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Chapter 3, The Miraculous Transformation of Julian Mantle. Part 2
Although he embraced every moment of his time in this exotic land, Julian told me that his journey to India was more than a simple vacation to ease an overworked mind. He described his time in this far-away land as a “personal odyssey of the self”. He confided that he was determined to find out who he really was and what his life was all about before it was too late. To do this, his first priority was to connect to that culture’s vast pool of ancient wisdom on living a more rewarding, fulfilling and enlightened life.
“I don’t mean to sound too off-the-wall, John, but it was like I had received a command from within, an inner instruction telling me that I was to begin a spiritual voyage to rekindle the spark that I had lost,” said Julian. “It was a tremendously liberating time for me.”
The more he explored, the more he heard of Indian monks who had lived beyond the age of a hundred, monks who despite their advanced years maintained youthful, energetic and vital lives. The more he travelled, the more he learned of ageless yogis who had mastered the art of mind-control and spiritual awakening. And the more he saw, the more he longed to understand the dynamics behind these miracles of human nature, hoping to apply their philosophies to his own life.
During the early stages of his journey, Julian sought out many well-known and highly respected teachers. He told me that each one of them welcomed him with open arms and open hearts, sharing whatever gems of knowledge they had absorbed over lifetimes spent in quiet contemplation on the loftier issues surrounding their existence. Julian also attempted to describe the beauty of the ancient temples which were strewn across the mystical landscape of India, edifices which stood as loyal gatekeepers to the wisdom of the ages. He said he was moved by the sacredness of these surroundings.
“It was a very magical time of my life, John. Here I was, a tired old litigator who had sold everything from my racehorse to my Rolex, and had packed all that remained into a large rucksack that would be my constant companion as I ventured into the timeless traditions of the East.”
“Was it hard to leave?” I wondered aloud, unable to contain my curiosity.
“Actually, it was the easiest thing I have ever done. The decision to give up my practice and all my worldly possessions felt natural. Albert Camus once said that ‘Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.’ Well, that’s exactly what I did. I knew I had to change—so I decided to listen to my heart and do it in a very dramatic way. My life became so much simpler and meaningful when I left the baggage of my past behind. The moment I stopped spending so much time chasing the big pleasures of life, I began to enjoy the little ones, like watching the stars dancing in a moonlit sky or soaking in the the sunbeams of a glorious summer morning. And India is such an intellectually stimulating place that I rarely thought of all I had left.”
Those initial meetings with the learned and the scholarly of that exotic culture, though intriguing, did not yield the knowledge for which Julian hungered. The wisdom that he desired and the practical techniques that he hoped would change the quality of his life continued to elude him in those early days of his odyssey. It was not until Julian had been in India for about seven months that he had his first real break.
It was while he was in Kashmir, an ancient and mystical state that sits sleepily at the foot of the Himalayas, that he had the good fortune to meet a gentleman named Yogi Krishnan. This slight man with a clean-shaven head had also been a lawyer in his “previous incarnation,” as he often joked with a toothy grin. Fed up with with the hectic pace that personifies modern New Delhi, he too gave up his material possessions and retreated to a world of greater simplicity. Becoming a caretaker of the village temple, Krishnan said he had come to know himself and his purpose in the larger scheme of life.
“I was tired of living my life like one long air raid drill. I realized that my mission is to serve others and somehow to contribute to making this world a better place. Now I live to give,” he told Julian. “I spend my days and nights at this temple, living an austere but fulfilling life. I share my realizations with all those who come here to pray. I serve those in need. I am not a priest. I am simply a man who has found his soul.”
Julian informed this lawyer turned yogi of his own story. He spoke of his former life of prominence and privilege. He told Yogi Krishnan of his hunger for wealth and his obsession with work. He revealed, with great emotion, his inner turmoil and the crisis of spirit he had experienced when the once bright light of his life began to flicker in the winds of an out-of-balance lifestyle.
“I too have walked this path, my friend. I too have felt the pain you have felt. Yet I have learned that everything happens for a reason,” offered Yogi Krishnan sympathetically. “Every event has a purpose and every setback its lesson. I have realized that failure, whether of the personal, professional or even spiritual kind, is essential to personal expansion. It brings inner growth and a whole host of psychic rewards. Never regret your past. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.”
After hearing these words, Julian told me that he felt great exultation. Perhaps, in Yogi Krishnan, he had found the mentor he was searching for. Who better than another former hotshot lawyer who, through his own spiritual odyssey, had found a better way of living to teach him the secrets of creating a life of more balance, enchantment and delight?
“I need your help, Krishnan. I need to learn how to build a richer, fuller life.”
