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4) Air - Namzo

Namzo sat by the window measuring the moment, no doubt he would reflect on this with unerring frequency. He watched the little girls play. First there was ragamuffin Churzo, his elder sister's girl, and her cute-looking friend, Dagon. Ah, Dagon was so beautiful. Tonight her mother had given her two pigtails with pink bows tied functionally in figure 8 bows. But her mother had also given her a sweet satin dress, she was the picture of oriental child-like innocence. Together they made a mound of earth, and began walking clockwise around it - this was the wont of his people. He smiled and then wandered.

He did not remember the first time he had wandered around the hill, but all of his village didn't remember - it was their birthrite. After birth his mother would suckle whilst his father looked on. Close family and elders looked in, the birth of a child mattered to his people - it was celebrated. The night would pass and at first light his father would wrap the child and with chosen elders walk silently around the hill. It was the time to choose a name. For some this was just ceremony as the name had been chosen for a long time, but with his father it was different - they had been unable to decide.

First with the elders they stopped at the shrine of power. For years his people had known of the power of this place. The hill formed a cliff face and as you approached you could feel its presence, standing underneath open hearts were awestruck. Far too often his people would congregate here, and their very presence marginally softened the potency. In the end the elders built a shrine. For his people a shrine meant gold, and there was a gold spire resting on a square with eyes staring in all directions, and beneath that there was the stone platform painted white all lying on a purple plinth. Oh, and of course there was the obligatory sitra. Some say they are sayings of the chosen one, their first guide Anhoc the Rising. Some would argue that Anhoc did not write down so it couldn't be his, maybe they were written by his first acolytes. Whatever at least this particular sitra was authenticated as coming from Anhoc. Different ones, later ones led to much argument and division.

But this sitra, the Namyana sitra, was revered by all as authentic Anhoc. So all over the kingdom the Namyana sitra was displayed, as it was on their shrine on a gold plaque just below the eye that faced all the world.

Yemdoc raised the infant to the shrine praying for a fitting name, then bowing before it the infant held gently but firmly above his head. His forehead touched the ground and he murmured several times in prayer "Guide me Anhoc, give me the name of power that my child will carry."

He rested quietly then the elders moved further round the well-trodden path. Next the hill indented and the rockface made a smooth curvature. Yemdoc gently touched the child to the smooth face quietly pleading to Anhoc to give him wisdom.

Beyond this was the hole, the hole of sanctity. All his village climbed up through this hole as a form of natural rebirth re-emergence. But next to it was a smaller hole, a hole that the whole village only experienced once in the birthrite. Murmuring "Anhoc connect me with unity", he pushed the infant gently through the hole and then moved to the top of the rock to collect him. The infant was strangely silent even though he had briefly left his father's arms.

The ritual proceeded as did the walk, the walk they all performed in their village. And eventually they reached the semsoc stone where Yemdoc again bowed down.

One of the elders prompted Yemdoc. The hill has told me this child is important to our people and I name the child the name of the hill Namzo. Here is my son, Namzo, he is a symbol of our village the living instrument of the hill of power.

The elders looked aghast this sounded sacrilege, and they knelt below the stone of the seers. They prayed to the semsoc stone, and after a long period of time they stood and said the hill has spoken and has spawned Namzo, may the child have the strength to bear this name of great power.

Looking at the sweet-faced Dagon, Namzo reflected on his birthright. Many times he had watched elders seek something outstanding but to no avail. Namzo often appeared more average than average. And his average nature stared at the sweetness as she grabbed up her satin skirt and using it as a basin filled it with gravel. She chased the ragamuffin and eventually heaved up her skirt and tried to empty the gravel on Churzo. She immediately got a handful back and their dirty faces lit with glee. Namzo still stared at their faces admiring the beauty and his reverie was disturbed as from behind he heard a huge clatter of stones on the wall. He waited they did it again. That was his wake-up call he had to start his pilgrimage.

