The Key (A Fairytale) Unexpected Surprises – Chapter 12 – (Part 2)
As the man slowly walked away, I faced my own future as well, and I entered the subdued and inviting cave; I had a lot of work to do. I was already adept at the Four Material Calms of – applied and sustained concentration, rapture, equanimity and bliss, and equanimity and mindfulness – but I had no idea how to approach the remaining Immaterial Calms. I was a weevil trying to burrow into solid granite. I knew that my logical, thinking mind could not penetrate these immaterial calms, and that every one of my thoughts, every attempt to understand with my mind would be useless. And I knew that my inner work was all that I could rely on.
For three years, I practiced with great determination, working tirelessly on the material and immaterial calms, eating very little. A few villagers occasionally gathered at the entrance to sit silently in my company after offering food, but they showed great respect and never caused me to break my silence.
The quiet and undisturbed atmosphere proved extremely effective. So much so that one day shortly after I first entered the cave, I was able to go deeper than I had ever gone before into the Fourth Material Calm of Equanimity and Mindfulness. While in this deep state, I saw, for one brief moment, the Infinite Space that was behind my concentration and surrounded it. This happened when my circle of light disappeared.
As soon as this happened, something dropped into my heart, opening my intuitive eye for just a moment as I incredibly slipped into the First Great Immaterial Calm of Infinite Space.
In that brief moment I could clearly see that the previous Material Calms of Applied and Sustained Concentration, Rapture, Equanimity and Bliss, and Equanimity and Mindfulness were dangerously close to the world and material existence; too close to the seeds of rebirth. I intuitively then replaced my object of concentration that served me for these many years; my circle of light, by the Infinite Space surrounding it. Then, when I fell into this Infinite Space, it felt as if a hole became unplugged! Yet, I was able to maintain a piercing awareness. In this state, my “wanting,” or my desire for anything in the material world was totally abandoned.
Now my inner work was becoming mature. My mind was becoming very deep and still, and the great Source of wisdom that rested within me, the Reality, was making itself known. I was truly that great “Source” of all things. Or rather, It was all of me. There was nothing that the old self, the old “king” could do except relax and begin falling into the arms of this “Source.” I had great confidence it would take me to my key.
The months flew by, and my inner work intensified in the uninterrupted, silent atmosphere of the cave. I trusted these peaceful surroundings. There were no surprises or disturbances, and interestingly enough, no feelings of emptiness or loneliness as I dropped into deeper and deeper states.
After concentrating intensely on ‘Infinite Space’ for a year, my awareness suddenly shifted to the ‘Consciousness that pervades this Infinite Space.’ These sudden attainments and shifts always came as great, unexpected surprises, and this particular change occurred with an immediate recognition – I understood that Infinite Space was too uncomfortably close to the Material Calms, and that this new ‘Consciousness Pervading Infinite Space’ was much safer. As my mind then concentrated on that Consciousness, I was able to attain the Second Great Immaterial Calm of ‘Boundless Consciousness.’
While this was all happening, the connections to the Source, the very same seven centers that caused my illness and near demise on the mountaintop, began to open naturally in my body. My focus on the ‘Consciousness that Pervades Infinite Space’ became very concentrated, and one afternoon while in this deep state, my mind caught a glimpse of Nothingness – or the Void. The ‘Consciousness that Pervaded Infinite Space’ had now disappeared and there was nothing. Everything was gone. Everything was entirely empty, and nothing was left as I fell into the Third Great Immaterial Calm of ‘Nothingness.’ My exceedingly lucid mind became exceptionally clear; so clear that it realized the previous ‘Great Immaterial calm of Consciousness’ was merely an observation, and actually there was only nothing; just emptiness.
While focusing on this new area of ‘Nothingness,’ I again detected a sensitivity in parts of my body; the centers near the crown of my head, my forehead, my throat, heart, solar plexus, the area just below my naval and the base of my spine.
As I concentrated on each of these centers, each for a few months at a time, I learned more about them. The top of the head was seen as the most stunning with its light orchid splendor surrounded by radiant white and gold compliments, all flowing, and vibrating at intense levels of activity. I knew that this area was the key to unification with the Source of all there is, with Reality.
The purple forehead center appeared to be the most important but not easy to explain. It seemed to reflect my inner being in some way. It caused attachments to disappear and I could recognize the origins and outcomes of situations. There was a blurring of the opposites of power/weakness, love/hate, and so forth, as their differences became non-existent. Nothing bothered me any longer and I experienced bits and pieces of vague scenes, seemingly from past lives or existences, some of which appeared to be from the perspective of a plant or mineral; all very difficult to explain. I also envisioned beautiful colors of all kinds, vast landscapes of flowing, brilliant hues, sometimes in the form of flowers or designs. I also heard voices in my mind – similar to the voice that that told me, “You are completely healed” – and they came up regularly while concentrating on this center.
Many of the things I heard were not immediately understandable and definitely not from my mind, but after some experience the insightful nature of their meanings at times became clear. The ringing in my ears that had been audible since my illness on the mountain became louder and constant, with two distinct tones ever-present, a high pitch and a low hum. This forehead center also made me feel that I was ready to flow with the wind, experiencing some kind of difficult to explain loving aloofness. It caused me to surrender to complete conviction, ready to engage myself fully in life at a new, wonderfully expansive level.
When working on the bluish silver throat, I had boundless hopefulness, experiencing steady serenity and seemingly impervious to ailments. There were no longer any worldly aspirations and I could clearly differentiate between truth and falsity.
The golden heart brought up extreme compassion toward all beings as I experienced other’s happiness and grief as if it were my own. Sleep was now required in only small increments, as my interest in the world completely dissolved.
