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Ch7 - The Real Hivantin

It was the bula - “Spring”. For many parts of Kolok Spring was a season where Kolok started to grow again after the time of dormancy and regathering. Yet in other parts there was a “forced Spring”, a Spring the kaomi wanted in order to start the New Year before the real heat brought the onset of the rains. Bula celebrated this.

Talak threw off the yoke of inactivity with the celebration for the next day the real work on the lands began. Also began the year for the moaani, and these moaani brought great credit to the community; the bula celebrated this credit. Some moaani went off to the places of learning whilst the more dedicated were off to a life of semi-solitude in the Sophist monasteries – often the same places.

It was Coemi’s final year at the bula because she had decided to dedicate her life to Sophism – she was going to train in the Wisdom school although her family knew nothing of this. For them this meant another year for Coemi as moaani; here in the kaomis there was only their Hivantin of protection and the Viharicus and Finonicon of the monasteries.

Her first years as moaani had been the usual education where she had focussed on harmony and technology. She recalled her first bula as a young woman breaking the ties with the family. Here in the kaomi square her family made a special effort for Coemi. As is often the case the first born was successful in kaomi education; she had excelled in kaomi dedication, in Sophist learning and her academic work that was leading to certification in Harmony and Technology - her portfolios were outstanding making her parents far too proud. Her mother had been in the kitchen for days with her bespoke dishes – forcibly co-opting her “willing” father for much of that time. At the bula the appearance of the table mattered as families competed for the best display of food and decoration; fortunately the competition stopped there as once the displays had been seen and nominally graded by matriarchs the food was shared throughout. She often played over the vid as family scrambled to be seen with Coemi and her parents in front of the spread. It was now her 6th year at a bula, and they never measured up to her first year as moaani – as is natural.

But there was a sadness for Coemi in this latest bula. Whilst it was her young brother’s first and she had to put on a face for him, she knew it was her last with her family – and with her kaomi, because dedication to a life of wisdom was complete. Amidst the bustle of bula celebration, her mind drifted back to her years of training at Aberunwi. Whilst Coemi’s portfolios were always quality, she did not wish for an academic life. Although most young people in kaomi education performed kaomi dedication dutifully for Coemi working within her community and helping Talak fulfil their paths was the most important. Aberunwi had a reputation for emphasis on kaomi, so when she chose this relatively low prestige place of learning she met resistance from her parents whose pride dreamt of the big names. But despite their egos there could be no argument with her desire to focus on kaomi and not academia. She arrived at Aberunwi with her heart full of altruism, and was knocked back immediately by the teachers decrying do-gooders. Kaomi was not for vanity, it was duty – a duty that all at Aberunwi were expected to perform with only minimal reward. This was not a big name place of learning where those who leave become figureheads, this was a place where those who attend build kaomi from the grassroots, where their success is measured by how many Talaks want to join in and build their own community - the bedrocks of kaomi. Once her own vanity had settled down Coemi quickly knew this was her place – as did her tutors; her progress was being tracked almost from the word go – as she later found out.

After 3 years she had qualified for her Certificate in Harmony and Technology, but for most of her course she had been attracted to Sophism. Her mentor pointed out that attached to Aberunwi learning was Aberunwi monastery and increasingly her time was spent there, and after her certificate her parents were surprised to learn that instead of coming back to work in their kaomi she was going to train at the Aberunwi monastery. It was hard for her to explain that she was still full of kaomi spirit, but her mind needed training – not full of academic content as she wanted her consciousness free from content. They were still confused but the moaanis in their community spoke the same way so they gave little resistance to their daughter. By this time their pride had accepted she was not going to be the exception they had hoped for, little did they know how exceptional she was but would never be known as such.

Coemi took to the monastic training quickly. Whilst the institution sometimes restricts progress because of mentor expectations, it was realised that such was alienating; in Coemi they found a reason to eliminate such alienation. She quickly moved beyond the conditioned learning of her first institute, and jumped to an understanding of sophism that was beyond her years - although such was not an appropriate measure. Such awakening was obviously encouraged but some mentors had never awakened and they had to be overridden by those who knew who they were dealing with. Not only was Coemi going to excel at sophism she would soon want to study the advanced Hivantin, within two years of monastic training the Abbot spoke of this.

Coemi’s mind quickly went to the book which was at the core of her studies on kaomi dedication, the way sophism built the kaomi and protected it from defilement. The kaomi thought of this book as sophism for lay people, once they became moaani much of what had been learnt got left behind – a distant memory of lay life.

