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Chapter 7 of "The Cleaners - An Adventure in Filth"

“Conscious suffering is the agent of genuine cleaning.” The Cleaners

I was still concerned that somewhere along the line my intentional discrepancy with the cleaning arrangements for the TXU would be revealed. But time passed and nothing happened.

I had come out unscathed. I managed to have my cake and eat it too. This troubled me.

The relationship between Kel and myself flourished. I had found a true friend and lover, but it was based on more than that. Our mutual participation in the of work cleaning furnished us with something stronger. We were more than the sum of our parts.

I had begun to make acquaintance with all of the Cleaners. They were an eclectic bunch. The diversity was defying. I’d never seen such a disparate group of people, at different ends of the spectrum so-to-speak, unite for a common work — cleaning!

While my experiences were broadening, and life began to taken another direction, albeit silently, a gradual depression crept in. I didn’t understand it. I had come out of a suicidal situation with surprising success, only to be plunged back again?

I felt the density of these thoughts more heavily. I needed to talk to Rick, maybe he could shed some light on it. He kindly agreed to meet.

“Thank you for coming Rick, I really appreciate it.”

He looked at me expectantly and asked, “What gnaws away at you, what is your question?”

I anxiously replied, “These last few months have been extraordinary. I don’t dare tell anybody what I’ve been through in case they don’t believe it. I often don’t believe it myself.

“Everything seems to be better than before. Yet, a depression still haunts me. I’m frightened where it will take me again. I don’t know what to do.

Rick became deeply thoughtful, as if searching for something.

“It is unfortunate that these kinds of experiences are labelled as ‘depression.’ In reality, they are simply indicators for an important step in our inner evolution. The tragedy is that this step is rarely taken.

"These experiences are not a mental illness or clinical disease. It is the beginning of the raw sensing of reality. As a consequence, the world of our unreality becomes increasingly difficult to bare.

“Our culture has almost no means of supporting such an emerging faculty and its accompanying ‘disturbances.’ As a result, it has cleverly devised all sorts of ways to anaesthetize it.

“However, if nurtured, carefully and gradually, it can give birth to an hitherto unknown realm of possibility. Here, the sense and significance of life can take on a whole new meaning —a transformation like no other."

While Rick spoke, the gravity of what he said help turn my attention inward. I connected with the organic sensations of my body as a more intensified presence crystallized. In this state, a different ‘listening’ was possible. I saw my attitude towards depression change —it was no longer a problem, it was an opportunity.

Another question arose, “Why do we have almost no means of supporting it?”

Rick explained, “Mostly ignorance. You see, we are pure beings born into filth. In filth we live, in filth we die.

“Those who always have their head stuck in the muck assume filth is normal. It is only when one’s head is lifted up little that the muck can be seen for what it is.

“Whether by accident or intention, seeing the muck is difficult to endure. Its reality is frightening. Its results, depressing. But it is only when this seeing occurs that real help can be given."

I followed with another question, “Why are we ignorant?”

“A better question,” Rick said, “Is Why are YOU ignorant?”

I paused.

“I don’t know,” I replied disconcertedly.

“What keeps us from knowing?” Rick asked.

I reacted, “Is it educational, environmental, social…?”

Rick interrupted and said, “Look deeper. What is it that separates YOU from KNOWING?”

I scrambled my brains trying to search for an answer but came up with nothing. I felt that Rick expected me to know it by now. Embarrassed, maybe even humbled, all I could say was, “I don’t know.”

“It is good that you do not know. It keeps a possibility open. But let me put it to you this way — ‘real’ knowing is essential, universal, eternal. Anything that separates us from this reality is ‘unreal.’ Try to understand what is unreal in you, and you will begin to understand what is unreal in the world.”

As I left our meeting a dual feeling lingered. I felt better about my experiences and direction with depression, yet worse about the prospects of understanding it.

I sat with this for a while but the question remained. It was fundamental. What is in me and in the world that is unreal?

A few days later Kel and I met up for dinner at a local restaurant. We enjoyed each other’s company. With her, food was good, and wine even better. There was a special atmosphere between us. It wasn’t love or infatuation. Like two old souls meeting again for the first time, it was curious serenity.

As our usual conversation abated, we shared a moment of warmth. We smiled. Then Kel’s eyes suddenly fixated on her wine glass. She had a strange look, as if a trance-like state had come over her. I cautiously glimpsed around the restaurant in case anyone else noticed. No-one was paying attention.

With her eyes still glued to the glass, she said slowly in a dulcet tone, “Do not do what is asked unless you understand what is needed. Come if you can. You will be risking your life.”

She suddenly came out of the trance as quickly as she entered. Obviously shaken, she looked up and asked, “What just happened? Did I say anything?”

“You changed and uttered some words,” I replied.

“Don’t tell me anymore,” she said, “it must have been one of my ‘moments.’ Whatever I said was for you and no-one else. Go it?”

“Not really. What do you mean by ‘one of your moments’?” I queried.

She paused and then explained, “The Cleaners are helping me with that. It seems I have a gift of sorts, though most of my life it has been a curse. They say I’m sensitive to certain influences that are usually outside the sphere of awareness. They’re teaching me to control it, to become a better instrument. Most of the time I’m still at its mercy. I hope this hasn’t frightened you?”

