Nathan was stewing. After countless workshops, seminars and classes, he didn’t feel any better off than 10 years ago when he’d first started his spiritual journey, and certainly no closer to enlightenment. Sure, he’d had some magical experiences here and there, moments where he felt like he finally “got it,” but then life would always go back to the usual challenging grind.
Today, he’d just heard a lecture about the dragon, some mythical creature that might come and tear him to pieces. What was that all about? As a kid he had been fascinated by dragons, but as an adult Nathan knew they were about as real as Santa Claus. And the Master. Who was that anyway? Ever since hearing the first of many “Master stories,” Nathan had been waiting and watching for some masterly being to come along and impart great wisdom so he could finally get his life in order. But, so far, every person he encountered was annoyingly human.
After absorbing as many “enlightenment teachings” as he possibly could over the past decade, Nathan’s life was in shambles. There was no money coming in, most of his friends had disappeared, his family barely spoke to him, and his body was in more pain than ever. Some days, his sanity was even in question. He sighed, trying to push away the irritation and think about the most recent seminar. All the other attendees seemed to get it; why was he having such a hard time?
A dilapidated old mirror hung on the wall across from where he sat in his dreary apartment. It had been there since he moved in, but he’d never liked it. The awkward positioning always seemed to reflect him at his worst and now, in his sullen mood, Nathan decided it was time to throw it out. He started to get up but was hit by a wave of dizziness. Sitting back down, the image in the mirror blurred for a moment. “Damn, I really need to get some decent sleep” he muttered, rubbing his eyes. He sank back as a strange foggy feeling came over him. Then he heard a voice. The image in the mirror was speaking!
“Nathan,” the voice said, “Take a deep breath and let go. You’ve been working and struggling so hard that you haven’t given yourself a chance to feel the wisdom. It’s right here, see?” As if in a dream, Nathan remembered a book he’d been struggling to read. He suddenly grasped the meaning behind the words and it all made sense in a way he could actually feel. The “dream” shifted. Now he saw a “big picture” perspective of his current life. Yes, he was alone in so many ways, but now he understood the situation. He hadn’t messed up his life or even been abandoned; this was a precious and much needed time of solitude. The dream kept changing, moments of his life appearing, but now permeated with the wisdom he had missed. Fascinated, he watched the changing scenes until the show faded away.
“What a weird dream,” Nathan yawned. He must have fallen asleep for a few minutes. His sight was still blurry though, and he blinked, annoyed now because the mirror was reflecting blinding sunlight right into his face. (It didn’t occur to him that the sun was hidden behind the hill.) Still not feeling well, his ears started ringing. Wait, it wasn’t that. He was hearing some kind of crystalline voice, tinkling and deep at the same time.
“Beloved expression of myself…” the words dissolved into ethereal music that made every cell in his body tingle. The blazing light was somehow communicating to him! Nathan had heard about angelic visitations, and vaguely wondered if that’s what was happening. He didn’t care, this was amazing.
Eventually the light faded and Nathan could once again hear the usual street noises outside. “I guess it was just a dream,” he thought, even though it was the best one he’d had in ages. “What a weird afternoon.” Glancing at the mirror, he was relieved that it was back to normal… well, sort of. His eyes in the mirror didn’t look quite right, staring back at him with a wide-awake intensity that he definitely did not feel. Then the glass began to melt.
Nathan stared as a new image came into shimmering, rippling focus. Fierce golden eyes glared back into his, almost daring him to run. Frozen by a mixture of awe and fear, Nathan tried to look away, but it was impossible. He could feel that piercing gaze looking all the way into the darkest places of his soul, illuminating things he’d forgotten, deeds hidden away even from himself. So many foolish choices he’d made, so many lifetimes lost to suffering, so many good intentions gone horribly wrong – all of it was being exposed. Nathan could hardly breathe as hot shame clogged his throat and burned his eyes.
The dragon never said a word, but its silence was deafening. The burning clarity left nothing unseen, and Nathan knew this was the end. All his games were over, his endless search undone. There was nothing left, no fight, no light, no grace. Not even death would bring relief. He closed his eyes and gave up.
How long he lay there, Nathan did not know. It could have been minutes. It felt like lifetimes.
At last, his heart aching, Nathan took a breath and opened his eyes. The mirror was completely clear. He took a breath and watched as his own voice broke the silence.
“I Am the Master.”
The reflection flickered with a soft light as a crystalline voice called out.
“I Am the Angel.”
And for a moment, those all-seeing fiery eyes bored into his.
“I Am the Dragon,” he whispered.
He finally understood.
As Nathan went on with his life, he no longer hoped for the Master to meet him on the street corner. Falling asleep at night, he no longer wished his soul wasn’t so far away. And when the dragon was mentioned, he definitely didn’t scoff. Nathan finally realized all these were simply parts of his own Self, not outside beings, and definitely not far away. At last he understood that everything he ever wanted, needed or experienced was only and always within. All the energy was his own; he’d just been playing a game of hide and seek with himself.
Nothing had changed, but everything was different.