Warrior of the Soul
the final choice
David Pratt© July 2002
ContentsPart 1 The warrior returns
Part 2 The world within
Part 3 The last farewell
Part 1 The warrior returns
~ 1 ~
It was a glorious spring morning. The birds were singing and far off in the distance the majestic peaks of the Himalayas formed a stunning skyline. Keshava was walking up the mountain path towards the monastery. As he turned a corner he saw a figure walking towards him. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks, unable to believe his eyes.
‘Sahula!’ he exclaimed. ‘You’ve returned! You’re still alive! Where have you been all these years?’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Sahula with a faint smile.
‘What do I mean?! You disappeared many years ago! No one has seen you since your brother was kidnapped.’
‘Are you sure?’ asked Sahula.
‘Of course I’m sure. Don’t you remember? You must have lost your mind. Surely you remember your brother being killed?’
‘Killed?’ said Sahula. ‘You must be mistaken. Ranjit is standing right beside you!’
Keshava received the shock of his life when he turned his head and saw Sahula’s younger brother standing there, beaming at him with his big blue eyes.
‘That’s impossible! What on earth is going on?’ asked Keshava, looking thoroughly confused. ‘Could I have dreamed it all? I suppose I must have done.’
He gazed into the distance at the castle perched on a mountain crag.
‘A castle?!’ he exclaimed. ‘It’s supposed to be a monastery!’ Suddenly his face lit up. ‘Hey, I know what this is: it’s a dream! Yes, I’m dreaming!’
He turned to Sahula.
‘You always used to tell me to look out for strange or impossible things in my dreams so that I could realize I was dreaming and take control. Maybe now you can explain what happened to you, even though you’re only a dream-Sahula . . .’
But before Keshava could begin to question him, he woke up. He sat up in bed and reached for the light switch. As the light came on, his heart missed a beat: at the foot of his bed stood Sahula.
‘Sahula, is that really you?’
‘Yes – sort of.’
‘Where have you been all these years? We thought you were dead.’
‘I’ve been in a far-off land working with the mahatmas.’
‘Why didn’t you contact us?’
‘There was no postal service.’
‘But why didn’t you come back sooner?’
‘I had to attend to other duties.’
‘What about your family?’
‘My mother released me from my family duties.’
‘I find that hard to believe.’
‘Ask her. She’ll confirm that she wrote me a letter just before I disappeared.’
‘Well, it’s wonderful to see you again.’
‘It’s good to see you, Keshava. I wanted to thank you for all the support you’ve given to my mother and sister. You were always like a son to her when I was away at the monastery, and you were also very good with Ranjit . . .’ Sahula’s voice tailed off.
‘Yes, what happened to Ranjit? Who killed him? And why?’
‘A bad, crazy man did it. It was me he really wanted. But I managed to escape.’
‘Maybe you can help the police catch the criminals responsible. I assume you’ll be staying here for good?’
‘Here in the village.’
‘And where am I now exactly?’
‘I see you’re still trying to be as mysterious as ever. You’re in my bedroom – though I’d like to know how you got in.’
‘Take a careful look Keshava. You’ve forgotten what I told you about false awakenings in lucid dreams. I’m afraid my time is up. Farewell my friend.’
And with those words Sahula’s form melted into invisibility.
Keshava leaped from his bed. But Sahula had truly gone. Then Keshava began to notice strange things about the room: the walls were the wrong colour, the furniture was arranged differently and . . . his wife was missing!
‘Ah, I’m still dreaming!’ Keshava finally realized. And at that moment he woke up – for real.
He reached above the bed, turned on the light and carefully surveyed his surroundings. This was definitely his bedroom. His wife was soundly asleep beside him. And there was no Sahula at the foot of the bed. But his encounter with Sahula had been incredibly realistic.
‘Could it possibly have been the real Sahula?’ Keshava wondered. ‘No, absolutely impossible!’
