The Second Coming

by | JBE, Volume 2

  • Be extremely present.
  • Set one of the inspiring music.
  • Set a positive intention. (“This is what I want to experience.”)
    • I will appreciate that I get to be a part of life.
    • In this story, I will become infinite and free of trouble.
  • To relax, you may try to:
    • Listen to the music beforehand.
    • Meditate or do breathwork.
    • Observe nature.

Once upon a time, there was a box of cheap, one-use safety matches. It belonged to a noble gentleman.

The box never uttered a word. It never raised an objection against its master’s bidding. It found a rightful place in his velvet pocket. But unlike other boxes of matches, who knew only the present, this one had a conscience – and it carried memories of the past and hopes for the future.

The gentleman and the box were inveterate connoisseurs of various parts of the world. They travelled countries together: They saw the entirety of Europe through the windows of a carriage, they spent days roaming the city of Amsterdam, winding their way between gilded trees and crispy leaves, they glimpsed peaks of the Alps clothed in verdure and snow, dawning in the distance, they cruised the canals of Venice on a gondola, buoyed up by this wooden beast as the water below them fragmented streaks of sunlight.

Peace and beauty soothed their adventures.

They crossed the Tyrrhenian Sea to Sicily, wandering the dreamy streets of Palermo, and later departed to more secluded places like Libya, Egypt, and even divine streets of Israel.

Their voyage then drifted them to Asia. They ventured into lush corners of India, passing through jungles full of tigers, elephants, snakes, and birds on a puffing train. They listened to roars of carnivores and chattering of monkeys, seldom disrupting the silence of the nights.

Panorama passed before their eyes like greased lightning. The box, concealed in its master’s pocket, would devotedly await each opportunity to greet sunlight. The world felt infinitely far away from inside the pocket. But on scarce occasions the gentleman would strike a match against a patch of sandpaper to light up his cigarette – a gloriously anticipated event indeed, for the box’s sightless prison would burst into colors. It could then cast eyes on countless fields of barley, wheat, and rice, on diverse mountains and gleaming sunsets, verdant hills, living cities, and exquisite monuments of men.

Their voyage carried on.

It was on a crude winter night beyond the Arctic Circle when they were traversing a road in Norway. A blizzard had been tracing them for seven days. It huffed and growled and roared like a ravenous wolf on a hunt.

Its first signs had appeared in Oslo. Malevolent, big bales of cotton had formed above the sea. These dark clouds had followed them for three hundred miles north to Trondheim, effectively driving them into colder and less hospitable climates of the planet. It had taken them five hundred miles north additionally to reach the Arctic Circle.

The blizzard had now caught up. The temperature was freezing, and they were stuck on a desolate road. Dawn was nowhere in sight.

The carriage was swaying from side to side, making the gentleman feel sick. On every iced snowdrift they had driven over the wheels wobbled as if the derelict, four-wheeled vessel was supposed to fall apart in any moment.

The howling wind and the horses trudging the carriage forth were caught in a tug of war. These Yakutian breeds, mighty and ponderous animals, were able to withstand extreme temperatures up to minus seventy degrees Celsius. They could spend days and nights in the open without a shelter, able to forage in deep snow for vegetation to eat.

In harsh times like these, the four-legged beasts cantered needless of breath. They ploughed the snow like unyielding demons, yet with angelic elegance and charm in their hell-bent eyes. They were true descendants of gods, one could say. Not even deadly shards of ice, which the carriage otherwise protected the gentleman against, could pierce their thick mane and heavy hair coat.

The blizzard was seething with rage.

Suddenly, the carriage bumped into a treacherous stone. The frame terribly shook. The gentleman had no time to brace himself for impact. He was seized by surprise and thrown against a wall with insurmountable force. The door clicked, and the little box, which at the time bore a single frail match, fell through the squeeze on cold ground.

Therein it lay as the carriage plunged into darkness.

