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THE ARICO CHRONICLES

9) The Scientists

Unfortunately Jumo unwittingly brought about the demise of the Light movement – not through any fault of his own.

The demise however did not begin with Jumo, but with a religious leader known as the Honourable Hudla. This leader, Hudla, had the view that meditation was a scientific method. In an interview one day he explained “Meditation is a process to attain an original state of mind, a mind that is true and unspoiled. But in our daily life the mind gets spoiled and few do anything about what happens to the mind. It makes no sense how we treat our minds. If we eat food that is not healthy we know that our bodies suffer with ill health – we are what we eat.”

“Yet many religions do not talk about food in this way,” interrupted the interviewer.

Hudla paused and smiled. “You are right, they do not,” he answered “but that does not make it any less true. And incidentally,” again he paused.

“Incidentally?” prompted the interviewer, unable to remain in silence.

“It is the minds of daily life that do not see food in this way,” he finally filled the gap. “It is minds weakened by ill-resolve as a consequence of what daily life does to us – stress - that accept unnatural food.” He finished as if it was obvious.

“Please explain,” asked the interviewer when he saw that His Honour was not going to elucidate.

“You don’t ….” Hudla caught himself and paused avoiding criticism of the interviewer. “My apologies, let me elaborate. The body knows what food, food from Nature, is good for it. And science knows about nutrition, of course. But we don’t eat food for our bodies we eat for our minds. Our minds enjoy the taste of artificially sweetened foods, of food additives, so we tend to eat those foods. But this is because our minds are not disciplined, a discipline that comes from meditation, meditation that removes the “clouds” that form in daily life.”

“Do you blame the scientists, the food companies for this?” asked the interviewer.

“That is difficult for me to answer in my position,” replied Hudla thoughtfully “Let me ask this question. What motivates the companies and their scientists? Is it the quality of the food? Is their rationale to provide the healthiest food for people to eat?”

The interviewer began “The companies are there to make a profit ….”

“Please don’t continue,” Hudla stopped her “Such questions need to be answered individually by those who buy, by those who sell, and by those who create the food science. In answering those questions minds find discipline.”

“This points to a general problem with mind that usually does not get addressed,” continued the venerable “other than sleep what do we do to help our minds recover from the stresses of daily life?”

“What can we do?” she asked.

“Meditate,” answered Hudla – almost with a slam-dunk. “That is the purpose of meditation. In daily life the mind accumulates stresses, meets confrontation - just life, but it needs to recover – to return to its natural state. This occurs to some extent in sleep but if we meditate we help remove this daily baggage. Meditation clears the mind so that it can think sharply so it can decide with clarity. “Amongst other clear decisions,” he continued “the mind would decide to eat naturally because the mind would be clear. The mind would know what the body needs and provide it.

“But in other matters,” he paused to focus his thoughts “a clear mind chooses wisely. All around there are temptations – such as drugs, our minds need to be strong to resist such temptations. Yet when we are tired – after a day’s work for example, we take the path of least resistance and often indulge in drugs etc. We need strong minds, minds that are clear to resist this.

“And all of this clarity can come from the scientific practice of meditation,” concluded Hudla.

“Why is this scientific?” she asked “Science and meditation are not usually connected.”

“I wish that they were,” he smiled ruefully “To answer this we must look at what is scientific method. Although science is usually physical there is a method – empirical method. This is science that is based on experience. Examine the experience of meditation. When we follow meditation our minds go through the same cleaning processes leading to clarity. Different people follow the same meditation method, and the results are the same. Is that not empirical science? Because we cannot touch the meditation, because we cannot measure this meditation physically – with machines, then science rejects this empirical understanding of meditation.”

“Is this why you encourage scientific studies of meditation?” she asked.

“Yes,” replied the Honourable one quickly “I want science through its own tools, its own measurements to assess meditation.” “Some meditators question this approach,” she answered looking at her papers. “They say science through its own terms can never fully understand meditation, because I quote “meditation is beyond machines”.”

“There is truth in what these meditators say,” conceded Hudla “but I believe it is important that more people meditate. If science gives meditation some credibility don’t you think more people will meditate?”

“I’m not sure,” she muttered.

“I think it will help,” Hudla concluded.

The interviewer turned to a different camera and she politely concluded with the usual platitudes. She watched as this great man left the room, she had her doubts about the science but who was she to say?

*-*

As usual Waters and Orpan met in the rec for the compulsory wind-down. As they sat with the drugs there began pleasantries, how is the family? They were careful with this one because Orpan was allowed two children and Waters only one – Waters would be allowed two if he had Orpan’s job. Waters’ mind drifted to repeated conversations with his wife.

“You can do the work,” Noi nagged at him.

“I suppose I could,” Waters mumbled but deep in his heart he knew Orpan had far more going for her.

“You should report her,” she continued on at him “the way she decries the programme you are in is disloyal.”

“I can’t report her,” Waters became determined “Orpan is a good woman even though her views are extreme.” Noi’s desires were strong, he understood that but to tell on Orpan that would be so wrong he felt he couldn’t live with himself. The trouble was he had the same reservations.

“Does Noi still want another child?” Orpan asked.

