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Chapter 3, The Miraculous Transformation of Julian Mantle. Part 3
From the corner of his eye he saw another figure, dressed strangely in a long, flowing red robe topped by a dark blue hood, slightly ahead of him on the path. Julian was astonished to see anyone at this isolated spot that had taken him seven treacherous days to reach. As he was many miles away from any real civilization and still uncertain as to where his ultimate destination of Sivana could be found, he yelled out to his fellow traveller.
The figure refused to respond and accelerated his pace along the path they were both climbing, not even giving Julian the courtesy of a backward glance of acknowledgement. Soon the mysterious traveller was running, his red robe dancing gracefully behind him like crisp cotton sheets hanging from a clothesline on a windy autumn day.
“Please friend, I need your help to find Sivana,” yelled Julian, “I’ve been travelling for seven days with little food and water. I think I’m lost!”
The figure came to an abrupt stop. Julian approached cautiously while the traveller stood remarkably still and silent. His head did not move, his hands did not move and his feet kept their place. Julian could see nothing of the face beneath the hood but was struck by the contents of the small basket in the hands of the traveller. Within the basket was a collection of the most delicate and beautiful flowers Julian had ever seen. The figure clutched the basket tighter as Julian drew nearer, as if to display both a love of these prized possessions and a distrust of this tall Westerner, about as common to these parts as dew in the desert.
Julian gazed at the traveller with an intense curiosity. A quick burst of a sunbeam revealed that it was a man’s face under the loosely-fitting hood. But Julian had never seen a man quite like this one. Though he was at least his own age, there were very striking features of this person which left Julian mesmerized and caused him to simply stop and stare for what seemed like an eternity. His eyes were catlike and so penetrating that Julian was forced to look away. His olive-complexioned skin was supple and smooth. His body looked strong and powerful. And though the man’s hands gave away the fact that he was not young, he radiated such an abundance of youthfulness and vitality that Julian felt hypnotized by what appeared before him, much like a child watching the magician at his first magic show.
‘This must be one of the Great Sages of Sivana,’ Julian thought to himself, scarcely able to contain his delight at his discovery.
“I am Julian Mantle. I’ve come to learn from the Sages of Sivana. Do you know where I might find them?” he asked.
The man looked thoughtfully at this weary visitor from the West. His serenity and peace made him appear angelic in nature, enlightened in substance.
The man spoke softly, almost in a whisper, “Why is it that you seek these sages, friend?”
Sensing that he had indeed found one of the mystical monks who had eluded so many before him, Julian opened his heart and poured out his odyssey to the traveller. He spoke of his former life and of the crisis of spirit he had struggled with, how he had traded his health and his energy for the fleeting rewards that his law practice brought him. He spoke of how he had traded the riches of his soul for a fat bank account and the illusory gratification of his ‘live fast, die young’ lifestyle. And he told him of his travels in mystical India and of his meeting with Yogi Krishnan, the former trial lawyer from New Delhi who had also given up his former life in the hope of finding inner harmony and lasting peace.
The traveller remained silent and still. It was not until Julian spoke of his burning, almost obsessive desire to acquire the ancient principles of enlightened living that the man spoke again.
Placing an arm on Julian’s shoulder, the man said gently: “if you truly have a heartfelt desire to learn the wisdom of a better way, then it is my duty to help you. I am indeed one of those sages that you have come so far in search of. You are the first person to find us in many years. Congratulations. I admire your tenacity. You must have been quite a lawyer,” he offered.
He paused, as if he was a little uncertain of what to do next, and then went on. “If you like, you may come with me, as my guest, to our temple. It rests in a hidden part of this mountain region, still many hours away from here. My brothers and sisters will welcome you with open arms. We will work together to teach you the ancient principles and strategies that our ancestors have passed down through the ages.
“Before I take you into our private world and share our collected knowledge for filling your life with more joy, strength and purpose, I must request one promise from you,” requested the sage. “Upon learning these timeless truths you must return to your homeland in the West and share this wisdom with all those who need to hear it. Though we are isolated here in these magical mountains, we are aware of the turmoil your world is in. Good people are losing their way. You must give them the hope that they deserve. More importantly, you must give them the tools to fulfill their dreams. This is all I ask.”
Julian instantly accepted the sage’s terms and promised that he would carry their precious message to the West. As the two men moved still higher up the mountain path to the lost village of Sivana, the Indian sun started to set, a fiery red circle slipping into a soft, magical slumber after a long and weary day. Julian told me he has never forgotten the majesty of that moment, walking with an ageless Indian monk for whom he somehow felt a brotherly love, travelling to a place he had longed to find, with all its wonders and many mysteries.
“This was definitely the most memorable moment of my life,” he confided in me. Julian had always believed that life came down to a few key moments. This was one of them. Deep inside his soul, he somehow sensed that this was the first moment of the rest of his life, a life soon to be much more than it had ever been.
