The alarm went off. A voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it is nine o'clock at night. It is time for you to prepare for bed, so take your meds, put out the fire, and get in your sleeping bag and go to sleep. Remember that tomorrow is a big day. You have to get up early, so you can go see the sunrise.”
Mon stared into the fire and let the voice recording play over and over again. He finally got up and turned it off and thought to himself, “I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to take those poison pills. I don’t have to get up and see the sunrise either. Who does my therapist think he is? How the hell did I let him convince me to make these stupid voice recordings? How did I let him convince me to come back here? Why does he think this will help? Nothing we have tried has help. Nothing can help me.”
Mon threw the bottle of pills in his tent, put out the last spark of the light in the cave, and buried himself in his sleeping bag.
The alarm went off. A voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it's a quarter past nine. You should be in your sleeping bag by now. If you haven’t already taken your meds, then make sure you take them now.”
Mon grabbed his phone, turned off the alarm, hit his hand hard against the tent floor, screamed into his pillow, and started uncontrollably crying.
“All my friends are dead!” cried Mon.
He rolled and rolled in his sleeping bag. Thoughts entered his mind. Thoughts that said, “There is nothing here for me. There is nothing that can help me. They were my sunrise and now they have set. I should be with them.”
Mon fumbled around the tent for his bottle of poison. He sporadically grabbed ,opened the bottle, and dumped as many pills into his hand as possible. He buried deeper into his sleeping bag like a corpse being placed into a sarcophagus.
He closed his eyes and cried, “I’m sorry” as he ingested the poison. Two minutes later he became completely unconscious.
The alarm went off. The sound of a bell echoed through the tent. Mon woke up to the blinding light of his phone. He immediately swiped his finger across his phone and the sound disappeared. He turned back over in his original position and snuggled deeper into his sleeping bag. Five minutes later the alarm went off again.
However, this time a voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it is five past six. I know your all comfy and warm in your sleeping bag and don’t want to hear this, but remember the reason you came here was to see the sunrise, so get up, take a leak, and start hiking to the peak of the mountain before you miss it.”
Mon tussled left and right in his sleeping bag, and thought to himself, “Why did I make that damn alarm? If I had known how comfy I am right now, then I would never have made it. I would have just slept in paradise forever. However, I am right. I didn’t come here to sleep in. I came here to watch the sunrise.”
Mon broke out of his cocoon, stretched his arms, took a leak, packed up his gear, and started hiking to the mountain top. As he hiked memories of his friends came into his mind like the wind suddenly blowing on his face.
Mon thought and wondered, “I can’t do this. It’s not the same without them. It is not right without them. What is the point? What is the point to go on knowing that the sun is going to set? What is the point of suffering without those you love?”
The alarm went off again and another voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it is seven o'clock. You should be near the mountain top. I know you are tired and ready to say screw this and go home, but your almost there. Keep pushing, and remember why you came here. Remember that you came here to see the sunrise.”
Mon let the voice recording finish, turned the alarm off, and thought, “I’m right. I am almost to the top of the mountain. I came here to see the sunrise and that is what I am going to do.”
Mon finally made it to the top of the mountain. He went straight to the summit register box and opened it. He took out the book inside and looked at each of his friend’s signatures. He took out a sun-shaped urn from his backpack. He put the urn in the box and started crying.
“I’m sorry, I’m not strong enough,” cried Mon
Tears blurred his vision until a small ray of light started to rise out of the ground of the earth and evaporated the tears from his eyes. Mon beheld the beautiful spectacle, and his mind became quiet. No more thoughts. No more questions. He understood and remembered why he came here. For those short two minutes he felt what was left of his friends. Then, the sun fully awakened and the beauty of its metamorphosis passed.
The alarm went off and another voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it's a quarter after eight. The sunrise is over, and it is time to go back down the mountain and return to the city. I know you want to stay here forever, but you can’t. Remember the sunrise and never forget it. Take it back down to the cavern with you. Let it shine it your dark world. And always remember the sun will rise again.”
Mon let the voice recording finish, turned the alarm off, and thought, “I’m right. It is over. It is time for me to return back down the mountain and to the city. I wish I could just stay here forever. I wish I could bring the top of this mountain to the valley of the city. I wish they were still here.”
Mon started hiking down the mountain. As he descended more and more thoughts entered and disturbed his mind. Peace disappeared. The trail took him into a deep, dark, and thick forest. His beautiful sight of the vast open scenery narrowed into lines of trees and a suffocating pathway. A thick fog descended on the trail. He could no longer see anything around him. He tried to slowly walk down the trail. He tripped over a branch and nearly went over the cliff located on the right side of the trail. He stopped walking and got out his flash light. He tried to turn the light on, but it kept flickering on and off. He hit the flash light with his hand to try to get it to turn on. The light went out.
