With all of these sensations penetrating my life, I stepped onto the glacier and began my walk to find the sadhu, the thought of whom somehow had not lost its immediacy. The urge that had brought me there stood its ground against the mountain and its fiery symbols. The ice was solid to my step and yet vaporous as a sensation. The symbols had faded and the familiar forms of my senses drifted back into my mind as more substantial carriers of my intent.
As I walked toward the mountain, I used it, the ice of the glacier, the surrounding peaks, and the blazing blue sky to give me mental boundaries. The sun shone like a monster eye, reminding me of the dangers I was facing now that I was no longer treading the mere substance of ice and the grit of dirt but was walking on a cosmic landscape.
I did not know how to find the sadhu, yet I moved forward. Perhaps the sadhu had already found me. What I might have expected upon finding him was nothing compared to what I was experiencing now. What kept me sane and sober was the firm intent to write in the book I was carrying as much of my story as words could bear. And here they are. Whoever is reading this book will have to decide whether I have been successful. You, whoever you are, must know that I completed my journey and have left this account for the random pilgrim to find at a moment the book itself must choose.
After what seemed both an instant and an interminable amount of time, a red glitter appeared in front of me. It shimmered like a flame in a breeze and became larger as we approached each other. I had no doubt that this image was no mirage and was directing its passage specifically at me. The muscles in my navel began to quake and my nervous system felt like it had taken on the fire that as of yet only my eyes could see. Whether this red image would solidify into a distinct form, I did not know; nevertheless, its livingness was apparent to me from the thoughts that began to swirl inside my mind.
These thoughts were particular threads of meaning that transported me to different experiences in my life. I found myself in freefall through uncountable memories. At one moment, I was with the red-head woman sitting on the rock talking about pure existence. At another moment, I was lying in bed with my girl friend talking about the verisimilitude between orgasm and samadhi, a state of mystical union with spirit. The closer the flame came to me, the farther back these threads took me into my past. During one interlude, which seemed to last longer than the others, I was in school as a young student taking a spelling test on words that were still pinned to the bulletin board. When I brought this lapse in planning to my teacher’s attention, she took my paper and sent me into the hall. It occurred to me that everyone in the room was going to get a 100 that day except me. Meanwhile, as I was leaning against the wall, shamed by my failure in the classroom, the red-head beauty that had fired my young blood happened to walk by. She gave me not a glance.
Suddenly, the mind journey ceased and the flame had become the red-head woman who had earlier sent me on this journey by cutting my mind loose from the world I had left behind.
“You made it,” she said from inside a smile that referred seemingly to nothing. We faced each other on common ground, both on the glacier and on the plane of pure existence, the dual reality of which had been the true lesson she had been trying to teach me. From what I was experiencing looking at her, we could just as easily have been still sitting on the rock with the sound of the ancient river flowing around us. What I realized now was that there was no possible observer beyond myself, neither here on the glacier nor there on the rock, not even on the bed with my girl friend wanting again to explore the mysteries of orgasm. All of my experiences were self-contained. They had no reality outside the moment. I was a witness to all of these events as well as a participant. As a witness I remained innocent. As a participant, I was always lost.
“How do I find the sadhu? Every direction looks the same.”
She motioned me to sit down with her. The ice burned through my pants. She was about to speak, when she glanced at my hands holding the journal. I could see in her eyes that she recognized the flaming symbols that were imbedded in the pages of the book, but beyond that recognition she became distracted as if trying to dismiss some perplexity. In slow motion, she pressed a finger tip to her tongue then used the wetness to wipe a smudge from the faded gold color of the cover. Gently, she lifted it from my hands and opened it. For a few minutes within unfathomable silence, far beneath the waves of wind brushing against our bodies and even beyond the mighty fire of the sun, she read.
Without taking her eyes off the book, she asked for a pen. I reached into my pack and pulled one out. For a few moments she held the pen in the air like an artist waiting for the moment of pure inspiration. Then she flipped the book over, opened it from the back and began to write.
After a few minutes, she paused and said, “You and I have gone as far as we can on this journey. In a few minutes, you will know everything beyond which there is nothing more you can know.”
She lowered her head and continued to write while I swept the landscape with my eyes as if there were still something to find in the mountains, which now were as much the emptiness between them as well as their massive slopes and peaks covered with snow. I contemplated the idea that after we were finished doing whatever we were doing, I would at least have her as a guide on the way back. She had been here and gotten back before. With these thoughts, I also realized that without her I was actually lost. Again, the landscape had become for me a metaphor. I remembered how hard it had been for me to grasp her explanation of metaphor earlier when I was still a classroom teacher on pilgrimage. On this glacier, the word meant something real for the first time because it existed in multi-dimensions as contradictory, nevertheless, valid truths. First there is no metaphor; the world is just the world. Then there is metaphor; the world is an indicator of a transcendental wholeness behind it. And then there isn’t; with no distinction between the two, neither can be defined. The blue sky continued to blaze like an indifferent force penetrating my soul.