Steve Jason stared at the ultramarine sky of dusk. Although he could not see it with the naked eye, he knew the location of Neptune. The black sphere was following a very mathematical trajectory, and it was easy to extrapolate that it would arrive just behind Neptune. However, what would happen at this moment remained a total mystery. If the sphere was not slowing down, it would pass through Neptune. This, given its incredible speed, would probably result in a fantastic explosion, able of completely destroying the whole solar system. They would then have five hours left, to warn the world to its end. If it stopped, it could hide behind Neptune, safe from the eyes of optical telescopes. But many other possibilities could be envisaged, depending on the still mysterious nature of the sphere.
The low cliffs around the Palomas campus, the Shedrup Ling centre of California, were vibrating with heat, still lit with a reddish glow. The poplars were forming a dark green mass, slightly mysterious, of which emanated a soothing chilling sensation after the scorching sun of the day. The low buildings were turning bluish, while golden windows were lighting on.
The recent meeting brought nothing new. By lack of new evidences, they still not knew what the sphere was, and no more what its intents were, if it had intents. The model of the psychical texture proposed by Steve was bettered: such a texture could be maintained by conscious entities, and even show a complex organisation on a great span of time. But who were these conscious entities? The most favoured hypothesis was that the sphere was the remain of a missing planet, having passed into a psychical universe with all its inhabitants. However the suggestions of Sangye Tchögyal were not going into this direction; he was rather thinking at beings of a great evolution, but who, with positioning their world into a psychical texture into the physical space, would keep a close contact with the material universe, instead of escaping it definitively like the missing planets. Anyways, consciousnesses able of maintaining a stable psychical texture of such huge dimensions could not be ordinary consciousness, they were Buddhas after Tchögyal, or Christic consciousness, the Eraert were thinking. These hypothesis were after all optimistic, but nobody could swear not to feel some dread in front of this unknown phenomenon. Especially since they knew that the sphere, as large as Earth, would slam into Neptune with a rare violence... if it did not decided to do something else before.
On an Internet site of Dumrian artists, without any apparent relation with Shedrup ling, random musical generators were indefinitely creating new melodies. Hans Rufbach, fascinated with a strange and somewhat nostalgic theme, was oblivious of the decoder screen, where little by little Ekarpan's reply was appearing, hidden into melodic intervals: «We shall be able to speak through the machines. Eight are in working order. We keep five for you. We do the attempt at three and a half, California time. Here are the configuration data of each of the eight machines.» Tables of figures and inunderstandable technical jargon were following, but which, once coded in music, were forming a merry and repetitive pattern. Hans once played to code a volley of insults, and he was repeating to anybody hearing him that the result was an aggressive and discordant music.
The last thing was to contact Liu Wang. «This is your job, Steve» explained Tchögyal in a laconic way. Steve was certainly flattered, but also very embarrassed. Since his experience in the aircraft to San Francisco, he never tried to harmonize himself with Liu, like the nun in Aria Tara explained him.
For Ulrike Meinster, Niels Dreyermann and Kurt Wegener, the experiment was routine. To be ready, they just had to sleep well and abstain of any discussion. Sangye Tchögyal, him, was keeping invisible. For Madame Eraert, they had to do a crash course to teach her the functioning of the machines. All of them would go into sensory isolation caissons, similar to the ones on Dumria, deep under the cliff. Officially, these caissons were used to study sleep paralysis. If was far enough as a cover, as all the secret services were fleeing this kind of topics, since experiments of «espionage with abduction» turned to an incredible farce, ridiculing all those who attempted them. This was not the domain of spies!
So Steve went to bed soon, trying to establish the contact with Liu. Several times, he felt her presence, but weakly. Then he tried to concentrate on the planned experiment, in order to tell Liu what she had to do. Then he fell asleep, and he awoke the next day with an unpleasant feeling of having completely failed.
The experiment was the afternoon (this would be the morning in Vilayah). Steve had nothing to do until then. His role would be to try to keep in touch with Liu, and for this purpose he asked to also have a sensory isolation caisson.
The meal was silent, without the riders, secluded somewhere else, eating a scientifically prepared menu intended to minimise digestion issues. Only Jerôme Eraert was noisily chatting with Gus Anvil, but without telling anything on the ongoing experiment.
