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2206 : Window Onto A New World Book I in The Threshold

Chapter XIII – Keys To Ascension

By

Christopher Stewart ★ Bookcast Edition – May 2012


Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Stewart

★ All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

★ Bookcast Edition - May 2012

★ This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Chapter XIII

Keys To Ascension

« And to the one who has not yet reached the other shore, the voyage is a curse. And though there is advancing, progress is difficult, as only advancing replaces advancing. And trust that everything is unfolding in perfection, exactly as it should be, is the hardest thing to summon. And to the one who has reached the other shore, the voyage is a blessing. And though there is still advancing, progress is natural, as magical landscape replaces magical landscape. And trust that everything is unfolding in perfection, exactly as it should be, is the only thing summoned. » – Excerpted from Letters from the Other Shore (Unknown Author, translated from the Kõrgi original)


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R

ahu Lüli could hardly believe it ! Progress ! At long last ! Deeply absorbed in his

musings, he painstakingly kept scaling the steep slope that led him ever higher up the mountain. Perhaps this wasn't going to be another of those discouraging days after all, like the ones which had been the norm ever since he had accepted the challenge of the Valgustatud. Many weeks later, and despite sincere efforts and assiduous attendance at each of the rituals, he still hadn't discovered much about the details of the task that had been appointed to him. Every day, the apprentice had waken up early, even earlier than most at the monastery, and, snow or shine, he had climbed the hill up to the entrance of the Tähtsaim, before hurrying down into the temple to find the manuscript exactly where it had been given to him, where he had entrusted it to Kasulik Sõber, and where he also left it, every day, after having attempted decipher its meaning, albeit in vain. Every day, the pupil had studied the ancestral Kõrgi tongue, confident that it would help him better understand the dialogues of the Enlightened that the Twins enacted during the Ühendamist, the Connecting ceremonies that had been held at irregular intervals following his first participation. Yet, it was obviously too soon, he was still very far from mastering the language, and thus his newly acquired knowledge was too limited to allow him to crack the enigmatic code of the Kaksikud. Arguably, the endeavours of the trainee hadn't all been futile. Admittedly, his interpretations of the Transcript were, at the very best, imaginative guesses that had merely enticed him down false tracks and directed him to dead-ends. Nevertheless, on the other hand, he had read the document so many times he could almost recite it by heart. And while he couldn't claim that his daily meditations had yielded any major revelations, nor even a minor breakthrough, at the very least, recently, they had contained recurring visions of an unknown woman dressed in light blue, manifestly an elder and a foreigner, considering her hair colour and pale skin. On that particular morning however, something had been different. Like every other morning, the novice had been one of the firsts up and active in the cloister. Like every other morning, he had departed the dormitory before the sun was up, while most of his peers were still sound asleep. In fact, apart for the ancients who rarely slept, staying in trance almost continuously, and the monastics who were on watch duty, he had once more been the only one awake, inasmuch as he could reckon at any rate. Possibly, Jonnakas Truu had been conscious too. The boy could never really tell in which state the immobile cenobite was in, except when they would exchange smiles as he passed by. Like every other morning, the teenager had walked just in front of the monk, who had been The Threshold

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installed in sitting posture for the night, at the door of the dorm. He had wondered what could ever be going on inside the mind of the poor silent man. Who knew what his life was truly like. He was paralysed from the neck down, mute, dependent on others for anything and everything, and derided by many who repeated to whoever listened that he had gone insane, or senile, or that he was plain and simply paying the price for his own arrogance. It had to be an indescribably trying experience, unless, hopefully, it had constrained the disabled religious into attaining an unprecedented degree of serenity, otherwise almost inaccessible. Like every other morning, Rahu LĂźli had exited the monastery and headed up the pathway which led to the cave in the mountainside, where he had reiterated his vow and swiftly descended towards the amphitheater hidden within the mass of rock. Entering the holy chamber, he had been surprised to discover that the manuscript was missing. The few sheets of paper were nowhere near his habitual seat, where he had originally received them from the Arbuja, and where he always left them. He had quickly looked around the vast room, and having seen nothing he had slowly climbed down the stairs, glancing here and there, anxious to find the precious writings on one of the lower rows. Then, his wandering eyes had been attracted to an unusual whitish spot on the dark floor of the arena, and as he had hastened over there, he had been relieved to recognize the Transcript, lying right in the center of the innermost circle. The student had pondered who could have put the document there ? He had always assumed that Kasulik SĂľber had been responsible for guarding it, picking it up after his visits, and replacing it on the stone bench prior to his arrival each dawn, or perhaps every evening before going to bed. Yet, to the best of his knowledge, there had been no one else but him inside the temple at the time, as it had been way too early for the first participants to show up, or even for the chanting to begin. Thus, he had supposed that his benevolent guide had deliberately changed the location of the manuscript in order to give him a clue, to suggest something important. And so, standing the middle of the stage, the pupil had reflexively peered around, musing on what his position could allow him to notice, until it had occurred to him that he had never examined the chimney. The design of the long tunnel in the conical ceiling could hardly be appreciated from the upper level after all. Gazing up, the apprentice had detected an odd detail. Something was decidedly wrong about the view, and it couldn't but have a meaning. Over the years, the pitch black walls of the cylindrical hole had obviously been darkened by the combustion fumes rising from the cauldrons of scented oil. Yet, the fact that there was no light at all coming from its high end seemed rather singular. The sun had already appeared above the horizon, and so the sky had been bright enough to be visible. And, as the smoke wasn't accumulating under the dome, there couldn't have been some unidentified obstacle blocking its passage. { Something doesn't add up } he ruminated, still feeling compelled to investigate as he advanced upwards. However, before the novice had been free to scale the hill up to heights he had never dared attempt to reach, there had been the Ăœhendamist to attend. It had revealed a new piece of the puzzle. The Threshold

