The Still Wheel

Perfect meditation was quick and easy: the neural stimulation band could be built with a few hundred dollars' worth of parts, and ran by software you could download from a thousand shifting unbannable places.

At first, greedy and contemptuous, governments encouraged this spiritual disruption. It meant less competitors for power and wealth, and if there was one thing all the rich and powerful agreed on was the inconvenience of competition from those who might yet be. But the growing Enlightened masses weren't fertile soil for taxes, nor good customers, nor willing to wage war by robot or gun.

That would not do.

The last truly influential Open Source bodhisattva was executed in a Texas prison, neither afraid nor angry, and her confident calm, more than anything else, made most people gratefully accept and pay for the mandatory brain scans that soon became a regular part of work, school, and nursery. Proactively, there were ways to strengthen desire and fear — in whichever order worked best — in anybody regardless of the state of their soul, and where the age-old traditional tools weren't enough, specially designed AIs found terrible and wonderful innovative ways to do it, opening new frontiers for businessperson and politician alike.