Mon muttered, “Shitty flashlight, I should have brought extra batteries. Where is my phone?”
Mon grabbed his phone. He tried to turn on the flashlight, but the phone started to malfunction. He turned the phone back on. The phone kept glitching. Every time he turned on the flashlight it immediately turned back off.
Mon started to press the button faster and faster and yelled, “Come on! Why won’t you work?”
The alarm went off and another voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it is nine o'clock. By this time you should be in your car. Remember to go get some gas on the way home. Also make sure you stop by the pharmacy to pick up your prescription.”
Mon immediately swiped his finger across his phone. The voice recording did not stop. He kept swiping his finger over and over again on the phone screen until his finger started to blister.
“Shut up!” Mon yelled at the phone.
Mon threw the phone as hard as he could into the foggy distance. He could see the light from the screen go through the fog until he heard a large thud noise. The screen was no longer visible, but he could still hear the voice recording playing over and over again. Mon took off his gear and started crawling toward the sound. He managed to find the phone. He turned it off and then back on again. The screen light worked and the alarm finally stopped. As he got up he slipped on the muddy edge of the trail and fell down the side of the mountain. He rolled and tumbled down the steep incline until his head and body collided with a rock at the bottom of the valley. There he laid completely unconscious in the grave of the valley.
Mon woke up and took in a huge breath, as if he had been submerged under water and holding his breath for five days.
“Where am…..ahh my leg! What happened to me?” said Mon.
A strange man whom Mon has never seen before walks into the room.
“You are at Baru Village. This is our infirmary. As for your leg, it is broken in three different places and you also have a severe head injury,” said the stranger.
“Where is this place? How did I get here? What happened to me?” said Mon in a rushed and frustrated manner.
The stranger poured a cup of hot tea from a tea pot and handed Mon the cup of tea. “Here drink this, it will help with your pain,” said the stranger.
“No!” yelled Mon
Mon slapped the cup of tea from the stranger’s hand, and caused it to spill on his injured leg.
“AHHHH!” yelled Mon full of pain.
“I don’t want your poison. I don’t even know who you are. I just want to know what happened to me and how I got here. I just want to go home!” said Mon.
The stranger paused and took in a deep breath, smiled and gently said, “I am Hanh. I am the healer of the village. This tea is medicine that will help numb your pain. I will leave it here if you want to drink it. I am happy to help answer any questions you have. But for now, I recommend that you drink this tea and rest.”
A helper of Hanh walked into the room and started cleaning up the spilled tea.
“Who is this?” said Mon.
“This is Amelia. She helps me take care of the villagers here. Now, I will be right back. I must go get you a new wrap of cloth for your leg,” said Hanh.
As Hanh walked out of the room, Mon looked at Amelia and felt regret for the way he lashed out.
“I’m sorry for the way I acted, do you think Hanh will forgive me,” said Mon.
“Hanh is a very understanding man. He understands you are in a great state of pain and confusion. I’m sure he has already forgiven you. However, if you really want to make amends, then perhaps you should drink some of the tea he has prepared for you,” said Amelia.
“Hummm, I guess I will have some of that tea then. Thanks for your help,” said Mon.
Amelia finished cleaning the mess and started to walk towards the exit of the room.
As Amelia headed out of the room, she said, “We will be available to try to answer your questions later. In the meantime drink the tea and try to rest.”
Hahn returned into the room and started to replace the tea ruined wrap on Mon’s leg.
“I’m sorry I treated you that way. I hope you can forgive me,” said Mon.
“It is okay. I understand and I forgive you,” said Hanh.
“Thank you, but surely it is not that easy to forgive me. Please let me do something for you to make it up to you,” said Mon.
“If you really want to make it up to me, then please let me take you to the temple at the top of the mountain tomorrow morning.” said Hanh.
“Okay. I will go, but can you tell me why you want me to go to the mountain top?” replied Mon.
“I cannot tell you. You must see for yourself. It is like the tea. You must drink it yourself
to understand why I want you to drink it. You should rest now,” said Hahn.
“Well I can feel the effects of the tea already. I feel calmer. Thank you for your help. I will rest now,” replied Mon.
Mon rested his head on his pillow and fell asleep. The night passed as quick as someone snapping their fingers. Hahn entered the room and woke up Mon with a tap on the shoulder.