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Kiire Õppija had been summoned by the Enlightened Ones too. The Soothsayer had invited her to her side and had announced her challenge, which the younger nun had accepted. The Väljavalitud robed in white had not explicitly mentioned it, still, the boy had been certain that the task was somehow directly linked to the completion of his own duty. He had not worked out the exact connection, but, hopefully, as the girl would learn more about what she had agreed to do, just like he too was in the process of understanding his quest, clarity would emerge. Indubitably, the friends now had a source of support they could readily relate to. If they weren't at liberty to discuss their respective missions openly, at least they were in similar circumstances, and they would be able to encourage each other when the lack of progress or the impression of alienation from the rest of the community would be too heavy to bear. Moreover, the teenagers quite liked one another's company, and this represented one very good pretext to be together. Still slowly ascending the slope, Rahu Lüli was seeking indications. At that altitude, the only artifacts were the wires via which solar panels supplied electrical power to the monastery, and the trail itself. Everything else was pure unadulterated nature, sun, sky, wind, snow, rock, and very few tufts of vegetation. He had heard that the generators were arrayed on some kind of small plateau, but looking ahead, he could see no hints of an area that could accommodate the boards of photovoltaic cells. If the accounts had been accurate, they should have been near. And by the estimates he could make of the situation of the holy chamber within the mountain, he had guessed that the opening of the chimney would also be found somewhere on that tableland. There were no signs of either, and that was bothering him. The more the trainee mulled over the matter, and the more he realized there were many very peculiar things about the amphitheater. For instance, try as he might, he couldn't figure out where the second door could lead to. Given its location within the underground architecture, it had to be a dead-end. The distance to potential exits required a corridor of a formidable length, that would have been cut from even deeper into the mass of stone. The possibility seemed highly unlikely, however, on the other hand, the possibility of the existence of the temple itself seemed highly unlikely. Also, when he would meditate therein, his visions were definitely more vivid and fascinating. The glimpses he would receive on the outside were somewhat bland in comparison. Even more intriguing were the unknown monastics who took part in the ceremonies. They clearly weren't from the cloister. Where could they come from ? Who could they be ? And the Kaksikud that had levitated ! For all he knew, each and every one of them could be magical manifestations. The Tähtsaim itself was a magical place after all. Come to think of it, even his venerable guide had that quality to him. The pupil had so many questions, still, he would rarely have the chance to be in the presence of his teacher in contexts that allowed interrogations to be fully explored. { How come I can never find Kasulik Sõber when I really need to speak to him ? And how come at other times he appears from out of nowhere and tells me just what I need to hear ? } he wondered in amazement. Peering up the pathway, the apprentice was being painfully reminded of his long trek to the building no other surpassed in terms of elevation. Back then, his deformity had also annoyed him, The Threshold

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just as it had done, for totally different reasons, before he had elected to depart his hometown and pursue the spiritual lifestyle. All things considered, the physical discomfort coming from his bad knee had been easily sufferable during the journey. But back when the barely educated poor child had still been living at home with his parents, his malformation had attracted him all sorts of psychological afflictions, and those had been the true hurts. Most kids had always been particularly cruel to him, and ultimately it had been their scorn that had tipped the balance in his decision to withdraw from the mundane world. And if being derided because he couldn't keep up with the others whenever they would play had persistently irritated him, being laughed at because of the ancestral beliefs his devout family had imparted to him, as he candidly defended them against the incessant refutations attempts of his companions, had been the last straw. Regularly doubting whether his faith was founded or not, and weary of being everybody's whipping boy, he had eventually resolved to leave everything behind and climb the Mäeahelikuga up to the Tähtsaim, the Foremost, which was how the monastery was known to the rest of Ovel. The young monk remembered his mother and father only granting him their blessing after he had fought hard to convince them that there was no better alternative for him. Torn between the love for their only son and the joy of having raised a prospective Väljavalitud, knowing his circumstances rendered him profoundly unhappy, they had reluctantly let their boy go, on his own, up the highest mountain range on the entire planet. Up there, there would be no one to make fun of him and of his creed, which he would also be in excellent position to verify, and thus he would finally be afforded some quietude. Or so he had supposed. But the actuality of it had proved to be only remotely related to the ideal. The ascension had been dreadfully exacting, and once the teenager had made it to the cloister, he had quickly found out that other novices would mock him from time to time, especially the more thoroughly schooled, born in richer households. Admittedly, the frequency of the deleterious remarks had been lower, yet the harmful words had been as damaging as they had been in his previous environment, and maybe even more so given who were uttering them. After all, those students were the privileged ones , whose kin had the means to pay to ensure they would receive the traditional training, who had already learned the ancient Kõrgi language prior to admission, and who outdid him on academic examinations. Was he condemned to always remain that barely educated poor child who had begged his way up and into the religious residence ? Even the Valgustatud offering him the opportunity to join the Chosen Ones had not stopped the disparaging comments. So much for the increased respect the pupil had hoped for. His existence had been more serene, in a sense, yet not devoid of frictions with the favoured among his peers. In fact, ever since accepting the challenge, he had felt somewhat estranged from the community, though not from Kiire Õppija. Because of his oath, he wasn't at liberty to discuss what preoccupied him most. Often, he even avoided engaging with people altogether, afraid of losing his voice, or worst. Thus, he had recently been reacquainted with the solitude which had been his best friend before becoming a cenobite. Back then, hiking away from his village to nearby secret hideouts to savour a moment of The Threshold