The approaching time was bringing a sense of stress. There was no large experience hall as on Dumria; just a small work room with Rolf and other technicians, who were following with headphones what was happening into the sensory isolation caissons. Steve went in his. He was very new to this kind of things, and they had to help him to unclothe, put the respiratory mask and the monitor electrodes. This air tube was pushing and aspiring air in synchronism with breathing, to avoid any bubble or valve noise. It delivered a soft sedative avoiding an exaggeration of body sensitivity, and a small pill was slowing urination function to avoid problems on this side. The electronic earplugs provided with such an absolute silence that people wearing them for the first time removed them at once, believing that their heart stopped. Steve entered into the isotonic warm water, which would bear him in weightlessness. Slow eddies would maintain his body in the middle of the tank, to avoid touching the walls, an enormous and very surprising feeling when we are in isolation since a long time. Even the wires and tubes around him were very supple and of the same density than water, in order to make forget their presence. A complex regulation was adjusting the temperature of the bath, not to a constant value, but in adaptation to several biological parameters, in order to avoid any subjective feeling of cold or heat.
The lid was closed, and Steve was no more than a pure consciousness, completely isolated of the physical universe. Only a very soft beep gave him a count down. He focused on the thought of Liu Wang, his wife, who died some days sooner, and who was now in a pure psychical universe, the paradise of Tushita, the very one where the Buddha went for three months, in order to reach his mother Maya, deceased some days after his birth.
Rolf Gensher and his team of physicians and technicians were looking at the electroencephalograms of the three riders, except Tchögyal who had refused any medical monitoring. Steve's plot was also appearing on the screens. But except these fluttering curves, they would see and know nothing until the end of the experiment.
When the time of the contact came, at first nothing happened. Then, more or less slowly, the plots of the three Germans showed typical OBE waves, while their heart beat and breath were considerably slowing down. Madame Eraert's plot ended to change too, but more softly. Rolf feared that she would be unable to do this, but he was ignoring that this character with a bourgeois and very formal look, was in facts enjoying a great mastery and efficiency into he psychical world.
And suddenly it was the surprise: Steve Jason's trace plunged abruptly, to the point that the physician went up of his chair, fearing an heart stop! It showed various organic disorders, typical of beginners, but it did not went up again before the planned end of the experience. Rolf was somewhat intrigued and frustrated, not to know what was happening in reality, seeing only irregular curves without apparent meaning. But certainly something unexpected and important happened with Steve.
Then the plots slowly went back to normal, at the end of the planned twenty minutes, except Steve's plot, which went back to normal only one hour later, to the great worries of the physician.
A very important point of scientific methodology in this kind of experiment, is to use double-blind tests. This point was already known in medicine, to avoid getting skewed results from the famous placebo effect. However, in parapsychology, it is all the more crucial. For this reason, it had to be physically impossible for the experiencers to see what was happening on Dumria, in order to show that they had a genuine extrasensory perception. This precaution was achieved in the experience, by the total absence of communication between the two planets. All the more, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with Vilayah without taking a risk of being spied. Then, once the experiment completed, Rolf and his technicians would interrogate each rider separately, in order to know what they had done with their lokouten. Finally, once their statements duly recorded, they would compare with the descriptions of the technicians of Vilayah, to know if their memories were really extrasensory perception, and also if the riders were really able to control these special machines, as if they were their own bodies. But they also had to avoid mutual influences between the riders, or avoid them to be influenced by the descriptions of Dumria. For this reason, they would be interrogated separately (the first blind) by ignorant and separate technicians (the second blind). Rolf would attend the interrogations by video, but without being able to intervene. Then, once all the testimonies collected and recorded, they would be sent to Dumria in the Vilayah laboratory, where, in the meanwhile, technicians would prepare a report on what the lokouten really did, to send on Earth. Of course the exchange had to be simultaneous, to prevent cheating. Comparing the two versions would then allow to conclude in full honesty to the success or failure of the experiment. Finally, all these reports would be archived in Vilayah, as no trace would be allowed to remain on Earth.
An important point of the experiment was that riding a lokouten also was a personal and intimate experience, with spiritual, sensory, or even sexual aspects. But Rolf, not much interested in the joys of the night, had decided from the inception of the project: his lokouten would have no sexual functions! Rolf wanted to stand away of the Internet teledildonics of Earth, with its famous «dickwalkers exoskeletons», as he called them with contempt.
At last, Rolf and his technicians could attend the debriefing of the riders, which must be done very fast, as some memories are lost very quickly. This is as with our dreams, still lively when awakening, but which memories fade with the day.