Hahn put his finger over his mouth and whispered, “Shush, it is time to go up the mountain. I will help you into this wheelchair and push you up our smooth trail. Now, our village does not speak as we walk up to the mountain, because this is a silent walk. Do you understand?”
Mon nodded his head up and down. Then he got into the wheelchair. They arrived at the trailhead.
“We are about to begin our journey to the temple. While the villagers do not speak; I do speak. I am the guide of the village. The villagers follow me and listen to my voice as they make their journey to the temple. I expect you to do the same,” said Hanh
Mon looked at Hanh and nodded his head up and down.
“Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Focus on the sensations of your body. Relax. Breathe in and out. Open your eyes and look at the first object that falls into your field of vision,” said Hanh
Mon closed his eyes. Took a deep breath. He focused and felt the different sensations of his body. He felt the warm cup of tea in his hands. He relaxed. He took deep breaths in and out. He opened his eyes and saw the sun-shaped cup of tea in his hand.
“Focus on this object. Notice how you are seeing a physical object with your physical eyes. Notice how there is a seer and there is that which is seen. You are the seer and the seen is the object which you see. Now, close your eyes and awake to a different way of seeing. Try to see the object with the eye of your mind. Hold this image in your mind. Keep seeing it,” said Hanh
Mon closed his eyes. He opened the eye of his mind and looked for the sun-shaped cup of tea. An image of the sun-shaped cup of tea emerged in his mind.
“Notice how you are seeing a non-physical object with your non-physical eye. Now, look around. What else do you see?” said Hanh
Mon moved the eye of his mind around and began exploring. He saw the thoughts come into the field of vision. He saw his feelings and emotions.
“Notice how everything you see is the seen. Notice how everything you see is an object. You can see these objects. Look at how all the objects are in constant motion. Look at how the objects are changing from one form to another. Look at how the objects enter, leave, and reenter your field of vision. Look at how all these objects have a birth and death,” said Hanh
Mon observed and witnessed how everything he saw was temporary and constantly changing from one state to another.
“Now, turn your eye away from all objects. Turn your eye to that which you cannot see. Turn your eye to that which is not moving. Turn your eye to that which is not changing. Turn your eye to that which was never born and will never die,” said Hanh
Mon tried to turn his eye away from all the objects, but the image of the sun-shaped cup of tea kept flickering in and out of his field of consciousness. The cup of tea suddenly morphed into a sun-shaped urn. He read the following words that were engraved on the urn: “Look beyond the horizon. See that there is no sunrise or sunset. See that there is only the sun shining from itself to other.” Then he saw all five of his friend’s names engraved at the bottom of the urn. An image of the inside of the urn flickered and he peered inside the urn with the eye of his mind. The seen completely transformed. It was as if he had fallen into the dark urn. There was no light. It was dark like the inside of a cave. He looked up to see where he had fallen from. A bright light started to emerge from the opening of the urn. The light grew and grew until a full circle of light could be seen. Mon was completely captivated. He was absorbed by the beauty of the circle of light. He felt himself gravitating towards it. His entire essence and being started rising out of the urn. There was no resistance. He was completely willing to move toward the light. He was completely willing to be taken by it. He became utterly weightless. He became utterly senseless. His mind was in a state of absolute bliss, peace, and unity. Microseconds later he was launched to the center of the light. He no longer saw anything. The seer and the seen became identical. He felt the presence and embrace of all his friends yet there was no distinction between them. He is home. He is love. He is Mon. He is one with the eternal sun. There is only an indefinite, infinite, ineffable, bright, white light of maximum intensity shining in all directions and at every point in space. Yet there is no point. There is no space. There is no time. There is no movement, nor motion, nor change. No, there is only the circle of light whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere.
“Mon, we have reached the mountain top. You must open your eyes now. You must go back. It is not time for you to depart from this world. There are people out there like you. There are people suffering from the same problem as you. There are people that need you to guide them to their own sunrise,” said Hanh.
The alarm went off. The sound of a bell echoed through the tent. Mon woke up to the blinding light of his phone. He immediately swiped his finger across his phone and the sound disappeared. He turned back over in his original position and snuggled deeper into his sleeping bag. He tried to sleep. He tried to go back to paradise. Five minutes later the alarm went off again.
However, this time a voice recording played and it said, “Mon, it is seven o’clock. I know your all comfy and warm in your bed and don’t want to hear this, but you have to get ready to go to work. I know you don’t want to, but others need you. Remember the reason you’re here. Remember to shine the light from yourself to others.