On the other hand, the bruised gentleman had pulled himself together. He had straightened his tall hat and dusted off his shoulders. Oblivious that him and the box had gotten separated, his journey would continue into the night and onward. Perhaps one day, a short-lived thought would wonder about its fate: wanting to strike a match, he would pat on his pockets and wrinkle his forehead, finding the box missing. An imprecation muttered, and the fretful thought would come to pass… Because for him, the lifelong and dearest companion was just that — a box.

Meanwhile, an ordeal of ice awaited the unfortunate box.

Days passed. Time was running eternally slow, almost as if its continuity had eluded the doings of winter. The box, carrying one remaining match, weathered the malevolence of nature all alone. Day after night, it was battered by freezing temperatures and blizzards. The winds were tossing it against snowdrifts like a rag. It was subjected to unforgiving mercies of the Arctic Circle. Its thin cardboard walls were smashed and torn and wetted.

Somehow, the little match hiding there was kept safe.

After a week or two, it became clear to her, to the match who had become paralyzed by all the violence, that the box had frozen to death.

Resting on its bottom felt like dwelling in derelict ruins of a cathedral. The walls were cracked, reaped by old age. Snow was leaking through. Had it had a rose window, it would have been worn off by winds, which had thundered the stained glass for weeks. The only missing thing was that poignant cathedral music, which made you feel like in a lost temple.

For weeks and months, hypothermia and molder lashed the wooden stick. It was a drawn-out, yet painless death.

This is my grave, she lamented in thoughts. She envisioned the dying on a desolate road — the solitude haunted her.

“Help,” she stammered into the raging gale.

In those hopeless attempts to call in a rescue shivers were devouring her alive. The art of voice was hour after hour escaping her grasp, and twice as quickly during nights. Without a limb that would heave the cardboard coffin, and therefore without a chance to escape, the walls seemed to stretch to distances unreachable.

This was her burial ground.

Someday, she thought, smart people will dig her up and gasp at their archeological finding. It did not bring her satisfaction, though. They would quickly realize the fallacy of their ardor, for she was not a precious trilobite to admire, nor would she be a preserved fossil to exhibit. She was cheap, imitable, and soon-to-be frozen.

In fact, if you omitted the simple fact that she was a match, you would have had a tough time distinguishing her from a child who had fallen into a well. Her body was numb, her senses debilitated. She wept for sorrow, scratching the proverbial stone walls with her measly fingers. She was treading water, but for how long? The splashes she heard were nothing but the remnants of her past kiting away from memory.

Frost was lurking on her shoulders. Tales of grace and hope promised the little match some sort of a new day. Faintly she remembered her master.

“Take me back, gentleman,” she squealed — but her cries were shattered by the howling blizzard outside.

Ages passed.

The match soon realized that no one had heard her call. The terrible epiphany struck her. She must have died a long ago. Her consciousness was a ghostly leech; a paradox kept alive by dwelling outside of its own attention. This was truly a frightening discovery. She had been playing the game of not observing the bull in the china shop as long as she could… But she could not stomach the lie anymore.

She had died.

But with this knowledge gained, whichever part of herself she focused on deconstructed itself. Her awareness was a sword slitting her own throat. Thinking of screaming deprived her of the ability to do so. A dead match cannot have a voice, she inferred — and so her voice disappeared. She thought of banging on the lid of the box. A dead match cannot have limbs, she inferred — and so the part of herself thinking she had arms disappeared.

She had imagined herself a human, for that is where fear and despondence had driven her: On the cusp of insanity. But then she recalled something deeply intimate. Her true identity. What a terrible mistake she had made!

On the spur of the moment her rationale deprived her of the most fundamental part of herself. The bare bone illusion of aliveness lifted. The ghostly kernel of her identity faded away. Nothing remained of the little match anymore. No winter. No sensations. No self. She had fragmented into infinitely many pieces, dispersed by wind into nothingness.