“I would be honored to assist you in any way that I can,” offered the yogi. “But may I give you one suggestion?”
“For as long as I have been caring for this temple in this little village, I have heard whisperings of a mystical band of sages living high in the Himalayas. Legend has it that they have discovered some sort of system that will profoundly improve the quality of anyone’s life — and I don’t just mean physically. It is supposed to be a holistic, integrated set of ageless principles and timeless techniques to liberate the potential of the mind, body and soul.”
Julian was fascinated. This seemed perfect.
“Just exactly where do these monks live?”
“No one knows, and I regret that I’m too old to start searching. But I will tell you one thing, my friend; many have tried to find them and many have failed — with tragic consequences. The higher reaches of the Himalayas are treacherous beyond compare. Even the most skilled climber is rendered helpless against their natural ravages. But if it is the golden keys to radiant health, lasting happiness and inner fulfillment that you are searching for, I do not have the wisdom you seek — they do.”
Julian, never one to give up easily, pressed Yogi Krishnan again. “Are you certain that you have no idea where they live?”
“All I can tell you is that the locals in this village know them as the Great Sages of Sivana. In their mythology, Sivana means ‘oasis of enlightenment’. These monks are revered as if they are divine in their constitution and influence. If I knew where they could be found, I would be duty-bound to tell you. But honestly, I do not know — no one does, for that matter.”
The next morning, as the first rays of the Indian sun danced along the colorful horizon, Julian set out on his trek to the lost land of Sivana. At first he thought about hiring a Sherpa guide to aid him in his climb through the mountains, but, for some strange reason, his instincts told him that this was one journey he would have to make alone. So instead, for perhaps the first time in his life, he shed the shackles of reason and placed his trust in his intuition. He felt he would be safe. He somehow knew he would find what he was looking for. So, with missionary zeal, he started to climb.
The first few days were easy. Sometimes he would catch up to one of the cheerful citizens of the village below who happened to be walking on one of the footpaths, perhaps searching for just the right piece of wood for a carving or seeking the sanctuary that this surreal place offered to all those who dared to venture this high into the Heavens. At other times he hiked alone, using this time to silently reflect on where he had been in his life — and where he was now headed.
It didn’t take long before the village below was nothing more than a tiny speck on this marvellous canvas of natural splendor. The majesty of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas made his heart beat faster and, for one long moment, took his breath away. He felt a oneness with his surroundings, a kind of kinship that two old friends might enjoy after many years spent listening to each other’s innermost thoughts and laughing at each other’s jokes. The fresh mountain air cleared his mind and energized his spirit. Having travelled the world many times over, Julian had thought he had seen it all. But he had never seen beauty like this. The wonders of which he drank at that magical time were an exquisite tribute to the symphony of nature. At once he felt joyous, exhilarated and carefree. It was here, high above the humanity below, that Julian slowly ventured out of the cocoon of the ordinary and began to explore the realm of the extraordinary.
“I still remember the words that were going through my mind up there,” said Julian. “I thought that, ultimately, life is all about choices. One’s destiny unfolds according to the choices one makes, and I felt certain that the choice I had made was the right one. I knew my life would never be the same and that something marvellous, maybe even miraculous, was about to happen to me. It was an amazing awakening.”
As Julian climbed into the rarified regions of the Himalayas, he told me that he grew anxious. “But it was those good kind of jitters, like the ones I had on prom night or right before an exciting case began and the media was chasing me up the courtroom steps. And even though I didn’t have the benefit of a guide or a map, the way was clear and a thin, lightly travelled path led me higher into the deepest reaches of those mountains. It was like I had some sort of inner compass, nudging me gently towards my destination. I don’t think I could have stopped climbing even if I had wanted to,” Julian was excited, his words spilling out like a gushing mountain stream after the rains.
As he travelled for two more days along the route that he prayed would take him to Sivana, Julian’s thoughts wandered back to his former life. Though he felt entirely liberated from the stress and strain that personified his former world, he did wonder whether he could really spend the rest of his days without the intellectual challenge that the legal profession had offered him since he left Harvard Law School. His thoughts then wandered back to his oak-paneled office in a glittering downtown skyscraper and the idyllic summer home he had sold for a pittance. He thought about his old friends with whom he would frequent the finest of restaurants in the most glamorous locales. He also thought about his prized Ferrari and how his heart would soar when he gunned the engine and all its ferocity sprang to life with a roar.
As he ventured deeper into the depths of this mystical place, his reflections of the past were quickly interrupted by the stunning marvels of the moment. It was while he was soaking in the gifts of nature’s intelligence that something startling happened.