Ulrike Meinster had the shortest experience. She not really moved, merely a few steps into her box. She described the signs laid before her by the dumrian technicians, and varied small works she was requested to perform: tighten bolts, repot a flower, and for the first time, type a message on a computer keyboard. Rolf, who was hearing, sighed with satisfaction: Ulrike was about as skilful as into her flesh body, just pity that her disconnection was so unreliable.
Niels Dreyermann was still looking merry. The first thing he did was to put his hand on the chest of a Dumrianne (accidentally, no doubt) to apologize immediately, saying it does not matter, since she had no breasts. He thumbed his nose at the camera filming him, for Rolf when he would see the video. Trying to tighten the bolt, he dropped his key on the floor, and fell completely while trying to pick it up: with one hundred and twenty kilos of iron, it makes a lot of noise. The Dumrians were too afraid for their flower, so they did not attempted the experiment of transplanting. On the other hand, Niels was speaking very well the Dumrian, even if on Earth he did not knew this language. The technicians took him to a side corridor, where he saw Liu Wang's robot passing... without her wig. There, the technicians tried the test of leaving Niels in the dark, but he concentrated on the sense of touch to stay in relation with his mechanical body, and find his way. It was strangely when switching on the light again that Niels suddenly lost his lokouten, finding himself floating above a desolate landscape of rocks, where low clouds were rushing in the yellow sky, while ochre tornadoes were hurling with a terrible noise against large black doors. On the spot, he thought he experienced an hellish vision, but after the comparison, he turned out that it was the Vilayah centre, seen from outside, into the storm. He tried to regain contact, but he completely lost control and dreamed for a few minutes, before returning to his flesh body on Earth.
Kurt Wegener had the longest experience. He underwent the visual tests and handwork. He brought back a very convincing description of his immediate surrounding, including «all the shambles» on the table beside him. However he could hardly speak, even if he fully understood his interlocutors. He was also brought to walk through the galleries, up to the dining room, where he met a group of very surprised students. He expressed himself through gestures, and they all laughed a lot. He nearly had a demonstration of «Dumrian style» friendship, by a forward female student! He had to apologize for not having the hardware to reply her in the same way. Then his memory became fuzzy. The Dumrian report confirmed that the experiment continued for over twenty-five minutes, but Kurt was asleep in his caisson, and he could not remember the end.
Sangye Tchögyal explained, laughing, that he found himself curiously awkward in this new situation. But he assumed it quickly, successfully passing the visual tests and manual work tests. As the technicians knew he was a champion in archery, they gave him more tests of this kind, but not shooting, because there was nothing on Dumria resembling a weapon. Then he made his own test: to offer an... initiation, to the stunned technicians, who were not expecting so much! Of course the results will not appear in any report, but Tchögyal seemed quite satisfied. From the Buddhist perspective, this is correct, because the consciousness stream of the Lama was really present, just the emanation body was quite unusual. But the movie of the robot performing as a priest is likely to remain engraved for long in the archives of Dumria.
Mme Eraert used her personal method for taking off, just having some trouble, from the environment, very different of her temple. But once out, she regained her control. She did the indicated visualisation to find her lokouten, and eventually get there, just a little late. She remembered her experience with lyricism, as of a great moment of spirituality. She had a strong emotion, from contemplating Dumria with her own eyes. So, after the scientific tests, she asked to be led in front of a window. She arrived here, and they slightly opened the shutter for her. Unfortunately her only sight was the ochre sky of the storm, and some lycopodus-palm trees nearby. But this very poor view had upset her. Of course the Dumrians did not warned the Earthlings that a storm was going on, but her description was accurate enough. She also visited several corridors in Vilayah, but her meetings seemed to obey another program than Kurt's. She dropped a bit after the others, and returned to her body.
Just before returning, Mme Eraert had a brief contact with her own spiritual guide. Experiences such as meeting spiritual entities have little favour to the parapsychologists, as they are generally considered as untestable. But the speech of the «Christic Guide» however contained this prediction: the black sphere was a palace for «angels» and «hierarchies». It was not coming for them, but to ask them to «eliminate genetic» at «Arkata». We guess that this kind of declarations does generally not arise a frantical interest among parapsychologists, but it was however carefully noted... until the continuation proved its value! No, meeting spiritual entities is not always untestable!
At last Steve emerged, and Rolf listened at him with attention.