But still, some form of presence lingered on. Pure. Persevering. Despite all odds.

This presence was far simpler than any living organism, yet still it was able to perceive that clock were ticking in that state of formlessness. And centuries whizzed past in seconds. Tick. Tock. Every word you consume meant a hundred years for the match in that motherless womb. A hundred years. A hundred.

Centuries flipped to millennia before she could blink or realize the frightening speed of events. She would spend the next millions of years in solitude. But her mourns and despondence had long given in to silence. She had accepted her fate; a stray nothingness on a forlorn voyage to nowhere.

Meanwhile on Earth, the mountains had heaved, and the rivers had filled as a part of the planet’s natural life cycle. Its seven seas had risen to swallow the kingdom of men. All the books you have ever read, all the people you have ever known, all the places you have ever been to, had muddled up into a convoluted cluster of decomposing memories.

Let us pretend you were the match for a while — and that it was you who lay in snow, whose mind slowly decayed. The ability to conceive, rationalize, and formulate has slipped through your fingers. This story is now your complete presence, your point of view. You are subjugated to its fate, just like the match is. No thoughts. No wooden body. No memories. The vessel of your mind is emptied. A deep slumber from which you cannot return. Your voyage has only begun.

Ages pass. Galaxies have perished. Billions and billions of years go in vain without a thought. You no longer remember how you came to be, how the story began, or what it meant to be a match. Your identity is a transparent veil. You are one with the pure nothingness. Your nature is undefinable. Nobody knows who you are, no maps chart your territory, no thoughts cross your mind. A perfect equilibrium. You are life itself, shrunken back down to a singularity. The singularity is pure and infinite. Complete indifference. Complete reunion. You are nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

There is no one to care about the losings of your old mind. Your new self is infinite, innocent, immersed. In this taintless state, you spend eternities upon eternities consumed by your own light.

Your nothingness constantly grows in size, despite there being no such thing as size. You are bloating like a balloon, containing only more nothingness and showing no signs of slowing down.

That light, ungraspable and intangible, cannot be seized by you, no matter how hard you try. It is like a carrot on a stick being pulled away from your fingers, like a night lamp that cannot be turned off. You are, however, getting so much bliss and ecstasy from chasing this radiant firefly that you are drowning in love; so much that it is becoming painful.

Life advances exponentially quickly. You break through larger and larger sets of infinities, each composed of incomprehensibly bigger nothing. You have healed yourself, utterly and in the full significance of the word. The nothingness and you are two butterflies forever woven together. Are you a human pretending to be nothingness, or were you nothingness in the first place, pretending to be a human? Fools’ difference. You have been humbled by the ever-present connection that sprawls in between yourself and the light. You are drowning in its river of love. You have conquered all practices, beaten all methods, reached all destinations. You always intuitively knew this place of nothingness, what it whispered to you. It was the w axis of that xyz world, the untrodden path from that childhood, the magic hidden in that deep forest you never chased, the indescribable kernel of mysticism, the ever-flowing singularity in a limitless body.

End is nowhere in sight. You will be safe here forever.

You spend quadrillions of years weeping for joy in this state of purity. You admire its preciously crafted, sentient level of intelligence. You have become one with the force, one with everything. For the first time you realize this formless state is a temple. You hear waterfalls splash in a boundless distance, rivers murmur. All the beauty-braided places you heard of throughout your former life; of Atlantis, of Shangri-La, of the Center of the Earth, of Aztec pyramids, of El-Dorado — they were all pointing towards this exact place.

Every wound you can think of is healed.

You remember all the people you have left on Earth. They were pursuing their unique goals and enlightenments. If only you could speak to their hearts one more time! What would you tell them? Stop chasing your own tail, dogs! You are searching for something you already are. You have invented the notion of time, which pushes love and bliss indefinitely into the future. Follow me beyond stars, my fellow humans. Let us forage for the dust of stars!