When he looked at the calendar a few hours later, Keshava saw that it was exactly seven years and seven months since that tragic, never-to-be-forgotten night. Five men had broken into Mrs Askari’s house and kidnapped her younger son, Ranjit. She had immediately sent Keshava, her nephew, who lived a few streets away, to fetch her eighteen-year-old son, Sahula, from the nearby monastery. When Sahula arrived an hour later, he had gone off alone to look for Ranjit, though the police were already searching for him. Later that morning Ranjit’s dead body had been found on the edge of the nearby pine forest. His skull had been caved in and his throat had been cut. Sahula had never been seen again.
Keshava told his wife, Usha, about his dream over breakfast, and later in the day he also told his aunt and her twenty-one-year-old daughter Sushila about it.
‘Sahula even told me that although he escaped from the outlaws he didn’t come back here because you’d released him from all his family duties in a letter. It was a real crazy dream!’
Mrs Askari exchanged glances with her daughter then looked at Keshava studiedly.
‘What Sahula told you is true,’ she said calmly.
Keshava was dumbstruck.
‘But why did you do that?’ he asked.
Mrs Askari chose her words carefully.
‘I always knew they were training him for something special, something more important than his always being near to me. I’ve always believed that he survived and has been doing important work somewhere. I would be selfish to deny him that opportunity.’ She was relieved Keshava did not ask for more details about how she had come to write the letter.
‘Do you really think it was Sahula I saw? Why didn’t he visit you and Sushila? Or has he already done so?’
Both of them shook their heads.
‘My brother once told me that the higher members of their Order are subject to extremely strict rules,’ Sushila remarked. ‘The rules may seem harsh or even inhuman to us ordinary mortals. They’re tested in all sorts of ways. They have to extend their sympathies beyond their family and friends, beyond their country and race, to include all living beings, without distinction. But I’ll always love my brother even if I never see him again. To have lived so close to someone so noble!’
Keshava didn’t like what he was hearing. It sounded like hero-worship. They’d be telling him next that Sahula had been translated to the seventh heaven and was now sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty! Except that Buddhists didn’t believe in that sort of God. Nevertheless, his doubts about his strange dream had been strengthened.
‘Well it was certainly the most vivid and realistic dream I’ve ever had. And to think that there’s a remote possibility, however small, negligible in fact, that it could have been . . .’
Keshava stared into space, silently daydreaming. Sushila took his hands in hers and smiled.
‘Sahula was right, you know. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Keshava.’
Thinking back over this conversation later, Keshava began to suspect that his aunt and cousin might know more about Sahula’s fate than they had so far revealed. Although they had been terribly distraught at Ranjit’s murder, they seemed to quickly resign themselves to Sahula’s failure to return. Both of them had also become much more closely involved with the monastery since that terrible day. His aunt went there regularly to take provisions and help in the garden, and Sushila had joined a small group of girls who studied there once a week – an unusual development at what was supposed to be an all-male monastery. She had changed a great deal since then and reminded him increasingly of Sahula.
Well, if truth really was sometimes stranger than fiction . . . Maybe Sahula was actually living at the monastery, in an underground chamber. Or maybe he had taken over Sushila’s body – Sahula had told him such things were possible. Keshava dismissed these wild speculations. Most likely he had been murdered after all, and his body thrown into some deep pit.
He thought back to Ranjit’s cremation. The chief lama from the monastery had been there, and Keshava had seen him talking to Sahula’s mother and sister. It was after that conversation that they had begun their regular visits to the monastery. Yes, it did seem that something strange was going on. Maybe Sahula’s dead body had been found and was being preserved until such time as they could bring it back to life by means of the occult powers Sahula had so often talked about. Or maybe just his brain had been preserved and was actually masterminding the entire global Buddhist effort. No, that was going a bit far!
And then he remembered something else that had always puzzled him. When he had gone to fetch Sahula from the monastery after Ranjit had been kidnapped, he had met Sahula already on his way to the village. Was it just a coincidence? Or had the monastery itself plotted Ranjit’s murder? Surely not. Maybe Sahula had a mobile phone he didn’t know about. Whatever the case may be, something mysterious was certainly going on.