“No,” I said. “Not at all. It’s fascinating.”

We went back to our meal and finished without event. All the time though, the words she spoke kept echoing. Were they an aberration, slipping out under the influence of too much white wine, or something more? If they were for me, what could they possibly mean?

Over the next several days the struggle to try to understand what I heard from Rick and Kel left me with little sleep. Tired from thinking, reality and unreality seemed too much.

Maybe Mr Pasha could help? I arranged a meeting with him. This time, he preferred a local café for our conversation.

“I see you have been wrestling with something. Good. Cleaning is like that —relentless,” said Mr Pasha when he saw me.

I was about to start speaking when he jumped in and said, “Take your time. Contact the body. Give it your full attention. The words will come of themselves. The effort is all in the attention.”

I tried to relax my body. It was difficult. All the noise of the café compelled a stronger effort to sustain attention.

I began, “I’ve experienced so much with you, Rick and the others. It has expanded my mind. I have so many questions. Yet, the question of what is real is allusive, it seems too far away to even approach.”

“Maybe that is so,” replied Mr Pasha. “But time is against unfortunately.”

He quietened, allowing the moment to find itself.

“Some questions are more easily approached from the outside. Look around. What do you see?”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” I answered, “I only see people going about their business—the usual.”

Clearly dissatisfied with the response, he continued, “Go deeper— What business?”

“The business of living I suppose.”

“No. They are not living. They are being lived. They are being used. They are slaves.”

“Slaves?” I asked.

“Yes. The forces that keep us in filth are enormous. They haven’t changed for thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of years. Only the form has changed.

“Yesterday, we were governed by Kings and Kingdoms. Today, it is politicians and democracy. No matter what epoch, all is the same. The prosperity of a few rely on the adversity of many.

“And the separation of the ‘few’ from the ‘many’ can only be maintained through the establishment of control measures. In recent times, their sophistication has become highly innovative, created under such names as ‘capitalism,’ ‘consumerism,’ and many other ‘-isms.’

“The controls for separation can only be violent. Why do you think more is spent on military budgets by governments than education and health?

“It starts early. The young are taught the importance of competition, of reward and recognition. All of this is violence - pitting human against human.

“The facts speak for themselves. Why do you think only a few people of the world’s population owns most of its wealth? It is no coincidence.

“But there are those that say, in a democracy, the ‘people’ can change conditions. Nonsense. What chance do they have?

“Only the few have the resources, time and availability to spend their energies ‘strategizing’ about how to keep what they have, if not acquire more. On the other hand, the energies of the many are spent ‘just’ surviving, scrounging for a living in the muck."

“But isn’t this human nature—to strive to be better. And aren’t some just better than others?” I asked. “Isn’t that where the disparity lies?

“It is true that it is human nature to strive to be better,” Mr Pasha replied. “It is what makes us human. But when this occurs at the expense of others, it makes us less so.

“What is real acknowledges this. Even simple logic dictates that there are limited resources for everyone—life is a ‘zero-sum game.’ Sacrifice is needed. The prosperity of the many rely on the adversity of the few.

“What is unreal cannot accept this. Logic and the weight of evidence will never convince the unreal that sacrifice is needed. On the contrary, it will invent all kinds of fantastic justifications as to why everyone else’s sacrifice is needed except their own.

“The unreal will justify anything you like in the name of separation. Even killing, the ultimate act of separation, becomes easy.

“Until humanity becomes real, the unreal will rule. Try to see this in yourself.”

It was difficult to swallow everything. Yet, it felt true.

I had glimpsed my own selfishness, insensitivities and outright cold-bloodedness in the face of adversity. I felt nothing for nobody. There was only me, and that’s all that mattered.

Inevitably though, separation hurts. It is the source of disconnection. No wonder I felt so messed up.

But how much did I have to endure, how much did I have to experience in order to see a little of my own unreality?

“Is this what the work of the Cleaners is all about?” I asked seriously.

“In part,” replied Mr Pasha. “Cleaning the unreal, to see it better, is a beginning. It takes a long time,” then sighing, “maybe too long.”

The impossibility of their task dawned on me like a desert sun. My appreciation suddenly deepened. I felt tears welling in my eyes. Before they spilled over I asked, “What’s the end-game? What’s the outcome of this enterprise?”

“Spoken like a true businessman!” laughed Mr Pasha, as if to lighten the mood.

“Nonetheless, a good question. One must always calculate the return on investment.”

He took a sip of his coffee and sat back, looked out the window, and then directed his attention on me and slowly said, “When the Being of humanity finally grounds itself in reality, it will be eligible to enter a much larger community. Until then, it is too immature to be of service to anything or anyone.”

“How can the Cleaners do this alone? The task seems so immense,” I said trembling.

“I did not say we were alone. There is always help —from here and elsewhere,” he replied.

“Elsewhere?” I asked.

“Only the unreal would think it is alone in the universe,” he said with a serious smile.

His last comment caught me by surprise. What did he mean? My brain ran off in all directions speculating about alien intelligences—little green men—or divine interventions. But he didn’t elaborate.

Sensing the close of our meeting, I asked one last question.

“What is to be done now?”

Again, he looked out the window and back. With a more heart-felt gaze he tenderly said, “Sow the seeds for genuine suffering.”


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