The Toki Ponist on the Mountain main page

Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 17: Topsy-turvy

You are reading a chapter of the novel Piqued - a Toki Ponist Adventure. The novel is part of a larger universe, explore the rest here.

ona li kipisi e pan suwi la, ona li jo ala e pan e suwi.
Toki Ponist Pu

Word of a demystifying meditation class had been going around in a wide area around the remote hostel. It attracted more and more travelers from all over the world, from China to Puerto Rico. One day a group of twelve entered the hostel, and they asked in particular about the meditation classes. The hostel had become used to receiving extra guests with a disposition to following the sessions, but they had not come in droves of twelve like that.

Joakim would always bring extraneous context into the sessions. That day, when twelve pupils showed up, he opted for a clock formation. Instead of all lining up against the walls in a rectangular circle, he positioned the zazen pillows and cushions in a round or rather dodecagon circle. He put his own zabuton and zafu at the center. This felt wrong, which is why he proceeded.

“Today,” he said to the twelve observers. “I want to talk about ease and institutions.” He walked around the circle he had created. “Man is flawed, we are all sinners, and delectable ideas trick us. Our acts and thoughts muddled by biases and rebranded as rational thought. Objectivity does not exist, especially when we try not to be subjective. Some say all that, and it may be true, like everything is true in some form. But there is much more to say about it. We have come a long way in building layers around us that are our superiors. Democracies are not to achieve what people want, but to cushion people’s wants from their needs—wile ala wile.

Joakim hit the gong for effect. The sound reverberated off the walls and into all those present.

“The judicial system is not there to satisfy our bloodlust, but to reign it. Schools don’t teach what children want to know but what they need to know.”

“Actually,” Enni, a Finnish woman interrupted at three o’clock. “Many modern schools do exactly that, they allow the pupil to decide what they want to learn. It tickles their growth mindset and bubbles up intrinsic motivation. The tutors only stimulate their creativity and curiosity, allowing them to become the T-shaped professionals of the future.”

“The clock strikes thrice,” Joakim said. “Yes, of course, intrinsic motivation gets things moving even though your experience of intrinsic is just a complex proxy of a whole range of internalized external motivations. With free will not being a thing, and all that, why do you think their creativity and curiosity needs to be stimulated?”

“Because the old school system is too restrictive.”

“Suppression of expression is almost synonymous to the concept of evil. So if restriction becomes suppression, you are correct. But someone needs to say no for the other to say yes. Stimulation means going against someone’s nature and not flowing with it. Not always, at least. To bend in the wind, the wind must first try to blow you away.”

He tried to illustrate his words by bending the elastic stalk of a plant. Being all dried out, it broke off.

“Look around you. Everything has become so convenient. Same-day deliveries. Streamlined computer software, interfaces disappear. You don’t have to search, you are being recommended. Do you still think you are being stimulated? That you are more creative or curious now than you were before. Hundred times a day you get what you think you want, because it is easy, and it’s enjoyable.”

“We built institutions to protect us from ourselves and others. There are laws, there is social security, healthcare systems, schools. They are flawed systems because people adjust them, design them and operate them, but by building in extra layers, distance, and checks and balances we hope to restrict the corrosive damage from detrimental individuals.”

“We are all detrimental individuals at some point and in our own way. It is our aim for simplicity, the lowest energy state that is the basis of misery. We don’t understand bureaucracy so we want to cut the government, we don’t like complex explanations so we appeal to so-called common sense, which is often not sensible at all. When people call out that people need to think for themselves, they mean they should believe what they believe because it is so obvious. But most things are not obvious at all.”

“Right now flurries of design thinkers and engineers brainstorm new products solving problems we only realized people could define it after they have already solved it. Once the paved highway presents itself, the regular trail becomes a tedious path. And yes, not everything needs to be hard and progress is essential, because we are all beginners and beginners become better beginners as time crawls on. However, these products advertise themselves as taking away pesky tasks and thoughts that keep you away from being productive, or that prevent you from doing what you want. But when everything falls away, what remains that we want to do, what are we to be productive about? It is the toil that brings the satisfaction and joy, not the completion without effort.”

Joakim entered the clock circle and perched in front of the soft, dark-blue zabuton.

“You must earn simplicity.”

He sat down. “And now, forty minutes in silence. Let us not think about everything I said. That will be your challenge.”

