When the Arhat contacted me he would always look different. Once he was an old man on the bus with hairy ears whose long overcoat smelled like mildew, once very briefly while she was in her sickbed he was my Mom, a couple times people working behind the counter at businesses, auto supply stores and stuff, and so on. So in my thirties when I was working hard and didn’t have much time for taking long hikes through the carunculations of my own keppeleh I, understandably, gave up on the idea of the Arhat, and thought that these people were just different people whom I had connected through my own desires for some sort of enobling wisdom. This was completely wrong. The arhat was real. The enobling wisdom was legit.
The arhat whispered to me when I as in an elevator on the USS Arleigh Burke a guided missile destroyer. He took the form of a Petty Officer 3rd Class named Salton. The ship had taken a hit from an underground mine — this was during one of the undeclared wars that took so many lives and continue to take them at the chaotic margins of US influence.
The lights had gone off. The alarms were blaring. I felt my stomach remain in weightlessness as the elevator failed. Maybe this moment was my last I thought.
“It all means something. There is no coincidence. Everything you think is right. You just need to be courageous and take risks so you can learn exactly how. There is always more to your why than you know, and if you think about it, you are your why.”
“But will I meet my dog in heaven?” I asked the Arhat.
“Of course you will.” he said. Plunging. Darkness. Darkness Darkness. Sweat on my collar. Ringing in my ear. The conjunctivas of his eyes red in the red light.
“But in heaven he won’t be your dog.”
“Because he will be able to talk?”
“But why can’t there be talking dogs?”
Plunging plunging shuddering, the sound of feet running down the metal hallways of the ship, then the alarms stop, the lights come on. Salton looks at me and smiles.
“Read your Aristotle. Once a dog can talk he is a human being.”