But that could be an answer. Lila's problem wasn't that she was suffering from lack of Dynamic freedom. It's hard to see how she could possibly have any more freedom. What she needed now were stable patterns to encase that freedom. She needed some way of being reintegrated into the rituals of everyday living.
But where to start? . . .
. . . That doll, maybe. She had to give up that doll. She wasn't going to convert anyone to that religion. The longer she hung on to it the firmer the static pattern was likely to get. These defensive patterns were not only as bad as the patterns she was running from, they were worse! Now she's got two sets of patterns to break away from, the culture's and her own.
. . . He wondered if it was possible to put these defensive patterns to sleep by means of the doll. Just accept the idea that the doll is her real child and treat the doll in such a way as to quiet down all those longings. She says the doll, her baby, is dead. She thinks this is some sort of island. Why not bury the doll with full honors?
That would be a ritual, Phaedrus thought. That's exactly what Lila needs. Don't fight her patterns. Amalgamate them. She already seemed to think of him as some sort of priestly figure. Why disappoint her? He could use this image to try to bury her insane patterns with the baby. It would be sort of theatrical and fake, he supposed, but that's what funerals were: theater. They weren't for the corpse, certainly, but to help end the longings and old patterns of the living, who had to go on. The funeral would be real to Lila. That baby probably embodied just about every care she had.
Rta. That's what was missing from her life. Ritual.
Arriving at work Monday morning is rta. Getting paid Friday evening is rta. Walking into the grocery store and taking food off the shelf to feed one's children is rta. Paying for it with the money received on Friday is more rta. The entire mechanism of society is rta from beginning to end. That's what Lila really needed.
He could only guess how far back this ritual-cosmos relationship went, maybe fifty or one hundred thousand years. Cave men are usually depicted as hairy, stupid creatures who don't do much, but anthropological studies of contemporary primitive tribes suggest that stone-age people were probably bound by ritual all day long. There's a ritual for washing, for putting up a house, for hunting, for eating and so on - so much so that the division between 'ritual' and 'knowledge' becomes indistinct. In cultures without books ritual seems to be a public library for teaching the young and preserving common values and information.
These rituals may be the connecting link between the social and intellectual levels of evolution. One can imagine primitive song-rituals and dance-rituals associated with certain cosmology stories, myths, which generated the first primitive religions. From these the first intellectual truths could have been derived. If ritual always comes first and intellectual principles always come later, then ritual cannot always be a decadent corruption of intellect. Their sequence in history suggests that principles emerge from ritual, not the other way around. That is, we don't perform religious rituals because we believe in God. We believe in God because we perform religious rituals. If so, that's an important principle in itself.
But after a while, as Phaedrus walked along, his enthusiasm for the baby funeral started to go downhill. He didn't like this idea of going along with some ritual he didn't really believe in. He had a feeling that real ritual had to grow out of your own nature. It isn't something that can be intellectualized and patched on.
The funeral would be a pretense. How are you going to bring someone back to 'reality' when the reality you bring them back to is a deliberate fake? That's no good. He had never gone along with that fakery in the mental hospital and he was sure it wouldn't work now. Santa Claus stuff. Sooner or later the lie breaks down . . . and then what's your next move?
Phffidrus continued to think about it, leaning first one way and then another, until he got to a sign that indicated he was back at Horseshoe Cove.
As he got closer Phaedrus saw that it was Rigel's boat. What a relief. But Rigel was supposed to be going to Connecticut. What was he doing here?
Then Phaedrus remembered Lila had said Rigel was coming. How had she known that?
When Phaedrus got to the dinghy he set down his tote bags of groceries and began to untie its painter from the steel spike in the log.
'Wait!' he heard.
He turned and saw Rigel standing on deck of his boat, his hands cupped over his mouth.
'I'm coming ashore,' Rigel shouted.
Phaedrus stopped untying the dinghy. He watched Rigel get down into his boat's dinghy. He wondered why Rigel didn't just wait for him to get there.
He watched Rigel row the short distance, looking over his shoulder slowly, his aristocratic features becoming closer and more distinct. He was smiling. When he got the boat beached, Phaedrus helped him lift it up onto the sand.
'I just thought I'd come ashore and talk for a while with you,' Rigel said. His smile was formal, calculated - a lawyer's smile.
'What's up?' Phaedrus asked.
'Well, first of all I'm here to collect some money,' Rigel said. 'I paid your bill back at the marina.'
