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Today's Story by Benjamin Wachs

For a while there I was hoping for a vision of God, because some people get them when they're starving. But nothing happened.

Not Quite There Yet

It’s rotten luck, I guess.  Or maybe I’m just a joiner.  I probably should have known better, but when a man promises you psychic powers, what are you going to do?  You don’t say, “no thank you, I’d rather be an elementary school teacher,” that’s for sure.  And besides, I’ve always wanted to read peoples minds.  That’s why I joined Aum Shinri kyo.  They said they could teach me.

That was before the poison gass attack in Japan, of course.  I never would have joined a group if I’d thought they were going to do something like that.  And, let’s be accurate here:  groups in other cultures have been studying psychic powers for centuries.  The Mayans were doing it, you know.  At least, that’s what this book says.

Still, my therapist says I shouldn’t have joined Aum Shinri Kyo.  And maybe it was a bad decision.  But I was on the rebound from the Branch Davidians at the time, and I was looking for friends.  That was a horrible mess, our compound getting stormed and all.  We had insurance, you know – David always bought insurance because you can’t be too careful when you’re the messiah:  people like to destroy your stuff – but apparently there was some clause that if we got stormed by the government the company didn’t have to pay.  And well, who knew?  Nothing like that’s ever happened in any of the other bible study groups I was in. . . except for that one led by the reverend Jones, but that was a fluke.  And I wouldn’t have even joined that one if the reverened hadn’t promised to bring me nearer to God.  He said I had potential, and I do.

My therapist says I’m looking for approval.  He says I’ll do anything to get approval.  It’s not entirely my fault, he says, television advertising being what it is, but that I can still choose to turn the television off and lie still in the night and count the stars until they turn red in the dawn and vanish.  But, come on, we both know that I never would have joined Aum Shinri Kyo after the Branch Davidians if the Montanna Freemen had worked out.  But it seems like, just a week after I got there, they were surrounded and had their power turned off.  I swear, it’s like the government hates me.  It was a real bad time, that siege, because at least at Ranch Apocalypse we had plenty of cigarettes.  But after just two weeks we ran out at old Justus Township, and then the food went low, too.  For a while there I was hoping for a vision of God, because some people get them when they’re starving.  But nothing happened.  A week after the siege I heard that the day before we were released, a monk at Gesthemane monastery saw Christ on the cross.  Sometimes I think he had my vision.

So that’s when I joined Aum Shinri Kyo.  Wait, there was the Hindu temple first.  My therapist had suggested that maybe I should apply to Gesethmane, and so I sent them a letter explaining that I was looking for God, and spoke a little Latin, and that maybe they could assist me for a little while.  I stamped the letter with an Elvis stamp, and sent it off, but I never got a reply.  But a month later I met a man who was the son of a friend of my Grandfather’s, and so we went to Planet Hollywood to talk about old people.  My grandfather was a real character, but we don’t talk a lot about him because of what he did before he left Germany.  He was a Nazi, my grandfather was.  Not because he believed in them, but because everybody else was doing it.  Anyway, that’s when I told this guy. . . Luke, his name was Luke. . . about my wanting to be a monk, and he told me that there was a Hindu temple nearby that had several enlightened masters.  So I joined and they had me meditate a lot, and one of the Guru’s really helped me think about some of the things my therapist – my first therapist, not this one – had told me about seeking the love of a father figure because of my alienation from my father when I was young.

I realized, of course, that the father I was looking for was the cosmic Father, who is more of a principle than a person, and that he is within all of us, which is how some people can read other people’s minds.  But I never saw the cosmic father, no matter how hard I tried, even after I shaved my head, so I decided that Hinduism is just no good, even though Sanskrit is a lot older than Latin, so I went looking for something better.  And that’s when I found Aum Shinri Kyo.

My second therapist told me that he thinks my longing for psychic powers is a result of overstimulation, and my sponsor in the men’s movement said the same thing, but I stopped taking his advice after I saw Shoku Asahara, the Guru.  He explained to me how some people are called to experience cosmic duties and powers, and that I was one of them.  Not, mind you, that I actually saw him, but he had a video that explained it all.  I would have loved to go and meet him in Japan, but I couldn’t afford it on what I made as a substitute teacher, so of course I didn’t.

But after Aum Shunri Kyo put the nerve gass in the subway, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I’m sure they had a good reason for it, but I don’t know why they didn’t tell me.  I’m still trying to figure that out.  Why wasn’t I included?  I’ve been trying so hard.

My therapist disagrees with my other therapists.  He says that I’m experiencing a perfectly normal desire to belong to something greater than myself and feel like a part of a whole.  He’s my best therapist yet, because he seems to understand everything I’m saying.  He listens all the time, no matter what I want to talk about.  He’s there for me, in his office, day or night.  I offer up my ideas and he take them quietly, and writes everything down in his yellow notebook.  He’s very good.  But he’s quiet.  And I just wish that I could read minds, because more than anything else in the world, I want to know what he’s thinking.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media, Playboy.com, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at www.TheWachsGallery.com.


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