Conqueror limped stiffly but was always eager to begin a new journey, loving the spontaneity of adventure as much as I did. Occasional wafts of warm air greeted us as we made our way down the mountain persuading me to take off my fur wrap and tie it to the horse. I wasn't sure where we were headed except to follow the holy man's map, but I did know that there were two hints regarding a cave; one by Sahmad and one by the holy man's sketch, and since caves were cold and damp, the coat could come in handy someday. I had a strange feeling about this cave.
We continued our descent without incident, just a few storm clouds in the distance.
It began harmlessly enough, barely a trickle. This is how things always began with me - innocently - but then the vast heavens opened their floodgates, unleashing angry, broiling clouds and storms that drove across menacing, slate-gray skies.
The storm forced us to stop and take shelter in the higher foothills where below us were the sprawling delta and enormous flood plains of the mountain, taunting us, reminding us that they must be crossed. But at least we were safe for now; the torrential rains hampered the pursuit of my enemies. The storm in its compassion protected this king and his wounded charger, at least for now.
My gaze fell across the land that was my home. The immensity of the drama unfolding before me was breathtaking, painting its magnificence across the endless landscape. Tigers, elephants, every kind of animal was confused, fleeing, eyes wildly searching the sweltering jungle for higher ground and refuge. And I was running as well, but mere water was not my enemy.
We could see the delta below, the anilmals trying to flee the water as they ran together toward safety, and as I watched this drama unfold, I experienced a powerful insight - that every creature treasures life, just as I do - and suddenly the key seeker's rule of not killing a living being was no longer abstract. This flash of insight was so powerful that it permanently dyed my mind with an indelible resolve, a new way of looking at life, a new character that would remain constant no matter how many lifetimes I would have to endure. I knew that my basic tendencies were changing when I couldn't kill the soldiers in the courtyard, and now this understanding became intuitive and permanent, as it dropped from my head down into my heart.
Permanent changes in my consciousness only took place when I could see, ’ and until that seeing’ took place, which could only happen in each, incredible moment, I would merely be thoughts and opinions that change like the wind. This refusal to kill would have seemed ludicrous to me at one time, but after this direct communication, an emanation from the Source, I knew that I was finished with killing forever. I still had the teeth, nails, and hair of a beast, but I was no longer a beast in my heart. I was a human being with the responsibility and capacity to understand at a much deeper level. What would the next lifetime hold for a killer and his confused motives, and conversely, what would it hold for one who understood and sacrificed his life while offering forgiveness?
The contact with the key seekers on the mountain, my experience with the holy man, and my deepening inner work had an incredible impact on this phase of my spiritual life. It opened up an expanded observation of life from a strange and wonderful perspective. It seemed that in some strange way, the appetites of my physical senses were falling away while my spiritual facilities were flowering, which created a radical difference in the way I experienced things. I now circled around life again, but this time at a refined level and viewpoint. My false center or “self, " this fabricated individuality was also gradually fading, and although this idea of a personality still clung to me like an odor, it was weakening.
Long ago I gave up the idea of religious rituals and beliefs being the answer, for I could see where they created and sustained a self'’ rather than dismantling it. I knew that only through the actions of this fabricated self'’ was kamma made, and only through insight would kamma and the false self be resolved.
When the being removed its hood at the temple, I saw the true face of my doubts as well, and relinquished them immediately.
Realizing that my personality would not continue after death, then seeing the futility and foolhardiness of relying on religious beliefs to find the key instead of my own efforts, and finally overcoming doubt - these three achievements positioned me on the threshold of ‘Stream Entrance’ where I would suffer in a material body no more than seven more lifetimes.
The sorcerer once said, “Your heart will break for those who will not listen, for there is nothing you can do to help them, all you will be able to do is silently understand the never-ending suffering they will be destined to endure in their future lifetimes. " I could now see this and I felt great compassion for those who were unresponsive or perhaps unconscious to higher thought, the ones who are unable to understand how much more there is too life other than what their perceived prisons reveal.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://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 http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com