Warrior of the Soul

Book 3

heeding the call


David Pratt

© July 2003

Part 2   Lost within

~ 1 ~

Jintar felt thoroughly miserable. He was lost and alone in the dark, gloomy cavern world. And he was slowly being driven insane by the weird voices in his head, the shrill laughs, the gaggling cries, and the sound of unseen creatures flitting past him.
    His visit to the cavern world had started very promisingly. The day after the spectacular light show above the mountain near Sahula’s old village, he, Sahula and Dazak had travelled on foot for two days to a remote spot where they found an enormous boulder hidden amidst dense undergrowth at the foot of a hill. Dazak had simply given it a gentle push and it had swivelled open to reveal the entrance to a tunnel.
    To enable him to see in the pitch-black tunnel, Dazak had given Jintar a small, smoothly polished glass ball that somehow emitted an intense cool light. Sahula, on the other hand, seemed to be developing Dazak’s ability to see in the dark.
    For many weeks they had descended, until the darkness began to give way to ethereal light and gravity weakened significantly. They had continued to even greater depths where plant and animal life flourished. Jintar had seen magnificent creatures of many different kinds, inhabiting immense cavities in the earth’s outer shell.
    They had crossed continents and oceans via a network of subterranean passages, some natural and some man-made. Most of the time they had travelled on foot, but on several occasions they sped across underground lakes in etherically powered boats at terrific speeds of up to fifteen hundred miles an hour.
    They had visited cave libraries and underground ‘museums’ full of giant bones, together with rock-hewn residential complexes at different depths in the earth’s crust, some of which had not been inhabited on a large scale for at least many hundreds of thousands of years. They had reascended to the earth’s surface twice, emerging once in southern Egypt and once in Tibet, and from time to time they had met other adepts and chelas. Jintar had received a great deal of instruction on a variety of subjects, and had been taught a lot more English, which he was told would one day come in handy.
    They had then returned to the inner circle on a flying disc similar to the one Jintar had once travelled to Egypt on. After staying there for a year they returned to the cavern world. Jintar was greatly enjoying his new life and felt he was making steady progress. Then six months later he had got lost.
    It had been entirely his own fault. Dazak and Sahula had left him on his own for two days at a depth where semi-darkness reigned. He had decided to do some exploring. He had wandered through a maze of tunnels and was certain he had memorized the route he had taken. But when he tried to retrace his steps, he ended up lost. What’s more, he eventually found himself in a sombre cavern where his luminous sphere emitted virtually no light at all. And even the precious talisman that his master had once given him emitted only a very dim glow.
    At first he had been hopeful that he would be quickly rescued. But as the days dragged by and turned into weeks, the realization dawned that he was going to be left entirely to his own devices. He resolved that he would keep moving and try to stay positive.
    For six long months he had walked, crawled and clambered through tunnels and chambers. The air within them was humid, stifling and oppressive. At times he could hear and feel the dull rumble of violent earth movements taking place in the distance, and sometimes the temperature became unbearably hot. He had survived mainly on the water he drank from streams. The water he had drunk in other places had been delicious, but here it had a sickly, unpleasant tang, though it was still very nutritious. Sometimes he ate mushroom-like plants, but they tasted very bitter, quite unlike what he had eaten elsewhere. He sensed he had entered one of the regions of the crust that Dazak had warned him about – a region ruled by dark, malignant forces.
    As one gloomy day melted into the next the situation had worsened. Shadowy forms were constantly flitting around him. Unintelligible voices and weird laughs and cries sounded in his head, slowly driving him mad.
    His previously pleasant dreams gave way to fitful dreams and even nightmares. He struggled to compose himself, to gather his resources, to visualize positive scenes, and to meditate on the higher things of life. But it required increasing effort and his strength was steadily being sapped by the hostile forces around him. That his body might waste away and die was of no great concern to him, but he did not relish the prospect of losing control over his mind.