Of course Steve had not much spiritual power; to tell the truth he was never able to only get out of his body. So nobody expected him to have any story to tell. Everyone was thinking he would just spend the entire test marinating in its caisson, trying to focus on Liu Wang and attract her to her lokouten.
It is indeed what happened, at least during the first five minutes. He still had some efficiency, as Liu had really caught his thought. But Liu, in the wonderful garden of Tushita, had an unexpected difficulty: she was unable to disconnect from her body there, despite it is a psychical world! This made Sangye Tchögyal laugh, afterward, and the Lama explained little known points of Buddhist metaphysics. In the Tantric conceptions, the dead leaves his body to float into the Bardo (which is described in the famous Bardo Thödol). The Bardo is in fact not a place, even not an universe; it is the state of the naked consciousness, not connected to any body, any sensory organ. This state is a kind of dream, or a nightmare for the wicked. But, for a consciousness who is used to live into a body, the Bardo is very unstable, and the attachment to a new body can happen very quickly. So, the Bardo is a fantastic switch, where all the destinations are possible, from the most heavenly of the most terrifying. And the disembodied consciousness seldom remains here more than a few hours. Sometimes, during NDEs, people bring back memories of the dreams and symbols of the Bardo.
Still after traditional Buddhist metaphysics, the consciousness who have not yet mastered their karma can reincarnate into six types of worlds, the hellish worlds, the world of the frustrated spirits, the animal worlds, the human worlds, the worlds of the Titans or jealous spirits, and at last the world of the Gods, apparently a paradise but in fact delusive. Some of these worlds look like psychical worlds, projections of the desires and nightmares of those who inhabit them. Others are clearly physical worlds like Earth. This difference may look fundamental to the eyes of a materialist, but, to the eyes of Buddhism, it does not matter at all, and the two cases, physical or psychical, are incarnations in the same right for both.
And thus, Liu Wang, still too weak to direct herself into the Bardo, was projected by force into the psychical paradise of Tushita, by the power of the prayer of the Lamas of the palliative cares centre of Aria Tara. So Liu Wang was as embodied in Tushita as Steve was on Earth, except that Tushita is not a material universe, but a psychical universe, created by powerful and evolved spirits in order to ensure a perfect and eternal happiness for the beings who may take refuge here. And she was as much a prisoner of Tushita than Steve was of Earth, because it is as much difficult to disconnect our awareness from a psychical world, and even more when it is a fascinating and wonderful world such as Tushita, rainbow of multi-coloured trees, where waterfalls and birds sing all the melodies of happiness, and even the stones seem to be made of poetry and sweet emotions.
Then the combined efforts of Steve and Liu had a curious and very unexpected result. It was Steve who took off sharply, and he suddenly found himself standing under a small frame, in a large brilliantly lighted orange room, where technicians with multicoloured dresses and scaly skulls were looking at him, relieved to see him moving at last.
Extremely surprised, he needed some time to understand the situation. Happily he had in front of him Ekarpan in person, and the Dumrian «son of barbarians», with his large shoulders and his black «hairs», had a powerful charisma, very suitable for the guidance of an Earthy consciousness. In more, Ekarpan knew that he was dealing with a novice, and he was guiding him with short and accurate words. Simply, he was believing that Steve was Liu Wang.
It was really as if Steve was himself on the room, on Dumria. He was not seeing the pixels of the video eye, and even not the square limits of his vision field, but a true image as with the naked eye. He was really feeling his metal body as a flesh body, he was moving his hands of pink plastic. He was feeling his mechanical joints a bit stiff, but working well. His surprise was probably visible even on his plastic face, and the Dumrian technicians were laughing, of this so kind and disarming laughter of which they had the secret, as mocking is totally unknown to them.
Steve attempted to walk. He made things fall from the table, just missed to rip off the telemetry cable... Then he managed very well, with keeping slow. But, as Ekarpan was still calling him Liu, he ended to show his chest and tried to tell his name. After some muttering, he ended to pronounce it, and it was Ekarpan's turn to make an infinitely surprised face: How Steve could arrive here in the place of Liu?
It was at this moment that Niels sprawled full length in a great rattle of metal and laughter of technicians. Steve startled correctly, and turned his head into the right direction. Ekarpan showed him his own face in a mirror: He was really looking like Liu, with a large black wig! The Dumrians laughed, and probably he did something similar with his metal body. They however get him rid of his useless wig, which was fastened on his head with snaps.