Attention to the green solar plexus resulted in passages to strange places, descriptions of which would be difficult to comment on. There were also visions and dreams depicting incredible freedom, soaring through the air like a bird. I always would think, during the visions, that since it is so easy to fly, why haven’t I always done this? There was a definite feeling that I would only go forward now with no chance of backsliding, and that any problems in the future would never again be my individual difficulties. They would merely be tribulations of the human existence.
Odd intuitions were produced by focusing on the orange area below my naval. I couldn’t quite put my finger on them but they seemed to be both threatening and liberating at the same time, as if I was caught between them. Sexual attraction was also mysteriously replaced by empathy, patience, and mercy.
During my focus on the base of the spine, which was red in color, and which I felt intuitively between my legs, I surprisingly found myself relieved of my previous flaws of self, clinging, gluttony, lust and rage.
But this time I followed Sahmad’s instructions to the letter regarding the correct way to open, and above all, close the energy centers. It was essential to close them every time after the inner work, so without fail at the conclusion of each session I visualized each center closing similar to blowing out a candle, starting with the base of my spine and ending with the forehead, leaving the crown open.
During my second and third year I was often visited by immaterial beings in the form of silent points of light. They would simply land near me in the cave or hover silently. I had always hoped that Ariya would drop in again but she never did. However, during one very extraordinary full moon night, a being did visit by appearing to me in a vision during my inner work.
He was tall, young, and very handsome with a shaved head and wearing an orange robe. His demeanor was that of a great sage as he floated in from the entrance and stopped directly in front of me, hovering above the ground to my right.
The sage was sitting cross-legged with his right foot over his left thigh, and as he closed his eyes he began to speak in a strong, compelling voice, “There is the Truth of Discontent, which affects beings in the material and immaterial worlds. There is the Truth of the Cause of this Discontent. There is the Truth that a Cure for this Discontent exists. There is the Truth of a Way to Cure this Discontent.”
The presence of this powerful teacher and these simple, commanding words reinforced everything I felt over the years as I sought after the key.
“The cause of this constant discontent is wanting and craving,” continued the sage. “There is a cure for this constant wanting and craving. The way to realize this cure is to follow a life conducive to opening oneself to the Source of all there is. In this new life, you must first acknowledge your own discontent, realize the cause of this discontent, believe that there is a solution, and embark on a quest to achieve this solution.
To this end, you must cultivate energy, joy, tranquility, equanimity, concentration, investigation, and mindfulness. You must think in terms of renunciation, absence of ill will and absence of cruelty. You must abstain from false, slanderous, harsh, or frivolous speech. You must abstain from killing, from taking things that are not offered, and sexual misconduct. The quest for the key must be your only concern and you must arouse energy to this end, striving for the non-arising of evil and the abandoning of evil that has arisen.
“You must strive for wholesome states that have not arisen and the development and perfection of wholesome states that have arisen. You must cultivate the Great Calms. You must contemplate your body and mind and maintain constant, unbroken mindfulness. You must always be your own teacher, relying on yourself and not relying on others to help in the actual work. Only Truth must be your guiding light.”
The sage stopped speaking and opened his eyes. He smiled, then handed me a small, white flower, communicating an unspoken bond between us, after which he floated back toward the entrance to the cave, facing me until he disappeared.
Everything he mentioned reinforced my efforts and gave me great confidence to go on, so I therefore tried to remember every word. This vision was another turning point in my mission, instilling within me self-assurance that I would somehow be successful in the end.
I put the flower down and returned to my inner work. I put the flower down! . . . My heart soared as I grasped the enormity of what had just happened. The flower was real! What I experienced was not merely a vision! This cave was truly remarkable, and the fact that masters guided me to it only reinforced my undying pledge to live up to their expectations. The key would be mine.
Before long, three years had almost gone by. Soon I would be leaving this cave. My mind, now sharpened to a razor’s edge, was able to go very deep, deep enough to discern that the seven Calms that had so far been achieved were merely perceptions of the mind, and subject to change, and therefore not peaceful. The instant the mind saw this danger, it thought “Peace,” and realized that only in the complete cessation of Perception, and in the complete cessation of Non-Perception could this danger of “the influence of things,” whether they were seen, perceived or felt, be finally resolved. With this incredible, deep understanding, I was able to attain the last of the Great Immaterial Calms by absolutely exhausting everything that could be seen or perceived in any way. Then I attained the last Great Immaterial Calm of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception.
Sahmad’s prediction proved true about the cave; I achieved the Immaterial Calms and the Seven Centers, acquiring my razor sharp Sword of Concentration. Having accomplished these rare attainments, then, my attention now focused on the strange drawing given to me by the holy man on the mountain.
I studied it again: A sketch of a man and then next to the man was a picture of the man’s head with four more pictures above it; a hand in a fire, a hand which apparently had been burned and was in pain, a man looking at his burned hand, and a man using fire to cook with. This strange sketch must have something to do with what was ahead.
Three years had passed far too quickly and the day arrived when it was time reluctantly to leave the cave. I emerged triumphant and walked directly to the stables where Conqueror was waiting. The old, crippled horse tried to run in his excitement but stumbled and fell, and as I helped him struggle to his feet, tears of gratitude streamed down my face as I put my arms around the neck of my gallant, undying companion and best friend for all these unbelievable years.
The villagers were saddened to see us go, but I insisted that there was some unfinished business to be taken care of; business that would make me a better teacher. The elder said I was good enough right now, but I just smiled, thanking him and his villagers for their generosity.
We left the village with everybody bowing and as we made our way past the cave, I caught a glimpse of something hiding in the trees. It was watching us intently, and when we were almost out of sight, I turned around and waived a final goodbye to a beautiful white tiger.