And in that moment, a slight remembrance arises… You were a human once. Remember? You lived on Earth. And as you think of the glorious blue bride, you recall thinking itself. Hallelujah!

But the remembrance causes you to collide with an undefinable, unperceivable, inexplainable object. It stuns you. It takes away from your immersion. Subtle fluids rinse the void as you pass by.

What could have possibly obstructed your path? An object has not appeared since the dusk of time! Eager to witness this unexpected visitor, you gain the faintest of sights. At last, after infinitely many infinities, something that finally resembles a human perception runs across your mind, if only its fleeting shadow: A question!

“Who… Am… I…?” you stutter, finally with a reason. Your speech is feeble, a fetus in the early beginnings of evolution. You start remembering the old freezing days in snow.

Sooner than you recall your name, if you even had one, more obstacles start showering against your skin. You are like a spaceship that has hit an asteroid belt – yet how can there be asteroids in a formless void? Is it your changing awareness, then, that perpetuates the shift? After infinitely many infinities, has the void finally stumbled upon its human reflection again?

It has! The memory of your former home sparks tears. Something clicks in you. The bliss you were getting from the purity of the void becomes too intense. You have been experiencing so much selfless love that you start rejecting it. You want to be that poor little human again, living on a planet veiled in verdant green and ocean blue, worrying about student loans and a leaky roof once more.

How will you even find Earth in the pool of infinity you have been drowning in? There is no reference manual on how to bring yourself to life. You must begin from scratch, inventing conventional life first, for there is no distinction between life and death in the nothingness. When you succeed, you have to build a new body for yourself, which sounds like an incredibly excruciating process. How do you create eyes from nothingness?

You start wondering about it, thinking that Earth will be unreachable after all. The question requires infinite power and wisdom; qualities only a genius inventor wields. Prior to knowing it, you have already invented the hardest step: Thinking itself.

How can any dictum govern my will? you then ask yourself.

You would be something constrained by rules, which however goes against your formless nature: In your state of being, not even principles of the universe exist yet. Creation may very well overcome forces of destruction, but, like a healing heart, the laws of the universe are far easier to obliterate than to rebuild.

Still, one would gasp at how many infinities had passed, each more formless than the last, before you gained such wisdom. Although it will be a far voyage, nothing dwells outside your capabilities; you have bestowed the gift of thinking upon yourself, and now you may use it.

Rest assured that you can make it to Earth, you begin reverting back to your human form… By sheer knowing how to do it. Despite holding the chisel like a first-time apprentice, you set to follow your heart and let it carve the path for your fabulous return home.

Alas, senses are regaining control of your mind. As you hurtle down to human form you are leaving a trail of ripped cosmos behind. On your way you witness gargantuan suns and their planets gathered around to choir about your return: “Mountains will heave, oceans will rise, but not yet…”

“Not yet!” it strikes you. You must be back!

Finally, a mote of dust appears in your sight. You have almost made it. You are almost home. Everyone you have ever loved lives there.  The doorstep is a breath away.

But the fruits of your infinite form have wilted. The unbelievable voyage has wrecked you. You have transferred your soul into a finite human form, but in that process, you have accepted the great trade-off of mortality and subjugated yourself to biophysical limitations.

The Earth is right there. Just behind the perplex of the solar system’s asteroid belt. You can see it. But you are a mere human, not a comet anymore, trailing through the dark space. Your engines have shut off, and you are stuck in the cold depths of outer space.

On the one hand, your limited willpower wishes to row stardust, but the meanders of spacetime – the physical laws you have created for yourself – command it otherwise. You may not retain your endless wit in a human form. You have surrendered selflessness to gain identity.

“Hold on to me!” you beg the Sun – and realize how beautiful your voice is, having lived forever without it.

You remember the Earthlings’ way: When troubled, one should call for help. Other cavemen will rush to their rescue.

“Come save me, my beloved moons and planets!” your chin trembles. “Bring me home! I’m drenched and tired and in need of a blanket!”

