A young couple slowly makes their way upstream. They have a big dog and stop often, for no apparent reason. About thirty meters away, the young man, who’s in jeans that are wet above the knees, stops and stares. He walks just like a zombie. Seriously, like a caricature of a zombie.
Putting down the little dog, the young woman says, “here, cross the river.” She doesn’t look up, or smile. It’s a shallow stream, with an easy current, but the animal does have some difficulty getting across.
Both dogs, dripping wet, approach to be petted as I sit on a pad on the ground. Since they don’t shake off the water, I briefly oblige. The girl gives an obligatory, half-hearted apology for the intrusion.
They walk up the bank behind me, which I’ve come down many times for meditations here. I feel a pang of pity, and sorrow, followed by the insight that when darkness is dispelled, zombies are to be pitied, not feared.
Even so, a few days later at the relatively secluded spot in the park that runs through town, I find a used condom wrapper and toilet paper strewn over the exact spot where I sit. An empty package of Camel cigarettes adds to the picture.
There’s a feeling of invasive filth, and the tangible evidence of metaphysical darkness. People having sex there isn’t the problem; it’s where they’re coming from that fouled the place.
The dark metaphysical dimension isn’t personal, but it attacks through the personal. Consciousness is an interconnected net as surely as the virtual web, and there are ancient things that travel in it about which we have no idea.
Are people who refuse to see what they’re doing responsible for the harm they do? I don’t know, but the inwardly dead (aka zombies or walking dead) conduct collective darkness better than any metal conducts electricity. They are therefore owned by it, and aren’t their own people at all, as they believe. One thing about zombies, though they’re identical, they all think they’re unique.
The zombie craze and phase isn’t going away. Sometimes it appears it’s here to stay. Exactly what are zombies and walking dead, and why the TV and media rage over them?
Clearly the fad reflects something going on in the culture, which takes the childish form of a long-running TV show. In a recent review of “Fear the Walking Dead,” a spinoff of “The Walking Dead,” the New York Times said, “It’s neither surprising or completely logical that ‘The Walking Dead’ has become the most popular drama on television.”
The truth is more prosaic, and troubling. Though it is not surprising, it is completely logical. Rather than acknowledge the deadness that pervades the land, people watch a show depicting it in grotesque ways, thereby distancing themselves from it, and indulging in fantasies of violence.
Metaphysical darkness is very disturbing. But unfortunately I’ve had too much experience with it to believe it’s not real, or that it’s a product of my imagination. There is a risk of paranoia in seeing it, rather than continuing to think in individualistic terms, but the risk of remaining blind to it is much greater.
I don’t know which is worse—the pervasive deadness in this culture, or the darkness that flows through the dead unimpeded.
Can the dead come back to life? I don’t know; that’s not the main concern of the living. As the saying goes, “let the dead bury the dead.” What I am concerned with is remaining emotionally and spiritually alive and growing until I physically die, and contributing what insight I can to the present and future of humanity.
What matters most? I don’t believe any object or place, much less building, is sacred, but that sacredness flows through the human brain when the human mind is completely quiet.
Besides understanding the culture we live in, and non-accumulatively and continuously learning through self-knowing (thereby protecting ourselves from darkness and turning the tables on it), what can the living, or the would-be living, do?
Nothing. Let your thoughts flow by like leaves in the stream, without interference as judgment, choice or evaluation. Watching them as they flow by in numbers, bunched together in a seemingly never-ending procession, they begin to slow as passive observation gathers into undirected attention.
Suddenly, when you aren’t looking for anything, the mind falls silent. There are few thoughts, or none. Then, when the mind-as-thought is still, there is only clear, clean water. Time itself ends, and something unnamable comes on the current that cleanses and renews the brain, brings insight to the mind, and fills the heart with reverence and love.
It may only last a few minutes by the watch, but those few minutes are life and death itself.