The man is Jeremiah Buttison but he prefers to be called Wind Voice. He claims to have taken that name upon completion of his vision quest into the wilderness east of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Whoever would show any curiosity about how he got his name would receive a lengthy description of his trek into the forests an unspecified number of miles north of the canyon away from civilization to the crest of a small hill. On this hill he fasted and meditated and danced for many hours until he was overtaken by a trance that showed him the face of the very air that he breathed. It also brought to his ears the voice of the wind that told him that each human being had not a soul but a color. The color that he, Jeremiah, exhibited for those who knew how to see, it said, was the blue of the sky on a sun shone summer’s day.
In celebration of receiving this aural vision he continued to dance the dance of his color and spirit until he collapsed on the ground and fell into a long and restful slumber.
“You speak of the colors of souls, Master. But I still don’t understand what you mean by this.” The speaker was a youthful man with a gentle, boyish face. His voice was stridently loud as he attempted to be heard above the din of the crowd of followers surrounding Wind Voice.
“A fine question, young man,” said the Master. “It is the first question that must be asked if one is to understand the true nature of mankind.” The Master paused for a few moments muttering to himself as he mulled over what the remainder of his response would be.
“First, let me say that there are many kinds of souls, those that are dark with fear and hatred and those that are light with love and caring. If you could but perceive the individual souls, as I do, you would see each person bathed in a light dominated by a specific shade and color. The darker the color, the closer that soul is to his or her original inception and so more fearful and unknowing. And in this unknowing grows hatred of the unknown and that which is misunderstood. It takes many lives for one to cast off this fear and to gain an innate understanding of the spirit of the world and its creatures, especially of man.”
“You speak of many lives,” interrupted another follower from the crowd. “Is your teaching, then, similar to that of the Hindi or of the Buddha?”
“Similar, but not the same,” said the Master, nonplussed by the change of topic. “But let me finish. About the color of the soul: there are also those whose shade is brighter, the color about them sparkling and clear whether it be blue, green, yellow or red. These are the souls who have gained the spiritual knowledge – not to be confused with literal knowledge – of the ways of the world and mankind’s place in it. Through many lifetimes, as I have said, one gathers into oneself this knowledge of the spirit until it becomes a cohesive whole, to the point that it becomes the actual spirit of that individual.”
As Wind Voice caught his breath in order to continue his sermon, another follower, an attractive young woman wearing tight shorts, a halter top and sandals, chimed in with: “So you do espouse the beliefs of the Buddhists who hold that the soul goes through many lifetimes in order to achieve Nirvana. Is that not true?”
The Master smiled down from his small stage into the face of this pretty child and said, “Much the same in many aspects, dear one. But by saying so you assume that all human beings have souls. The real struggle, you see, is not the many lives spent in working toward that lightness of being that brings one to the white light of truth but in the forming of one’s own being, one’s own soul, in order to do so.”
All the din of conversations that had been humming through the crowd until this time suddenly stopped. If one listened closely all that could be heard would be that of the intake and exhale of the breath of more than a thousand lungs as all present paid strict attention to what the Master Wind Voice would say next.
“Thank you,” he said. “For your undivided attention, at last.”
After a long silence a meek voice came out of the crowd. “How is this to be done, Master?” it said. “And how do we know whether we are ones with souls or not?”
The Master Wind Voice came forward toward the crowd and raised his hands above his head. He clapped them once, then twice, then a third time, each time causing the frightening sound of thunder to roll through the air. “Know what you see,” he said. “Understand what you hear. If you cannot do these things, dance the dance of the spirit. If you do not yet have a soul, you do have a spirit to guide you. So let it take hold of you in meditation and….” He raised his left leg in front of him, letting the lower half dangle from the knee as if it had no muscle at all; then he stamped the foot down, causing the ground to shake. He did the same with the other leg before gliding shuffle-foot across the floor in a graceful dance that exhibited the beauty of his spirit, the color of his soul for all to see. And they did see for Wind Voice’s aura shone a bright blue from the first resounding step of the dance until, hours later, he came to a sliding halt that brought him nose to nose with a man who, smiling happily, just happened to be standing at the front of the crowd. Wind Voice gently kissed the man’s nose and backed away to take in the full sight of the crowd that he had just entertained.