“Amongst renunciates the Hivantin is known as the book of Wisdom, and takes seekers way beyond the lokutarra teachings of vihara and finon. From what little I know the raft this book provides brings with it years of training and a dedicated life to protect all kaomis from any recurrence of pandeme times.”

“I don’t know of what you speak, Ven Munyo,” answered Coemi surprised at both mention of the 3rd book in this way, and that Ven Munyo was not knowledgeable of “all” things.

“And that is the way it is meant to be, this is what we abbots are taught – to focus on the first two books of Viharicus and Finonicon, Ven Coemi” answered Ven Munyo more assured. Coemi’s heart soared at the use of the term of respect, but her training quickly kicked in, noted it (perhaps for later the ego told her), and let the pride fall away.

“But we are also taught to look out for special candidates suitable for the book of wisdom, and I think you are one. I know you are dedicated to sophism, that you have developed the vihara and finon, the vehicle and faith that can take you into the unknown that sophism guides you to. So do you think that that unknown might include the advanced Hivantin?”

“I have much to learn of the first two books, how can I know that I am ready for this advanced work?” asked Coemi genuinely.

“Of course,” continued Ven Munyo “such humility is to be expected. But I have some training in this esoteric Hivantin, we can work together if you are interested – to see if you want to go further.” “Surely any moaani would be interested in learning this advanced sophism,” answered Coemi “but I don’t know if I am suited.”

“If I tell you you are suited, Ven Coemi” encouraged Ven Munyo “would you accept my recommendation?” Of course she was honoured at such a recommendation, and had revelled as she had internalised Ven Munyo's new teachings.

Around her the bula noise disturbed her reverie as her father dragged her to sit with her brother – for this last time. After the bula had finished her family returned home continuing the celebration late into the night. Whilst Coemi joined in, at the back of her mind she was still clinging to the reverie; she was excited about the next stage of sophism. Ven Munyo hinted at a whole new world of sophism for special seekers, the protection she had learnt in kaomi dedication only touched the surface of the complete Hivantin.

And thus she had arrived at such an early age at Gandenwat, the place of sophist learning of the advanced Hivantin. She had been travelling 3 days, was exhausted yet full of expectation. Around her she saw only disappointment as she took in Gandenwat. After leaving her kaomi, she had flown across Kolok. If that was not enough to exhaust her, the mentor sent to meet her had told her there will be two further days of climbing to reach Gandenwat. She had dreams of some wonder high in the mountains, a Shangri-La of sophism, but on arrival there was little more than a basic kaomi. Smiling at the face of disappointment he had seen on many a lancer at arrival, the mentor took Coemi to her quarters and gave her time to recover from altitude, time she did not want as she was eager to start. With tolerance the mentor again smiled at her impatience telling her she had days to get used to Gandenwat, and there was no more to be said.

These days gave Coemi time for consolidation of the past and exploration of the new. She wandered and allowed what had happened to her to percolate. She was beginning to understand why she had focussed on kaomi dedication whilst others of her young classmates just did what was required. Ven Munyo had explained that protection was a keystone of sophism, and she took Coemi back to pandeme times.

“As far as we can gather sophism grew out of pandeme times. Whether this is true or not, sophism and moaani in general accept that it is these teachings that will provide the raft of protection to ensure that Talak will not sink to those times again,” began Ven Munyo in one their mentoring sessions.

“According to the lay Hivantin the pandeme destroyed much of Talak society. Taj had fled to their strongholds whilst Talaks fought amongst each other for what remained of their destructive technocracy. It was all talaks were left with – fighting, it was their only power and the only way they could regain responsibility. But it was all so destructive and defiled – greed was all they had and they saw no other way forward,” continued Ven Munyo in her teaching.

“It is so sad that Talaks had sunk in this way,” spoke Coemi genuinely.

“It was,” agreed Ven Munyo “but this defilement was intended – it was not a plan but it became intended. It is hard for us to understand but the Taj had become so powerful.”

Coemi nodded, and started to speak.

Ven Munyo motioned quiet and continued. “You learnt the historical development of Taj from land then financial control until their power and influence subtly yet pervasively directed all decision-making. It just developed that way, no Taj sat down and made a plan; but once developed they ensured that Talaks were conditioned to accept their dominion - a self-fulfilling rollercoaster. It is hard for us to understand that the Talak sila we see in our kaomis can have been so usurped, how power and influence completely compromised every decision Talak made, and how so many Talak became complicit in their own exploitation; yet that was the fact of pandeme life. “As far as the Hivantin can discern there were many Talaks who tried to regain their power and responsibility but they were fighting the tide. By the time these good Talak understood how the Taj were controlling it was too late. Many good Talak tried to make changes but for most Talak all they had was their families and their need to provide – they were controlled by money and nature's familial duty,” the teacher let her words tail off.