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peace had been his saving grace. Now, he could make good use of the permission to retreat into the underground amphitheater. In the calm of the holy chamber, he could muse on the signification of the precious writings, meditate, or simply rest and dream, enthralled by the majesty of the place, and pacified by the delightful perfume of the burning oil. Was his mind playing tricks on him, or was the apprentice perceiving that very same aroma, just as he had happened to recollect it ? Looking once again up above him, he could discern, only a few more tens of meters away, what could very well be the plateau he had been seeking. Encouraged by the view, he could pick up the pace, as if the necessary energy had suddenly become available, and with every step his nose and eyes further confirmed that his guess had been correct. The scent was getting stronger, dispelling all doubts about its possible illusory nature. He eventually recognized the top of a row of solar panels aligned on the strip of tableland. { Almost there ! } he exulted as he kept progressing. Hastening up the gap separating him from the flat ground, the boy gradually discovered the location and spotted what he had been searching for, though he had to concede it was very different from what he had imagined. It was an oddly shaped crevice, large enough for even a grown man to go down into, roughly three times longer than wide, situated not too far from the end of the trail and at some distance to the closest arrays of photovoltaic modules. Cautiously standing on its edge, he could inspect the bottom of the crack, seven or eight meters below or so he estimated. There was a metallic grate made of intertwined wires, similar to a braided fence, covering a smaller hole through which the hot, fragrant smoke was rising into the cold air. Obviously, the chimney wasn't completely blocked. Considering the configuration of the fissure, daylight should have effectively been visible from inside the Tähtsaim, or at least inasmuch as he could tell from his vantage point. Probably, there was something underneath that lattice, or maybe the narrow conduit wasn't all that straight, but he was definitely compelled to find out. { I can't just climb down though } he observed, { the walls are too steep and too irregular... and the chasm is too deep, it seems dangerous } he opined prudently. { I need a rope, and a tool to dislodge that piece of metal } he imagined, inspired by the unexpected obstacle. That meant returning to the monastery and scaling the footpath back up, yet now that he had a track, he could bear with it. Compared to the frustration usually following the thought that his efforts were vain, the trip would be a breeze. As his reflections faded out, Rahu Lüli became conscious of a familiar sentiment, an uplifting presence he was no stranger to. Raising his head, he let out a shriek of surprise as he noticed Kasulik Sõber approaching him, on his way from the electricity generators. What could he be doing there ? And how come he hadn't seen the elder in front of him as he had proceeded up the slope ? Hadn't he been among the firsts to exit the temple, ahead of the Gatekeeper ? He was not quite sure he recalled precisely, he hadn't been sufficiently attentive. The venerable guide had sat next to Kiire Õppija, not beside him. Still, certainly the monk hadn't walked so fast as to remain out of sight during the whole ascension, or had he ? Was there another road up that he didn't know about ? Could this be where the second door led to ? At last he would be able to ask ! The Threshold

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« Hello, young one ! » cheerfully greeted the learned religious, chuckling in response to the comical interjection. « Hello, honourable one ! » respectfully echoed the teenager, embarrassed at his childish reaction, yet unsuccessfully repressing a smile, « what are you doing here ? » he quickly inquired. « Making sure the panels are free of ice and snow » the Värav Hoidja stated in a friendly tone, vaguely indicating the boards behind him, « what are you doing here, young one ? » he immediately wondered. « I was just trying to – »

The novice wasn't ready for what he was experiencing. His throat had started to sting, as if it were about to dry up, when he had wanted to explain that he had been examining the opening of the shaft. Unconcerned at first, he soon fell prey to worry as the uncomfortable feeling worsened with each further attempts at phrasing his answer. And then, finally, it occurred to him that, possibly, he couldn't utter a sound because of his oath. « Ahem... sorry... I... ahem... » the pupil stammered, relieved to hear himself out loud, and yet unclear, not knowing what to say. The trainee reckoned that although he wasn't seeking to reveal anything specific, mentioning the chimney was apparently against the rule. However, something didn't add up. After all, the wise teacher evidently already knew about the conduit, and moreover, he could hardly be considered to be part of the so-called outside world. Or perhaps the limitation only allowed him to refer to the secret matters beyond the hall, inside the mountain ? Bewildered, he pondered whether interrogating his instructor regarding the existence of a passage connecting the second door to the plateau where they stood would have similar effects, and the same disconcerting sensations once more overtook him as he intended to speak. Likewise, wishing to voice his queries about the unknown monastics who had been attending the rituals, and about whoever could have placed the Transcript at the center of the arena earlier that morning, he had again been stopped by the disturbing impressions. He was settled. He was onto something. Nonetheless, dread swept over him as he imagined the restraint preventing him from ever obtaining the seemingly crucial informations. –