While walking around the clock, a resonance had tingled Joakim, and his pace hastened from the invisible push. This tailwind continued even after sitting down on the zafu. In due time, the twelve co-meditators moved as interlocked cogs in circles raising a whirlwind and boundary between a time within and a space without.

Joakim’s world turned upside down. He took the shape of a pyramid on its head. A pyramid with its seagirt tip reflected into a deep second pyramid. Climbing mount Meru is descending up and ascending down. There is no escaping the entire universe when its finite boundaries become infinitely far-fetched. In the twelve he recognized the twelve disciples, followers he did not want to have, but you are not much of a guru without followers. Now the guru was following the disciples. Motion begot motion begot motion. Spinning flywheels spin wheels that become flywheels. What is it like to be a mountain? Joakim was the mountain. In the reflection, Kalisa was the mountain. The underworld as it stands is not hell or evil, instead, this honors befalls the heavens pressing down on the underworld.

These twelve awakened The Toki Ponist on the Mountain, and memories flowed back as bits of information on a wet ticker tape. Imageless flashes of feelings passed him by—the death of Elsbeth, traveling the world in search of the hundred-and-twenty soul fragments, battling a dream prison with Kalisa, the atoll with and without the mountain.

When Tipi woke up while lying face first in the six o’clock pillow, night had fallen. The room was empty; the disciples had left the room. Tipi entered the shared kitchen area of the hostel where travelers would gather in the evenings to cook elaborate unhinged meals for themselves and each other and share a story or two. There were now a handful of drifters sitting around a table with a large pan of sauceless pasta emptying a bottle of wine. He recognized none of them from the session this afternoon.

That night the world had become under the spell of a mysterious disruption. A pandemic was the word lingering in the airwaves. Tipi had missed out on the news, but an uneasiness about mysterious deaths had been simmering for several weeks in a few isolated spots around the world. Now it seemed to be everywhere, even though the casualties had often not been in contact with each other. But they had to be, said the experts. Are we to trust the so-called experts when they are being paid by pharmaceutical companies?

It was a novel strain of virus, epidemiologists said. Even if that was true, it was not the only virus driving the world towards the edge of flat earth. People blamed other people for creating the virus, companies profited from it, governments were spreading it. Atlantis and lizard people oversaw it all. There was even talk of a worldwide network of underground wireless devices resonating interdimensional evil. And people would rise against these conspiracy theories and create their own virus of rationalized suppression.

What none of them knew was that they were all right. While most of the narrative was untrue, they spoke truth. Complicated as it may sound, Tipi had seen this before. Only with immense energy can you create a matter anti-matter pair, but the hardest, more essential step is separating the two before annihilation occurs. Everyone can spread a virus, but seldom someone achieves separating that which can prevent our mutual annihilation.

Maud and Daffyd were discussing current affairs over watered down wine, almost like so many people were doing around the world. They were under a spell and could not get out of its bind. Their flywheels were spinning too, and they were spinning in the cadence of the wheels of everyone around them. They were spinning in Europe, in Asia, in the America’s. It was spinning in this small hostel. Hans, the evening manager, entered the room and let us know the hostel was closing because of unforeseen global circumstances. They could stay the night, but national regulations forbid being too close together inside anymore. Separation prevents annihilation.

Tipi walked to the dormitory and gathered his stuff, which amounted to only a tidbit more than when he had arrived a few months ago. Winter was coming. With the money he had earned he could afford to travel and he knew where he had to go. Home. To travel back to The Netherlands. There he would retrieve his passport. It was Joakim’s passport, but it dragged with it the identity of The Toki Ponist on the Mountain.

A normal life was not yet viable in the foreseeable future, given the current situation. Instead, he could try to figure out what happened between the time his memories fogged up and waking up again. He wanted to make sense of his returning memories of strange encounters. He wanted to figure out who had put that chip in his toe. Outside, a storm brewed. Leaves and branches hit the windows and rain tormented the roof.

He scavenged the hostel in search of his followers. There was a minor panic after they had received word of their eviction. But they were travelers, and so they would travel. From within this group, Tipi found a companion to travel back to The Netherlands with. They had to hurry. The world was preparing for a full lockdown to stop the spread. This might stop the virus the epidemiologists spoke about, but not stop the other viruses. It would hinder Tipi more than his aphantasia ever could.

That night, every person in the hostel including the manager and the staff had an uneventful, restless night. The wind howled in expressing of everyone’s feelings. But there was also a different message in the wind. One that was hard to decode and would be essential for the survival of humankind.

Read the next chapter