This is the end of the book. The end of the book is here at the beginning because the Universe loves you and doesn’t want to make you have to cheat by flipping to the back of the book. The beginning of the book will come right after the end. At least it always has, so far, so….Enjoy!
Gray and purple stone peeking out from beneath the snows of the high cast ring of craggy peaks, one at each of the cardinal points, higher than the rest. But the whole, forming a jagged protective wall, a stone circle of both physical and energetic protection around a mystical valley. Cloud shrouded, hidden, impenetrable, accessible only to those who know, only to those who have been given the secret knowledge and who are led directly there. From the outside all the casual traveler sees are craggy peaks, jagged peaks, formidable and impenetrable peaks. A nearly impossible climb, with no visible reward to make the gargantuan effort worthwhile. There are easier passages for the unambitious traveler, and higher more glorious peaks to conquer for those interested in that sort of thing.
From whichever direction the uninspired and uninvited traveler approaches, there are easy passes to the left and right, if one is merely looking to pass through. There are more hoary challenging glorious peaks in easy view, if one is looking for conquest.
But for those invited, for those who are called, for those compelled, then from whichever direction the traveler approaches, a single, short challenging passage appears. Not easy by any means, but not quite impossible either. Requiring faith to even start, requiring determination and endurance to continue, requiring will to overcome the obstacles, and requiring discrimination and a fine perception to follow the nearly invisible track. Initially, when the challenges and obstacles of the first passage have been finally negotiated there is no readily apparent way to proceed. Some turn back, others look more carefully and patiently at the terrain around them, and then seemingly by magic, a new way forward appears.
Perhaps a rock falls, or the wind blows the limbs of the tiny scrub tree aside. Perhaps a mouse or rabbit appears, or a bird flying by distracts the eye, and when it alights again on the featureless rock before it, a foothold is there. Or perhaps one simply catches their breath after the climb and that new stillness reveals to the eye a new way forward.
The process repeats. A difficult path requiring will and determination to negotiate, leading to a seemingly unconquerable obstacle, until with patience and perspective, a new previously Unseen Way emerges. Leading the traveler forward, up the mountain. Passage after passage, lesson after lesson as one rises steadily upwards, staggering along the way and cutting a stout staff, the air grows colder and so you learn to warm yourself from the fire within. The tiny hidden spring reveals itself just when one is thirsty, and upward you go.
Until one day there is a blank stone wall at the base of a sheer cliff. Everything you have worked so hard to learn is brought to bear, all the tricks are tried, all the solutions applied….and still, nothing. You sit. You wait. the eagle flies by and does not reveal the way, the mouse comes to visit, this time revealing nothing. The clouds part and far below you see the smoke from a chimney and you can fell the fire calling you down the mountain. A tiny light in a tiny window of a toy hut so far below beckons you to share the warmth and laughter within. Still no new Way appears, and one hunkers down in wet furs to wait for the light of the sun, hoping for illumination.
But even in the full light of day all you see is the same blank rock before you. Ah! Perhaps blankness then is the answer, Sitting before the wall fighting hard not to allow the mind to peak, for hours, mind blank, and finally all the fight is gone, Blankness is achieved, and with it peace. And with the peace, with all struggle gone, the spirit begins to wander, and in the unattached wandering of the spirit, so unlike the wandering of the mind, the journey is relived. The entire journey of this life, from the first memories of childhood on, one sees that everything, every moment has been a lesson, just as the journey up the mountain is, a learning, a growing, a preparation. Not isolated, none of it isolated, all tied together, a sequence, a lesson plan. All leading up to this moment. All this failures and disappointments part of the plane it seems, in fact these seem to have been your greatest teachers, looking back from here, high high up on the mountain. Every disappointment leading to a new part of the path, every failure turning eventually into the most important and shining realizations.
Finally it is realized that there is no failure. That there are no wrongs that have been done to you or wrongs that you have done. It meshes together into a form of brilliance, a diamond path leading through the landscape, through the circumstance, through the phenomenon. Every cursed pitfall and tear inducing obstacle placed exactly so, coming exactly then, every perceived slap in the face turning the head on its axis exactly enough to reveal the next route of shining jewels that finally led you….here.
And so, this is not a failure either. This is as all the rest. For there is no there to go to, no end to the journey, no final destination on the journey. As all the sages told you, it is the journey that matters, because it is the journey that brings you piece. It is the striving that lets you rest, it is the searching that teaches you that you are always in the perfect place, it is the waiting that teaches you how to wait, and it is learning to wait that teaches you that there is nothing to wait for.
