As you emerged from each trial, reshaped and transformed, a new challenge unfolded before you.
"What awaits me now, One?" you inquired, your voice tinged with trepidation.
"Do you know, Observer, what true hell is?" I asked softly, my voice laden with the weight of the question.
You paused, perhaps considering a response, but ultimately chose to remain silent, allowing me to continue.
"Hell is but a moment," I said, my tone measured. "Finite, yet eternal, as all time is. Hell is the instant you draw your last breath. It is the moment, in a place beyond time, when you encounter a man. This man surpasses you in every conceivable way. You are not even his shadow. You are nothing compared to him. And then, you come to realize that this man is the person you could have become."
The silence that followed was heavy, suffocating.
"And every day, you tend to the Noxious Orchard of Vice."
"What do you mean?" you asked, your voice wavering with anxiety.
"You shall see," I replied, my voice barely a whisper
"And every day, you tend to the Noxious Orchard of Vice."
You contemplated my words, your brow furrowed in concentration
"This trial has always been with you," I said. "Even before the Eternal Comfort."
A look of confusion washed over your face. And then, suddenly, you became aware of our surroundings. You noticed the noose encircling your neck, the watering can clasped in your hand, and the tree beside you with the rope attached to it.
"One, what is this?" you asked, fear creeping into your voice.
"The Noxious Orchard of Vice," I responded. "Every day, you water it, and so it grows."
You examined the tree and the way the ropes were fastened to its branches, forming a noose around your neck.
"What do you mean? I water it?" you questioned, incredulity seeping into your tone.
"You know what actions and thoughts sabotage your life, and yet you persist in indulging them. Perhaps it is what you consume, Observer. You know it harms you, yet you cannot resist. Maybe it is your sleep routine, the hours you spend on that human device, the people with whom you choose to surround yourself, the games you play, or the substances you take."
As your hand began to move, droplets of water fell upon the Noxious Orchard of Vice. With every drop, the tree grew, and the noose tightened.
"One! I cannot stop! Help me," you pleaded as the tree continued to expand.
But all I could do was observe, Observer. My purpose is not to interfere but to guide.
"Be present, Observer. Be conscious. Become the observer of events once more. Feel what you feel. Do not succumb to your body. Master yourself!"
Yet, it seemed hopeless. Day after day, you persisted in watering the Noxious Orchard of Vice. And every day, the noose drew tighter and tighter
Suddenly, you found yourself an old man, bowed beneath the weight of misery and regret. How could you not be? With a rope constricting your airway, the world was a cruel and painful place.
Then, a light appeared, and a man stepped forth, radiant with love, success, peace, will, and strength. Despite his imposing presence, you felt hatred and envy churn within you. "What has he endured to become like this?" you wondered aloud.
He saw you and strode over, and your eye widened with recognition. You understood that he represented the person you could have become, had you abandoned the Noxious Orchard of Vice. "No! Impossible!" you cried, attempting to push him away
But he drew closer, until you stood face-to-face, the noose tightening all the while. You expected judgment or scorn, yet instead he smiled and laid his hands on your shoulders. A tear fell from your eye as he embraced you, and you wept.
You wept for all that you had lost and all that you could have been. In his embrace, you felt a warmth that you had never known before, a sense of belonging and purpose that had eluded you your whole life. And yet, even in this moment of bliss, the noose continued to constrict, reminding you of the imminent end that awaited you.
"I'm sorry. I kept watering it," you whispered to him, your voice choking with regret.
He pulled away from you and looked you in the eye, his gaze unwavering. "You still have time," he said, his voice soothing and comforting. "Time to change, time to grow, time to be the person you were meant to be."
And with those words, you were thrust back into your own reality, the noose still hanging loosely around your neck.
Your hand shook uncontrollably as it hovered over the Tree of Vice, your body wracked with the insatiable desire to indulge in its forbidden fruit. You gritted your teeth and cried out in agony, struggling against the overwhelming urge that threatened to consume you entirely.
"I cannot resist," you pleaded through gritted teeth. "It's too strong."
But a voice, soft yet commanding, spoke from deep within you. "Observe, Observer! Be present! Be more! Do not succumb!"
Every cell in your body yearned for just one more taste, one more day of succumbing to temptation and forsaking discipline and self-control. The voice of procrastination whispered in your ear, promising that tomorrow would be the day to begin anew, that there would always be time to train, meditate, and better yourself later. But you knew deep down that tomorrow would never come unless you seized the moment and took control of your life.
Your hand continued to tremble, your entire being wracked with pain and uncertainty. But you steeled yourself, drawing on every ounce of willpower you possessed, and became a beacon of unyielding presence.
"I can. I will," you declared, your voice echoing with newfound strength. "I am presence. My body does not command me!"
With a final burst of determination, you withdrew your hand from the Tree of Vice, and so the Noxious Orchard was left to wither and die.
The noose of temptation loosened its grip, and you emerged victorious from The Last Of The Trials.
And so,The Clash Within began!