Steve underwent the visual tests, plus the tests of manual dexterity. We expect he had no great results, but they were amazing for a full beginner. Then, as he seemed to walk and talk at ease in the Dumrian languages of both the Draminyan and the Orassan, technicians took him for a walk in the other rooms. He crossed Niels in the corridor, and found himself in a cosy meeting room. A strange noise caught his attention, like a snarling hiss, coming from one of the walls. A technician explained that it was not a wall, but a shutter, behind which the terrible sandstorm of Thoradra was ragging. Even with the heavy steel shutter and the sealed windows, thin ochre flour was still managing to creep into the room. Steve visited other parts, and had a great desire of tasting these strange fruits. But this was not possible with this lokouten!
He recognized Enken and Elaminaroa. Enken put his hand on his shoulder, and Steve felt its weight. The small Elaminaroa had a very troubling smile, and she was very feminine, despite her total lack of breasts and hairs. Steve felt the desire rising in him, and he was nearby angry at Rolf, who did not equipped the lokouten of what was needed. Steve had a deep feeling that he could make love to Elaminaroa on the spot, even in the presence of Enken, without the later leave his incredible benevolence. Wonderful Dumria!
Steve told the technicians how stunned he was: he was seeing Dumria, he was hearing them speak, understanding their melodious language without learning it, he could touch his friends, while his flesh body was thousands light years away! He was living on Dumria! He used to see the Dumrians on screens, hear them with speakers, understand them with automatic translation, but now everything was happening as if he himself was travelling on Dumria! Steve remembered for long these memorable moments spent with his friends with wonderful coloured dresses, their friendly smiles, great honest eyes, nice dancing gestures. He was seeing their enthusiastic faces turning toward him when he arrived. It was so strong, so realistic, just as if he was in the room with his flesh body, that he wished for a moment that some catastrophe happen and destroy this flesh body in Palomas, so that he could remain indefinitely on Dumria.
Then Steve's vision blurred, as when we are about to faint. He heard a beautiful music, and he asked Ekarpan what it was. But Ekarpan was hearing nothing. Steve had a feeling of toppling (Ekarpan confirmed in his report that he fell flat on the ground, so that they had to bring back the inert robot to the lab.) The vision of Dumria completely faded out.
But another took its place, still more beautiful.
It was as in the dream he made in Aria Tara, the night of Liu's death.
But with an overwhelming intensity, even more real than the physical world.
A landscape of dome shaped mountains, celadon green, golden pastel green.
Trees of several colours, from the marvellously lively green to the warm gold, standing against a turquoise sky.
A meadow of moss, soft like velvet, of a deep and entrancing green.
Flowers with incredible shapes, gathered in beds of different colours.
And, in the middle, Liu, smiling to him, infinitely beautiful in a long fuzzy mauve dress, where jet black locks with ultramarine reflections were flying around.
This vision lasted only a few seconds, but even beyond its beauty, it emanated an incredibly intense vibration, warm, lively, in the same time violently sensual and purely spiritual. Delight and joy were already filling Steve's body and heart, when he was just approaching his companion!
And the music... an indistinct melody, lost into flute and harp echoes... When Steve remembered it later, it was beautiful and sad like a lost love, but in the aura of Tushita, it appeared him positively moving and merrily serene, as if all the hopes of the world were accomplished.
To him, the vision of Dumria already appeared beautiful and realistic, but in fact the vision of Tushita was far superior, as much in intensity, as in beauty or purity. Even the pretty Dumria appeared insipid in comparison with the closest psychical paradise. Steve suspected for long the Cosmic Guardians to have planned this encounter, which meaning soon appeared obvious to him: It was useless to design more advanced bodies into the material world, when much more interesting possibilities were appearing into the psychical world. Even the perfect bodies produced by the Dumrian science could not give more intense feeling than ordinary human bodies; even Rolf's electronic bodies could not challenge death indefinitely. Anyway, none of the two had the true power of engaging into the purification work on psychological defilements, the only actual way toward a true, stable and spotless happiness.
Steve awkwardly tried to grasp to this wonderful vision, but attachment is by far the fiercest enemy of happiness: at once he felt slipping, and he found himself floating in the dark, doing bubbles in his sensory isolation caisson.
Steve spoke to nobody of the vibration of happiness of Tushita, but it was to guide him into his meditation until the end of his life.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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