“In kaomi dedication it was never clear to me how Talak allowed this to happen,” recalled Coemi “I even asked my teacher how it could be that there were more good Talaks who wanted to change Kolok for the better yet it never happened ….” She paused and then noted “I was given no answer.”

“We cannot truly understand because it is not now the kaomi way because of sophism,” answered Ven Munyo “but the Hivantin clearly states that this was the case. They gave certain reasons, but in the end sophism simply says if Talaks give away their personal power and don’t take responsibility for their actions then Kolok can become defiled. Moaani accept this. “This is the benchmark of kaomi dedication, sophism teaches us to be dedicated to our kaomi and working towards all Talak maintaining their personal power and taking responsibility for their lives and decision-making. That dedication continually protects the kaomi from any egos whose greed tries to usurp the power of others,” finished Ven Munyo.

“I understood some of this, this is basically what we learnt in kaomi education – to protect the kaomi if there are individuals whose ego wants to take control,” agreed Coemi.

“But the book of wisdom speaks of situations where such egos have tried to take control,” countered Ven Munyo.

“In pandeme times,” stated Coemi.

“Sadly not just pandeme times,” replied Ven Munyo “there have been times since and sophism monitors this. It is this monitoring that requires the wisdom of seekers like yourself, Coemi.”

And Coemi began to understand and wanted to take the challenge.

But sitting around and waiting was a challenge in itself - dealing with her impatience. This was a land of great beauty, rolling hills and pastures for their beasts – the livelihood of the local Talak. These were powerful creatures and yet seemed so passive as she walked near one grazing. Their fur was shaggy and unkempt but clearly did what Kolok provided for – warmth for the beast and clothing for the Talak.

Nearby there were dwellings – obviously the homes of the local herders. Although they were used to the monastery she did not presume to wander in – even though she presumed to wander the hills that must have been perceived in some way as their land. Then almost hidden behind a nearby hill there was a mast – a communications mast, way beyond the needs of herders. Gandenwat was more than it first appeared, this gave her comfort; intentionally so, she thought. Whilst she trusted her institution the mind always tried to instil doubt; now that doubt could be more easily assuaged.

The trust that ended the doubt signalled an acceptance of where she was, and allowed to be in nature's beauty. Instead of indulging her intellect waiting for the new teachings, she just accepted what was around and explored. Around every hill there was a new vista that could only be offered by altitude such as Gandenwat. With nature's creation her faith could only be consolidated and as she walked each breath brought new connection, each view unconsciously cemented her very purpose. By the end of those days she almost resented the anticipated call to learning when on the third night the mentor told her that she was required in the Sainan hall the next morning.

As she entered the hall, she had absolutely no idea what to expect. Over the consolidation days she had found the hall, and had spent time in meditation – in a sense feeling the history, even meditating to become part of that history. Her expectations had built up this first meeting, the Abbot?, a cohort of new wisdom seekers to relate to, a similar cohort of teachers to gain this wisdom from. But instead there was a mentor pointing to the front where there were 3 other Talak not dressed in robes. As instructed she sat beside these three all of whom seemed much older than Coemi.

In walked another man in robes, and on seeing him the mentor immediately bowed 3 times – the usual bow for Viharicus, Finonicon and Hivantin. As the mentor started to bow so did the three other Talak so she did the same – it seemed proper she did not want to be disrespectful. The robed man, whose name she gathered later was Ven Pitarka, rang a small bell that she knew was a sign for meditation, and she prepared herself. There was a period of silence, and then Ven Pitarka spoke quietly “This is going to be your introduction to the teachings of the advanced Hivantin, please contemplate the importance of what you are about to learn.”

Coemi smiled to herself, how can she contemplate their importance when she did not know them, but slowly her mindfulness grasped that with all that had led to this moment these must be truly momentous teachings. It was this she held to, wisdom of the ages. She simply focussed on being wise and being open to learning, and got lost in these states until the bell rang again.

The speaker began “We have 4 new disciples at our Hivantin wisdom school, I wish you all the wisdom to understand the value of these teachings and the importance placed on this wisdom by the Sophist ministries. In the past you have learnt of Hivantin as protection, if you are from kaomis that protection is part of the kaomi dedication that you have grown up with. So it might be a surprise to you that Hivantin protection is a part of wisdom.