Chapter 4, A Magical Meeting with The Sages of Sivana
After walking for many hours along an intricate series of paths and grassy trails, the two travellers came upon a lusty green valley. On one side of the valley, the snow-capped Himalayas offered their protection, like weather-beaten soldiers guarding the place where their generals rested. On the other, a thick forest of pine trees sprouted, a perfectly natural tribute to this enchanting fantasyland.
The sage looked at Julian and smiled gently, “Welcome to the Nirvana of Sivana.”
The two then descended along another less-travelled way and into the thick forest which formed the floor of the valley. The smell of pine and sandalwood wafted through the cool, crisp mountain air. Julian, now barefoot to ease his aching feet, felt the damp moss under his toes. He was surprised to see richly colored orchids and a host of other lovely flowers dancing among the trees, as if rejoicing in the beauty and splendor of this tiny slice of Heaven.
In the distance, Julian could hear gentle voices, soft and soothing to the ear. He continued to follow the sage without making a sound. After walking for about fifteen more minutes, the two men reached a clearing. Before him was a sight that even the worldly wise and rarely surprised Julian Mantle could never have imagined — a small village made solely out of what appeared to be roses. At the center of the village was a tiny temple, the kind Julian had seen on his trips to Thailand and Nepal, but this temple was made of red, white and pink flowers, held together with long strands of multi-colored string and twigs. The little huts which dotted the remaining space appeared to be the austere homes of the sages. These were also made of roses. Julian was speechless.
As for the monks who inhabited the village, those he could see looked like Julian’s travelling companion, who now revealed that his name was Yogi Raman. He explained that he was the eldest sage of Sivana and the leader of this group. The citizens of this dreamlike colony looked astonishingly youthful and moved with poise and purpose. None of them spoke, choosing instead to respect the tranquility of this place by performing their tasks in silence.
The men, who appeared to number only about ten, wore the same red-robed uniform as Yogi Raman and smiled serenely at Julian as he entered their village. Each of them looked calm, healthy and deeply contented. It was as if the tensions which plague so many of us in our modern world had sensed that they were not welcome at this summit of serenity and moved on to more inviting prospects. Though it had been many years since there had been a new face amongst them, these men were controlled in their reception, offering a simple bow as their greeting to this visitor who had travelled so far to find them.
The women were equally impressive. In their flowing pink silk saris and with white lotuses adorning their jet black hair, they moved busily through the village with exceptional agility.
However, this was not the frantic busyness that pervades the lives of people in our society. Instead, theirs was of the easy, graceful kind. With Zen-like focus, some worked inside the temple, preparing for what appeared to be a festival. Others carried firewood and richly embroidered tapestries. All were engaged in productive activity. All appeared to be happy.
Ultimately, the faces of the Sages of Sivana revealed the power of their way of life. Even though they were clearly mature adults, each one of them radiated a child-like quality, their eyes twinkling with the vitality of youth. None of them had wrinkles. None of them had gray hair. None of them looked old.
Julian, who could scarcely believe what he was experiencing, was offered a feast of fresh fruits and exotic vegetables, a diet that he would later learn was one of the keys to the treasure trove of ideal health enjoyed by the sages. After the meal, Yogi Raman escorted Julian to his living quarters: a flower-filled hut containing a small bed with an empty journal pad on it. This would be his home for the foreseeable future.
Though Julian had never seen anything like this magical world of Sivana, he somehow felt that this had been a homecoming of sorts, a return to a paradise that he had known long ago. Somehow this village of roses was not so foreign to him. His intuition told him that he belonged here, if only for a short period. This would be the place where he would rekindle the fire for living that he had known before the legal profession stole his soul, a sanctuary where his broken spirit would slowly start to heal. And so began Julian’s life among the Sages of Sivana, a life of simplicity, serenity and harmony. The best was soon to come.
Chapter 5, A Spiritual Student of the Sages. Part 1
Great dreamers’ dreams are never fulfilled, they are always transcended.
Alfred Lord Whitehead
It was now 8:00 p.m. and I still had to prepare for my court appearance the next day. Yet I was fascinated by the experience of this former legal warrior who had dramatically transformed his life after meeting and studying under these marvellous sages from India. How amazing, I thought, and what an extraordinary transformation! I secretly wondered whether the secrets Julian had learned in that far off mountain hideaway could also elevate the quality of my life and replenish my own sense of wonder for the world we live in. The longer I listened to Julian, the more I came to realize that my own spirit had become rusty. What had happened to the uncommon passion I brought to everything I did when I was younger? Back then, even the simplest of things filled me with a sense of joy. Maybe it was time for me to reinvent my destiny.
Sensing my fascination with his odyssey and my eagerness to learn the system of enlightened living that the sages had passed on to him, Julian quickened the pace as he continued with his tale. He told me how his desire for knowledge, coupled with his sharp intellect — refined through many years of battles in the courtroom had made him a well-loved member of the Sivana community. As a mark of their affection for Julian, the monks eventually made him an honorary member of their band and treated him like an integral part of their extended family.