialised his great discourse where he held up not one but two flowers as the entirety of his lecture. Upon his head he wore a tall, gold pointed hat. Mistress Moonshadow was enshrouded in a large flowing cape. The cape was of a green so dark that it was almost as dark as the night. It was held closed by a silver clasp with mysterious figures that curled and writhed into numerous wierd patterns forming the shape of a crescent moon. Bells jangled on her anklets and her bracelets had unicorns and dolphins molded into them. They were both fine sights to behold.

Outside of the shack the clearing and the woods were filled with the disciples of the two adepts plus many curious onlookers. The air was tense as timeless verities were about to be challenged. The mystics pulled themselves up to their full height before the crowd. On either side of them were a retinue of disciples with name tags identifying them as the official witnesses to manifestations of at oneness. With little ceremony they entered the shack. Master Two Flower removed his jacket and sat upon the cushion provided for him. Mistress Moonshadow removed her cloak to reveal that she was skyclad (buck naked to you) and sat upon the cusion provided for her. Thus began their meditation.

Who knows how long their meditations would have taken had it not been for an intervening event. Hour after hour they had meditated throughout the day. Hour after hour they had meditated throughout most of the night. At about threeish in the morning Master Two-Flower slyly opened his eyes a crack and glanced over at Mistress Moonshadow to see how she was faring. Oh she looked beautiful in the moonlight and the moon shaped crescent that formed from the shadow between her breasts was particularly stunning. He sighed to himself. Since he was a man, his pupils were all male and at times he got tired of the sameness. It was wonderful to see lovely curves where he usually saw planes; it was exciting to see a cute furry dimple where he normally saw manly bulges. He closed his eyes again and tried not to think about it.

At about fourish in the morning Mistress Moonshadow opened her eyes a crack and glanced over at Master Two-Flower to see how he was faring. Oh he looked handsome in the moonlight and the way the emblazoned flowers emphasized his pectorals was particularly stunning. She sighed to herself. Since she was a woman, her pupils were all female and at times she got tired of doing fertility rituals without any satisfactory conclusion. It was wonderful to see strong planes where she usually saw curves; it was exciting to see a firm, mighty tree where she normally saw only grasslands. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about it.

At about fivish in the morning, one of the official witnesses had fallen asleep and the other was nodding off. Nod, nod, nod, BANG, the one remaining witness fell asleep and knocked her head against the wall. This startled the two mystics and their eyes flew open. They looked at the sleeping witnesses, then they looked at one another. It was a long lingering look. And with that one glance they knew what was in the other's mind.

At dawn the next set of official witnesses came to relieve the graveyard shift and what do you think they found? Yes, both Master Two-Flower and Mistress Moonshadow had become at one. . .with each other! The witnesses had caught them in flagrante. They were perfect specimens of womanhood and manhood joining in sexual ecstasy. It was a good thing that I was there for I immediately declared it a miracle, a true manifestation of at oneness with the natural rhythms of the universe and the fact that two such opposing adepts could overcome their differences to move with these rhythms in agreement proved its miraculousness.

Things returned pretty much to normal after that, but every so often Mistress Moonshadow and Master Two-Flower would express an urge to become at one with the universe again and both disappear for a weekend. I spent a lot of time contemplating the lessons to be found in this event and this is what I came up with: It's a lot more fun being at one when you have the spice of differences to make it interesting and the one true path is that which accepts that there are many one true paths, one that is true for each individual.