Jintar often focused his thoughts on what he had been taught about death. For far from being a morbid subject it gave him reassurance and broadened his perspective on life.
    At the mystery school he had attended in the inner circle, he had learned that a human being, like any other organism, is born with a certain store of vital energy and that, after this energy has been expended, the inner entity withdraws for a period of rest. As a result, the physical body dies and starts to decay, as does the astral model-body that held it together during life.
    A ‘second death’ then takes place in the astral realms, when the higher mind or reincarnating soul separates from the lower mind or astral soul. While the latter slowly dissipates in the lower astral realms or ‘desire-world’, the reincarnating soul rises higher and enters a blissful, dreamlike state of rest in which all the unrealized spiritual hopes and aspirations of the last incarnation are fulfilled, and the noblest experiences of the last life are assimilated and woven into the fabric of our inner nature. When the higher energies finding expression in this state are exhausted, the thirst for material life begins to reassert itself, and the soul is drawn back to earth for a new incarnation, clothing itself in many of the same astral and physical atoms that it used in its last life, which still bear the imprint of its former character.
    There is therefore no outside power or deity directing us to ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’. Rather, we are drawn automatically and unerringly to those realms and conditions with which we resonate most strongly. The length and nature of our feverish and fitful sleep in the desire-world and our sweet and peaceful sleep in the spiritual realms depend entirely on the sort of life we’ve led on earth, and the extent to which we’ve either indulged our lower, selfish impulses or cultivated our nobler qualities. We therefore create our own heaven and our own hell.
    Jintar had also learned that when we die, we see a panoramic vision in which all the events of our past life pass before us in review. We see ourselves as we really are and understand the perfect justice of everything that has happened to us. And when the period of postmortem rest is over and it’s time to return to earth life, the reincarnating soul sees another vision, this time of the life about to be lived, and the causes that have led to it, but we see only its broad outline and are free to fill in the details ourselves.
    Sahula had told Jintar that many outer-circlers were eager to contact the dead via mediums, ouija boards or other methods.
    ‘But that’s selfish,’ Jintar had said. ‘It’s a bit like shaking someone awake in the middle of the night because we feel like a chat!’
    He understood that the chances of receiving messages from the genuine souls of the dead via a medium were virtually nil. This was because once the higher human soul had separated from the astral, or animal-human, soul and had sunk into a dreamlike state of consciousness, it could not be dragged back down to the material level. The only way to commune with the genuine souls of the dead is by raising our consciousness to their plane, and this may sometimes happen during sleep.
    Seeking contact with deceased friends and relatives through a medium generally leads either to contact with the decaying astral shell of the person concerned, or with other entities that draw on the information present in the minds of those attending the seance to answer any questions asked. Contacting astral shells in this way gives them artificial life and disturbs the natural process of dissolution.
    Several years ago, Dazak and Sahula had enabled Jintar to travel with them through the astral plane in his subtle body, observing various events and situations in the outer circle. He had seen how certain astral entities enveloped people attending seances and were sucked into their bodies, feeding off their vitality and vampirizing them. This had driven home to him how erroneous it was to believe that all invisible entities must be ‘spiritual’.
    Sahula told Jintar that on several occasions he had been helped to rise in his subtle body to the higher spheres where human souls experienced their postmortem dreaming. He had observed that each soul was surrounded by an ethereal sphere or auric egg – a delicate milky form immersed in a golden ocean of light. Each graceful sphere seemed to breathe rhythmically, and within could be seen a dance of soft colours, representing the elevated thoughts of the sleeping souls. When a soul began to awaken from its blissful rest, the movements within each sphere grew more intense and turbulent, the colours became more vivid, the silence was disturbed by strident notes, and the sphere gradually began to contract and assume a more solid form, as preparations were made for its next incarnation.

~ 2 ~

Jintar had scored a significant victory over the malevolent forces that were trying to bring about his ruin. First, he had driven out all the wayward, negative and confused thoughts from his mind by repeating over and over again the following words:

    ‘Nearing the inner circle,
    Seeking the hidden light,
    Searching for the master
    In the darkest hour of night.
    Conquering illusion,
    Preparing the self to see
    The sacred, central land
    Of love and harmony.’

    Then he had fixed his mind for over an hour on his precious talisman and the Shambhala Brotherhood and all it represented. He now felt reinvigorated and refreshed, ready to make another attempt to escape from this infernal region.
    He was walking swiftly along a descending semi-dark tunnel, singing merrily to himself. Suddenly the unexpected happened. The ground seemed to open up in front of him and he stepped into a void. He found himself tumbling helplessly through the air, and expected at any moment to hit something hard . . .