~ 2 ~
‘Keshava, darling, it’s Khamseen on the phone. He sounds very excited.’
Keshava took the receiver from his wife, kissing her on the cheek.
‘Keshava, I’ve done it, I’ve done it! I’m a millionaire, man, a fucking millionaire! Can you believe it?!’
‘A millionaire?! Are you sure? How did you manage that? It’s incredible – if it’s true.’
‘Of course it’s true. I borrowed a huge sum of money from the bank where I work – by rather devious means, I might add. Then I did some speculating on the stock exchange. And now I’m a millionaire. Everything I’ve ever wanted will now be mine!’
‘Well, have you actually received the money yet?’
‘It’s on its way. Don’t worry about that. And I’ll be giving all my friends generous donations.’
‘I bet your wife’s ecstatic too.’
‘Ecstatic? I can’t remember the last time I saw my wife ecstatic. Anyway, I’ve not told her yet. She’d immediately go out and spend it all.’
‘Well you can hardly keep it a secret. She’s bound to notice your new lavish lifestyle.’
‘I suppose you’re right. Anyway, maybe I’ll get myself a new wife or a harem of mistresses. From now on life is going to be sheer bliss. Nirvana here we come!’
Keshava and Khamseen had been friends since childhood and had gone to the same college. Keshava had studied engineering and was now working as an electrician, while Khamseen had initially been drawn to the sciences but finally decided that a business course could lead to a more lucrative career. Two years ago Keshava had married his childhood sweetheart, and their families and friends had helped them to build a house in the village where Keshava had grown up. Khamseen now lived hundreds of miles away in a big city and had married his second wife, Uma, a year ago.
A few days later Khamseen rang to say that he had received the money and was inviting Keshava and his wife to a celebration meal.
‘But do we have to go, darling?’ Usha asked her husband. ‘He’s such a boisterous and boastful man. He’ll be even worse now. And you know he doesn’t like me. He thinks I’m just a village yokel.’
‘You are a village yokel! That’s why I love you,’ said Keshava jokingly. ‘Anyway, he’s got good qualities too, and he’s always been a good friend to me.’
‘Well alright then, but please don’t accept any of his money. You don’t know where it’s been.’
When Keshava met up with Khamseen two weeks later, the conversation turned at one point to Sahula. Keshava, who was feeling a little tipsy as he was not used to drinking alcohol, told him about his dream-within-a-dream and his speculations on Sahula’s fate.
‘His mother and sister seem to think he’s become some sort of buddha and is doing important work for humanity. They have a very high opinion of his intellectual and spiritual accomplishments.’
Khamseen laughed raucously.
‘I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life. Mind you,’ he added, ‘what happened to Ranjit was terrible. I wish they’d find who did it and hang the bastards! But I don’t agree with your theory that they’ve preserved Sahula’s brain. For a start they’d have difficulty finding it, and even if they did, what use would it be? He was always braindead. If he’s been murdered it’s a pity, but he was hardly on the verge of divinity. In fact, to be honest, man, he was just a mindless zombie!’
‘A mindless zombie,’ Sahula repeated with a smile. ‘How opinions vary!’
He was standing – in his physical body – outside the stone building where he had had his final meeting with his former master, Serapis. Since then the dwelling had apparently not been used, for everything was now completely overgrown.
He paced up and down, absorbed in thought, his master’s final words of advice still fresh in his mind. How much had happened since he had last stood here. First the kidnapping of Ranjit and his brutal murder at the hands of the man with the axe. Then his own escape from being dismembered, followed by three weeks’ wandering in the foothills of the Himalayas. His mother’s letter releasing him from his family duties had given him the right to pursue a higher purpose, but how he had been racked with doubt. And then came his initiation – three days and nights of trials and temptations on the inner planes, and his vigorous and victorious resistance, drawn from previously unplumbed depths of his being. Then that unforgettable moment afterwards when he found himself face to face with Dazak, a high chela, his companion of many aeons.