« Don't fight it » Kasulik Sõber advised, grinning knowingly, « don't feed the tension, but heed the restriction » he continued, as if aware of what his apprentice was going through, bending down and sitting at the edge of the crevice. « Why do we have to take that stupid vow anyway ? » Rahu Lüli exclaimed as he sat to the right of the ancient, venting some accumulated frustration, yet amused at the joyful expression of his interlocutor. « You don't want me to break mine, do you ? » hinted the elder, laughing softly, puzzling

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his student temporarily, « maybe you can figure that one out ? » he observed after a brief while. The young monk didn't quite know how to interpret the remark. Was his guide telling him they weren't free to discuss what was going on inside the temple, even in general terms ? Reflecting on the Ühendamist, he recognized the motivations for the arcane ceremonies. The Väljavalitud were foreseeing upcoming events, preparing for them, and at the same time influencing the future, hoping for particular outcomes. He realized that the mystery around the Tähtsaim was manifestly meant to protect the whole endeavour. If the roles of the initiates were essential in the materialization of their common vision, then just anybody could interfere, and inadvertently or deliberately, make the entire project collapse. Or could they ? Everyone at the cloister knew that the Enlightened were appointing tasks to some of the cenobites. If the objectives were divulged, could any malicious intruder sabotage them at will ? Could the slightest detail be sufficient to tip them off ? Certainly, if the process were so delicate, even the most benevolent religious could unwittingly ruin the efforts of the Chosen Ones, out of sheer ignorance. Nevertheless, the policy of concealment seemed totally justified. Yet, he felt that something was eluding his grasp. There had to be more to it than that. – –

– –

« Can I ask about what I know you have seen ? » inquired the teenager, still captive to the conundrum. « How can you know what I have seen ? » the Gatekeeper enigmatically replied following a short silence, smiling as he typically would, « my experience is not your experience » he noted as he stared at his pupil. « I can know where you are and what you're looking at » cautiously argued the perplexed trainee, after some hesitation. « Yet you can't see through my eyes » calmly stressed the venerable teacher.

The novice remained quiet as he carefully considered the statement, to which he didn't find anything to respond, until he recalled the wording of his oath. – – –

– – –

« But you already know » the boy submitted with more insistence. « Know what ? » Kasulik Sõber wondered, not making sense of the vague assertion. « Know – » Rahu Lüli attempted to clarify, hindered again by the disagreeable impression that his throat was drying up, « know what we can't talk about ! » he finally declared after some thought, patently annoyed. « How can you know what I know ? » the learned monastic offered in a lighthearted tone. « But you're not from the outside world ! » the apprentice went on, sighing in confusion. « Maybe I am » the elder commented, pausing to let the doubt work its way in, « what is the outside world ? » he then hinted solemnly.

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The younger monk had never really pondered the signification of the phrase. He had taken it literally, assuming it meant those who couldn't access the amphitheater. Clearly, the limitation even precluded communication with members of the community, so it couldn't refer to the boundaries of the monastery. Yet, taken figuratively, it could also encompass everything that was not him. And if the notion opened up a new way of perceiving the matter, it was also rather discouraging. Still, he was speculating. He had to know for sure. – – –

– –

« Can we go in the Tähtsaim ? » the student politely requested after a moment. « You want us to go inside the temple right now ? » reacted the surprised instructor. « Yes » promptly confirmed the teenager, « in there, we could talk freely » he hazarded, expecting either corroboration or contradiction, « you could answer my questions, and there would be no risk of us losing our voices » he then explained, noticing the puzzled expression of his interlocutor. « Oh ! » exclaimed the Värav Hoidja, raising his eyebrows as he nodded upwards, « but questions and answers might cloud your view as much as they might help you see » he pointed out right away, « I am not you, nor are you me... my answers might not be your answers » he remarked with a grin. « How then am I supposed to see ? » asked the pupil, exasperated. « Elevation » the ancient began, « no, no, not that kind » he added at once, chuckling as the trainee peered up and about as if seeking for clues, « the other kind » he suggested, stopping briefly to let the idea sink in, « the more I weigh myself down with concerns, the harder it is to rise above them » the guide cryptically proposed, « within the labyrinth, the way out is hard to see, yet above it, it is obvious... indeed, there are no more walls ! » he ultimately observed, laughing softly.