Jintar opened his eyes. He was lying on the sandy floor of a tunnel. Up ahead he could see the exit to the tunnel – and beyond it dazzling light. He got to his feet and walked towards the opening, scarcely daring to believe his luck. As he stepped though the opening he looked up and above him he saw a sun – the huge red central sun! Somehow he had managed to return to the inner circle! What manner of miracle had carried him here?
    He looked about him. And almost collapsed in shock. A desolate desert landscape stretched out before him, curving upwards in all directions, before fading into the distant haze. A vast expanse of sand, devoid of all vegetation, scorched dry by the brutal rays of the sun.
    What had happened to the inner kingdom and all its inhabitants? How long had he been away? Had there been a war? Or had the sun simply grown too fierce? Had the entire civilization been wiped out? Horror-stricken, Jintar began to tread wearily through the burning sand, heading nowhere.
    For hours and hours he trudged on. His limbs ached, his flesh burnt beneath his thin garments, his mouth was parched, his lips cracked. For hours more he staggered on, until finally he fell to the ground. He hoped he would wake up to find it had all been a bad dream.
    He did wake up again, in exactly the same spot, surrounded by the same barren, monotonous landscape. The sun still beat down with the same burning intensity. He plodded on, dying a slow, agonizing death. For what seemed like days he continued in a straight line, half-entranced, tormented by thirst and hunger. From time to time he came across the bones of animals – and humans – lying half covered by the desert sand. What terrible disaster had occurred in his absence? Had every last person really perished?
    Utterly exhausted, Jintar stopped, ready to collapse to the ground for the very last time. All at once he caught sight of something in the distance. It looked almost like trees and greenery! He quickened his pace, summoning up all his remaining reserves of strength to reach this last hope of survival. As he drew nearer he saw that it was indeed some kind of oasis. He could see tall trees and luxuriant bushes. And he could hear singing – a sweet, melodious voice ringing out through the desert, as if calling to him.
    He was now only yards away. He half expected the lush scenery to melt away like a mirage at any moment. But no, this was for real. And now he could see a pool of beckoning blue water. Seized with rapture, he raced towards it and plunged in headlong. Oh the ecstasy! He gulped down mouthful after mouthful, instantly rejuvenated by the cool, delicious, refreshing liquid.
    Laughing and splashing like a child, he swam to the side of the pond and began to pull himself up onto the bank. As he did so an outstretched hand suddenly appeared in front of his face. A beautiful, graceful hand. He took hold of it, felt its sensuous touch, and looked up. Before him stood an attractive young lady. She greeted him with a warm friendly smile.
    ‘Jintar, it’s me, Electra. Thank heavens someone else has managed to survive the disaster.’
    Jintar couldn’t remember having met her before. But what did it matter? He would no doubt remember who she was once he had recovered his strength. Nothing could go wrong now: he had found water – the source of life – and delightful companionship too.
    ‘Was it you I heard singing?’ he asked.
    She nodded and smiled. And again she began to sing. The sweet melodious sound filled Jintar with contentment. He lay with his head on her lap, drinking in the sheer bliss of this refuge of life and happiness in the midst of a sun-scorched hell.
    He must have dropped off to sleep. For when he came to, he found himself lying half-naked by the side of the pool. He sat up. It was deliciously cool beneath the trees, and a gentle breeze blew through his long hair, invigorating him. Next to him lay a pile of rosy, juicy apples. He took one and eagerly bit into it. Never before had he tasted such fulfilling fruit.
    Then he caught sight of the young lady swimming naked in the pool. She waved to him.
    ‘Come, Jintar,’ she called. ‘It’s time to have fun!’
    How could he resist? Why should he resist? Yet instinctively he put his hand to his neck . . . A feeling of dismay rushed through him.
    ‘Where’s my talisman? What have you done with it?’
    ‘I haven’t done anything with it. You weren’t wearing one when you arrived. You must have lost it somewhere along the way. Why’s it so important?’
    Jintar thought for a moment. It was a good question. He couldn’t remember why. He couldn’t even remember where he had got it from.
    ‘I always wear it. It’s very special. Please give it back to me.’
    ‘Jintar,’ she laughed, ‘don’t be so silly. Everything you need is here. Fruit and water and love – if you’re ready for it.’
    Jintar stepped closer to the pool. But still the thought of the talisman troubled him. He tried to remember how he had got here. Why was everything so vague? He had been in a dark space. He had stepped out into the blinding light. Oh, why couldn’t he remember more?
    Electra emerged from the pool, and stood naked before him, dripping with the liquid of life. She placed her hands softly on his shoulders and gazed into his eyes. Slowly she moved her face towards his, her lips apart. Jintar recoiled instinctively; he had no appetite for her germ-laced saliva.
    ‘Stop fighting, Jintar,’ said Electra peevishly. ‘Stop holding back – it’s unnatural and unhealthy. Just relax, get in touch with your deepest feelings, and then express them – in total self-abandonment.’
    Jintar folded his arms and looked at her. She was clearly incapable of distinguishing between lust and love. In fact, she sounded so much like an outer-circler that he was beginning to suspect she had lost her mind!
    ‘Jintar, we are the last two people alive; let us use whatever time is left to us to enjoy each other to the full. Come,’ she commanded, ‘let us be joined as one. I shall love you till the end of the earth.’
    Jintar was beginning to find her irritating. ‘Listen, young lady,’ he said, trying to sound as stern as possible, ‘the disaster that has occurred here is no excuse to abandon our dignity and self-restraint. Our first duty is to go and search for other survivors. The masters are no doubt already doing whatever they can to help.’ The masters. Yes, it was all coming back to him now; he was beginning to remember. ‘So give me back my talisman and let’s get started.’
    ‘There are no other survivors, Jintar. And I don’t have your talisman. You’re merely looking for excuses to run away from me, and from your own innermost self and long-repressed feelings. In fact you’re just being boring!’
    Again she reached out to him and again Jintar instinctively stepped back. ‘What a persistent young hussy,’ he thought to himself. ‘I shall obviously need to have a long talk with her when I get back. But I’ll have to be tactful – firm but gentle, as Sahula always used to say. Then again, if it is our duty to begin the repopulation of the inner kingdom, I suppose I’ll just have to rise to the occasion.’
    Chuckling to himself, he turned and picked up the rest of his robes and wrapped them round his head and shoulders. Then he stepped out from under the cover of the trees back into the blistering sun.
    ‘Wait here,’ he called to Electra. ‘I’m going to do some exploring. And don’t forget to have my dinner ready for me when I get back!’ He hoped she would not take offence at his frivolous comment.
    He set off in no particular direction. He had been walking for only a minute when he heard blood-curdling screams coming from the oasis behind him. It sounded like the woman was being subjected to some hideous, excruciating torture. He ran back to the oasis – and was confronted with a dreadful, shocking sight.
    The young lady’s naked flesh was covered with big black blisters. He could see them quivering and expanding. Then one of them burst, emitting a shower of pus. An odious stench of decay filled the air. The flesh of her left arm was hanging off in shreds. Her face looked twisted and deformed, the skin withered, swollen and bleeding. Great clumps of her once shiny, flaxen hair were missing, while the rest was turning white before his very eyes.
    She fell to the ground, shrieking and wailing, begging Jintar to help her. He knelt at her side, horrified at this ghastly sight. What unearthly disease had afflicted her? Was she suffering from radiation poisoning caused by the deadly weapons that had ravaged the inner kingdom?
    It took a whole grisly hour for her to die. He tried to speak soothing words, to bathe her wounds, and looked on helplessly as an enchanting fairytale princess was reduced to a rotting, stinking corpse.
    All at once a fierce tornado, a black whirling mass of air, descended out of nowhere, making a thunderous noise. It bore down on Jintar, uprooting and shredding all the trees in its path. He felt himself being lifted up, and an intense pressure crushing his body. He could see unearthly beings standing over him, poking him with razor-sharp knives, then he cried out silently in pain as they began to cut into his flesh . . .
    The next thing he knew he was floating bodiless in luminous space, a shoreless ocean of light, pervaded with peace and joy. Dead to the world, the scene faded . . . and he knew no more.

