I’ve been wanting to incorporate healthier, more productive habits into my life for ages, but somehow, I just couldn’t take the leap. Take meditation. Who has time for it? How do you know when to stop? How do you keep heavily distorted ’80s sitcom themes with the lyrics replaced by a demon chorus singing blasphemous sexual threats from overpowering the terrifying maw of emptiness that opens when you try to clear your mind? Then I realized, as the kids say, there’s an app for that. Do kids still say that? What about “jiggy”? Is that still a thing?
That’s why I turned to the spiritual wellness app Rakshasa. I’m pretty sure that’s a word I heard my old yoga teacher use before he mysteriously disappeared, so it sounded legit. It has a pretty standard interface and allows me to schedule reminders for all sorts of self care, including meditation. It almost immediately started taking over my life, and I couldn’t have been happier. I was more productive than I have ever been. Gentle bells and drums poured out of my phone’s speaker to remind me of various tasks so often that I didn’t even notice when they began imperceptibly speeding up.
It seemed as if the days themselves were getting faster. It became more difficult to completely clear my mind during meditation, because images would float to the surface too terrifying to describe. The days were getting shorter, and my meal portions were getting smaller. Still, I didn’t find myself any more tired, hungry, or anything less than serene. Serene as a pampered sacrificial goat, as the increasingly present voices in my head might phrase it. My calorie and step counts began registering negative values, as if I was disappearing while in plain sight. As if I was living on borrowed time.
Then, a new alert, only a handful of days away, showed up on the Rakshasa calendar. It had no title, simply the I Ching Hexagram 29: The Abyss. I wasn’t quite sure what this could mean, but I had a sinking feeling. When I tried meditation for recourse from my current predicament, my mind simply visualized a skull. One skull of many, tucked away in a mud wall in a humble forest hut.
I had no way of knowing this on my own, but somehow, I was acutely aware that this particular hut was deep in the forest of Dandaka. As described in the Ramayana, this forest holds the kingdom of Danda, the dominion of flesh-eating ghosts.
I knew that soon I would be joining them.