'My God,' Phaedrus said, 'I completely forgot about that.'
'Well, they didn't,' Rigel said, and brought out a receipt from his pocket.
Phaedrus shrugged. He retied the painter of the dinghy to the rusty spike and then with Rigel headed up the path away from the road.
The path in this direction was carpeted with wood shavings, and as they continued walking he saw it changed to a covering of fine black stone. A sign on one side that he hadn't noticed before said 'US Interior Dept.' The marsh with the old day beacon in it looked the same as before but the white egret was gone.
'You remember that you said Lila has quality,' Rigel said.
'Would you mind telling me just how you came to that conclusion?'
Oh, for God's sake, Phaedrus thought. 'It wasn't a conclusion,' he said. 'It was a perception.'
'How did you come to it?'
'I didn't "come" to it.'
They continued to walk quietly. Rigel's hands were clenched. He could almost hear wheels going around in his head.
Then he said exasperatedly, 'What was there to perceive!'
The Quality,' Phaedrus said.
'Oh, you're being ridiculous,' Rigel said.
They continued to walk.
Rigel said, 'Did she tell you something that night? Is that why you think she has Quality? You know she's mentally ill, don't you?'
'I just wanted to be sure. I'm never much sure of anything where she's involved. Did she tell you she's been chasing me all the way across New York ever since I left Rochester?'
'No, she didn't tell me that.'
'Every damn bar. Every damned restaurant, wherever I turned there was Lila. I told her I didn't want anything to do with her. That case with Jim was over and I was done with it, but by now I'm sure you know how well she listens.'
Phaedrus nodded without adding anything.
The reason she came to that bar in Kingston was because she knew I was there. That was no accident, you know, her taking up with you in the bar that night. She saw you were a friend of mine. I tried to warn you but you weren't listening.'
Phaedrus remembered now that Lila had asked a lot of questions about Rigel in the bar. That was true.
Then he remembered something else: 'I was so drunk it's hard to remember anything that happened,' he said, 'but I vaguely remember one thing. Just as we were crossing the deck of your boat to get to ours I told her to be very quiet, not to make any noise because you were probably sleeping right under the deck. She said, "Where?" and I pointed to the spot and then she picked up her suitcase way up over her head and slammed it down with all her might right on that spot.'
'I remember that!' Rigel said. 'It was like an explosion!'
'Why did she do it?'
'Because I wasn't having anything more to do with her!' Rigel said.
Rigel suddenly looked at him with an almost frightened look. Whatever he was so nervous about had something to do with this.
'She said she was the only one who was nice to you,' Phaedrus continued.
'That's not true,' Rigel said.
Ahead, overgrown by bushes, was some unidentifiable concrete wreckage, like a modern sculpture growing in weeds. Rusted metal bolts emerged from concrete slabs broken up by goldenrod. It looked like the base of two steel cranes.
'She's different from what she used to be,' Rigel said.
'You wouldn't believe it now, but back in grade school Lila Blewitt was the most serene, pleasant-natured girl you could ever meet. That's why I was so shocked when you said she had "quality." I wondered if you saw something there.'
'What happened to change her?'
'I don't know,' Rigel said. 'I suppose the same thing happens to all of us. She grew up and she discovered the world is not the place we think it is when we are children.'
'Did you ever have sexual relations with her?' Phaedrus asked. It was a shot in the dark.
Rigel looked at him with surprise. Then he laughed deprecatingly. 'Everybody has!' he said. 'You're no exception in that regard!'
'Did she become pregnant after that?' Phaedrus asked.
Rigel shook his head and made a pushing-away motion. 'No, don't jump to conclusions like that. That could have been anyone.'
They walked on and Phaedrus began to feel depressed. This path seemed to go on and on without getting anywhere. 'We'd better turn around,' he said.
He was beginning to feel like the detective at the end of the murder mystery, except that the detective gets a feeling of satisfaction from having finally run some quarry to the ground, and Phaedrus wasn't getting any satisfaction from this at all.
He just really didn't want to have anything to do with this person any more.
They turned around, and as they walked back Rigel said, 'There's still one other question to be taken up.'
'Lila wants to go back with me.'
To Rochester. I know her family and friends and can get her taken care of.'
Taken care of?'
Oh my God, Phaedrus thought. Institutionalized.
A real wave of depression hit.
