THE NOKIZI, PART 1
PREFACE AND CHAPTER 1: ON THE AUSPICIOUS MASTERS
As seekers of immortality, the ticking of the clock is so much louder in our ears. With that in mind, I vow to make this work short. Please spend a few hours (certainly no more than that) on this manifesto — hours are a precious thing, and I have spent all but my last in writing this.
I am no one of consequence — a dabbler, an amateur, certainly no company to the auspicious masters, but I wish to say my piece. Perhaps, when you store this slim volume on your shelf alongside their titanic works, its pages will delay the moths from eating their revered words a little longer.
Yours in humility,
— OLD NO-EYES
ON THE AUSPICIOUS MASTERS
These days, there is a story that is never far from my thoughts. Most of you are familiar with the story, I trust, but I will repeat it. An old Southern master of immortality, the personal wizard to Lord Ormun, was approached by a cunning mage who claimed to be able to enchant the master’s clothes so that they would be visible only to the enlightened. The master, who had lived for several hundred years, had written many books on the topic of life, death, and the use of one’s life, and took himself to be enlightened in the truest sense — indeed, he was quick of tongue and a renowned debater.
Intrigued, the master took the mage up on the offer and had his clothes inscribed with enchantments. The mage dressed the master and brought him blindfolded to a mirror, where the blindfold was removed to reveal that the master was naked. The cunning mage admired and praised the “clothes,” telling the master he had seen no one dressed more finely — the fabric was so light and airy that it felt weightless. Truly, the mage said, the clothes were worthy of such an enlightened mind.
The master was crestfallen that he could not see the clothes — was he not enlightened? But at the urging of the mage, he began to show off his new “clothing” among his students. The students, upon learning the enchantment upon the clothing, nodded sagely and praised the clothing, though they could see nothing at all. In their minds, they were afraid that their master would kick them out if he discovered that they were unenlightened. Word spread of the master’s new garb, and by the time he gathered his peers to view the clothes, they all praised him as one and demanded matching sets. But they, too, could see nothing — their pride would not let them admit it, however. Soon, all learned people and high-society types wanted a set of the clothes — even if they could not see it, they wished to keep the company of enlightened minds.
One day, a madman entered a grand party thrown for the old master, where all of these people were gathered, dancing and carousing. The madman went to the old master straight away.
“I have heard that you are the wisest person in the world,” he said. “and that the South is the home of the enlightened.”
The master nodded, pleased. “Indeed.”
“Then why are all of you naked?” he asked.
The old master looked pityingly at the madman and explained the nature of the clothes. The madman nodded gravely.
“Then all around you, you see people in beautiful clothing?” he asked.
“I do indeed,” the old master lied.
The madman looked around, laughing at the naked figures filling the room. “Then I suppose I will give up on enlightenment.”
These days, I look upon the writings of the auspicious masters and cannot help but laugh to myself with the same perverse humor that strikes the madman in the story. From the Corpus Illuminata to The Seven-Rung Ladder, the topic is always enlightenment:
The Headless One says that the human body is a map of all creation, and in contemplating our flesh, blood, and bones, we may gain enlightenment.
The White Architect says that it is through the construction of worlds that we understand reality, and that in becoming a living world-navel, we may gain enlightenment.
The Eternal Vagabond says that the liberation of the soul from the body allows one to witness the universe and its dimensions, and thereby gain enlightenment.
But each reveals, and not subtly, that they are entombed in deep illusions of egotism and temporality. The first has immersed Himself in vanity, and deceives Himself into thinking His eyes are the sun and moon. The second has given in to gluttony and made a pleasure palace for Himself. The third gibbers with ghosts and chases after shadow puppets. All three have undoubtedly obtained a life beyond death — that there is no denying — but to call them enlightened is another matter.
It does not help the situation that each is surrounded by concentric rings of sycophants, acolytes, and courtesans, the kind that erupt in adulations before their idols have even finished speaking. They revel in their nakedness, and the rest of us must hide our laughter in order to maintain the orthodoxy.
There is no arguing with the enlightened, but perhaps you will listen. I say to you: mortals cannot understand eternity in mortal terms. Enlightenment must be understood on its own terms. The auspicious masters and their acolytes suffer from egotism and a temporal mindset, that is, a mindset that is conditioned to existing within the normal flow of time. With these twin poisons in their souls, their “enlightenment” will sour into madness and drag down the whole edifice of necromancy.