The below is part two of a preview of my latest book 'The Last King of Shambhala'. Click here for part one.
“I have never been here before,” I said, pausing briefly to listen to the echoing of my voice. “Well, I don’t think I have. I have no memory of a life before.”
“I am Vibhishana, the Protector of Lanka,” the being responded, now talking with perfect articulation in a language I could understand. “Welcome back.”
“Sri Lanka?” I asked.
Amisha used to sit me down with a map and ask if any countries looked familiar. Or if I felt a connection in my heart to any. To her disappointment, none looked familiar to me, nor incited any special feelings, but the practice did improve my geography.
The being shook his head, and a smile formed on his pussycat lips. “What you call Sri Lanka is a sacred place of beauty, but it is not Lanka. This is Lanka, although very different to how Lanka once was. But it is still surrounded by the Trikuta Mountains,” he said, pointing a paw to the surrounding mountains out the windows. “Still an inland island. A fortress of secrecy.” He paused. “And still, only through Lanka, can one find Shambhala. However, the door to Shambhala is not found within the temple walls, but found within.”
“Within Lanka?” I asked.
Vibhishana leaned forward and placed a stubby index finger on my forehead. “Within,” he said.
After an initial static shock that emanated from his finger, my vision blurred and filled with vibrant colours, some outside the spectrum of human perception. My eyes adjusted and the colours faded.
The temple was as it was before – but Vibhishana was no longer to be seen.
Suddenly, an apparition of a monk clasping a chicken to his chest floated past. His image was smoky, semi-transparent and bathed in a warm light.
As quickly as the figure had appeared, it disappeared.
Then another two appeared. Women dressed in bright saris, one red and one blue, with gold trimmings and vivid patterns. They danced, and as they did, their long brown hair swished and sparkles flew from their saris and glistening eyes.
As they passed, my vision blurred again, and I marvelled once more at the kaleidoscope before me. But as the colours faded this time, the chamber appeared completely different.
It looked brand new and was filled with people dancing, drumming, laughing and singing. There seemed to be representatives from every culture in the world on the shimmering floor. There also seemed to be creatures that were humanoid, but not quite human, and cows and goats intermingling.
In the middle of the hall was an ancient-looking, sandy obelisk. Coming from the top of the obelisk were ropes with fluttering flags attached to them.
I approached the obelisk and noticed people praying around it. When I put my hand on the structure, symbols on it lit up and glowed with an ethereal light.
My eyes drifted upwards. Where the ceiling should have been was a white light emitting heat and a thin veil of smoke.
My eyes scanned the room again. Occasionally, as my eyes zoned out, I caught glimpses of the crumbling temple I’d left behind. I must admit this made me wonder whether I really had left the temple, or was merely having a hallucination of some kind.
“They are celebrating your return,” came a voice beside me. It was Vibhishana.
“None of them have noticed me,” I muttered, turning to him.
“They cannot see you yet,” he answered simply.
“Then why are they celebrating my return?”
“Because they trust in the process of life, and they do not need to see you for them to celebrate you being here. They understand when you feel the essence of something, and celebrate it, it will come.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
I peered at Vibhishana’s curling cat lips.
“Who am I?” I asked. “That is why I am here, isn’t it? I am here to find out who I am.”
“This question evades most on your plane of existence. You are not the only one who has forgotten who you truly are. Perhaps only the newborns that cannot yet talk know the truth of their being.”
“Do you know who I am?” I pressed. “Because if you do, can you just tell me? None of this is really making any sense at all, and I’d prefer it did.”
“Here, it is the search, not the answer, that we cherish. For even the most revered mandate is not fixed, but constantly explored.” He paused to gaze into my eyes.
His large round eyes were rather hypnotic. When I looked into them, I became lost in an endless ocean of nothingness. A feeling very hard to describe, but akin perhaps to a vivid daydream you cannot remember once it has finished.
“Amisha told me I could read the Akashic Records, and that would enlighten me to who I am,” I said, still in a half-daze. “Of course, you could just tell me and save me the trouble.”
“Amisha knew who you were, but she did not tell you because she knew the value in the search.”
“I take it I can still read the Akashic Records then?”
“Come,” said Vibhishana.
He led me out of the hall and into the night air, under a sky speckled with stars. We walked among towering ash trees with little star-like lights in their branches. The trees grew by a sparkling lake that reflected the starry sky, and the mountains were inky and jagged in the distance.
We then trekked up a grassy hill towards a hut.
Upon reaching the doorway, Vibhishana gestured for me to enter. “Inside you shall find Sangoma. He is always happy to meet those at the crossroads of dimensions.”
I ducked my head inside and sat at a pine chair opposite Sangoma.
Sangoma had dark wrinkly skin, with long, intricately beaded hair raining down from under a faded bowler hat. His suit and gold alligator-headed cane gave the impression of a distinguished gentleman, but his unkempt bushy black and silver beard, bare feet and assortment of jingling bracelets and anklets told a different story.
A scrawny dog came from outside and lay by his feet.
“Namaste,” I said to him, and bowed my head. “I am called Damon. And you must be Sangoma?”
“I am not interested in labels,” sniped the elderly man, as he emptied a sack of shells onto the floor and inspected where they fell.
“You are in search of the Akashic Records,” he said, glancing up at me.
“I am in search of the truth; if the Akashic Records is the label you give it, then yes, that is what I am after,” I said, grinning.
“Your quest is a noble one,” he said, expressionless, save for the blinking of his eyes.
“I’d like to know who I am,” I said. “It has been about 12 months now, and I am no closer to learning who I am, or rather, was.”
“Who do you want to know?” Sangoma asked. “The dream character or the one who is dreaming?”
“Neither,” I grumbled. “I think something has been lost in translation. I want to know who I am in real, physical life.”
Sangoma stood up and hobbled over to a bookcase at the back of the hut. His finger traced along the spines of the heavy, leather-bound books on the shelf. He stopped at one with a maroon cover and pulled it out.
As he placed it on my lap, I read the title embossed in gold on the cover:
The Last King of Shambhala, Akashic Records.
“Is this the story of my life?”
“This is the first book I give everyone who comes here wanting to know who they are,” he replied. “This book belongs to the final King of Shambhala, but the story within the leather cover changes depending on the reader.”
I flicked through the pages. “The pages are blank,” I said, scratching my cheek. “How can I learn who I am when the pages are blank?”
Sangoma’s face crinkled into the beginnings of a smile. “Trust that the words will come, just before you need to read them.”
With this, he stood up, twirled his alligator-topped cane, and left the hut.
I focused on the first page and tried forcing words. Nothing happened.
After a few minutes of effort, I took a deep breath, relaxed my eyes and gazed back down. I spoke aloud. “Who am I?”
As I spoke, the words began to appear...
The Last King of Shambhala
Chapter One to follow. (The above is a preview of my new book 'The Last King of Shambhala', available on all good online book stores including Amazon Kindle.)