Suddenly, I found myself in a mist, and through the mist I dimly made out what appeared to be a cave. As I moved closer, my perfected insight revealed exactly what it was – the den of the Great Dragon of Self.

Three of the dragon’s guards lie dead and decomposing at the entrance, obviously killed a long time ago. I recognized them; their names were “Doubt," “Belief in a Permanent Personality" and “Belief in Dogma and Rituals." They were large, hideous creatures covered with coarse hair; looking more animal than human, with grotesque and distorted faces and long, yellowed teeth hanging over their blistered lips.

Being the fearless warrior that I was, I carefully walked around the dead guards and headed directly for the den. This was truly my last chance . . . and this dragon had badly miscalculated this meditator. With my intuitive Insight, I detected movement inside the cave. Two more guards, one on each wall awaited me. They were wounded, but still moving, and when they attempted to raise their weapons, I drew my razor sharp, Great Sword of the meditator, honed from years of meditation and concentration, and swiftly cut off the head of “Anger," the first guard. Then I faced “Sense Desires," who was on the other wall. As the beast raised his crossbow, I threw my sword, end over end, striking the “animal" in the heart, killing him instantly.

I became stronger with each guard’s death, and could not wait to meet up with the Dragon of Self, my immortal enemy. I wound my way through a maze of confusing passageways and endless tunnels with dead-ends and puzzling forks that would have deceived any adversary. But my teachers’ instructions were flawless, and with the help of my Investigation, I saw through every one of the deceptions. Finally, I noticed a faint glow deep inside, and went straight for the dragon.

My blood ran cold when I saw it — a horrifying sight, standing thirty paces tall with huge green scales the size of shields, and nostrils spewing scorching fingers of fire that licked the walls of its den. As soon as it saw me, it began anchoring its huge claws into the solid rock floor, and whipping its spiked tail back and forth like an agitated cat. The great meditator finally faced the horrible Dragon of Self.

The dragon was surrounded by its remaining treacherous gang of five guards; “Craving for Existence in the World of Form," “Craving for Existence in the World of Non-Form," “Spiritual Pride," “Spiritual Restlessness," and “Egoism."

My great Insight developed during years with my teachers assessed the situation quickly, and in a split second, developed a plan to defeat them all. The battle hardened guards that had dominated me for uncountable ages laughed at me, confident that this would go the same way as so many other fights did with this warrior-meditator, but when in a blinding-fast move, I cut “Spiritual Pride" in half, the four other surprised guards instinctively moved closer to their dragon for protection.

I stood my ground and watched carefully, waiting for one of them to move; I had developed all the patience in the world. I did not have to wait long. “Craving for Existence in the World of Form" and “Craving for Existence in the World of Non-Form" began circling behind me in opposite directions, and I reacted by attacking “Spiritual Restlessness" and “Egoism" head-on. The dragon’s nostrils flared, its searing flames destroying everything in their path and coming right for me, but I was too fast. The flames missed and engulfed “Craving for Existence in the World of Form" and “Craving for Existence in the World of Non-Form" who were circling behind me, and as the two monsters burned, scales began to fall off the dragon in sheets.

I wasted no time in engaging the two remaining guards as they cowered by their dragon. They were no match for this trained spiritual warrior that they now faced. The pain and suffering these guards had inflicted upon me now became painfully apparent and I showed them no mercy; I attacked with a supernatural vengeance. Surprisingly, there was no anger, only concentrated conviction.

The dragon engulfed the entire den with great, scorching flames, its claws ripping gigantic chunks of rock out of the floor and hurling them in every direction. I paid no attention to this display and fought the remaining two guards with a focus and intensity so powerful that they had no chance to react. I studied “Spiritual Restlessness" with my powerful Insight, finally understanding that there is nothing to know and nobody to know it, and as I swung my Great Sword and beheaded him, “Egoism," the last and most cunning warrior of the dragon’s guards, left the protection of his dragoon and calmly approached.

He could see that my strength increasing and his waning, and in a desperate, last ditch effort pleaded with me to spare his life.

“What harm could come of keeping a little ‘egoism’ for a meditator who had achieved everything else? It would be of good use to you," he bargained shrewdly.

But my Insight was far too developed for this clever ploy, and with one powerful thrust I drove my Great Sword deep into the heart of this monster, this putrid “Egoism," which had so confused me and kept me imprisoned.

And as I withdrew my sword, I turned and faced the Dragon of Self. No guards protected it now.

An agonizing scream echoed throughout the cave, and scales began falling like leaves with its flames turning to merely wisps of smoke as the Great Dragon of Self writhed and tossed from wall to wall in pain. And all the while I stood my ground and challenged it to come closer. But the dragon never did. The Dragon of Self was a fraud, a deception, and in the end there was only a smoldering heap of scales. And the dragon was gone.

The Dragon of Self was never real, never Reality, just an illusion created in my mind by its ten imaginary guards.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit www.AYearToEnlightenment.com