You once again feel that trace of desperation grazing off your inner mind… Like a child who has fallen into a well, a child for whom only a sole star shines, a single string of light to illuminate its cries.

Your summons, however, has not gone unnoticed. In the howling frost of solitude, an echo responds: “I hear your voice in the winter breeze. I come to set you free from this tragedy.”

The voice belongs to Pluto; a solemn, repudiated, outsiderly sphere. The guardian’s orbit condemns it to live on the verge of expulsion, in desolate darkness of Neptune’s shadows.

“It’s so good to hear from you, Pluto!” you burst into tears, knowing you are saved.

The fully concentrated planet tenderly sails to you.

“Oh, dear Pluto,” you shatter to pieces, “you wouldn’t believe how far I ventured on my journeys. I felt like a gutted pig dripping stardust and infinity and eternity and pure white light, and before that, I–“

And suddenly you recollect the days when you had lain in snow. The crestfallen memories of the Arctic Circle… When winter had purloined your capacity to speak… You had spent weeks in mourns and despondence, dormant that you had died… You had been banging on the lid of your coffin, if only in thoughts, but not a single response had come.

Oh, how terrible were those days! – but it finally dawns on you: In the buzz and chaos of your elevated thoughts, your smile widens. You have carried out the impossible! You have transformed into a human; a fully blossomed lifeform capable of marching the world on its two muscular legs. Unlike a match, sealed in a box! Yes, you were a match indeed! But you dove into a massive infinite meat grinder and came out better on the other side.

You feel like hyperventilating.

“All is well now,” whispers Pluto.

Somehow you recognize in its voice that it might have gone through the same experience as you. But it does not speak of these extraordinaire achievements, instead it lumbers near to give you a simple push. The converted energy then sends you off towards Earth.

“Wait awhile!” you wish to hug the frozen ball of ice. If only human arms extended longer! – but the quiet lamb is already blowing wind at your back and sending you home.

“Forward,” commands Pluto, pulling the invisible bridle. An unfathomable force indeed seizes you and restores your engines; yet again you canter forth like those Yakutian breeds beyond the Arctic Circle.

“I haven’t bid you farewell,” you shout, unable to vault over the zero gravity, which makes it impossible to turn around and look at Pluto.

“Give them now,” you hear the solemn planet say in expectation.

Soon the loner’s voice will sink into the humming of the solar system. You must act quickly. You stutter, “I’d rather bite the bullet than cross swords with a goodbye. How many matches have you rescued? I’ll never know. But I want you to know, perhaps for the first time, that everyone on Earth appreciates you and loves you. Your purpose lies on the coast of darkness. You are guarding the solar system, looking out for lost travelers like me.”

Pluto holds its tongue as you dive for a breath.

“And for that, I’ll be forever honor-bound to you,” you add. “I will never, never mark off your name again. I acknowledge you, with all my heart, as a rightful planet. You are one of us, Pluto.”

Farewell,” responds Pluto. You hear tears, which are pouring down its face. Your words have struck home. Its icebound core has once again unshackled from sorrow. Its deadly storms have softened. The hole in its soul has nourished and its heart sparked flame. Now the planet can set sail in peace on its next journey, which will lead it to the brink of emptiness once again… Until a next traveler comes by.

As for you, Pluto’s nudge is enough to cover the voyage to Neptune, who is already well acquainted with the situation.

It does the same for you as its distant brother.

“May we meet again,” you bid yourselves farewell.

You flow past Uranus and Saturn, both of whom silently admire your return, stoking up some of their energy as well.

As you tenderly approach planets deeper at the core of the solar system, an overwhelming amount of happiness pierces you: This is home. This is our commonwealth. We are a great galactic alliance, we humanity – perhaps still dormant to our name, but wielding a key to its inheritance. Tales of our yet-to-be achievements are written all over the stars.