A few weeks later he had met Fujal, another disciple of the masters, and after three months’ preparation they had spent eight weeks in Tibet giving instruction to members of the inner circle. Just after they had finished their tour, Fujal had been expelled from the inner circle for undisclosed reasons and had left the monastery where they were staying. Sahula had gone after him, until he realized the mistake he was making and returned to a mountain hut, expecting to be expelled himself. But the mahatmas had different plans for him, and the next morning he and Dazak had left for Shambhala, the secret headquarters of the adept Brotherhood.
They had entered a network of tunnels in the earth’s crust, travelling deeper and deeper into the cavern world, a zone of inner light and life. Finally Sahula had realized where they were headed: to the Inner Circle, the Imperishable Sacred Land, the concave inner surface of the hollow earth. After several adventures he had arrived there – where he had spent most of the past seven years. What he had learned and seen there was etched on his memory for ever. There he had met his present master, Zoro, under whose guidance he had begun to develop his occult powers – powers that could wreak havoc if wielded by people still addicted to selfishness and bigotry. And a few weeks ago, just before Sahula’s departure for the outer circle, his master had presented him with a choice of two possible futures: if he followed the first he would be dead within two months, and if he followed the second he would live in his present body to a ripe old age. Yet it was no easy choice and he had another seven weeks to make up his mind.
So here he stood. On this memorable spot. Five miles from the monastery he used to attend and where he was currently staying. And just twelve miles from the village where his mother and sister lived. But his master had prohibited him from visiting the village, and from physically seeking out or communicating with any of his relatives or former friends. He had been allowed to make one brief astral visit to the village, though not to his mother or sister, and had already made use of it. The rules of the Brotherhood did sometimes seem unnecessarily severe, even to him.
‘Hey, Warrior, have you fallen into a trance again?’
Sahula looked up startled. It was Jintar, his travelling companion, five years his junior. Jintar was the first person he had met after reaching the Inner Circle. Sahula now had the task of watching over him and introducing him to the ways of the upper world – or ‘hell’ as the adepts often called it.
The two of them had arrived at the monastery about a week ago. They had emerged from the cavern world about seventy miles away and had travelled most of the way to Sahula’s old monastery on horseback, the horses being supplied by the Brotherhood’s agents along the route. Jintar and Sahula’s current duties mainly related to the deeper esoteric studies pursued by members of the monastery’s small inner circle, but they also took part in the outer rituals and ceremonies. This was Jintar’s second visit to the upper world. About five years ago he had spent a day in Egypt. However, it had not passed without incident; he had been violently assaulted and had been lucky to escape with his life – his back still bore the scars.
‘There’s certainly some very beautiful scenery and landscapes in the outer world,’ Jintar remarked, ‘though the colours are much duller and plainer than in my own land. The stars, on the other hand, are magnificent. But I don’t like the changeable climate, the gloomy darkness, the often biting cold, and the stronger gravity which makes me feel so heavy and tired. And why do you need so many different languages? I’m finding it hard enough to master your own native language. And I’m not too keen on the outer-circlers, who seem such a vicious, murderous, sex-crazed breed. The astral tour that you and Dazak recently took me on clearly showed that your big cities are no better than stinking cesspools. In fact, the lowest regions of the astral world are just a nauseous, squirming mass of filth and pollution.’
‘Don’t exaggerate, Jintar,’ Sahula replied. ‘And remember that the people who live here are in essence the same as you, your brothers and sisters. It’s just that most of them still have even more weaknesses to overcome, and . . .’
‘Ok, ok, I don’t need another lecture on universal brotherhood. I was only kidding!’
‘And how do you like my old monastery?’ asked Sahula.
‘It’s quite a nice little community. But the living conditions hardly compare with the quality of life in the inner world.’
‘Yes, I suppose you have had a rather spoilt upbringing.’
They set off back to the monastery. On the way, Jintar asked:
‘Did you ever learn what happened to your previous master?’
‘Only that he had “departed” – probably for some initiation. But whether he’s now in a physical body, or enjoying a period of well-earned rest, or is flitting around in his thought-body as a nirmanakaya, I don’t know.’