Jintar’s body was being carried through a long, dark tunnel on a makeshift stretcher. The two people carrying it began to ascend, carefully picking their way up a steep, snaking path to the top of a cliff. On and on they walked, until one of them, panting heavily, stopped.
    ‘Can we take a short break?’ asked Sahula. ‘He’s heavier than I thought, even though he’s lost a lot of weight.’
    ‘We still have a long way to go,’ Dazak replied. ‘Twenty miles, to be precise. Straight up. And we need to get there before it’s time for him to wake up. Assuming of course that he does. He’s having a hard time. But he’ll only reap the full benefit if he pulls through on his own.’
    ‘He won’t benefit much if he succumbs. At least not in the short term. I’m beginning to appreciate the dilemmas that can arise once we start to develop paranormal powers. It’s very tempting to use them at every opportunity to try and put everything right.’
    ‘Any such attempts would be doomed to failure in the long term. No one makes any real progress if everything is done for them. That would only be sham progress and therefore unsustainable. Real progress can only come from within. Our task is to lend a helping hand.’
    ‘I understand that. But “lending a helping hand” is rather vague. What degree of assistance should we give in each particular case? As you said many years ago during the Egyptian incident, we have to rely on our intuition. But since intuition is never infallible – certainly not in my case – we’re bound to make mistakes.’
    ‘That’s right. Especially where our friends are concerned. But you seem to have handled Keshava very well. A brief meeting in a dream, then an occasional nudge to help him find the information he needed, in book form or electronically, to put him on the right path. But you left him to make the real effort himself. And it paid off. If it hadn’t, no matter. Next time round the chances of success would be greater. You’ve had similar success with Khanat. But with Jintar you find it much more difficult to be impersonal. And who knows what might happen if you were asked to watch over your own sister?
    ‘Anyway, let’s attend to the task at hand – carting our entranced companion up a twenty-mile-high hill. Then we’ll retreat to a safe distance and see how he handles the next little problem. In a few months he should reach the crystal palace – if all goes well.’
    ‘And if it doesn’t?’
    ‘If it doesn’t, he won’t.’