“She does,” acknowledged Waters “but there are no vacancies at the moment. I’ll have to wait until you die.” They laughed, a false laugh for both. Then a pause until the stress broke through.

“Do you know we almost had it today?” Orpan started “I thought we were so close. The MEG, that image seemed so clear. Jumo must be doing something.” Her mind drifted this time.

“Good morning Orpan,” the supervisor greeted her, she acknowledged. “In this unit we take care of category-D people, the most deluded, and it is our job to try and help these people out of their delusions. We have brought you in for your neurological work where you identified the corsassus centre as being the source of bipolar disorder.”

“Corsassus was not the source,” replied Orpan carefully “it became active during bipolar incidents.”

“We want you to monitor these deluded,” continued Dent ignoring her scientific meticulousness “and try to determine whether there is a neurological cause to their delusions.”

Even at the interview she knew this was not their ultimate purpose but she couldn’t decide what it was. It was not as if she had a choice anyway, she was assigned here.

This was confirmed for her later when she met with Dent. She showed him the images. “As you can see these images change during normal daily activity but the changes occur within specified regions of the brain,” she reported pointing at certain regions of the image as she explained. “Washing is in this region as is housework. Even when Jumo is thinking the same region is in use …. But there is one time when a different region is used, and that is when he is still.”

“What do you mean “still”?” asked Dent.

“Well there are times when Jumo just sits on the edge of his bed straight-backed and motionless,” she explained.

“We all sit still some times, just resting,” countered Dent.

“It seems that for Jumo more is going on when he sits,” continued Orpan slowly. “For a while he sits there and the image shows activity in the usual regions but then suddenly the activity switches to a new region. Yet when we observe him he is still. Without asking him we cannot ascertain what is going on.”

“Do not ask him,” admonished Dent “It is possible that this is the source of delusion. When he sits for a long time the brain enters this delusory region, and this is why he demonstrates such anti-social behaviour.”

“I am not sure that is true,” she murmured.

“I want you to continue the imaging work,” Dent continued issuing his orders. “This sounds good, it sounds like we have a mental source for delusion.”

She looked at him quizzically, scientifically you could not jump to such a conclusion. Just because they wanted a source of delusion does not mean that something different is that source. There were bells going off in her mind but she didn’t understand why.

Now she understood, and she had decided to tell Waters. She was not sure about him but she felt safe enough to tell him; anyway she needed his cooperation. In the rec – now, she must tell him.

“Our MEGs are pretty conclusive. There is a repeated pattern where this region, the still region, always shows up when Jumo sits for a long time. This is not a sleep activity, a resting activity, there is something else happening,” she told Waters as they both relaxed with the next snort.

“That’s interesting,” Waters answered “do you think that this still area is the source of delusion?”

“I don’t think that is what the project is about,” she continued “if they wanted us to identify it as a source of delusion the experiments would be taking a different direction – such as preventing access to the still area.” “Maybe so,” he said.

“I think their purpose is different,” continued Orpan “they are not seeking to determine a source of delusion they are seeking an image that identifies the deluded.” “Maybe that is so,” he concurred “but why does that matter?”

“Because we are working on a weapon,” she spoke out strongly “well it is like a weapon even if it doesn’t directly kill. Once these people are identified they will be incarcerated, and for what? Because they sit and use a new area of the brain.” “Are you sure this is what they are doing?” asked Waters.

“How can I be sure?” she answered unwisely “they will never tell us exactly what they are doing. But I am convinced.” At that moment she had become marked.

She had told him, that was what she had set out to do. Now when they were working together they could focus less on the identifying and more on helping people like Jumo. If they needed help? Where did that thought come from? She dismissed it.

In the rec their conversation petered out as the drugs brought on tiredness. They both returned home but Waters could not leave the conversation, he was frightened. He kept mulling it over, what was he to do? Despite knowing what she would say he needed to talk with Noi, at least then he would have some support.

“She is a fool, she has said too much,” Noi told him. He had to agree.

“She has dragged you into her disloyalty by telling you,” his wife continued.

He sat quietly listening to her go on, but she was not saying anything he hadn’t thought. And then it came – the obvious conclusion.

“Now you have to tell them, if you don’t they will say you are disloyal as well,” she demanded clearly.

Again he was wavering, he liked Orpan but this was his life.

“If you don’t tell them they will target you as well – whatever that means,” she put in the knife. They both knew, and did not know, what that meant. The decision was made, and Noi had her baby.

When he went to Dent Dent asked whether Waters could do the job alone.

“She is far better than I am,” he told them with at least some personal loyalty to Orpan “but I could do it with a new assistant.”

“OK,” was all Dent said. Finally as a warning Dent said “you were wise to come to us. We already knew that Orpan was deluded. She went too far yesterday, and it became your last chance.” Waters was scared, and was glad that Dent was dismissing him with this warning.

The deed had been done; he could never look at his second-born without a memory of his own weakness.

The next day they received mail that Orpan had been transferred with Waters appointed as chief project coordinator. Waters received a new directive to develop a machine that would identify when this still area was accessed. He argued with himself that he was pushing back the bounds of scientific discovery, but in reality he was developing a machine that identified people like Jumo – a weapon for incarcerating.

Once he had finished the machine, another section worked on miniaturising, and very soon the ruai were monitoring in peoples’ homes.