Moving to the edge of the village he stared across the plain he had often walked, at the mountains in the distance. These mountains had power as did all mountains but these were the mountains that were known as the roof of the world, the roof where the world's chi gathered, the Gaic chi. He looked fondly at this source, a source his people had sprung from, a source that would guide his movements. Across the plains he walked feeling the wind off the lake taking him to his new life. He thanked the wind and asked of it "where are you taking me?" It seemed to say onward and upward, and his eyes were drawn to a gull that was directing his traffic. He felt comfortable with the sign, no questions were needed.

Focus was necessary, what was he doing? Where was he going? And to get that focus he needed to be attuned, to know the signs that nature would give him. He paused, his mind had been wandering. Bringing it back to rest in his heart he breathed in deeply and focused on the word walking. With his hands curled his gaze moved forward with his pace, step-by-step, until there was only walking.

And he walked in what could only be called "walking", his mind resting yet focused unwavering with his pilgrimage until soon he arrived at the foot of the mountains where he allowed his body to rest. Touching his bottle to his lips he felt the crispness of the lake water revitalise him, its strength coursing through him. There seemed little need to ingest food but he wasn't to be fooled. He needed rest as he had walked most of the day, his village far behind him, his intent so determined none of the neighbouring folk had questioned him.

The sun had begun to fall towards the distant horizon across the lake, an orange beam across the surface pointing to its final rest for the night. The lowness of the sun and the richness of the evening hue reminded him that light was growing dim, and he needed to prepare himself for night. Gathering wood and moss he fashioned the elaborate fire, moss inside a small cone of twigs upon which would rest further moss whose slow burning would ignite the outer cone. Then under the nearby tree he found the lanidier plant growing, and he broke off three of the stems. Lighting these he placed them in the ground in front of the fire. Soon the fragrance of the lanidier contrasted the strong smell of the fire and as he sat back on his haunches he let both scents flavour his nostrils as he nourished the being that had brought him so far, the being that had given him the name of power, Namzo.

Although Nature's calm was disturbed by the occasional scurrying, Namzo's mind focussed on its own stillness. After such a day as this there was little residual disturbance from the day, and that soon melted away as the power of stillness took over. Remaining still this power washed over him, and he simply remained still. After a while it was time to eat and he stood up and stretched. Slowly as the stiffness went he felt the power suffuse through his body needing little nourishment from the nuts and curd he had brought with him. Laying back he looked up at the clear skies wandering from star to star on his own little journey of recognition, and sleep came.

At night he dreamed as the celestial powers sought amongst themselves to advise him of his journey, this journey that would unite all the kingdoms through its many turns. Little of their discourse reached him at this stage except he was awakened in the middle of the night as a deer told him that he must follow the foot of the mountains for a number of days keeping the lake to his right until he would be told to climb. In the morning he woke to find no sign of a deer near his camp, but when he sat before the remains of the fire and lit the three lanidier he was simply reminded that he must follow the foot of the mountains with the lake at the right, and he smiled as it felt right. Holding the stillness steady he revitalised as he began to feel the sun rise to his left, hours later he saw the golden disc rise through the gaps in the peaks as a confirmation that Namzo had started on another day.

As the day drew on the rains came. To begin with he thought he would just walk through them but as they persisted he took time out. The mountains seemed to move in and out of the lakeside, and he was now quite close to them. He had found a tree that offered good shelter even though he was already wet. It was quite warm so he did not feel the cold and he began to watch the rain on the lake. At a distance the rain slanted in as a grey cloud but nearer he saw the individual drops strike the surface and appear to bounce off. It must be strange to be underwater in rain!

He sat there and his mind wandered. Even in the rain there was peace and he was able just to drift. He felt part of his mind questioning his actions. Why was he travelling? Why had he left the village - his home? But he dispelled the comforts this tormenter flashed in front of him. This was his quest. Deep inside he had a quest-guide and he was to follow. There was no real question except the occasional temptation. He went back to admiring the rain, there was peace in that.