The novice mused that he had understood the advice of the venerable religious. Purportedly, his efforts would be more fruitful if he withdrew from the troubling issues instead of trying to reason them out. Still, he wasn't convinced he would attain such a higher perspective. Uncertainties were naggingly demanding his attention. It seemed more effective to interrogate his experienced teacher, who had to know a thing or two about what he was going through. Then, it occurred to the boy that the metaphor potentially implied something else. Possibly, in standing too close to the problem, he couldn't recognize that the solution was staring him in the face. What if Kasulik Sõber was the Suur Usujuht ? Or could Rahu Lüli himself be the Great Spiritual Leader he had promised to identify ? But the same dreadful sensations were again preventing him from inquiring. It once more appeared that his pledge was much too constraining to allow for any sort of progress. Manifestly, the first step in obtaining information was to establish what could be said, and where and when it could be said. And thus he reflexively reexamined the phrasing of the vow, hoping to escape its irritating bind thanks to some previously overlooked loophole. –

« Is discussing considered an attempt at revealing ? » the apprentice queried his tutor.

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« No ! » slowly replied the Gatekeeper, showing an unusual air of disapproval, reflecting that if the young monk had listened to him, he evidently had not heard him, « you focus too much on words » he noted in an admonishing manner, « trust – your – feelings » he exhorted with three rhythmical emphases as he calmed down. « My feelings ? » responded the student, « which feelings ? » he wondered, perplexed. « You know the feelings I'm talking about » the elder carried on, « those who ignore them end up unable to communicate » he declared unequivocally, « those like you who are wise enough to heed them end up knowing how to make the difference between what can be said and what can't be said » he asserted, smiling reassuringly.

Though the teenager had wanted a more definite answer, at last he was settled. The procedure offered by his instructor was not particularly enjoyable, however, at least, he could work with it. So, he would have to formulate questions, and determine if he could pose them based on the impressions they would evoke. Maybe the rule was less rigid than he had feared. Maybe it was meant as a general guideline, not to be interpreted literally. Still, what was the nature of this mysterious mechanism ? Who else but him could know what he was about to utter ? Could the Enlightened Ones be aware of what went on in his mind ? Could they intervene directly on his body ? Was this how they revealed the road ? Was there a road ? – – – – – – – –

« Is everything predecided, or do we have freewill ? » the preoccupied pupil asked. « I don't know » stated the grinning guide. « Are the Valgustatud in control of our lives ? » the curious trainee added, « or is there a supreme being who controls everything ? » he speculated pensively. « I don't know » the venerable religious repeated lightheartedly, visibly finding the notion very amusing. « What do you think ? » the boy finally insisted, somewhat offended by the attitude of the ancient. « What do I think ? » the Värav Hoidja consented after breathing deeply. « Yes » Rahu Lüli maintained, keen to discover the opinion of his teacher. « Ahem... I think it might very well be a combination of all of the above » chuckled the Gatekeeper, pausing to organize his ideas, « I trust there are higher orders of intelligence than ours » he first affirmed in a relaxed voice, « maybe it is similar to the relationship of a man with his hand » he submitted after more consideration, « well, maybe I should say with parts of his hand » Kasulik Sõber quickly corrected, « but where is the boundary... at which point is the hand not the parts, and the parts not the hand... and at which point is the man not the hand, and the hand not the man ? » he observed, sounding as if reciting a passage he had learned by heart, while the novice stared at his own hands, rotating them, and moving his fingers as if grasping and releasing imaginary objects, « perhaps the hand is free to do what it wants when the man doesn't need it » the knowledgeable monastic

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continued after a short silence, « well, as long as it doesn't bother the man » he remarked, smiling at the thought, « but when the man needs the hand, then maybe the hand has no choice but to obey the man » he mused, gazing at his own hands, « and as long as it obeys, the man doesn't mind it that much » the tutor noted, as if enthralled by his own discourse, « the man can know when the hand touches something, and sometimes he has no choice but to react to the touch, yet at other times the man remains inattentive to the touch » he commented solemnly, « is the touch in the man, in the hand, or in the object of touch ? » he said quizzically, « aren't all three needed for the touch to be ? » he ultimately stressed. Listening intently, the young monk didn't speak, reckoning that the analogy aptly depicted his circumstances, and yet at the same time, somehow it completely altered his perception of them. « The man might break a bone in his hand » the wise instructor carried on delivering his metaphor, « then he has little choice but be mindful of the hand, and make sure it heals » he proposed with a grave expression as he envisioned the situation, « but during this time the hand can't be of much use to the man » he then told his student, taking a moment to reflect, « the man might have an ugly wart on a finger, and elect to live with it for years and years, although he doesn't much like it, maybe hoping it'll vanish on its own, before suddenly deciding to burn it off » the guide resumed his monologue, again halting for an instant as he prepared for the next statement, « or the man might suddenly find that his fingernails are too long and prevent him from doing something, and having no better way to control their length, he might decide to cut them off, because he doesn't have the choice if he wants to use his hands » he ventured, once more appearing much preoccupied by the disturbing comparison, « or at times on the man's fingers there might be flaking skin from an old wound, or a burn, or just because it's old, and the man simply peels it off as there not much else he can do about it » he went on, amused, examining his hands to find some dead skin and seeing none, « or the man might suffer from an accidentally self inflicted finger cut » hinted the elder, « and then even though it is painful and bothers him, he can still use his hand, and the cut eventually heals on its own, without the man even having to be mindful of it » he pointed out admiratively, « or perhaps the man has a crooked finger, and he might actually prefer it, despite it being different from the rest, as it enables him to do things he couldn't do otherwise » he suggested considerately, with a fatherly grin, to the delight of his pupil. The images evoked by his teacher hadn't been all that agreeable. Nevertheless, the teenager could appreciate the renewed perspective they had brought to some of the so-called unavoidable facts of life, his own handicap, and his very own being. It wasn't the most optimistic explanation he could conceive of, yet it had the undeniable merit of matching his experience. « When the man feeds himself » the venerable religious continued, « he also nourishes his hand... good bone, broken bone, ugly wart, fingernails, new skin, dead skin, old wound, The Threshold