‘Are you really not going to visit your family while you’re here?’
‘Orders are orders.’
‘Well yes, but you don’t have to disobey them openly. You know that your mother and sister visit the monastery every week. So all you have to do is arrange to “bump into” them! No one will know!’
‘Jintar, my master only needs to take one look at me and he’ll know. You’re forgetting that we are utterly transparent to their inner vision. I suggest you dispel all devious thoughts from your mind!’
‘Well, I’m not officially a chela yet and won’t be for at least another six hundred million years, so I can afford to take risks and have fun.’
Sahula shook his head. ‘Watch your step, Jintar. Or you might live to regret it.’
‘Ok, ok, I was only kidding!’
‘Yes, that’s what you always say. If you want to become a chela you must try never to do, say or think anything you would not want the rest of the world to know about.’
‘Oh dear,’ murmured Jintar.
As the monastery came into view, Sahula stopped and closed his eyes.
‘Is she there?’ asked Jintar.
Sahula nodded. ‘Come on, she’s busy with her lessons.’
Sahula returned to their quarters, while Jintar went to watch a group of young monks playing in the courtyard. Sahula sat on the floor of the room in silence but, suspecting that Jintar might be up to something, kept his inner eye on him.
Suddenly he jumped to his feet. ‘Damn that boy,’ he said to himself.
He ran upstairs onto the roof of the building and marched over to the edge. At that moment his sister and six other girls emerged from a door directly below him and walked out into the courtyard.
Jintar was standing at the opposite end of the courtyard. He was intending to shout out Sahula’s name in the direction of the living quarters but then he caught sight of Sahula on the roof. Jintar waved to him with both arms and as he opened his mouth to shout Sahula’s name, Sahula instantly flung out his left arm and pointed at him, frowning with concentration . . .
‘Hey, S––.’ Jintar stood there frozen to the spot, unable to move or speak. The girls had barely noticed him and walked off down the mountain path.
If his sister were to look back she would see Sahula on the roof. But she didn’t. Sahula wasn’t sure whether he wanted her to or not. He certainly didn’t intend to go out of his way to hide from her. That would be absurd. In fact, he wished he didn’t have to be subjected to this test. He understood the importance of impersonality – the powers he had acquired largely depended on it. But surely an even greater test would be for him to meet his family again and yet remain poised and relatively detached. Well maybe that test would come later. It was pointless trying to double-guess the masters.
Since Sahula had relaxed his concentration, Jintar found himself able to speak again. Indeed, Sahula was rather surprised at how effective he had been, as he’d never tried anything like this before and had simply acted on impulse. He went down into the courtyard to speak to Jintar, who began by venting his annoyance.
‘You have no right to paralyze me with your magic arm, no right at all! You were ordered not to seek them out, not to resort to black magic to avoid bumping into them. Even the Lord Buddha himself had a wife and son, who later became his disciples.’
‘Jintar,’ said Sahula calmly, ‘you are interfering with things that don’t concern you. My mother and sister live happily, knowing that I’m around even if they don’t see me. Why are you determined to disrupt that? If I am to speak with them again, let it happen in a natural manner. I want you to promise not to try this again.’
Jintar relented. ‘Ok,’ he said grudgingly. He had too much respect for Sahula to press the matter further.
‘I think I know why you were asked to accompany me to the outer circle, Jintar.’
‘To try my patience!’
‘Very funny. Anyway, I’d like you to teach me how to paralyze people – then I could maybe paralyze some of the outer-circlers and make the world a better place!’
‘May the gods help us!’ said Sahula as he walked off.
‘Only kidding!’ Jintar shouted after him.
The group of young monks who had witnessed the entire scene had already started to play a new game: pretending to zap evil spirits with their ‘magic arm’.
~ 3 ~
‘Keshava, darling, it’s Khamseen on the phone. He sounds very distressed.’
Keshava took the receiver from his wife, wondering what had happened now.
‘Keshava, oh my God, oh my God! I’m bankrupt, man, I’m fucking bankrupt! Can you believe it?!’
