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Original Short Story: "Eyes That Zap"

Updated on January 23, 2019
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Short literary fiction is one of my areas of writing interests, so I dabble in composing short stories and flash fiction from time to time.

Spiritual Eye


Fiction vs Fact

The characters in "Eyes That Zap" are fictional & do not depict any person living or dead. However, the information about George Harrison and his Guru,

Paramahansa Yogananda, is the factual,

God's honest truth!

Significant Issues

The professor handed back the first batch of essays to her honors section of world literature and told the students to read the comments carefully, and if they had any questions they could ask them next class meeting. Then she said, "Have a nice weekend. See you Monday."

Stuffing her books into her book bag, then erasing the blackboard, she didn't notice that one student remained behind. He had a question that couldn't wait until Monday.

"Professor Holland, I spent a lot of time on this paper, and all you say is, 'informative, certainly a significant issue'." He stood with his paper in his hand, looking at her with a pleading expression that made her feel stupid.

"Oh, well, gee, you got an A+ on the paper. You had no major errors. Your thesis was clear and support superb. I think the A+ said all that. What more do you want?"

"Well, I'd like to know your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree with my conclusions? I think the class discussion just barely scratched the surface, and my essay delved a littler deeper, and I'd really like to get your reaction to what I have said. I know the paper is well written. I want to discuss the issues further, and you are the only professor I've studied under at this university who has shown any knowledge of Eastern philosophy. I know you know a lot more about this than I do, and I'd really like to hear what you think about it."

The Emptiness of a One-Sided Course

"Mr. Whitman, this course does center on and emphasize Western culture and literature, and my little tirade the other day about Eastern literature was probably way out of line. Afterwards, I just felt lucky that no one really cared. At least, most students in this course don't really care that the course is rather one-sided. But that's not really my problem, and I think I made that clear."

Professor Holland knew that she was off the topic, but felt uncomfortable discussing this issue. She didn't even like teaching this course. She was hired to teach freshman composition, not world literature, and certainly not an honors section of world literature. She felt that she could be only minimally effective teaching that course for the simple complex reason that at this university, even in the open-minded 1990s, world literature still meant Western civilization's literature.

And the Ignorance of Those Who Teach Them

Judith Holland knew one teacher who assigned the Bhagavad Gita for his section of this course, and she knew that the professor knew absolutely nothing about that work. She had heard him claim that it was the Indian version of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and on another occasion, she had heard him say that it was a Buddhist treatise. She knew that Eastern sources would be a useful addition to this course, but that wasn't her decision to make.

She had the master syllabus, and she was required to teach works that spanned the time period from the Old Testament to feminist and Marxist criticism. The course was a schizophrenic hodgepodge, but that wasn't her problem. She just planned to do her best and not worry about it.

George Harrison's "Dear One": Tribute to His Guru

Dear One near me - truth assessed
Reborn worldwise - mind at rest
True heart sow you - God has blessed
Your soul whispers - love confessed

My spirit sings to you now
Creation stands at your feet
My feelings call to you now
Dear One I love you

You hear my spirit sing to you
You see creation at your feet
You feel my feelings calling you
You know Dear One I love you

Dear One show me - simple Grace
Move me toward Thee - with each pace

My spirit sings to you now
Creation stands at your feet
My feelings call to you now
Dear One I love you

You hear my spirit sing to you
You see creation at your feet
You feel my feelings calling you
You know Dear One I love you

"Dear One": George Harrison's tribute to Paramahansa Yogananda

A Challenge

But now here she was faced with this student who wanted her true thoughts on philosophical matters regarding her deepest love of life, that of Eastern philosophical and religious tenets. As a poet and essayist, she was guided by her belief system that was informed by original Christianity and original yoga, which is related to Hinduism.

In her teaching capacity as a contract assistant professor in the writing program, she had to navigate the churning waters of academia as she tried to teach undergraduates how to place commas correctly and write essays that were coherent and well supported with evidence.