Jintar opened his eyes, sat up and looked about him. A million things rushed through his mind as he tried to orient himself, tried to remember . . . His adventure in the desert in the inner circle? Surely it must have been a nightmare. Yet it had all seemed so vivid and so real. He thought he had died. And then a majestic figure had appeared and spoken words of wisdom and shown him dramatic scenes – revelations such as his mind could barely fathom. Never would he breathe a word of this sacred encounter to anybody. But the memory of it would stay with him and spur him on to greater accomplishments.
    He was now sitting in a cavern full of light but had no idea how he had got there. The light was shining from the small glass sphere Dazak had once given him, which lay on the ground beside him. And the precious talisman he had received from his master was still around his neck, sparkling with life. While he had that, he was confident that everything would eventually turn out well.
    It was hard to judge what depth he was at. It could be anything within twenty miles of the outer surface. Jintar noticed water trickling from a hole in the ceiling. He walked over and put his mouth under it. It had that same delicious flavour he had so often tasted before, so rich in minerals that it would still his hunger as well as quenching his thirst.
    Before continuing his journey – not that he had any idea what his destination was or where it might lie – he would meditate a little more on death and rebirth.

It seemed obvious to Jintar that no state of consciousness could last for ever, for everything in the infinite universe was subject to change. The blissful dreaming of the reincarnating soul between two lives would last until the spiritual energies generated during the previous incarnation were exhausted. Then the attraction to earth life would begin to resurface. The thirst for material life, the longing to return to familiar scenes and be reunited with past companions, causes us to incarnate on earth again and again. And indeed where else could we harvest the consequences of our former acts except in the fields of the earth where we had sown them?
    Jintar had been taught that as the reincarnating soul redescends towards the earth-sphere, its former life-atoms in the astral realms reawaken and start to build up a new astral form. The soul’s ethereal energies reach out to form reproductive cells in the bodies of potential parents, these being people to whom it was closely related in past lives, and who can provide it with a physical body and family environment suited to its karmic needs.
    Reincarnating souls may ‘precipitate’ reproductive cells in up to several dozen potential parents, and several different souls may be drawn to the same man or woman. If conception takes place, the egg is fertilized by whichever of the male sex cells has the greatest affinity with it at the time. If fertilization does not take place, or if it does but pregnancy is later interrupted by abortion, miscarriage or some other accident, the incarnating entity may be attracted to other suitable parents.
    The human embryo begins as a single cell. Nine months later it has grown to about a trillion cells. Jintar had been told that the connection between the reincarnating soul and its new body is established in several stages. Even before conception takes place, a ray of energy from the incarnating soul activates the sex cells in potential parents. The fusion of sperm and egg marks the next stage, and the embryo then begins to grow, guided by the astral model-body built up under the influence of the reincarnating soul.
    Around the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, the fetus moves for the first time, and this marks the first real entrance into it of the higher attributes of the reincarnating soul. After birth, an intricate network of connections forms between the brain cells, enabling more and more of the latent mental powers of the human soul to be expressed. The process proceeds progressively into adulthood, and slackens only a short time before death. Or at least it should do, but many people lead such unhealthy lives and are swayed by such tempestuous emotions and passions that their bodies are often severely weakened by the time they reach old age.