‘Bankrupt?! Are you sure? How did you manage that? A few weeks ago you were a millionaire!’
‘I know, but I wanted to make another million just in case I lost the first, so I gambled everything on the stock exchange – and lost every last penny! Oh my God, what am I going to do?! I’m finished, man. You couldn’t give me back some of the money I lent you, could you?’
‘You mean the money you promised. I’m afraid I never received any.’
‘Didn’t you? Sorry, I must have forgotten.’
‘It doesn’t matter. Anyway, luckily you haven’t given up your job yet. And who wants to be a millionaire? Extreme wealth is at best a mixed blessing. Making an honest living is far more interesting and challenging than idling our time away in wanton luxury. It’s not how much money we have that counts but whether we use what we do have wisely and unselfishly. We certainly shan’t be taking any of our material possessions with us when we die. Much more valuable are our efforts to unlock the treasures hidden in our own hearts and minds.’
There was a brief silence.
‘Keshava, have you been drinking again?’
‘You’re beginning to sound like Sahula!’
‘Sahula was a good, kind and deeply knowledgeable person. I often think of my conversations with him. Maybe it’s time you recognized what we’ve lost in him.’
‘He was a zombie, man!’
‘You’re wrong, totally wrong. He saw things that we were too blind to see.’
‘No he didn’t, he spouted rubbish! We only live once, man, and we’ve got to make the most of it.’
‘I’m not so sure about that any more. There was a programme on television the other night about children who remember past lives. The most straightforward explanation is that they really have lived before.’
‘Well I’m sorry to hear you’re so easily deceived by superstitious propaganda.’
‘It wasn’t propaganda at all. The information provided by the children on their past lives was carefully checked for accuracy. And their present characters and behavioural habits often appeared to be connected to their previous identities. Some of them even had birthmarks that seemed to be related to wounds they’d received in their past life, as confirmed by medical records and death certificates. It was all very fascinating.’
‘Sounds like a load of crap to me! Only idiots believe in spirits and ghosts and little green men.’
‘Well I think you’ll find that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of in your narrow-minded materialistic philosophy, Khamseen.’
‘And I think you’ll find that you’re deluding yourself. You seem to have got more in common with your wife than I thought.’
‘And what’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well, she’s not exactly bright, is she?’
‘Oh, go to hell!’ snapped Keshava as he slammed the phone down.
He looked at Usha, who was standing beside him, an expression of wonder on her face.
‘Keshava, you finally did it! I’m proud of you!’
‘Put Khamseen in his place and stood up for Sahula.’
‘What do you know about Sahula?’
‘More than you think.’
‘Don’t tell me you’re in on the plot as well?’
‘Plot? I don’t know of any plot. But I know a thing or two about Sahula.’
‘From my friend Indira. But it’s a secret and I promised never to tell anybody.’
‘Not more secrets. Sahula was full of them. You’re not allowed to have secrets from your husband. I insist that you tell me.’
’Please,’ Keshava begged, getting down on one knee and putting his hands together.
‘Oh, alright then.’
Usha led him into the living room and they sat down hand in hand.
‘Now,’ she said, ‘it all began many years ago . . .’
Sahula smiled to himself. He was sitting beneath a tree, oblivious of his surroundings. Yes, he remembered Indira very well. A sweet, pretty girl. It was the nearest thing to sexual temptation he’d encountered in his present life.
It was at the start of Sahula’s third year at the monastery that his former master had spoken to him at length about sexual functions and the virtues and benefits of a chaste and celibate life. The higher psychic, mental and spiritual powers of a human being could never be developed, and their rich rewards enjoyed, until the lower bodily ‘pleasures’ had been ‘sacrificed’.