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burn, finger cut, crooked finger, straight finger, everything is nourished ! » he chuckled heartily, pausing to breathe and recollect his stream of thoughts, « the hands might not be skilled as those of a virtuoso musician, or strong as those of a blacksmith, but still the man is grateful that he can use his hands » he declared, stopping to gaze at his own hands after uttering the words, « and the man might put one of his fingers in his mouth » the smiling ancient mentioned before placing his left index into his mouth, and then, quickly inserting his wet finger into the left ear of his unsuspecting trainee, « and stick his finger in the ear of his friend to annoy him » he announced as the two of them burst into laughter, the boy gesturing to keep the bothersome extremity away from him. « That means the whole cosmos is alive » finally responded the novice once the calm had returned, « in constant evolution » he mused in awe as he looked at the surroundings, « in constant creation » he emphasized, staring at his hands, overwhelmed by the notion. « So it seems » concurred the knowledgeable tutor as he peered at the mountain peaks in the distance, stroking his goatee, « and it needs us as much as we need it » he observed serenely, humbled and empowered by the grand yet simple affirmation, « it thrives on our attention, as every creation » he concluded, glancing caringly at his interlocutor.

The young monk remained quiet, captive to his reflections. The scented smoke was still rising through the grate at the bottom of the crevice. Despite the height it had travelled, the perfume had not lost its distinctive quality. Transported by the entrancing fragrance, the student contemplated the immensity of the blue sky, the pure white clouds above and below the horizon, and the icy summits all around. { We're so small... and we're needed by something that's... infinite ! } he marvelled, uplifted by the mere possibility. – –

« How come – » « The intentions – of the small become the intention of the great » the master answered the question at the same time the apprentice had submitted it, slightly hesitating as their voices overlapped, « and the intention of the great become the intentions of the small » he carried on, completing the idea, « maybe the intentions of one are the inevitabilities of the other » he proposed pensively, « or maybe our whole destinies are merely the momentary whims of another mind, at a totally different scale, in a totally different time frame » the Värav Hoidja hazarded following a brief silence.

Rahu Lüli wasn't quite sure he had understood exactly the meaning of the last statement. His main interrogations had been addressed, so he didn't concern himself with it. Manifestly, he didn't have much choice but to move forward, bringing certainties and doubts along with him, to wherever he would have to go in order to solve the enigma and find the identity of the next Suur Usujuht. All things considered, his circumstances weren't that bad. Obviously, there were others who had much heavier burdens to bear, Jonnakas Truu for instance. Was the disabled monastic a broken bone, or a finger cut, or an old wound ? Hopefully, he wasn't just an ugly wart. { Maybe Jonnakas Truu too is a The Threshold

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crooked finger, like me } he reckoned in tranquil appreciation. – –

– – –

– – – –

– –

« Why doesn't he learn the liberation mantra ? » the teenager inquired, « Jonnakas Truu, I mean » he clarified, seeing his puzzled teacher. « Ahem... » began the Gatekeeper, nodding as he pondered the matter, « I don't know » he continued, unsettled, « some say he wants to test the limits of the rules, others say he has gone mad, that he has lost it » he remarked with a sorrowful expression. « But then, shouldn't he have regained his abilities ? » the attentive trainee noted, « if he has lost his mind, then he can't remember » he supposed confidently, « and so there's no point in preventing him from talking, or moving » he argued, perplexed. « I don't know » Kasulik Sõber once more replied after a few seconds, stroking his grey goatee again, seemingly saddened at the mere mention of the poor man. « Why would someone ever do such a thing ? » the novice exclaimed in disbelief. « I don't know » mischievously repeated the grinning guide, playfully teasing his pupil and effectively provoking the desired reaction, « I can't recall that much from back then » he admitted in a more serious tone after a short deliberation, his air of gravity returning as he tried to recollect the events, « I was only a kid at the time » he recounted nostalgically, « he was a young man, strong and tall, he was in charge of guarding the Suur Usujuht – » « You knew the previous Suur Usujuht ! » the boy promptly interrupted. « I barely remember her » confirmed the elder. « She was a woman ? » the apprentice eagerly wondered. « A very beautiful young woman, about his age » the venerable religious corroborated, smiling as he caught a fleeting, indistinct glimpse of the girl, « about your age » he added, glancing at his curious student, « she was gifted with uncanny powers » he emphasized, with regret, « Jonnakas Truu was attracted to her » the wise monk revealed, « like many were » he hinted, having been in the situation himself, « at the time, foreigners from the Federation were installing the solar panels, and they had their camp up here, over there » he explained as he pointed first to the arrays of photovoltaic modules at his side and then in the distance in front of him where the temporary living quarters had stood, « I didn't like them, most of them were bad men » the instructor observed with evident contempt, pausing for a while as more memories came to him, « she was exceptionally lovely, kind to everybody » he reminisced fondly, « but one day, she had seemingly vanished, never to be seen again » he concluded wistfully. « Vanished ? Wasn't Jonnakas Truu watching over her ? » Rahu Lüli immediately queried. « Nobody knows » answered the teacher, « the night before, monks had found him unable to talk and unable to move » he related, manifestly affected by the deplorable story, « and the next morning the workers were gone, and so was she » he declared, incredulous, and even slightly angered. « Maybe the workers kidnapped her » the teenager imagined, « maybe she's still alive »