“Your own dance will be its own expression of your spirit, your own personal experience of who you are and where you are and what you are meant to be.” The Master sighed deeply, understanding the scope of what he was describing. “And not everyone can do it, for not everyone, I am sorry to say, will achieve what they seek: a soul that is singularly their own.”
The crowd let out a common, searing groan of disappointment tinged with fear.
“But that should not stop any of you from at least trying, no? Come, then, any of you who will, come with me to the Center and we will start with each of you.” And he began to walk away from them. It took several moments for the crowd to break up and form a thin line of interested men and women to walk, then run to catch up with Wind Voice in order to become his disciples.
“This week’s Profit and Loss Statement, sir,” said Wind Song’s office assistant as he handed his boss the sheaf of paperwork.
Wind Song only looked over a few pages of the report before pronouncing the entire weeks’ worth of profits to be unsatisfactory. “I gave a lecture each day at the Center and two others at functions where I had been invited,” he said. “With all that, how do you come up with such a measly number as this?” He tapped a pen point on the last page of the report with a calloused forefinger. “Tell me that, hunh?”
“Several of your Center lectures weren’t all that well attended, sir,” explained his assistant. “And we gave one of the outside concerns a break on your customary stipend since they are a non-profit organization.”
“On whose authority?”
“Uh – Mister Tengwith signed off on it, I believe.”
“Get him in here!” the now angry guruji barked. His assistant did a quick about-face and had already taken several steps in preparation to do his boss’s bidding when Wind Voice suddenly called him back. He rummaged in his top desk drawer for a pad of paper just as his assistant arrived back in front of the desk. The Master scribbled out two notes and held them out to the young man as soon as he had torn them from the pad. “Give the first one to Tengwith,” he said. The young assistant’s face blanched as he read the neatly legible scrawl. “And the other one goes to HR – a new hire order to go into the papers and online as soon as possible.” The assistant hesitated as he looked to his superior for verification that this was really what he was being asked to do. “Get going,” said Wind Voice evenly. “We have a lot of work to do coming up and I can’t be without a second in command for long.”
“Yes, sir,” said the young man and, turning to carry out the order he had been given, nearly tripping over an unseen ripple in the carpet.
“Clumsy fellow,” Wind Voice muttered to himself with a chuckle as his assistant hurried away. “But ambitious, too. Just might turn out to be a real asset to the company.” At the speed of thought, then, his expression turned from mirth to serious as quickly as his facial muscles would allow. “I’ll have to keep him reined in, though,” he voiced his thought in a whisper. “Don’t want to have to deal with another Tengwith. There is only one person in charge here and I won’t stand for insubordination of any kind from any of my staff.”
He looked down on the papers on his desk and began to make notes in the margins of the P & L Statement; suggestions on how to improve upon such a shoddy showing in the future.
I desperately hope that no one reads this until after I am gone for I, Wind Voice, the leader, the teacher, the luminary, the guru and spiritual head of the Center for the Study of the Human Spirit, am a fraud. I write this as a memoir solely to myself that I might look back on my life, my thoughts and realizations and know who I was, who I wanted to be and who I ultimately became. If this, then, is an exercise of the mind of a man who is still but a work in progress, I do not like the result I see at this time in my life. I have become a venal, self-serving charlatan. The bottom line is what I use as a gauge of my worth as a person and, in so doing, I have sunk to the level of a Scrooge, a Midas, a McDuck rolling in the money kept hidden in underground vaults. I have become a miser and a thief, taking money from people who look to me for at least a shred of the truth that I profess to have divined.
