P A R T T H R E E
We were chanting.
Years ago, chanting used to irritate me. It had seemed a needless relic of the Middle Ages. But I’d long since changed my mind about that, as about so many things. I’d discovered its virtues.
Partly we chant for the joy of the sound; partly, for the spiritual side effects to be had by losing ourselves in a chorus. The Latin chants in particular—which I once would have found highly irritating—I now found soothing, those ancient Latin words, sung of the beauty of God and God’s world. And blended in with the sounds were the smell of the incense, the rich colors of the tapestries, and the weight of the hymnal I myself had helped to manufacture the paper for, 11 years earlier.
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Nine
Mr. Conway’s hand on my shoulder brought me awake, and I got out of bed, shivering in the mid‑night cold. One advantage to wearing robes: it wasn’t hard to get dressed. Seeing his face by the flickering oil lamp, I got a sense of the experience—not to use the embarrassing word “wisdom”—concealed behind that youthful face. Our silence reinforced the impression.
He worked with me to find a comfortable position for the meditation exercise, telling me (to my surprise) that I would not have to torture myself into the cross‑legged lotus position favored by yogis. “Without years of preparation, you would be unable to sit for long with legs crossed. The pain would be intolerable.”
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Eight
There is so little we know, and so much we misunderstand because of our assumptions: that everything is separate rather than connected, that most things are dead instead of everything being alive, that consciousness is accidental or incidental, rather than fundamental….
When you change your assumptions, what seemed unlikely now seems obvious. Hint, guys: The world is alive, and the world is made of consciousness!
This from SchwartzReport.
P A R T T W O
My room — my cell — has one window, facing south. In daytime I see the mountain, but at night the mountain is only a finger pointing to the moon. And it is the moon that I see in my imagination, by day as well as night: The moon, full silver, giving itself a halo of deep blue against the black sky, sailing clear and calm, unmoved by the tragedy and farce below.
At this great height, air is thin. Nights obscured by snowstorms are rare; cloud cover so thick as to block out the moon is scarcely less so. In the many years I have been here, I cannot recall a night whose moon was lost to cloud cover. At most, I have seen layers of cloud illumined from behind, great uneven porous blankets of grey, shining into one halo of light. But mostly the nights are clear with the light of the moon in its phases.
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Seven
By the end of April I’d spent about three months learning a few Tibetan phrases that might or might not prove useful in the event—long enough to realize that to go beyond these phrases to fluency could require not months but years.
I’d carefully adopted the wearing of a monk’s robe, not merely for the sake of fitting in visually but also to save wear on my flight suit.
Oxygen was going to be a problem, obviously, since I had no way to refill my mask. The monastery puts some sort of drug into newcomers’ food, to lessen the effect of high altitude on bodies born in lower places. My careful, inconspicuous searches never turned up the drug’s storage place. Not so surprising, perhaps, since I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I’d have to do without it, and hope the residual effect of whatever was still in my system when I left would carry me past the worst.
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Six
Sure death outside, for them. But not for me. And I had the strongest reason of all to risk it, a reason they could no longer understand except abstractly, intellectually. None of them had a ceaseless longing gnawing at them, for the simple reason that anyone they’d left behind was long dead, or much aged. Their very longevity separated them from the rest of the world, even more effectively than the surrounding mountains. I didn’t want to be separated that way from Marianne. It wasn’t heroism that made me determined to return: Death or capture seemed easier than living on without her.
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Five
“It’s me, all right. The name Bryant that he says is my right name ain’t the right one, but if you knew where to look, you’d find the old news stories about me quick enough. Not that it matters: The statutes of limitations don’t run any 30 years, and anyway it wouldn’t be so easy, extraditing me out of here.”
“But except for the names, the rest of the story is true?”
“Oh, more or less. Like Huck Finn says, he stretched it here and there, but mostly he told the truth.”
Continue reading Messenger Chapter Four