“The Sophist ministries grew out of the pandeme times where the original Fahendra identified the teachings necessary to prevent a return of pandeme times. Essentially this is the wisdom – the prevention of the suffering that led to the defilement of Kolok. It is this suffering that disconnected so many Talak, and through Sophism we hope to create the wisdom that will prevent this disconnection again.

“These Fahendra recognised that the source of the defilement became empowered in the Taj. Over history these Taj accumulated power and responsibility by gradually disabling individual Talaks from exercising their own power and responsibility – from following their paths. Through this accumulation they introduced external measures such as finance and miseducation to control, but by the time these measures were introduced their egos had become too powerful through their accumulation and dispowering of so many Talak. Fundamentally as new disciples you are here to complete your learning of the wisdom that the Fahendra created in the Hivihfin.

“Basically you are here to learn the wisdom that protects yourselves and protects all Talak.”

At this point Ven Pitarka bowed to the disciples who immediately bowed back, and left the Sainan hall. The mentor waited for him to leave, she moved near the head of the hall, and motioned the disciples to chairs that had been placed in a semicircle near a board just at the side. As they sat down she began speaking “I am Mentor Namana, and Ven Pitarka (who you have just met) appointed me as guest Moaani. As your mentor I expect for you to engage with me, if there is anything you wish to know I am your point of contact. Technology is to be used wisely and sparingly but I am sending you my details, and their devs pinged.

“Please introduce yourselves, and she pointed to the disciple next to her,” Namana began; and Geigor, Syran, Coemi and Arkvan introduced themselves with details again being pinged to the appropriate devs.

Over the coming weeks friendship developed with Syran, Geigor and Arkvan also seemed to pair off, but it seemed cultural more than anything else; she also took advantage of Namana’s mentor engagement.

“Why are there not more disciples here?” she asked her one day.

“Because the abbot wants the focus to be on wisdom and not on academy – she did not want a teacher-student feel about Gandenwat. But this is also what the Fahendra recommend in the Hivantin, discipleship rather than studentship, all moaani studying wisdom together just some a bit “further along”,” answered Namana.

“But there are many monasteries throughout Kolok where they study hi-soph,” she added.

“So why did I have to come all the way to Gandenwat? Surely there would have been a nearer monastery to my kaomi,” she continued to ask.

“It’s a sign of commitment, a sign of separation from your community – in your case your kaomi,” answered Namana patiently. “The wise life is one of complete dedication, not to kaomi that you have already demonstrated but to the protection of Kolok herself. When you come here you become immersed in a completely different way of life. Your teachers have not come from kaomis, neither have the other disciples, we want there to be nothing culturally familiar to you – nothing you can retain attachment to. There is just you and hi-soph.”

“But hi-soph is concerned with protection, who are we protecting up here in Gandenwat?” puzzled Coemi.

“You are here to develop the wisdom that comes from the teachings. Once you understand how the raft has brought you here, you will understand what will be the next step on your path. “Perhaps you will remain as a mentor?” asked Namana pushing Coemi.

“I am too young,” she answered too quickly, and then realising her possible insult she apologised.

“No need to apologise unnecessarily,” appeased Namana “as your mentor I am here for your questions …. unless you go too far,” she laughed. “If you have studied the wisdom teachings can you not be a teacher?” “Don’t you need some sort of life experience to bounce off the teachings?” she asked genuinely puzzled. “Or will the teachings not just be dogma – what we learn and repeat?”

“Good point,” answered Namana “but is that always the case? What you are here to do is to develop wisdom, that is your focus, that is the work you must do. Please remember that.”

“I always do, Ven Namana,” she answered strongly but then expressed her doubts “but sometimes I feel so ignorant of life on Kolok. All I have ever known is kaomi and Aberunwi …. and of course now Gandenwat. How can this experience give me wisdom?”

“Please don’t worry, young Ven,” assured Namana “Study, listen to the wisdom of others and it will become clear to you.”

But this institutional life nagged at Coemi. She would often speak with Syran about this. Syran was a mother, almost a grandmother except she had given up those familial duties to study hi-soph. Often when Coemi spoke with Syran she felt ignorant.

One day Syran let some irritation show. “You are not ignorant, Coemi,” Syran snapped at her “I have studied the Hivihfin even when I was a young mother, many years I have studied it yet your understanding, Coemi, is very clear – you are far from ignorant.”

