An inexplicable presence turns people crazy when seen, leading to suicide and murder. With no one who has seen it surviving, no one lives to tell what it really is, be it some spirit being, alien or whatnot. While curiosity of the audience deepens with the mystery, it is never solved. What is it is somewhat arbitrary, perhaps as a story-telling device that forces us to look within. If the enemy outside cannot be seen, there is only one place to look at – inside, to check and guard our hearts and minds, to prevent our inner weaknesses from betraying us to outer threats.
The presence seems to ride upon one’s deepest hopes and fears, synonyms for attachment and aversion, that arise from delusion. Sounds like Mara? If we do not give in to the Three Poisons of our inner mara (of attachment, aversion and delusion) within, outer maras can do us no harm. More physically dangerous and spiritually deadly than any seeable enemy outside are these unseen enemies inside. As Walt Kelly put it through Pogo, ‘We have met the enemy and [s/]he is us.’ Not seeing this within clearly, there will only be more enemies perceived without.
In the mean time, the criminally insane are not driven to suicide by the presence. In fact, they think it is beautiful, and try to force others to see it, as they rejoice in chaos and destruction. Perhaps they represent those already overrun by the Three Poisons, so much so that their poisons spill over to ‘infect’ others. Even opening the door to one of them or taking a peek outdoors is risky. In contrast, in Amituofo’s (Amitabha Buddha) Pure Land, while able to safely see all beyond, there are no traces of evil discernible by the senses in it. This ensures no defiling evil influences exist there.
Equally terrifying to the unseen are seen humans, who consider shutting survivors out or abandoning them. Once humanity is abandoned, we are no longer humans, but monsters. Every disaster is a test of humanity. The sanctuary of salvation turned out to be a school of the blind, run by those who cannot see with their eyes, who nevertheless see with their hearts, offering their guiding voices by radio to help. As the fox told ‘The Little Prince’, ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
Birds were kept and carried in a box as an early warning system, who would chirp loudly when the presence nears. The school was itself encased in a giant aviary cage that housed many birds. Ironically, their chirping guided survivors to it when the presence also nears, trying to thwart the last stretch of the survivors’ perilous trek to safety. Yet, as long as we do not purge ourselves of the Three Poisons, we too are ‘birds’ in a box, able to fly to liberation yet trapped. The first step towards liberation of all then, must be liberation of ourselves from the Three Poisons.