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he ventured cheerfully, « maybe the ancients know something » he enthusiastically went on, as he had perhaps stumbled upon the solution to his quest. It then occurred to the novice that he had made some progress without being stopped by the upsetting feelings. He had more or less referred to his mission, at least the two cenobites had brushed the subject, and yet he hadn't posed any direct questions about it, nor had he attempted to disclose any details. The realization was perplexing, and at the same time appeasing. It was possible to obtain useful information after all, despite the restriction. – – – – –

« All the others who knew her are gone now » the tutor told his pupil, « there's only me and Jonnakas Truu » he solemnly announced. « What do you mean, gone ? » inquired the trainee, taken aback by the statement. « Most of them are dead » replied the guide, « others have left the monastery » he said to his disappointed interlocutor. « What about the ancients ? Those who are older than you ? » the boy insisted, not quite making sense of the response. « The remaining few who were old enough to remember were not living here back then » clarified the Gatekeeper, « they came from other communities, they only joined us later » he noted in a warm voice, aware that his student would have preferred a different tale. « Oh... I see » reacted the apprentice, discomfited.

Deterred by the discovery, Rahu Lüli looked down below and reflected on the beginning of the day. As he noticed the metallic lattice, he recalled what had inspired him to climb up where he sat, and consoled himself with the thought that his situation had finally improved. Investigating the chimney could wait, as he potentially had a substantial way forward. Some of the ancients could help him find the previous Great Spiritual Leader, although additional research would be needed to reach those who had known the gifted girl, wherever they could be now, if they were still alive. Obviously, that particular avenue could require a lot of work, unless he could unearth more hints from the past of his wise counsellor. His accounts would hopefully lead him to the monastics, or maybe even to the foreigners who had been present at the time of the unfortunate events, and with a little luck, what he would learn from them would allow him to locate the former Suur Usujuht. While success was far from guaranteed, it yet seemed like the more promising alternative. And then the disturbing doubt crossed his mind. Could he approach the matter without mentioning the duty he was committed to fulfil ? Wouldn't he be hindered by the consequences of his pledge as he would try to gather clues ? Perhaps he wouldn't be able to ask anything at all, whether to Kasulik Sõber or to one of his friends of yore. The prospect filled him with fear, which quickly turned into frustration. How could he keep his word ? Would there always be such obstacles on his path ? How long would he have to endure the stressful limitations ? He had known next to nothing of the challenge before accepting it, why hadn't he even wondered ? How naive of him !

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« Feed the dream, not the tension » suddenly advised the peaceful instructor, interrupting the young monk in his sorry musings, just as if he had been hearing them, « hold on to the vision, let go of the tension » he reiterated soon after, seeing the mystified expression of his pupil, « either let go of the tension, or let go of the aspiration... you can have one but not both » he suggested knowingly, smiling reassuringly as he took a pause to let the notion sink in, « achievement comes from investing into your vision, not from investing into whatever you think might be preventing you from achieving it » he concluded with conviction.

The teenager had never encountered such ideas. To some degree, they were similar to certain passages he had read in the Kirjast. And while he could understand them, at least partially, they also puzzled him greatly. Was his tutor actually telling him that what went on inside his head had a direct impact on the future ? Beyond his initial reservations, he could indeed interpret the far-fetched belief in continuity with what the Scriptures taught. If it were true, it meant that he would have to remain very careful, always vigilant of each and every one of even his faintest whims. The realization deeply troubled him. Could he accidentally preclude crucial developments merely by pondering them ? The more he considered the ramifications, and the less enviable his position appeared. Was there a way for him to be released from the binding circumstances ? Was it too late ? Did he still have a choice ? Could he simply decide to abandon the whole thing ? No, he couldn't let the community down, what would they think of him ? This was the opportunity they had been expecting forever ! Nonetheless, the load weighed too heavily on him. How could he get out of this plight ? Could he break his oath deliberately, repeat the liberation mantra, and get it over with ? « You don't get out of where you are by pining for where you are not » then pointed out the elder, again speaking as if he knew what the boy was going through, « although that may be an important first step » he commented with a mischievous grin, « don't worry » he carried on in a soothing voice, noticing that the novice was falling prey to despair, « it won't be that hard » the Gatekeeper ensured lightheartedly, « don't let reason trick you » he exhorted after a moment, « use it against itself to allow the unreasonable, or don't use it at all ! » chuckled the ancient, « you can think yourself straight into hopelessness, or you can choose to trust » he observed in a calmer manner, « that's the only difficulty » he ultimately declared in a solemn tone. The apprentice could recognize the wisdom of the counsels, still, putting them into practice was something else altogether. There were so many questions, so many doubts, how could he silence them all ? Establishing the identity of the future Spiritual Leader could very well take all of eternity ! Who knew what barriers he would have to overcome ? Who knew how many trials he would have to face ? Possibly, he would never even discover who it was ! What would happen then ? What would the other monastics do ? Would they welcome him regardless ?