"Mr. Whitman, would you please give me back your paper, and I will reread it and write some extensive commentary on it and get it back to you on Monday. Would that be all right?"

"That would be great." He beamed. "Professor Holland, I really appreciate it. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be so pushy, but this means a lot to me. Thanks again."

She just wasn't used to this. Of course, she had never taught honors sections before, but so far, these students seemed no different from her regular freshmen composition students, perhaps a little more intense about grades, but certainly not more intellectual and definitely not more interested in broadening their cultural and literary horizons. Not until this. She hardly knew what to make of it. She stuffed the essay back into her book bag, bolted from campus, and forgot about it.

Sunday morning while Martin, her husband, bicycled over to campus to prepare for a lab class on Monday, she took out her world lit folder and began to prepare for Monday's discussion. There it was, Dean Whitman's essay. The one she promised to reread and write an extensive commentary on.

"Oh, God. I'd forgotten all about this. Oh, well, I promised." As she reread, she realized she had to shift gears. The fact that this student really wanted her to read that essay made such a difference in her attitude toward it. And after she finished it, she realized that something very important had happened.

This student really did have a grasp on these concepts. He was genuinely interested in these philosophical tenets. He elaborated honest opinions, not just reconstructions of what she had said; these were some serious ideas genuinely expressed by a mind that grappled with the same problems she had grappled with all of her life.

The final paragraph lit in her mind a flame that burned much brighter this time:

For example, what good is it to suffer and learn if death is the final victor. If the unchallenged mind dies the same death as the valiantly challenged, why strive? If sense pleasure is the ultimate goal, why control sense pleasure? All of our conventions claim otherwise. Yet all authority would keep us bound by the fear of death, lest we grow beyond and proclaim our own self capable of our own perfection, and deserving of its own control. If heroes such as Moses and King David have left a trail of blood instead of light, it is not because of what they did as much as what modern day tyrants would claim they did.

She took out a blank sheet of paper and started to write comments and then realized that her comments could not be complete if she wrote a book. She thought, "I'll just have make an appointment and talk to him about this. It would take me all day just to begin to write something coherent. Where would I begin?"

At the end of class on Monday, Mr. Whitman remained seated until all the other students had gone. Then he approached Professor Holland, who reached into her book bag and brought out the paper. Handing it to him, she said, "I know I promised to write a commentary on this, but I found that I have too much to say. Can you come to my office tomorrow at noon? That way we can go over it point by point."

"Sure, I'll be there. But can you give me hint, you know, at least something to think about?"

"OK. Mr. Whitman, what if the soul lives many times, for many lifetimes, and never dies? What practical application does that have for, say, our mundane affairs? These classes we have. The ones you take. The ones I teach. The fact that you are a student, I am a professor. The fact that we have met in the first place. Your paper opens up all of that. Go see if you can figure out how. And tell me about it tomorrow. OK?"

"Sounds great, Professor!" He smiled, grabbed his paper, and glided out of the room.

George Harrison - The Yogi Beatle


Meeting at Noon

As she expected, Dean Whitman appeared right on time, eager to discuss issues in which Judith Holland had never thought a student at this university would ever take an interest. But Mr. Whitman wasted no time: he blurted out his question immediately: "So, what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is it worth doing what we do?"

"Mr. Whitman, those questions are at the very heart of why we are here!" Judith responded. "We are here for only one purpose: to find our way back to God!'

"God?" a shocked Dean Whitman blurted out. "Are you even allowed to say that on a state university campus?"

"Maybe not! I suppose it depends on who hears it," said Judith. "You gonna turn me in?" She was only half kidding. To lose her job over mouthing the name of God, however, would neither surprise her nor especially upset her.