~ 3 ~

Jintar’s reflections were brought to a sudden end by the sound of voices reverberating around the cavern. He sprang to his feet and walked to and fro, trying to pinpoint their source. Perhaps he was finally to be reunited with Sahula and Dazak! Maybe he might even see his master, Zoro, again, for the first time in many years.
    ‘Sahula, Dazak, is that you?’ Jintar shouted at the top of his voice.
    There was a brief silence. Followed by an unmistakable reply: ‘God bless America! God bless America!’
    Jintar looked puzzled. That didn’t sound like Sahula and Dazak. Or was Sahula playing a trick on him?
    ‘Is there anyone down there?’ bellowed a voice.
    Jintar could see several bright lights near the top of one of the walls of the cavern.
    ‘Look! There’s someone down there, near that bright lamp!’
    It was too late for Jintar to hide. He would just have to bluff his way out of this somehow.
    Two figures were descending the trail from the top of the cavern. They were wearing helmets fitted with lamps, and were kitted out with ropes and various other pieces of equipment.
    Jintar stood by the small luminous sphere. A man in his late forties and a young man of his own age were walking towards him.
    ‘Hello, I’m Jintar,’ said Jintar.
    The two Americans introduced themselves as Alex and George. They had been exploring some caves in Kentucky and had found a tunnel leading down and down. Then they had entered a labyrinth of tunnels and got completely lost. They wanted to find their way back to the surface, but all the tunnels seemed to lead downwards. Fortunately they were carrying plenty of provisions.
    ‘Are you an American?’ George demanded.
    Jintar shook his head.
    ‘Are you an Arab?’
    ‘Well you sure look like one. Where are you from then? Me, I’m from Texas originally.’
    ‘I’m from far away but I got lost.’
    ‘You look a bit disoriented,’ said the younger man kindly. ‘How long have you been down here?’
    ‘I’m not sure. I’ve lost track of time,’ said Jintar.
    George bent down and picked up the luminous sphere.
    ‘What in God’s name is this?’ he asked. ‘It’s incredible. Does it run on batteries? Maybe you’d like to swap it for one of our flash lamps – they’re the best money can buy. But where’s all your gear? And why are you dressed in that funny gown? You don’t look like an explorer to me.’
    ‘You probably just wandered into the caves while out for a walk and then got lost, did you?’ asked Alex.
    ‘It’s possible,’ said Jintar. ‘It all seems so long ago.’
    ‘We understand,’ said Alex. ‘Maybe you should sit down and rest a bit. Then we’ll all try and get back to the surface. If we can find the way.’
    Jintar went and sat down on a nearby rock.
    ‘It’s very dangerous to be down here alone,’ George called to him. ‘What if you’d fallen and had had a nasty accident? You might have died.’
    ‘Oh I’m not afraid to die – not in the slightest. In fact I’ve often felt it would be the most wonderful thing that could happen to me.’
    George looked at Alex in dismay.
    ‘Did you hear that?!’ he said in a hushed tone. ‘We’d better watch our backs. He’s looks very suspicious and has a strange accent. In fact I’m convinced he’s a terrorist – probably some sort of suicide bomber! There could be a whole colony of them down here. Maybe they’re infiltrating from the Middle East. We’ve gotta stop them!’
    ‘Don’t jump to conclusions, Uncle George! I’ll have a quiet chat with him and see what I can find out.’
    ‘Well be careful! If only we had a strong leader again, like the great President Stanford,’ said George wistfully. ‘It’s now fifteen years since he unfortunately choked on an apple. He wasn’t afraid to kick ass good and proper at the slightest provocation and then ask questions later. What we need today is more muscle, more beef.’
    ‘More brain might not be a bad idea,’ Alex remarked.
    But George was thinking deeply and didn’t hear. ‘The reason so much of the world is against us,’ he continued, ‘is because they’re jealous – jealous of our hard-won freedoms, and unable to grasp the grandeur of the American Dream.’
    ‘Or is it because our country is even more arrogant, greedy, hypocritical and aggressive than other rich nations?’ asked Alex.
    ‘And another reason,’ said George, still engrossed in his own train of thought, ‘is that many of our opponents are just plain evil.’
    ‘There’s good and bad in every land and every individual,’ Alex mused.
    ‘Anyway,’ George concluded, ‘I’m exhausted. I think I’ll have a quick snooze before we try to escape from this hell-hole.’
    After George had curled up on the floor with his head on a rucksack, Alex walked over to Jintar and sat down very close beside him.
    ‘So what country are you from? And where did you wander into the caves?’
    ‘It’s hard to say,’ said Jintar.
    Alex laughed and gazed at him penetratingly. ‘Are all the young men in your country as beautiful as you?’ he asked.
    ‘Beauty is only skin-deep and subject to decay,’ said Jintar with a frown.
    ‘Even so . . .’ said Alex. Then he added quickly: ‘I hope I haven’t offended you. Please don’t say anything to Uncle George.’
    ‘We all have our weaknesses and delusions,’ said Jintar.