The latter part is true; I have glimpsed some of the truth of the world, its spirit and how it blends with the spirit of mankind to form a vivid whole from which we have come and, as most of the holy books contend, to which we shall all return. The dance of the spirit that I stepped and shuffled in my quest for a vision of enlightenment did bear a fruit that I had not expected. The Word and words beyond had come to me, a light shone on my eyes in all the colors of the spectrum from deep red to even more intense purples than ever I had known before or ever will again from that day to this. I saw, I heard, I was in awe and transfixed by the beauty of what I later realized was only the result of four days of sleep deprivation and hunger brought on by an ill-advised fast; hallucinatory delusions, fantastic deliria, dreams brought to life in my head, my eyes, my ears; my mind run rampant with madness.
That is all done with now. I have parlayed all that into the business which I now run: the business of the faker, the charlatan, the con man and sneak thief of the souls of credulous fools. Here is the truth, I say with a sneer and an outstretched hand; pay me and it is yours. And they do, so easily led, they do.
And after all these years of work and riches, I feel my conscience coming to the fore. Stop this, I tell myself. Go away, become for your followers the guru that they think that you truly are. Hide out in the mountains, in a cave, in the desert, in a small town where no one has a clue to who you really are. Repent as if you were about to be baptized a Christian – another fool’s folly of half-truths and ceremonial mummery – and live the life of a simple honest man. Give up all of the laudatory moans and shouts of your devotees and followers, all that you have gathered together like a pool filled with the undeserved manna of the hearts, minds and souls of those who call you Master and Guruji and Wind Voice and the shanti filled wise man of the millennium. Know who you are, Wind Voice. And be that man. Just be Jeremiah Buttison, the guy who used to be just Jerry to your friends and neighbors, Mister Buttison to those you had only just met. Just a guy; that’s all.
Be him, be Jerry, be a friend, a neighbor, a guy that folks like and are proud to know. You don’t need all this frippery that goes with unearned wealth and praise. All you need is just to be who you really are. And you know who that is.
So, just BE.
Many years later, in a small town on the North Shore of Long Island an old man lays supine on his bed in the last throes of a terminal illness. Today, he knows, is the day that he will die. He is ready for it, wills it to come and take him away to where the multitude of colors of the souls of the world come together to blend into the brilliant whiteness of the One.
“You listen, Wind Voice,” says the familiar voice in his ear. “But you refuse to hear.”
“The name is Jerry,” he says aloud to the room for there is no other person there for him to speak to; he is alone in this room. “There is no Wind Voice here.”
“As you say,” the voice concedes. “Still, though, you seek something that is beyond your power to join.”
“You speak in muddy terms, Voice,” says Jerry. “And why is it that this madness comes to me anew at this time in my life when all is about to be done with?”
“Because I am your death, Jerry. I have always been with you. I am now here to quash those misunderstandings that you had formed so long ago when you danced to what you assumed was the rhythm of your spirit.”
“Misunderstandings? What is it that I had misunderstood?”
“That not all colors of the spectrum blend into the bright white of the totality of the Great Spirit of this universe. Remember, the Earth remains and blue is the color that envelopes the mother of all life. Blue is the color that Mother Earth cleaves to her breast as her own and will never relinquish it to the spirit realms of the All.”
Jerry is taken aback by this bit of news, but is not bothered by it. What, after all, does the color blue have to do with him?
“If you would but look within, my friend,” says the Voice, having heard his thought. “You will see that you still have the old power of divining the color of an aura, those of others and yourself as well. Tell me, when you do see what I ask you to, what color shades around the periphery of your human body?”
Jerry closes his eyes and concentrates his attention inwardly, squints and focuses his mind’s view until he sees the silhouette of himself – bone thin with emaciation, dry as the husk of a dead insect – and sees the shadow made of several hues of blue surrounding him and anchored to the grounding supplied by its mother, the planet, the world, as if by an invulnerable umbilical chain of love.
“Ah, you see, Wind Voice,” Says the Voice in his ear, now faintly as his senses begin to null and fade. “You see and know that what I say is true. True.”
And the last words that Jerry Buttison, a.k.a. Wind Voice, hears before all fades to nothingness is a final saddening knowledge of his spirit before his only true life comes to its final, dissipating end: Such is the death of the soulless.