“So why do I feel so lost? Surely there is more for me than to stay studying in Gandenwat?” she asked forlornly.

“I would be more than happy to spend the rest of my life just doing that, maybe even adding to the Fandra – if that is not being too arrogant,” replied Syran honestly.

“I understand you, Syran,” she answered so unsure of herself “that is a noble choice. So why do I feel that would be such a waste for me? Why does that just feel so ….” she searched for the word, gave up and said “wrong.”

“Have you discussed this with Ven Namana,” asked Syran effectively advising her to do so.

“I have mentioned it a bit,” she answered “but it is arrogant of me to say such things to a Ven when that is what their paths are about. It sounds like criticism …. but it is not criticism, I am just …. lost,” she blurted out with exasperation.

“Talk with Ven Namana,” repeated Syran to deaf ears.

Coemi’s studies began to suffer, and she took more and more to wandering the hills. What is the use of wisdom unless you can apply it? And yet there is a need for wisdom, without wisdom how can Talaks learn, how can they protect Kolok? Her mind just went round in circles wisdom – practice, if she stayed at Gandenwat would she bypass life? Weeks passed and her studies suffered. Guilt was filling her mind, they offered her hi-soph yet she was not studying. One night she just sat and she just knew she had to leave. Staying there she was letting herself down, letting the moaanis down, letting Kolok down, letting wisdom down; she was doing nothing. She resolved tomorrow to tell Ven Namana she was leaving. She sat in meditation, was her decision right? She just went round in circles and the only answer was to get involved in life experience and see, if it didn’t work maybe she could come back to wisdom? Maybe not but as it is she wasn’t doing anything.

That night there was no sleep as she prepared herself for her appointment with Ven Namana. When she arrived she just cried. Ven Namana was pleasant enough simply asking her to compose herself. “I must leave Gandenwat,” she told Namana through her tears. “All night I have been going round in circles wisdom, practice, wisdom, practice ….” Ven Namana held her hand up for Coemi to stop, “please come with me I have someone you should meet”, and without waiting for an answer walked away with Coemi sheepishly following.

Out through the courtyard and down some stairs Coemi followed until eventually they were in a room with Ven Pitarka and a lay person she came to know as Miram. Both Ven Pitarka and Miram bowed to Ven Namana who acknowledged their greeting “This is the disciple Coemi that I told you about,” announced the Namana.

“So this is the recruit the Abbot has been telling me about,” smiled Miram looking over Coemi.

“Indeed she is,” announced Abbot Namana “I have hopes that she will be our best recruit yet.”

The Abbot turned to Coemi “I haven’t been completely honest with you. Whilst we are here to impart hi-soph we are primarily here to recruit for the Fandhenda order.”

Not really understanding what was happening she asked “what are the Fandhenda?” but her mind was dwelling on Abbot Namana, they called her mentor the Abbot.

Miram explained. “When the Fahendra developed the Hivihfin they realised that the greatest need on Kolok is to protect her from times such as the pandeme. But the problem with the Taj is that by the time their accumulation was powerful enough they were not willing to listen, nor were the Talaks they had compromised with their power and influence. No amount of wisdom would have changed those Talaks as their egos were too strong. Nor was wisdom powerful enough to ensure that there were no Talaks attracted by these defiled ways. So they trained the Fandhenda order whose purpose was to live amongst the Talaks, check for these defiled egos and prevent them from defiling Kolok by any means necessary.”

Abbot Namana continued “The knights of the Fandhenda order are the cutting edge of hivantin wisdom, they are the Talak who put the wisdom-into-action when such wisdom is needed because defilement has taken over – or is about to take over. Such knights have to be totally committed and their wisdom has to be beyond compromise – they have to be immune to defilement. Their world is not the world of kaomi dedication but the world in which egos are appropriating wisdom and taking Kolok onto the path of destruction.”

Namana paused and pointedly said “Such a disciple is you, Ven Knight Coemi.” And she bowed as did Miram and Ven Pitarka who then all laughed at her bemusement and embarrassment. Then the Abbot went over and hugged Coemi until she could feel relief in the disciple as weeks of mental turmoil spilled out into the realisation that she had been on her path all the time, a path that had been closely monitored by the Abbot since Coemi had arrived.

Coemi sat in silence realising that she was going to be a Knight of the Fandhenda order - a lancer. Whatever that meant she knew that was what she was her purpose.

Next - Ch8 Fandhenda /Contents/Part 1