Judith had been growing somewhat sick and tired of this teaching gig and could easily identify with the teacher in D. H. Lawrence's poem, "Last Lesson of the Afternoon":

How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart
My pack of unruly hounds: I cannot start
Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,
I can haul them and urge them no more.
No more can I endure to bear the brunt
Of the books that lie out on the desks: a full three score
Of several insults of blotted pages and scrawl
Of slovenly work that they have offered me.
I am sick, and tired more than any thrall
Upon the woodstacks working weariedly.

"Well, I don't want you to get fired! I want answers to my questions!" said Dean.

"And why do you think I have answers to such profound question?" asked Judith.

"Because when you were talking about Eastern philosophy, you said that the questions of why human beings exist and the meaning of life are the main issues that that philosophy was designed to answer. I know you didn't give the answers but it seemed to me that you were saying that they have been answered. All I get from my philosophy professors here is that life is mystery that no one has ever figured out. They insist that evolution is a science fact but they never really explain how evolution answers the question of how life began."

"Yes, that's true! The study of evolution is just a study of a theory based on the observation of changes in the physical encasements of living things. That is such a huge subject that it takes up all the time and oxygen in the room leaving no time to focus on the real question of origins. So the so-called science may hint at how life forms change but it never states how it began. It seems to me that the so-called scientists who pontificate about evolution seem satisfied by all their data on how life changes, but they gleefully slide over the fact that they have not even begun to approach the issue of the origins of life," explained Judith.

"Okay, so I asked Professor Dobbins, my bio-chem prof, about this after he had lectured on Darwin's theory of evolution. I asked him, does Darwin ever explain the actual origins of life? And the prof goes, 'Darwin's contribution to Western thought places him on the very top rung of thinking in this area. His explanation of the evolutionary spectrum is so often denigrated by the religious mob that to keep teaching this theory is to keep it separate from any religion. Only religion attempts to deal with origins'," said Dean.

"So I asked him, why is his book called, On the Origin of Species? Isn't that misleading? And he said, 'To the immature and simple-minded it may be misleading because the entire title is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life'," said Dean.

"Right! Call your student who wants to understand more completely 'immature and simple-minded'!" said Judith.

"Well, yeah, but I'm used to that. He calls us all stupid and thinks we are still at the lowest level of Darwin's hierarchy," said Dean and then he continued. "But I thought and didn't say this because I knew what he was going to say next. So here's the thing. Evolution is supposed to be the real science that answers the questions about the origins of life and how it evolves. And then there is Creationism, or Intelligent Design, and that's supposed to be the religious version of evolution, which of course makes it the fairy-tale, false version that universities claim should not be taught. I don't get it. Are they comparable or not?"

"Professor Dobbins actually answered your question when he said 'Only religion attempts to deal with origins'. That's true because scientists have no idea how or especially why life began. So they will simply re-direct your thinking into the details of evolutionary change while distracting your attention from those pesky thought about origins and the purpose of life. You see, the thing is, it's one thing to tell you that only religion attempts to deal with origins but it is another completely different and unconscionable thing to insist that looking at religion for answers is for the immature, the stupid, and the superstitious. Why can they not look at both? Compare them? Instead of eliminating God completely from the university setting. Think back to what you said at the beginning of this conversation when I dared to utter the word God! You asked me if I was allowed to say that word on a state university campus," explained Judith.

"Okay, okay, my mind is getting a little fogged and I don't want to lose my train of thought. I am a senior, I will graduate in May with a BS double major in Organic Chemistry and Ancient Philosophical Sciences. And I guess I have learned what the profs in my courses wanted me to learn because I have a GPA of 3.9. But dammit, I don't know why I am here. After I have had my ego stroked with all the accolades of good grades, excellent projects, significant papers I have turned in, I am leaving this campus not knowing why the hell I am here. Why have I been doing all of this? If you have a clue, please at least point me in some direction where I can find answers to those questions!" Dean had grown so intense that Judith was feeling a frightened for his mental health. But then she knew what she had to do, and she plunged right in.

