day. I should be celebrating life. But the conflicts wedged deep in my unconscious, though weakened, were not dead. I wanted to live a simple, calm life, instead of worrying about my public reputation. But I was a man ruled by anxiety.
Now I understand why the father of a colleague of mine, a seventy-year-old man, arrogant, aggressive, prejudiced, who had been kidnapped for six months, hadn’t changed at all after his long captivity. When he was released, everyone thought he would be a gentle, generous, altruistic individual, but after his rescue he was more unbearable than ever.
My love of power had always been hidden beneath the cloak of my intellect. It was not eradicated, even by the threat of suicide. I thought this business of selling dreams wouldn’teasily change a selfish man like me. It isn’t pain that changes us, but the intellect to use that pain. I realized that if I didn’t use that pain, I would continue being simply a hollow human being with a vast intellect but stunted emotions.
As I wrestled with these thoughts, I sensed the dreamseller at my side. He seemed to have entered the whirlwind of my ideas. I could see the concern on his face. He seemed to read my thoughts. In an effort to calm the turbulent waters of my emotions, he said:
“Don’t fear criticism from the outside. Fear your own thoughts, for only they can penetrate into your essence and destroy it.”
As I pondered his words, he continued:
“Someone can bruise your body without your permission, but he can never invade your mind unless you allow it. Don’t let yourself be invaded. We are what we are.” Then he challenged me more than I could have imagined: “The cost of selling dreams is high, but you’re under no obligation to pay. You’re always free to leave.”
The dreamseller had dragged me to a crossroads. I had the chance to turn my back and go anywhere in the world. But to quit now? Me? I had always been stubborn, fighting for what I wanted. I was wracked with doubt in a way I never had been before. I recalled a sociological study I had read about the relationship between Jesus and his disciples, and I began to understand psychological and social truths that I had never analyzed.
I began to think about the indescribable power of Jesus’ words and actions. They were enough to convince young Jews, in the flower of youth, wild for adventure, some even with established families and businesses, to abandon everything and follow him. What madness! They blindly followed a man with no known political power and no visible identity. He didn’t promise them money or riches or an earthly kingdom. What a risk they took! What internal turmoil they must have felt!
They lost everything, and in the end, lost the man who taught them to love, crucified on a wooden cross. He died humbly, loving as he breathed his last, forgiving as he perished. After his death, the group might have faded away, but they had been invaded by an indescribable force. They became stronger after that chaos. They spread His message throughout the world.
They gave their tears, their health, their lives—everything they had—to humanity. They loved strangers and devoted themselves to others. Countless societies across the world, from Europe to Africa to Asia to the Americas, were founded on these very principles, as well as the basis for basic human rights.
Centuries passed and that life became “normal.” Churches became excellent temples to conformity. These days, hundreds of millions of people across the world enter these temples to recall a sanitized version of Christmas, the Passion, and other milestones of Christ’s life without ever imagining what it’s like to sleep out in the open, to be branded a lunatic, and to feel society’s scorn. Over the millennia, they have lost the ability to imagine the intense pressure those young men endured to follow that enigmatic master, Jesus.
I imagined the lumpy straw beds they slept on under the open sky. I