Towards the end of the day the rain subsided. He could have pressed on but after yesterday's long trek there was no need. He had severed the immediate cord, he could not turn back without much effort and personal failure. He moved up the mountain slightly and sought a cave. It seemed to take a while but only in the mind's eye, and soon he had started a fire and was ready for the evening's nourishment. He had carried with him three of the lanidier sticks, and placing them in the ground he lit them and knelt before them. Soon the process of being still had taken hold, and he was just quiet. After a while he then ate his dried tofu, and was ready for sleep and lay down.

The next morning he awoke and moved to the edge of the cave and looked out at the wonder of the lake, it is a joy just to stare out at such natural beauty. He paused his indulgence, lit his sticks and calmed his mind - morning meditation was always better for him. His being then nourished he ate, and moved down to the lakeside and walked. Today he would walk further rain or no rain. Later in the day the rains did come but not as heavy. As dusk drew in he found a cave and settled for the night.

This daily routine turned into a week yet still he journeyed, but his questioning mind was getting louder and more uncomfortable. There was a peace in the walking, the lake, the mountains - the stillness of the wide open space, of nature clearly in charge, together with his willingness to accept that. But even despite that his mind was disturbing this - more and more. People so far were not a great part of his quest. Soon the occasional person began to see that he was a stranger, they were clearly civil but mountain people keep to themselves - they respect space, human and natural.

But that night his mind disturbed him too much. The depth and peace of open air sleeping was broken that night. In that moment of time that almost seems eternal before his disturbed sleep was broken, his deer appeared. It spoke to him about resolve, about his quest and about his Namzo birthright. As he awoke he knew that it was time for him to move up the mountain, and that morning he started to climb thanking the lake as he began to leave it behind. To begin there was a slightly worn path upwards that he followed but as he followed his mind disturbed him. It was not the chatter of disturbance but it seemed a deeper voice. He stopped to listen to it but it did not come into focus. But as he moved off he found that he had left the path behind. He started to feel the cold but it was not really discomfort. He noted the warning and focussed on his walking, and suddenly noticed an ease of climbing.

As time went on, although fairly early, he looked around ready to settle for the night. Out of the way he found a cave, this time much deeper and going well inside he found signs of earlier visitors. The place for fire had already been chosen and he only needed to find the fuel. He lit the fire early and found that the alcove he was sat in became warm very quickly, the shape seeming to keep the heat from escaping. It was early so he had more time to meditate and he took advantage of this, but this time his guide stepped in.

The deer simply said "You are the Guide who will be lost.", and then disappeared. He awoke, shocked, and heard noises in the cave. These noises turned to little squirrels, who came towards his fire. They all sat up on their hind legs grasping acorns in their front paws nibbling away at their fruit. In between nibbling one said "You are the Guide who will be lost.", as did another until there was a chirpy chorus. Then the chorus stopped as soon as it started, and a clap of thunder sounded terminating as the squirrels scampered off. This time he really awoke holding to the ominous "You are the Guide who will be lost."

He shivered but it wasn't cold, and he felt blank except for this one thought. It had a sharpness of fear, all else was blanked but this one powerful thought that had control of his attention.

Slowly he calmed, and gradually sleep took over. Awakening he was still dulled, and couldn't shake this feeling even with meditation. He moved off, and climbing a little further he found himself moving over a trough in the mountains, and descending through the scramble of rocks and tufts he saw Karenza, a small village in the distance.

It took him most of the day to reach Karenza as once he had scrambled clear of the rocks the valley stretched for miles. Soon he found that he joined a small mountain stream, and initially he zigzagged with it as the bank seemed more solid than the watery grasslands away inside. But after what seemed hours of zigzagging the stream went underground and not too far away he saw a path that he made a bee-line for. Initially difficult as he often stumbled against stones, the path then widened and soon it became easy, almost nonchalant, strolling along. His gaze wandered as he began to see the mountains receding especially as he descended slightly more quickly, and he felt a pang in his heart as this loved familiarity began to disappear.