He just walked for a while, not saying anything because he didn't want to say anything wrong.
Finally he said, 'I think that's an exceptionally poor idea. She's all right on my boat.'
They continued to walk and before long the boats were back in sight again.
Rigel said, 'I don't know quite how to tell you this. But you'd better hear it.'
'Lila said she wants me to take her back to Rochester ..." He paused. ' . . . because you're trying to kill her.'
Phaedrus looked at him. This time Rigel looked straight back at him and his nervousness seemed gone. 'So you see what the problem is,' Rigel said.
That's why I wanted to take this walk with you,' Rigel continued. 'I didn't expect this when I came down here. I just came to see if everything was all right. But under the circumstances . . . I rather got you into this . . . although I certainly tried not to . . ."
'I'll talk to her,' Phaedrus said.
'She's already transferred her suitcase and other things onto my boat,' Rigel said.
Then I'll talk to her there!' Phaedrus said.
This was a real disaster coming. But blowing up now would just make it more likely. He got into his dinghy and Rigel let him row ahead. He tied off on his own boat, went aboard, and on the other side crossed over the life-lines to Rigel's boat before he arrived.
When he looked down below he saw Lila's poor bruised face looking up at him with a smile. Then the smile disappeared. Maybe she'd thought he was Rigel.
He went down below and sat across from her. Now she looked as nervous as Rigel had been.
'Hello,' he said.
'Hello,' she said back.
'I hear you want to go back.'
She looked down. Guilt. This was the first time he had ever seen her look guilty.
He said, 'I think that's a very bad mistake.'
She still looked down.
'Why are you going back?'
Lila looked up and then finally said, 'I wanted to go with you. You don't know how bad. But now I've changed my mind. There are a lot of things I want to do first.'
Phaedrus said, 'There's nothing but trouble waiting for you back there.'
'I know that, but they need me.'
'My mother and everybody.'
He looked at her. 'Well,' he wanted to ask, 'if they need you so badly then why the hell were you heading south in the first place?' But he didn't ask it. 'What's changed?' he wanted to ask. 'Did Rigel put you up to this? Who put you up to this? Do you know what's going to happen to you back there? Is this some kind of suicide? My God, Lila, you haven't done one single solitary smart thing since the moment I met you, do you know that? When are you going to start?'
But he didn't say all this. He just sat there like a child at a funeral, watching her.
There was really nothing more he could say. She wanted to go back; there was nothing he could do about it.
'You're absolutely sure?' he said.
Lila looked at him for a long time. He waited for a flicker of doubt to appear and waited some more but
she just sat there and then she said it so quietly he could hardly hear it . . . 'I'm all right . . ."
Then he thought for a while longer, wondering, in what he knew would be the last chance, if there was something missing that he should say.
He couldn't think of anything.
Finally he got up and said, 'OK.'
He climbed up to the deck where Rigel was standing. He said, 'She wants to go . . . When are you leaving?'
'Right now,' Rigel said. 'She wants to leave right away and I think that, under the circumstances, it's better.'
As Phaedrus watched him start up his boat's engine he felt somewhat dumbstruck. He crossed over to his own boat, helped Rigel cast off the lines and then watched with a strange sort of paralysis as Rigel's boat turned and then headed back north across the bay.
It was going to take a while to get all this sorted out.
An hour ago he was planning to spend the rest of his life taking care of Lila. As of this minute he was never going to see her again. Wham. Wham. Just like that.
His mind felt like the beach out there, all full of old tires and derelict hulls and bleach bottles after the hurricane had passed through.
He guessed what he needed now was some time and silence to get back to where he was before.
All these events seemed to have completely cut off his past. Whatever was, was gone. It was really behind him. The ocean was right here now, just on the other side of this sand barrier. Here, now, this was a whole new life starting. Soon there'd be no trace of his ever having been here.
The boat swung a little in the breeze. It seemed empty now. Silent. He was all alone again. It was as though Lila had never been here . . .
He supposed he should be overjoyed. He didn't know why he felt so let down. This was what he wanted. He should be celebrating . . .
But it was really sad that she had to end it like that. Why did she tell Rigel he was trying to kill her? That was really bad. She knew he wasn't trying to kill her. Her whole attitude when she talked to him wasn't the attitude of someone who thought that.
. . . Of course he never heard her say he was going to kill her. He just heard Rigel say she said it.
. . . But Rigel wouldn't have lied about something like that. She must have said something of the sort.