"Mr. Whitman, first, let me say how much I admire the depth of your concern. So many young people continue to be satisfied with all that ego stroking. I was satisfied by that until I hit the glorious old age of 32, then through a series of events that I don't need to bother you with, I started to wonder about those same questions and they would not let me be. But it was my misery that kept me questioning. And misery often acts like a cattle prod to make you do something to eliminate that misery," said Judith.

"Wow, 32! I'm only 21, and I can't say that I'm miserable, but my mind just won't let me be from wondering about why I am bothering to do what I do when I will die and then what?"

"Mr. Whitman, see that poster there on my wall?" Judith pointed to large framed portrait of the great spiritual leader and yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda. It was actually an enlarged picture of the great guru's book Autobiography of a Yogi.

"Oh, no, I had not noticed that! What is it? Who is that woman . . . or . . . is it a man?"

"Well, interestingly, he would say 'neither'—but in fact he is a man, and he came to this country in 1920, founded an organization called Self-Realization Fellowship. He gave lectures across the country and gained a steadfast following," explained Judith.

"Did he write books?" asked Dean.

"Yes, he wrote many books, and they are available from Self-Realization Fellowship as well as on Amazon and in most any good bookstore," said Judtih, who continued, "I found peace of mind, deliverance from my misery by studying the teachings of this enlightened spiritual leader. I first read his Autobiography, then I enrolled in the Lessons offered by his organization. Those Lessons answer all of your questions, Mr. Whitman."

"They do!" exclaimed Dean.

"It may sound too simple but there it is; the answers to all of those questions are, indeed, given by Paramahansa Yogananda. His lessons offer exercises and other techniques to prepare the physical body to sit for meditation; it is through a certain type of meditation that the soul contacts its Creator. I guess the main part that convinced me this was no mere money-making scheme was that for one, SRF does not charge for the Lessons, only a small fee for postage, and also and this is the most important thing: I am the one responsible for my own advancement and success. Merely believing on a divine personage will not lead you to your goal, only your own effort can do that," said Judith.

"So this guru can tell me how life began and why I am here?" asked Dean.

"Well, on the first issue the great gurus tell us to leave some questions for God to answer, but on the second they tell us that the only reason we are here is to get in touch with our own souls because the soul is the spark of Divinity that is immortal and eternal. The term 'self-realization' means soul-realization. The true self is the soul. The false self is the ego which hides the soul."

"Well, I have to read that book as soon as possible," said Dean, who then watched as Judith reached into her book bag and brought out a fresh, clean copy of Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi.

She then hands him the copy and says, "Here you go! Get reading! And if you have any questions I'm available for further consultation, but this book and the other teachings of this soul-realized guru are all you need."

"Let me pay you for this copy," said Dean, reaching for his wallet.

"Oh, no! I can't take pay for that book," said Judith, continuing, "You know, George Harrison used to keep stacks of copies of this book to hand out to people he met who he thought might be open to these teachings."

"Wow, a Beatle was into this?" replied Dean.

"Yes, and many other folks you'll learn about on your journey to self-realization. Now go, read, and be sure to let me know what you think after you've delved into it a bit, " said Judith.

"I will, Professor Holland. Thank you! Thank you so much! I already feel like a kid in a candy store. Can't wait to get started munching on this," Dean said.

Dean looked deeply into the eyes on the book cover, and as he stepped through the door, Judith heard him say, "Wow, those eyes! They kind of zap you! Wow!"

Autobiography of a Yogi

George Harrison:  " . . . I looked at the cover and Yogananda just zapped me with his eyes . . . "
George Harrison: " . . . I looked at the cover and Yogananda just zapped me with his eyes . . . " | Source

I looked at the cover and Yogananda just zapped me with his eyes, and that was it–it was all over!

“Then I read the book- and it gave me goose bumps.  With some things you read you think, ‘Well, I’m not sure about that.’  But with Autobiography of a Yogi I was totally convinced about every word in the book; somehow his pureness and his heart just flowed out of it."

— George Harrison

© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes


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