Here follows a tale, long lost and forgotten, which the ancients enjoyed recalling when they needed a little pick-me-up. You see, life was difficult for the ancients as well and they too needed the occasional story to put life in perspective. To understand this little tale, we must be reminded of a fundamental assumption of the ancients: that the entire universe was like the breathing of your lungs, expanding and contracting endlessly.
So, begins our story…
There once was a man named Cylas of Arkas who accidently stumbled into the universe as it was on its way back to its beginning. Cylas lived in an expanding universe, as we do now. However, because of some silly and confusing magic he accidentally found himself in the contracting side of the universe, the universe as it was heading back to its original tiny state.
Cylas was trying to use some new experimental magic to turn his wife into a better cook, when something went terribly awry. All of a sudden, there was an intense flash of light and he found himself in a strange place.
In fact, it was hard to say exactly what was strange about this place, for as he looked around, things appeared no different, yet something just didn’t feel right.
As he looked closer, he noticed that many things seemed to be backwards and the opposite of what he was used to. On the ground he noticed, what appeared to be a baby bird, struggling to make its way back into a cracked egg. As he watched with curiousity, his jaw dropped when the egg sealed itself up with the bird tucked neatly inside!
Cylas, with eyes now bulging from his skull, meticulously studied his surroundings, not sure where he was and what had gone wrong with his magic. He overheard two people yelling and crept up closer to listen.
He was sure he hadn’t left his home because they were speaking his language, but there was something very odd about their argument.
“My land is very infertile, please take it!”
“I’ve seen your land. I know it is very difficult to get a tree to ungrow into a seed on your land! You can’t trick me.”
“Ok, how about this? If you take my land, I will take your son.”
“Well, my son is constantly making money and wastes all of his time working hard. He sure is a disappointment. Ok, fine, but you also have to take…”
Cylas, wandered around, perplexed by what he saw. Everywhere he went people were trying to get rid of things. He strolled past a book store and decided to go in.
Opening up a biology textbook, he was shocked to see that all of the pictures and diagrams were backwards!
He began to read aloud, “The minerals and elements of the land recompose and form the elderly individual. From there, the stages of human development proceed as follows: adulthood, the teenage years, childhood, unbirth, devolution of the human cells.”
Cylas scratched his head in disbelief, wondering if perhaps he might be dreaming, when behind him suddenly came a voice, “Biology, eh? The study of decreasing. Fascinating stuff!”
Cylas turned around and saw that the words came from an incredibly old looking man with eyes that seemed to be almost transparent, as if they allowed a glimpse into his soul. His long white beard and thick eyebrows nearly covered his face. One look told Cylas that this was a man of wisdom.
“I’m here to take you home,” the old man said.
“Where am I?” cried Cylas, praying for an answer which would put to rest the storm of confusion thundering in his mind.
“The contracting side of the universe.”
Cylas’ eyes glazed over, as the old man suspected, so he just continued talking.
“You are from the part of the universe which is expanding. You messed around with forces which are not supposed to be disturbed. You will not like it here, so I have come to bring you back to your home.”
“What is wrong with this place? Why is everything so weird?”
“It seems strange to you because on this side of the universe, everything is contracting, rather than expanding. The people here seek decrease, they wish to have less, struggle their whole lives to get rid of all the things that constantly come to them.
“You see, in your side of the universe, life is ruled by some very basic principles that people take for granted because they are so used to them and it is assumed that they are universal. People in your universe want more, they want to be better, stronger, bigger. Growth and increase drive life. Well, here it is the opposite: this is the universe of decrease.
“Everyone is slowly making their way back to the smallest point of the universe, at which time, everything will once again re-expand and grow. Here, instead of a seed turning into a tree, a tree contracts into a seed. This happens over and over until there is less and less of everything.”
“Whoa,” Cylas tried to maintain his composure, “I’m sorry, it was an accident. I really didn’t mean to do this!”
“I know it wasn’t your intention,” the old man said smiling, “but there are no such thing as accidents. And now you have been reminded of that which is so simple, yet often overlooked: the nature of life in your universe. Any questions before you go back?”
“Um,” Cylas thought for a moment and finally asked, “It doesn’t sound very fulfilling to be constantly struggling through life in the pursuit of decreasing yourself. Isn’t it exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying to simply focus on making life worse for yourself?”
“Perhaps,” replied the old man, “but is it any different where you come from? Isn’t it exhausting struggling a lifetime to increase yourself?”
“I suppose, but…” Cylas said before being interrupted.
“But, regardless of which side of the universe you are on, it is a struggle, until you finally see that the cause of the struggle is the same: the focus on the self. Whether you are trying to expand your life or contract your life, your focus is on your life and that is why there is struggle. The minute you are able to let go of the focus on yourself, a veil falls away and life becomes much more simple. For if you trace the root of all evil and negativity, it all comes back to the same source: a focus on the self. Hatred, anger, deceit, war, famine, and corruption all have the same cause. Simply spend your time giving and doing and life’s problems will melt away.”
And with that there was a flash of light and Cylas found that he was back in his home. His eyes, now seeing with the light of his soul, noticed his wife in the other room. He stood up, walked over to her, tried the food she was cooking and said to her, “It’s delicious. How can I help?”