‘The prevailing belief nowadays seems to be that sex is essential to health, sanity and happiness,’ his master had told him. ‘ “Sex experts” claim that anybody who lacks a strong sexual appetite must be dysfunctional, and they can’t understand that some couples might actually prefer a nice cup of tea to the “transcendental” joys of agitating one another’s genitals and exchanging body fluids! But anyone who sincerely wants to be free from sexual distractions and to devote themselves to more worthwhile pursuits will find that the sex urge will gradually wither away. They certainly won’t miss the worries, frustrations, ill feeling, possessiveness and dependency that can make sexual relationships such a burden, to say nothing of all the possible health hazards. And although most of the world has gone sex-mad, a growing number of people are discovering for themselves the benefits of celibacy or, at the very least, of sexual moderation.
‘When the body is sexually aroused, it is in a state of stress. An orgasm sends it into convulsive spasms and the tension is discharged, which the mind interprets as “pleasure”. But soon the cycle of arousal and discharge begins all over again, for sex is all too often an addiction and the more it is fed the greater the craving for it becomes. The long-term result can only be impaired mental and physical health. One drop of semen represents the concentrated essence of forty drops of blood. If this vital fluid is not expended, it is reabsorbed by the bloodstream and used to nourish the brain and body. Sex for the purpose of generating a new body for a soul to inhabit is a creative, sacred act. But compulsive, recreational sex is a waste of time and energy and a sterile dead-end.’
It all sounded perfectly logical and reasonable to Sahula, and as he had no wish to have any children of his own in this life, he resolved to conserve his vital energies rather than squandering them on sexual gratification. Knowing that this attitude was widely considered to be backward, unnatural and even dangerously unhealthy greatly strengthened his resolve.
When he first met Indira, they were both fourteen years old. She was good fun and easy to get on with, and he often saw her while staying at his mother’s. Then one day Indira asked him if she could be his girlfriend.
‘Monks don’t have girlfriends,’ he had answered.
‘But you don’t have to remain a monk. In a few years we could get married and start a family. I think you’re the kindest, sweetest and loveliest boy I’ve ever met.’
‘But that’s just an illusion,’ Sahula assured her. ‘I’m a monster really.’
‘Don’t be so silly!’
‘Anyway, I like being a monk. Can’t we just be good friends?’
‘I’ll take my clothes off for you.’
‘It’s alright, I like you with your clothes on. They’re nice clothes.’
‘Are you a gay monk, perhaps?’
‘What does that mean?’ asked Sahula. He decided that feigning naivety could be the best way to extricate himself from this unfortunate situation without giving offence.
‘Your poor, innocent boy,’ she sighed.
He had then tried to explain that he was not cut out for married life and would only end up making her unhappy. Finally he had excused himself, saying that he had to help his mother hang the washing out. Fortunately Indira had eventually found herself a more suitable boyfriend.
Sahula chuckled. Then his thoughts turned to weightier matters: the final choice. It mattered little to him whether his present life was long or short; each incarnation was merely a temporary station through which the human soul passed on the road to perfection. On the other hand, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to depart this life prematurely without saying goodbye properly to his mother and sister.
During his first meeting with his present master, soon after arriving in the Inner Circle, he had been told that the chief lama at his old monastery had attended Ranjit’s funeral and had informed Sahula’s mother and sister that Sahula was still alive but far away, and would be given the rare opportunity to work closely with the Himalayan Brotherhood. When they asked him whether Sahula would ever return, the lama replied that he didn’t know, but that no communications would be possible for many years to come. He also told Sahula’s mother that if she decided to withdraw the permission she had given Sahula – which would be understandable given the tragic loss of Ranjit – Sahula would be informed and would be free to return.
Mrs Askari had assured the lama that she was willing to make the sacrifice. She was proud to have known Sahula, proud to have been his mother, but would lose all pride in herself if she were to prevent him from pursuing his higher calling. The lama had thanked her, and asked her and her daughter to give their word of honour that they would never repeat any of this conversation to anybody, with the exception of Sahula’s rapidly ailing grandmother. And they had solemnly given their word – and kept it.
Sahula hoped he would some day be able to repay his mother for having made possible the experiences of the past seven years – years spent in that marvellous paradise at the centre of the earth, in the Inner Kingdom . . .
Warrior of the Soul - 2: Part 2
Warrior of the Soul: Contents