We met again, the three of us, in the Hetakas' apartment
two weeks later. I honestly didn't know why I went. They invited me in.
I sat down in the same spot as before, on the bench in the sunlight. I
was very nervous. I felt that I was in way over my head. Chea stood in
the doorway to the kitchen. She was perhaps just under five feet tall,
stocky, and about the same age as Domano. Her hair was thick, stark
white and pulled back into a roll. She was not cheery and playful like
Domano, and I felt peculiarly alarmed by her. She had no expression at
all; I couldn't read her. I wondered what she was thinking about me. She
just stood motionless, watching me.
She wore a pair of black corduroy slacks, a black sweatshirt with a
hood, and sandals. I thought how unusually she was dressed for a woman
of her age and background. But after all, this was Santa Cruz in 1974,
and one could see just about anything in Santa Cruz in those days.
She smiled at me gently, then came and sat down next to me. I stiffened
involuntarily. She was soft spoken, her eyes deep and quiet. She was
highly alert but warm and consoling. Even though there was a great deal
of strength about her, she was not manly. This was a quality that I had
never observed before in a woman. I didn't understand it. And even
though I felt I could trust her, I continued to feel an unexplainable
alarm in her presence. I wished she weren't there. Domano had excused
himself to go to the kitchen to fix me some coffee. "Special dark beans
for you, and some sugar, I've got."
"We have much work to do." Chea tried to catch my eyes. I didn't want to
look at her. "We will teach you as much as we can, the things our
teachers taught to us. They were not from our village. In the beginning
we believed them to be white people from the edge of the jungle lands.
But later we learned they come from farther away. There were six of them
altogether. Three taught Domano in his home village, and three lived in
my village and taught me. After a few years we all came together. And
that's when Domano and I became companions. This was long ago when we
were very young. We will talk more about that later. First I will tell
you about our Earth. She is changing. It is the time now that everything
becomes different. The very center of our Earth and ourselves is
shifting. This brings new knowledge and ways of being. We will teach you
these things as they were taught to us." She spoke matter-of-factly, in
a rather businesslike way. Her command of the language was much better
than Domano's, but she still had a thick accent and a little confusion
with syntax from time to time. I had trouble understanding her. I didn't
want to listen to her. I was afraid she was going to be the one to do
all the talking and teaching, and I wanted Domano to do that. He was
light and fun. So, like a child, without consciously realizing it, I
tried to ignore her. I hoped that if I did it well enough, she'd go away
or disappear. And I wouldn't have to deal with her any longer.
"This will take place in the city. Here." Chea pointed down to the
ground. "In town, instead of in the wild lands as we were taught. This
is because most of your people now live in cities and this is where the
central axis of group shifting is taking place. It is more difficult to
learn these things in the city, but if you and your people can't learn
them here and maintain control over the shifts, then you will not be
able to do it at all."
I didn't want to have to talk to her, but she struck my curiosity too
hard. I had to ask, "What happens if we can't do it at all? What does
Chea looked at me through just her left eye, like a bird, then said,
"That means you have to learn a new way of being, or you will cease to
be. Learn how to shift with your planet and solar system or face
"These traditions we have to pass on to you are learned by the doing. By
action. We will tell you, but telling doesn't teach, it only prepares.
To truly know a thing, one must live it completely. Through the body.
When the body has learned, so has the heart, the inner parts of your
being. The last to have the knowing is your thoughts. In your world you
are taught that your thoughts are what needs to be taught. It is
believed if this part of your mind thinks it knows, then surely that is
all that is needed. So you try to teach just your thoughts and pay no
attention to the rest of you." I could see her through the corner of my
eye, watching me, calculating what she said. I realized then that she
was actually quite a bit smaller than me.
Her voice became more animated. "Your thoughts are just that. Your
thoughts. They know nothing for themselves. They are just movements and
patterns. They are tools of greater, more elusive parts of ourselves.
And without training and discipline they are very poor tools. They trick
us and tell us that they are the master and the center. And then we
spend our lives trapped in their movements and patterns. Hooked like a
Domano came back in with coffee and cookies and set them on the floor in
front of us. I was relieved to have him back in the room. He spoke as he
sat down on the other bench with his cup. "In the times passing we lived
from here," he said, tapping his abdomen. "In this time, to shift, we
must now learn to live from here." He tapped the center of his chest.
"From the upper belly, the life of a person is strung from patterns that
are two-directional only. They are made only this way or that way. Mine
or yours. Black or white. Up or down. Good or evil. It is the habits of
our thoughts and their feelings that make us see only in this way. And
the foundation of these patterns is fear. Fear makes our cultures
animate. It is the on switch, you could say, for all that people do."
Chea brought her legs up, crossing them under her, and pointed to her
upper belly. "A world that puts all its attention to this part of its
self and ignores its other parts becomes singular in its dimension and
eventually will throw itself off balance, as we see in our world has
happened. We see a world split into warring opposites, where the
undisciplined thoughts are master, and control is elusive, and the
pursuit of this control is all-consuming. Only the people don't know any
more what it is they are needing to control. They just assume that more
control over more and more is what is most advantageous. They are
looking so hard outside themselves with the eyes of their warring
thoughts, they never notice all of their own self." I didn't want to
hear what she was saying. I knew she was right. Our culture was in bad
shape. I could hear a real compassion and concern in her voice, even
though her face didn't show it. But I didn't see why they were talking
about world problems that to me seemed out of our reach to influence.
Then Chea's face softened slightly, and she said, "This makes them
afraid. They are afraid of all that is unknown. Afraid of the loss of
anything. Afraid of powerlessness. Afraid of pain. Afraid of failure.
And most of all they have a fear that has all the other fears inside
itself: they fear all death. Within the midst of their imagined
annihilation they breathe every breath. Their bodies knowing only this
fear and the fleeting divergences that distract them from it. The people
of this planet are forgetting how to experience outside the tyrannical
habits of their minds.
"It is our tradition we give to you that will lead you to break out of
the habits of mind."
"But I know plenty of people who are happy and fulfilled." I looked over
He said softly, "This is just a picture of their masks. I assure you,
what looks like happiness is just a picture for themselves and all to
see that describes their distractions from the real condition beneath of
love confused by pain and fear. And also, there is a whisper of
something else, out of reach. Something more than what they know,
something grand and exquisite. You know of this.
"Most of them do not pursue this mysterious thing. They are too lazy and
fearful. They try to ignore it. But that just makes much confusion and
pain for them. You are one who pursues it."
This was beginning to sound far more exotic and mysterious than the
studying of tribal cultural and social applications, and technological
historical advancements and variations, or, heaven forbid, kinship
"Is that what your tradition is going to teach me? To pursue this
"One can pursue forever and never catch," Chea said, imitating running
with two fingers going round and round in front of her. "We teach you
how to catch."