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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Akashic Records Series: The Last King of Shambhala - The Beginning...





"An absolute must read.  Must." 
- 5 stars from Critique de Book, the Internet's number one book reviewers

"Fast pace & exciting story telling with quirky fun characters."
- 5 stars from online reviewer Tansc

"I couldn't put it down."
- 5 stars from Jennifer Trewin, Literary Editor and Blogger


What's it about?

Asgard Kingdom, 10,000 years ago...

Idun's apples are gone, and without them the gods are no longer 'godly'.  Thor, Loki and Heimdall leave on a journey through dangerous lands to uncover them and save their kind.

Europe, 1942...

An attractive Russian spy, an English psychic spy wannabe, and a mystery man from another world must come together to destroy the Nazis' secret 'mind weapon' before it's too late.

Australia, Present Day...

A teenager with an attitude problem and a questionable school attendance record, finds himself between two worlds. One moment he's throwing punches outside the classroom, the next he is lost in a strange world with a warrior with a much-too-healthy ego, a strange girl that channels a Moon Demon, and a talking monkey.

Confused? 

So is Matt Damon, an amnesic man (named after the movie star), found under layers of snow in the Himalaya Mountains by a Nepalese family. Following a desire to remember his past, he discovers a book that connects all three stories, with the promise they hold the key to his identity.
... and now it is time for you to follow his journey.

“At the centre of your being, you have the answer.  You know who you are, and you know what you want.”
- Lao Tzu