    ‘So what are some of your weaknesses?’ said Alex. ‘If you don’t mind me asking.’
    ‘I sometimes talk too much,’ said Jintar.
    ‘I can’t say I’ve noticed. You haven’t even told us where you’re from or how you got here. Are you really disoriented or are you having us on?’
    ‘Having us on?’
    ‘Misleading us.’
    ‘Some things are just very difficult to explain. But you can think of me as a Buddhist monk if it helps.’
    ‘I suppose you look sort of like a monk. But your hair’s too long.’
    ‘So would yours be if you’d been down here as long as I have. Anyway, not all monks have short hair.’
    ‘Do many Buddhist monks go caving in their gowns and slippers? I don’t see how you could have got to this depth without even a rope.’
    ‘Yet here I am.’
    ‘Uncle George thinks you’re a terrorist, so I hope you can come up with some convincing answers.’
    Jintar said nothing; he was debating with himself when would be the best time to make his escape.
    ‘I do hope we can find our way back to the surface,’ Alex said worriedly to himself. ‘It would be terrible if I were unable to see my mother again before she dies.’
    ‘Is anything wrong with her?’ asked Jintar.
    ‘She’s got cancer. She doesn’t have long to live.’
    ‘I’m very sorry to hear that.’
    ‘I’m more or less ready for it. But she’s not. She gets so frightened and upset about what lies on the other side of death. If only I could reassure her. But I no longer have the faith I used to have – in God and immortality and all that religious stuff.’
    ‘The body of flesh is mortal,’ said Jintar. ‘The mind or soul is immortal.’
    ‘How can you be so sure?’
    ‘Consciousness stands higher than physical matter; everything we know about the material world comes to us through our consciousness. During sleep our conscious mind is temporarily absent, whereas at death it withdraws for good. As a result, the body decays – but the soul does not. Nor is a new soul created for each new-born baby. Every soul born here comes as a guest out of the eternal past, as it journeys through life after life towards perfection.’
    ‘That sounds good, but the truth is that no one really knows what happens after death,’ said Alex.
    ‘On the contrary. Many great sages, past and present, have told us exactly what happens after death for they have studied such things with their clairvoyant vision. There is certainly nothing to be afraid of. Whether people die peacefully or violently, they know at the moment of death that they are being released, that they are stepping forth again into the inner realms. The body is dead, the brain-mind is dead, the lower elements are cast off, all limitations are left behind, and the spirit-soul, the eternal self, rises through the ether, without fear or pain.
    ‘When a soul passes through the gateway of death, a sure and certain knowledge comes. It understands that the life just lived does not stand in isolation, that all its activities here were unfinished business. Memory for awhile is vivid and strong, light is thrown on the path ahead, revelations come of what might have been and what is yet to come. The soul then rests and dreams in utter peace. But eventually it begins to stir – it is eager for new and larger opportunities, to use the experience it has gained to correct old mistakes, make fresh efforts, and forge onwards with new understanding.
    ‘Whatever the loss we feel when our loved ones are taken from us, we should not mourn their passing. The soul is ready to move on and our morbid thoughts merely hamper its flight. We should let it go free, as free as the birds in the air, as free as nature intended it to be. It is merely going on a long journey – and in the fulness of time it will return. As surely as each soul is born, as surely will it be born again. All who have lived together, and loved together, and sometimes fought together, will come together again, at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate place. Of that, Alex, you may be absolutely sure!’
    Jintar was standing in front of the young American, looking at him intently. And Alex stared back in stunned silence.
    Suddenly the stillness was broken by a deafening cacophony, a thunderous rumbling and roaring. The whole cavern began to shake and seemed about to collapse on their heads.
    Alex and George leaped to their feet in terror.
    ‘We’ve gotta get out of here fast,’ yelled George, pulling on his rucksack.
    Alex raced after George and they began to ascend the trail leading to the top of the cavern. On the way, Alex stopped to look back and shouted something to Jintar but his words were lost amidst the din.
    Jintar gave a wave then folded his arms and stood watching the fleeing Americans. He had no intention whatsoever of going to the outer circle with them. This was as good a place as any to die if that was the fate he had laid up for himself. But perhaps it wasn’t. He bent down and picked up an object that had fallen out of George’s rucksack as he had dashed off.
    The deafening noise continued. The temperature in the cavity had risen markedly. Jintar half expected to be swept away by a torrent of boiling lava at any moment. He laughed out loud as he sat down on the floor and began what might be his final meditation on death . . .