. . . What made it so sad was it was the first really immoral thing she had done to him in all that time he was with her. Sure, she called a him a lot of bad names and stuff. But that had been more a defense of herself than any overt wickedness. She had just been trying to tell him the truth. But this time she was lying. That's why she wanted to get out of here so fast.
It was the first time he'd ever seen her look down like that. That was what was so sad to see. The thing that was most attractive about her was that straight-forward, eyes-ahead look of someone who's honest to themself, whatever others might think. Now that was gone. It meant she was turning back to the static patterns she came from. She's sold out. The system beat her. It's made a crook out of her at last.
It was as though she had just one more step to take and she was out of hell forever, and then instead of taking that one step she turned back. Now she's really done for. That bastard will commit her for life.
Anyway, Phaedrus supposed he would have to get busy and get ready to leave tomorrow. He'd get everything set to head out at daybreak. Possibly he could make it all the way to Barnegat inlet if he could get in there. He'd have to look at the charts again.
Somehow he didn't feel like moving. He didn't feel like doing anything.
. . . He supposed he shouldn't be too hard on Lila. What had happened to her was very scary stuff. If she wants to go back to some place she thinks is safer who's to blame her?
. . . The funny thing was that when she said he was trying to kill her, that was insane - but it wasn't entirely incorrect. He was trying to kill her - not the biological Lila, but the static patterns that were really going to kill her if she didn't let go.
From the static point of view the whole escape into Dynamic Quality seems like a death experience. It's a movement from something to nothing. How can 'nothing' be any different from death? Since a Dynamic understanding doesn't make the static distinctions necessary to answer that question, the question goes unanswered. All the Buddha could say was, 'See for yourself.'
When early Western investigators first read the Buddhist texts they too interpreted nirvana as some kind of suicide. There's a famous poem that goes:
Be a dead man.
Be completely dead,
And then do as you please.
And all will be well.
It sounds like something from a Hollywood horror-film but it's about nirvana. The Metaphysics of Quality translates it:
While sustaining biological and social patterns
Kill all intellectual patterns.
Kill them completely
And then follow Dynamic Quality
And morality will be served.
Lila was still moving toward Dynamic Quality. All life does. This breaking up of her life's patterns looked like it was part of that movement.
When Phaedrus first went to India he'd wondered why, if this passage of enlightenment into pure Dynamic Quality was such a universal reality, did it only occur in certain parts of the world and not others? At the time he'd thought this was proof that the whole thing was just Oriental religious baloney, the equivalent of a magic land called 'heaven' that Westerners go to if they are good and get a ticket from the priests. Now he saw that enlightenment is distributed in all parts of the world just as the color yellow is distributed in all parts of the world, but some cultures accept it and others screen out recognition of it.
Lila probably will never know what's happened to her and neither will Rigel or anyone else. She'll probably go through the rest of her life thinking this whole episode has been some kind of failure when in fact what had happened might not have been failure, but growth.
Maybe if Rigel hadn't shown up she would have killed all the bad patterns right here in Sandy Hook. But it's too late now to ever know.
. . . Strange that she'd come to Kingston on a boat called the Karma. It was unlikely anyone aboard knew what that word really meant. It was like naming a boat 'Causal Relationship.' Of all the hundreds of Sanskrit words he had learned so long ago, dharma and karma had hung on longest and hardest. You could translate and pigeon-hole the others but these never seemed to stop needing translating.
The Metaphysics of Quality translated karma as 'evolutionary garbage.' That's why it sounded so funny as the name of a boat. It seemed to suggest she had arrived in Kingston on a garbage scow. Karma is the pain, the suffering that results from clinging to the static patterns of the world. The only exit from the suffering is to detach yourself from these static patterns, that is, to 'kill' them.
A common way taken to kill them is suicide, but suicide only kills biological patterns. That's like destroying a computer because you can't stand the program it's running. The social and intellectual patterns that caused the suicide have to be carried on by others. From an evolutionary point of view it's really a backward and therefore immoral step.
Another immoral way of killing the static patterns is to pass the patterns to someone else, in what Phaedrus called a 'karma dump.' You invent a devil group, Jews or blacks or whites or capitalists or communists - it doesn't matter - then say that group is responsible for all your suffering, and then hate it and try to destroy it. On a daily personal level everyone has things or people they hate and blame for their suffering and this hatred and blame brings a kind of relief.