It’s a peculiar thing, having no memory.
Not knowing your name or who you are.  Not knowing what you were doing mere minutes ago.  Not even having one hazy, distant memory of a life before.
It’s as if you were born again, seeing the world for the very first time.  At least, that’s how I felt when the two Nepalese herdsmen unearthed me. 
I remember hearing spiked shoes cutting the ice, muffled voices, the shovels slicing through layers of snow, and finally my limp body being pulled through a hole a little wider than my head.
As far as I am concerned, that was my second birth. 
They carried me down the mountain to their village, and looked for somewhere to accommodate me while I recovered.  The herdsmen’s sister, Amisha, put me up in her home. 
I was to stay for at least three weeks, insisted Amisha, using a calendar to communicate this to me.  Three weeks turned into a few months, which turned into a year. 
Amisha nursed me back to health and helped me get back on my feet – literally.   And as she did, I became one of her family.
I learnt to communicate with Amisha’s family: charades at first, then single words, then stumbling sentences, and finally I could speak Nepalese fluently. (In fact, at the speed I picked it up, I wondered whether I had had a basic grasp of it in my ‘previous life’.) 
I ate with them, cooked with them, worked in their shop, celebrated birthdays with them, and joined in their customs.  I also helped Amisha as best as I could with the jobs her husband used to do before he passed away, five years ago.
Naturally I got a lot of attention from the local villagers when I went to the markets with Amisha.  Each day I’d be accosted by another villager; what was I doing up in the mountains, who was I, where did I come from?  The explanation became routine, and I learnt to recite an acceptable story without much thought.
“All I remember,” I would say, “was the feeling of finally letting go as the snowstorm tackled me to the ground and disabled my body.  The last memory I had was staring blankly at the snow covering my body, and waiting for a tunnel with a bright light at the end to appear.”
At that moment, death didn’t frighten me.  Not the way it does now.  It was more a curiosity.
Will my life rush before my eyes?  Will I understand life, the universe and creation in a jolt of enlightenment?  Will I be greeted by an angel or a man with a white beard?
Or will dead family members or close friends greet me?
Will the people who greet me be people I like, people I don’t like, or merely a handful of random folk who crossed my path in life, who have some sort of cosmic obligation to give me the keys to the pearly gates?
And importantly, will I know that I am dead?  That’s assuming, of course, that there is some kind of afterlife.  If there wasn’t, I guess my wondering could have ceased forever more. 
But death didn’t happen.  Two quick-thinking herdsmen defied the Grim Reaper, though not before he took the part that made me who I am – or who I was.  My past was wiped from my conscious recollection.
And although at first I enjoyed the freedom of a life without years of baggage, a part of me challenged my spirit’s gleeful, aimless meanderings.  In the recesses of my mind, questions about my past began creeping in, until finally my dominant thought was: Who am I, and what am I doing here?
It was then that Amisha took me aside.  We had been celebrating the New Year, and I’d estimate it was an hour or so after the midnight firecrackers had been dragged through the streets to every kid’s delight and every cautious mother’s fright.
We sat down at the square table squished in the corner of the dirt floor kitchen.  She held my hands and smiled at me in the same way she smiled at her own children.
“Damon,” said Amisha, her eyebrows rising and her smile fading. 
Damon was the name a villager had given me, in reference to an actor called Matt Damon who, I’m told, once portrayed a character found in the ocean with amnesia.  Most of the villagers did not see movies often, but after it had been explained to them, this quickly became what I was affectionately known as.
“Damon,” she repeated, “there is something I want to reveal to you.  Something none of the other villagers know.  A secret kept within our family’s bloodline.”
I did not know what to say.  It came as an honour, but also, a surprise.  This very unassuming family did not look like they kept a secret, and it seemed curious they would reveal it to me, despite the close relationships I had fostered with Amisha, her two herdsmen brothers and her children.
“The secrecy keeps it alive and intact,” whispered Amisha, producing a tattered scroll.  “It keeps it from getting into the wrong hands, so that when someone comes along with the right hands, they can hold it.  In the wrong hands the secret would fall through their fingers like sand, and be gone forever.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked, not quite understanding her vague right and wrong hand explanation.
“Because you are the one our family has been waiting for.  Your hands are the right hands.  I needed to be very sure you were indeed the one my family waited for before I made the decision to reveal this to you. So do not take my words lightly when I say you are the one, for it is the result of much mental deliberation.”  Well, those weren’t her exact words.  I’m translating and paraphrasing.
She then handed me the scroll.  It was very brittle, so I opened it with care and flattened it out on the table.  It read: Vibhishana.  And below this word – which meant nothing to me – was a map.
“This is the real name of what people call the Yeti or Meh-Teh.”  She paused for a beat to let me take in what she had just said.  “A sacred name we have kept in the family but not spoken.
“If you trek to the ‘Temple of the Blessed’ hidden deep in the forest,” she said, pointing to a spot on the map, “and call his real name three times,” she held up three fingers, “he will come to you, and show you to the gates of Shambhala.  You call him, and you wait.”
I sat in silence.  After spending so much time with Amisha’s family I had learned quickly to just accept their superstitions and go along with them, but this wasn’t the usual crazy talk. 
This was something more ‘out there’ than refraining from whistling in the home, or throwing three rocks ahead of you before making a journey, or celebrating when a crow builds a nest on your roof because you have now been blessed with good luck. 
Actually, thinking about it now, I had learnt that last one – about the crow bringing good luck – the morning before Amisha revealed her secret to me.  We had noticed the bristly nest built into the corner of her rooftop, with a pair of black eyes and a sharp beak turned towards us inquisitively. Amisha had thrown her hands up in joy, and explained the superstition to me. In hindsight, that might explain why she decided it was the right time to confide in me.
I had so many questions, but didn’t know which one to start with.  “Why do I need to see this Vibhishana?” I murmured.
“Because he is going to take you to Shambhala.  In Shambhala, you will be given the Akashic Records, and you will discover who you are.  Who I already know you to be.  Only then, may you return, should you wish to.”
Her left eye twitched.  After spending much time by her side, I knew this meant she was hiding her emotions.  What emotions, I do not know. 
(I had also learnt from one of Amisha’s equally superstitious brothers that when a woman’s left eye twitched, you could expect good luck.  I found myself getting a lot of good luck from Amisha these days.)
After all Amisha had done for me, and because of the loving bond that had grown between us, I found it impossible to refuse her. I knew that, though heartbreaking, it would be less difficult to say farewell to her and her kin – the only family I had ever known – than to refuse such an earnest request. 
I packed a satchel, and left three days later.  To avoid questioning, I left before sunrise and told no one outside my adopted family of my departure.
It took two days, sleeping on trains and buses, before I arrived at a remote village on the edge of the forest.  Then, another two days crossing wild rivers, trekking through endless stretches of waist-high grass, and up and down mountainous ranges, before I arrived at the temple.
At one point, towards the end of the second day, I found myself lost in thick forest.  Two crows flew overhead and I imagined Amisha’s voice in my head:
The great Garuda, King of the Birds, and Yama, Lord of the Afterlife, have sent them to guide you through the jungle thicket to the temple.
After spending so much time with Amisha and her children, it was strange how these beliefs and superstitions infiltrated my mind, even at a subconscious level.  I do not remember hearing about Garuda or Yama, and perhaps they were the result of a highly active imagination, but I decided to follow the birds anyway.  It was as good as any other direction, I justified to my sceptical self.
After following the birds for perhaps half an hour, I caught a glimpse of the temple.  It was hidden by an overgrowth of vines, practically invisible if you did not know what you were looking for.  I entered the temple through a hole in the side, negotiating spider webs and clouds of dust that rolled like ocean waves at my feet.
Inside, the walls were covered in a magnificent crumbling mosaic that seemed to depict many stories.