Jintar opened his eyes. A deafening silence filled the air. He was still alive. In fact he felt surprisingly full of energy. Which way should he go? He could head downwards, where all manner of unknown dangers lurked – malevolent forces, oceans of lava, and monstrous creatures. Or he could head upwards, towards the civilized outer circle. The choice was easy: he would head downwards. So off he went, carrying the luminous ball in his hand.
    He chose his route by instinct, indifferent to whether he lived or died. It was a strange feeling to have the entire cavern world more or less to himself. After all the ordeals he had been through, he was now enjoying himself again. He often wondered what Sahula and Dazak were up to. Were they watching him? Would he ever see them again? And where was his master?
    After several weeks of travel, the force of gravity started to become noticeably weaker and his pace began to quicken. The air became more luminous, more full of vitality, filling him with vigour. Deeper and deeper he descended. This time, instead of entering caverns full of vegetation and animals he entered caverns of crystal, of inexpressible beauty. Standing in the middle of a lofty cavity, a dome of scintillating crystal, sparkling at him from every side, he was filled with joy and wonder, and bowed his head humbly before the sheer majesty of the inner earth.
    From the summit of a lofty cliff he looked down on an amazing spectacle. In the distance he could see a palace built entirely of crystal. This was no natural formation but a man-made edifice. It took him many hours to reach it. It was composed of enormous blocks of perfectly cut and smoothed crystal, some of them twenty yards long and seven yards high. The exquisite structure seemed to shimmer with breathtaking beauty.
    He entered it between two enormous pillars and marched down the centre aisle towards a raised area, which looked like an altar. The luminous sphere he was carrying was now glowing more dazzlingly than ever before, pulsing with life, as if resonating with its crystalline surroundings.
    On impulse Jintar approached and placed the sphere on the altar. Then he turned and began to walk away. Suddenly he heard a high-pitched whistling sound behind him. He turned and his eye fell on a stunningly beautiful crystal, seven inches long and five inches wide, lying next to the glass sphere. He picked it up, then turned and walked back towards the palace entrance. He didn’t know why he had acted in this manner, but he felt certain he was supposed to take the crystal somewhere. And he assumed it must be to the inner circle.
    He was about to continue his journey when he was almost scared out of his wits by a strange melody coming from somewhere on his person. He was so surprised that he fumbled with the crystal and almost dropped it. He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out the object that the Texan had left behind – a mobile phone. Who on earth could it be?
    He looked at the device and tentatively pressed a button.
    ‘Hello, Jintar here,’ he said in Senzar. ‘Jintar of the inner earth,’ he added in English. ‘Who’s calling please?’
    He held the phone to his ear for a few seconds with a puzzled expression on his face. Then he looked quizzically at the phone and pressed the off button.
    A strange mechanical voice had spoken three English words: ‘Climb, climb, climb.’
    Jintar carefully analyzed the message word by word. There was only one conclusion: he should head upwards, towards the outer circle.
    Before he could set off he heard voices. They were echoing around the crystalline cavity and the crystal palace. At first he thought it might be the Americans again and was about to hide. But then, to his astonishment, he thought he heard Senzar being spoken. He listened carefully, and thought he could distinguish two voices.
    ‘Is anybody there?’ he shouted at the top of his voice in Senzar.
    He listened to the echo. Which was followed by total silence. Then a shrill call rang out:
    ‘Om shambha prajnambha, om shambha prajnambha!’
    Jintar returned the Senzar greeting, and it was then shouted back and forth until the cave was filled with echoes. In the distance, in the opposite direction to which he had come, were two small figures, silhouetted against the bright crystal walls of the cavern.
    Who could it be? It wasn’t Dazak and Sahula, but it certainly seemed to be two fellow-inner-circlers. Smiling happily, Jintar strode towards them . . .

Warrior of the Soul - 3: Part 3

Warrior of the Soul: Contents