The stories all said so, the Wise Men all told you so…..just as they told you that telling you so could not make you see it as so, that you had to find this truth for yourself. You once again feel your breath. You feel the breeze on your face and you feel the muscles of your face start to form a smile. Eyes slowly open and each branch of the scrub tree before you is a perfect map of each branch of the truth of your journey. The birds call is the song of your journey. The earth and sky the canvass upon which your journey is painted, no more and no less.
Smile and stretch, gather up your furs and bags and staff for the long journey down…but now you can see the diamond path up which you rose, so earnestly…and a laugh rises in your throat unbidden as you turn and see that the path leads straight into and straight under the blank rock wall….and with a shrug, you follow it and there is no longer blank rock wall, but a dark and eerie passage before you. Another one. You do not see the end, but then you never do. You do see the feathery apprehensions that are always there at the beginning of the passage, but now they hang like sleeping bats from the dark ceiling. The hounds of fear that are usually snarling and barking at you from the darkens of the passage to the unknown now lay curled up snoring, and the far distant black nothingness that lies before you is no longer a screen upon which the animated movies of your imagination once ran in an endless loop.
Now you see only the diamond path of Dharma, and as you see it it begins to glow, lighting your way forward into the deepest of darknesses. You follow, striding in one step two steps three and crash your head into the stone. But when the stars clear you see that it is only the passage turning, and as you turn with it you see sky. Bluer sky. It draws you forward and you see more purple rock, but this rock glows with inner light. You come to the opening and are blinded not by light, but by radiant life.
The diamond path now leads down a narrow ledge, wrapping around the inside of the perfect bowl of purple rock, leading down, down. As you look out over the vista, it seems obscured as if by a fine mist or fog. And only when you have taken a few steps down the ledge and your eyes have adjusted, can you see it’s not water vapor that is obscuring your view, but light vapor. A cloud of light resides at the center of the bowl, far beneath you. As you walk carefully down the path, being cautious, holding on to the wall, not so much because of the great height, but because your senses are stunned, you are outside of any reality that you have consciously known before. Your hand n the wall feels the pulsing warm purpleness of the rock, unlike the rock you have known before. The path beneath you seems to shape itself to your feet, unlike any path you have known before. As your senses adjust, you look down and see the scree beneath the bowl, and the scree shines with a billion bits of mica.
You travel onward down the path, in no hurry. A sense of eagerness mixed with a sense of peace mixed with a sense of awe mixed with that same edge of the unknown, the path leads down to the scree and at the place where the path meets the scree field you suddenly are forced to sit, instinctively adopting your meditation position.. It is too much, too many feelings, too many bright sights, too much sound though you can’t even identify the sound. All the senses overwhelmed with the valley stretched out below you, a perfection previously impossible. You sit and cry and wait for yourself to catch up to you.
Below you, the glinting scree gradually turns to loam, the loam to wild tundra, the tundra to tall waving grasses. The swollen heads of wheat and barley and rye wave in the gentle breezes.
scree giving way to treeless loam and tundra, tundra giving way to green, green grass. The hills are alive in a way no longer possible in the outside world.
The bacteria in the fertile soil is the most hearty, the best bacteria. The small bugs that feed on it are the best bugs. The larger bugs that feed on them are the pinnacle of bugs. The holiest bugs, the most sacred bugs that are then in turn eaten by the sacred birds. The green, green grass going down, down the slopes, slopes curved in the most pleasing and beautiful shapes imaginable, down to the high grass, the fields and fields of uncultivated grains, the grains turning sacred sunlight and holy water into the pure food. Pure food fed by the water of the pure peaks streaming down in tiny rivulets combining into burbling streams, combining into running rivulets, combining into rushing cascades and cataracts, all feeding down, down, into the bowl, till they collect in the placid reflecting unknowable depths of The Central Lake. Grass covered yurts, naturally disguised caves, sod roofed long-houses, dot the shores and upper slopes, peopled by those waiting just one more lifetime to make the pilgrimage to the jewel encrusted island at the center of it all, it’s ruby, sapphire, diamond, citrine studded shores rising from the glacial waters of the sacred lake in a gentle slope. No striving uphill here, no obstacles, no ravines to traverse, no crevasses into which to fall. The serene and gentle slope covered all that is considered wealth by the world, yet here it is no more than pretty colored gravel, giving way to the greenest of grasses.