The temple was silent, but in my head I swore I could hear monks chanting a deep mantra accompanied by windpipes, chimes and the whistle of bronze cylindrical tubes twirling.  I was soon to discover that the temple was bustling with monks, albeit on a different vibrational dimension.  So, though I didn’t realise it at the time, what I heard so clearly in my head was not my whimsical imagination, rather, a result of extra-sensory perception.
I emptied the contents of my satchel on to the cracked marble floor, and my quivering hands flattened out the scroll.  I unconsciously began picking at the bristles on my chin.
“Vibhishana,” I called.  My voice bounced off the walls.  I called his name twice more, as Amisha had instructed.  And then I waited, sitting cross-legged, for it seemed the most appropriate thing to do in a temple.
Time moved slowly.  And by that, I am not meaning my perception of time, but actual time.  It appeared that inside the temple I was in a curious time dilation field that ran at a much slower rate than the outside world.  There was no rational explanation for this phenomenon, and so I had no choice but to accept something mystical might be taking place.
I first noticed this when I looked out the window in search of the approaching Yeti.  The trees did not sway lazily with the wind, but rather pulsed at the rate of my heart.  And comparatively, movements inside the temple appeared to float like movements in a dream.
I decided to calculate the time difference while waiting for the Yeti.  I estimated that as two hours passed on the fob watch Amisha had given me for my ‘birthday’ (the anniversary of when I was found in the snow), the mid-morning sun had crossed the sky, set, and made way for the rising moon.
And so, although it felt like only four hours had passed before the Yeti… Vibhishana… arrived, I surmised that it had taken him a little under a day of travelling to get to the temple.
Vibhishana, the figure from all the Yeti stories and sightings, arrived just as my head began nodding off to sleep.  I had heard footsteps in the temple and my eyes snapped open.  I instantly became very alert.
A cool breeze whistled through the temple, disturbing the dust clinging to the walls.  I sat silently.
A tall figure approached me, and the closer he got, the clearer his features became.  Finally, he sat down, cross-legged, before me.
He was humanoid, though clearly not human.  He had hairy cream skin stretched across a thickset, muscle-bound body.  The hair on his head and square jaw was particularly long and thick.  He had a snout like a cat, and eyes that projected wisdom, peace and contentment.
Despite his animalistic appearance, his mannerisms were very human-like, and he was adorned with gold jewellery and dressed in garments of intricately patterned silk.
The being began making noises.  A measured sequence of grunts, whistles, whimpers and clicks, that seemed to have an order to it that suggested a language, alas, one that I could not understand.
“Namaste,” I said, placing the palms of my hands together and bowing my head.
The being mimicked my gesture and continued his attempt to communicate.
As I focused on these sounds however, they began to form words I could understand.  “So you have finally returned,” I eventually heard him say, much to my amazement.
“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.
I paused.
“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.
Holy brain blast!  What a mind blowing beginning that was.  If you'd like to find out what is in the book that 'Damon' has been given, the secrets inside and his real identity, CLICK HERE.
And if you simply just cannot wait to get the book on your electronic device (and who could blame you really?!?), you can get the whole story here.  Bam!  Just like that.

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