Soon other travellers greeted him as they were moving towards Karenza, and warily he reached the outermost building seeking a hotel for shelter. He needed food, and perfunctorily consumed fighting off exhaustion. Although it had not been his longest day he felt most tired and the bed in the scanty hotel room quickly beckoned and he fell into a deep sleep that lasted well into the morning.

It seemed that entering Karenza was like changing worlds. The first that hit was the need for money. Those from the mountains who had travelled when young told him of such a need and had given him a little, but he needed work for that would soon be spent on the hotel. There was a festival in the town of Traneza, several days away, and he found work looking after the livestock that were being taken to the market.

Traneza reinforced the change in world view that he had to undergo, and soon e realised that if he were going to survive this new world he needed what they called education. That required a further move and he travelled to Lhanido where he managed to enrol in a college. He had no skills except for the livestock so he found himself looking after a shop during the night, and getting a few hours sleep after college in the evening.

And this became his existence for several years until he was qualified. What a strange word "qualified". He had been forced to go through certain written rituals. Teachers would say to him to write his own thoughts, but when he did that he failed until he learned that what he was supposed to write were the teacher's thoughts reworded. Once he knew the game he soon shone, whilst not being stupid these teachers only went so far with their minds. He began to understand why. Although academia was supposed to be the knowledge and wisdom for these cities, in fact it was far from that. Knowledge, yes, but it was the knowledge of the hierarchy, the knowledge of those that had become successful academics. These with success could not be questioned, and it was this that he had begun doing. Once he knew that he could attribute to these guardians of academia, and occasionally add to their bibles.

He soon discovered that wisdom was not a requirement or wisdom as in the terminology he had learnt in his tradition. These academic wise men were not applying the wisdom of their insight to problems but were quoting from others, and acting as a sort of conduit of current academics to tinker with the boundaries of existing thought. When he first realised this he was devastated at the waste of human minds. Instead of delving into problems examining it from all angles and reaching an insight into the solution, these people only used intellect - a process of logic and reason that took them to great depths of minutiae but never gave them the fundamental understanding that insight could. Occasionally so-called genius would come along, and not having been so sucked into the system as others still had sufficient of their insightful mind awake to create new wisdom. Whilst these people were occasionally wanted, they were also perceived with fear as if there was too much wisdom the erstwhile holders of the seat would soon lose those seats. Unwittingly these seat-holders conspired to ensure that only their ilk managed to hold the seats. Geniuses would be sidelined as crazy, disorganised, not co-operative, and marginalised in the system whilst seat-holders managed to acquire the knowledge these geniuses had on offer.

Seeing this Namzo developed a strategy for success. Working on a problem insightfully he would determine a situation. Instead of then using intellect for its purpose - providing the flesh on the bones of insight, he would then determine an appropriate starting point in established academic thinking and then work back to his insight. This would often take hours and hours of convoluted thinking, but once so done it was then completely accepted by establishment - as he was one after their own heart. Very quickly he gained success in the system as he continually watched for the academic leaders and then determined starting points within their work that would lead to the insights he had gained. By accrediting them with his understanding they saw no threat in him, and he gradually rose in the ranks.

But he suffered as he became sucked in. There were certain social rituals that the system required he perform, and part of this was the requirement to take drugs. Why in the world of minds are you expected to take substances that will destroy them? He soon discovered the balance required to do this, it was another gatekeeper exercise. Consume a certain amount of the substance, whether alcohol or illegal substances, but always appear in control. It did not matter whether you were in control, you just had to appear to be in control. This had its perks as there were sexual benefits for being the establishment that he soon learned - new researchers, colleagues for whom intellect was never enough but rather than learning insight sought passion as a substitute.

So this is how his life went. For years he subsumed his insight into intellect, addled his brain through socially-acceptable substance abuse and partook of the passions in a gentile way until eventually he was part of the establishment. He had become lost.