We continued trudging through the deep sand, the figure always one step behind me, shifting endlessly. No matter for how long we journeyed towards the tree, it seemed always to drift farther away, remaining just on the cusp of the horizon. The images of my life in sand all fell away, each as I let go of them. The image of a bearded man in heaven, whom I thought I might be meeting after death, slipped away through my fingers. The image of money, of all the success I had in life showed itself to be the cause of my misery. Again, it flowed away in a river of sand. Yet there was one thing I could not let go of, it had no image, only a feeling. We walked on.
So, are you the reaper? Come to teach me of the realities of death?
There is no death. There is no life. There only is.
Every question posed to the formless figure was answered in the same way, always denying the existence of whatever I was asking about. Perhaps a different form of question would serve me better. Before I could contemplate something new; however, the figure eased out a question.
What is a grain of sand?
I stopped in my tracks at the strangeness of his question. Perhaps it was a trick question?Perhaps he was trying to teach me his secret? Or maybe he really was just a fool. I remembered what he had said before though, about the fool being most wise. I contemplated an answer.
Well, it's just a grain of sand isn't it?
The figure walked up to me, facing me. Had he have had eyes, I would be looking into them. He raised his formless hand, and slapped me across the face.
That is what it is.
Anger rose in my chest at the prospect of pain.
What was that for?
For being so foolish, for failing to see. Now, again, what is a grain of sand? Tell me not of a jumble of words nor an explanation of the atoms which make it. What is a grain of sand?
My brain strained at the idea of an object without words. How could a grain of sand not be just that? A grain of sand?
There is no grain of sand.
Another slap of sharp sand. I tried to fight back, but the figure danced out of the way effortlessly.
There indeed is a grain of sand you're standing on one.
Anger blinded my efforts to find an answer, frustration and sadness held me back from realizing the form's ultimate truth. I stood stock still for a moment. I reached gently into the chest of the figure, its sand forming around my outstretched hand; and plucked a single grain from inside. I showed it to him.
There it is.
The figure laughed like a child, wonderful notes of its voice filled the air. A smile crept onto my face.
Now, who are you?
In half a moment the figure vanished, becoming formless and falling into the desert. I stood for a moment, astounded at the realization. I raised my hand to see what I had known to be true all along. Shifting sand, dancing in its own harmony formed my hand. I was, and was not. Falling into the sand; my form dis joining into the desert I joined myself. The tree disapeared, the future, the images were of no mind, the past, and the present... I fell into the sand. I became not life, not death, not man, nor woman. I simply became.