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« You can only influence the things you know about » Kasulik Sõber proposed in a timely fashion, « the rest, you have no handle on... don't worry about it » he then stressed, taking a second to see how his trainee would react, « don't get ahead of yourself » he continued knowingly, « what you're uncertain of, you can stay uncertain of » the guide confidently suggested, « replacing an unknown by a certainty is often tempting » he noted, reflecting on how he himself did it occasionally, « but certainties can only come from the past » the tutor remarked, « you don't want your future to be a repetition of your past, do you ? » he asked the attentive teenager, « then leave a door open for something new to come about » he earnestly enjoined his student, « let your future show you what it wants you to learn » the Värav Hoidja insisted before pausing briefly, « haven't you learned something today ? Isn't that enough for one day ? » he lastly hinted, smiling and gently patting his pupil on the back. Rahu Lüli realized that his skillful instructor had once again successfully stilled his agitated mind. Furthermore, what the teacher had implied in his concluding statement seemed particularly to the point. It was enough for one day. Happy and optimistic, the boy stood up, grinning and bowing in respect and gratitude at the venerable master who also rose to his feet. The elder reciprocated, and the two of them headed back to the cloister.

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About the Series

A

t the turn of the century, Ovel must face the consequences of its accelerated growth. One

hundred and twenty seven federated countries and eleven sovereign nations, spread across the homeland and in colonies settled onboard orbiting stations and on a nearby planet. Fourteen billion inhabitants struggling to thrive under the rule of a corrupted Global Government, in power for over forty years. Fuelled by a recent scientific finding, the once in a lifetime discovery of a discontinuity in the cosmic fabric of the neighbouring space, a coalition of politicians is willing to stand up for the people and radically change things. Now relegated to the ranks of an obscure sect, the once dominant Community and its disciples must effectively handle the requirements of the Celestials to ensure that the most favourable of all possible destinies comes to pass. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a young monk must learn to collaborate with the Enlightened Ones in order to successfully discharge the essential task he has accepted to fulfil in behalf of his monastery. Will the crucial 2206 electoral campaign climax on the emergence of a charismatic Progressive leader, or will the decried Chancellor prevail despite the many forces scheming for his downfall ? On a background of environmental and financial crises, and religious influences intertwining with political manoeuvres to determine the fate of the overpopulated orb, The Threshold chronicles the evolution of the Ovelian civilization as it heads towards unprecedented upheaval.

★ Contact Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/the.threshold.2206 Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/u/0/104660427672333556879

★ The Complete Edition of The Threshold - 2206 : Window Onto A New World is available in the following locations Kindle Format on Amazon ePub Format on Lulu


About the Author

C

hristopher Stewart loves to try his hand at various artistic endeavours, but if there's one discipline he's perfecting, it must be the art of blooming late.

He has studied for a long time, played football even longer, spent a significant part of his adult life developing software on a full-time basis and invested what remained in the pursuit of his ideal of creating meaningful music in the context of a rock ensemble. He has founded the prolific yet still album-less Quebec-based progressive rock outfit Poligraf in 1998 and has never been quite the same since. He has been practising Buddhism dead-seriously since the mid 90s, until he finally awakened to the fact that it teaches living happiness. His interests range from psychology, physics, and philosophy, to mysticism, divination, the arts and the creative process, and, obviously, multitasking and clichés. Pick any task, tag it with the word « impossible, » assign it to him, and he’ll be hard at work for years before the first suspicion finally pops in his mind.

★ Contact Email : christopher.stewart@gmail.com Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/christopher.andrew.stewart Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/114005406455037130049 Twitter Profile : https://twitter.com/poligraf

★ Also Available as eBooks On the Meaning of Sin


Credits Chapter Titles The titles are meant as a tribute to the musicians. Special thanks to the members of Yes for their musical genius, and to Jon Anderson in particular for sharing his vision with the world. Fonts Linux Libertine : http://www.linuxlibertine.org/ Vollkorn : http://friedrichalthausen.de/ Philosopher : http://jovanny.ru/ BorisBlackBoxx : http://manfred-klein.ina-mar.com/ Quirkus : http://www.peter-wiegel.de/ Ubuntu : http://font.ubuntu.com/ Liberation : from the Fedora Linux Distribution : http://fedoraproject.org/ Images Superikonoskop : Village of Dingboche Mainova AG : Solarenergie - Mainova-Anlage auf der Riedbergschule Software Open Office : http://www.openoffice.org/ FreeMind : http://freemind.sourceforge.net/ The Timeline Project : http://thetimelineproj.sourceforge.net/ Gimp : http://www.gimp.org/ Blender : http://www.blender.org/ References Most of my book design questions have found an answer on Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer : http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

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The Threshold Bookcast : Chapter 13 – Keys To Ascension