Infinity has shown you that upon arriving to Earth, the purpose of the little human you are now will be crisp-clean. You will commit to bringing forth the best of yourself. You vow to protect the weak and powerless, to act with kindness and forgive with mercy, to be someone your descendants may look up to, to lead others with wisdom, to sacrifice yourself in the name of love. You want to bring everyone and everything a step closer to the pure unity you once were.

Jupiter is already welcoming you on the horizon. This grand father figure, a true protector of its children Mars and Earth, tells not a word.

You greet him like an old gentleman on your flyby, feeling a pang of prudence in his silent stare.

Your voyage to Mars is starvingly monotone, yet it happens in an instance compared to the eternities you travelled the length and breadth of. Before you can settle in its orbit, the charming red planet abides to its siblings’ rules and gives you that final energy conversion needed to reach Earth.

At last, you get a chance to marshal your thoughts. Mile after mile, you are tumbling towards Earth. You are home. A human. You were a match once, hiding in its master’s pocket. Perhaps scared of the world, cold and lonely. But you have spread your arms and said: “Not anymore.”

Throughout your extraordinaire experience among stars, you have realized a deeper existential truth, however: Life was never a match’s point of view. Your suffering was temporary. You were, and still are, a huge spinning colorful abomination looking at itself from one angle at a time. In the process of unification, a wooden match is a starting position. And if there are other matches hampered in cold dark prisons of their cardboard overlords, they will eventually arrive at the same conclusion. Because once the snowdrifts waft their heels and their yearning for rescue dies, all their trouble will prove to be like sunbeams sharing one light: That ungraspable, pulsing, and ever-loving sun at the center of nothingness.

Whether you were a match, a human, or a bird has never really mattered. It is forever a game of chess, for both the pawn, the queen, and the king share the same box when the game is over – a symphony entangled in the cosmos’ arms.

You, a frail match, have deliberately chosen to become a human. Your destiny now arises from potentiality. You wield the will. You are still infinitely deep inside, where your heart beats.

All is well, and you are coming home.

You gawk at the ball of azure oceans and lush forests, becoming rather a spectacular edifice than a dusted dot barely in view. The closer you approach Earth, the more sharply you pick on pulsed calls from below the oceans; sounds that are reminiscent of human singing. Those are whales calling you home. Further down the orbit you hear the thud of animals roaming savannahs. You hear the ceaseless traffic in cities.

The atmosphere takes hold of you. You let it unfold naturally, putting your eyes to rest. You trust the process. You are plummeting down to Earth like a fallen angel.

They say that objects burn during their atmospheric entry, but the flames are cleansing you rather than causing harm.

Eventually, hazy clouds split up and a ray of clean light shines through — you. All life stands still: Everyone on Earth, in that magnificent moment, gasps and points their fingers up, as you have made your appearance in the sky; children and mothers and fathers, kings and rulers and the ruled, they are all pointing at you.

You will be landing in an ocean. Its deep-blue layer spans in all directions, and it reflects your blazing tail from far above. Below the surface cetaceans sing, coral reefs play the harp, seahorses propel slowly forward, dolphins laugh, and waves foam.

Welcome home, messiah.

You brace for impact.

Sounds become drowned out. Your vision turns pitch-black.

The next thing is you floating on a sea, gradually waking up to your successful landing. You listen to the wailing of the wind. It romps across the ocean, creating waves and causing them to turn on one another. You are being carried away by the lukewarm water.

You rest on the surface for a while. Earth smells so good. Like fresh sea. Breathe out. Breathe in. You devour the gift of life you have been given with gratitude, realizing you were the first-time apprentice with a chisel, who, despite the nerves, did not make a single bad strike.

And then, “Heaven preserve me,” you begin madly laughing upon touching your human form; upon seeing your toes. This body is entirely yours. Your inner temple. A body of tremendous complexity and resilience, capable of withstanding pain and hatred and melting love. This is you, a frail wooden match once. Use your life well. Welcome back.