In The Concordium
As they passed through Carl's room, into the inner corridor, and out onto the portico, Etanai eased his silent withdrawal. He explained a bit more about the Concordium as the gathering hall for various agencies and representatives of intermingling levels.
Carl pictured the auditorium-type building of his 'dream'. Recalling the several branches of Ulathai present, the variety of people attending, and the reverberating harmony of resonating gongs, he decided that surely it was the Concordium he had visited, and it was a very appropriate name.
Dusk was settling on the courtyard now. Quickly scanning visible surroundings, he saw no evidence of fog, such as he had seen the night before. A casual stream of people was moving in the direction toward which he and Etanai were walking. As they were variously attired in a variety of robes, as well as familiar dress of his recent world, a kaleidescope of color was presented as they moved. It was obvious that many aspects of station and origin were represented.
He noted among them quite a number of persons clad in blue flowing robes, such as that worn by Andrah. He felt sure these were Gita members. It came into his mind that this flow of approaching figures was what he had seen from the tower as drifting fog. Etanai had said that in his previous state, he would see the Gitas only as mist or fog, but during the 'over-lapping' they would be perceptible to him as the Ulathai saw them. Surely this was now happening.
Among the approaching throng, he saw a great many who appeared to be from his familiar world. These had the variety of features so prevalent among those of the world society from which he had so recently emerged. Dress, and manner, showed characteristics of racial and ethnic diversity. Also, what one might term 'all walks of life' were represented. Some among those also wore robes. Others wore the varied dress of current mode in his familiar world. In his 'dream', he had noticed several persons who seemed vaguely familiar to him. He wondered if he might now, in his altered consciousness, identify such persons.
They had walked the full length of the portico. As they neared the North end, Carl realized that they were heading directly toward the entrance to the tower of his retreat last night. As he now approached it, there was a great difference. In his panic, he had no doubt passed along this same route. Yet he had no recall of it prior to the strange sensation of rising in the lift.
Etanai, as usual, perceived the line of his thought and smiled. Touching Carl's arm in a light, companionable manner,he spoke in reassuring tone. "That was another lifetime, my friend." Carl felt ready agreement. How true ! It seemed ages ago ! And - it was - ages of cluttering pretense washed away in a stream of clear awakening. A distant, bewildered dream, now vanishing, except for the harvest of dim memory, retained as a link of empathy with his species.
Just before they reached the tower entrance, Etanai turned into a wide corridor which angled toward the Northeast. Ahead of them a flow of people moved. Behind them, a similar stream approached. Suddenly Carl caught an overview. He and Etanai were part of the flow ! Participants in this river of living, wondering, searching life, moving steadily toward that 'ocean' of co-mingling, the Concordium !
The corridor opened into landscaped grounds. Through this ran several coinciding walkways. Many of the Elders were coming through these walkways in small groups. Carl saw Chan Shu, among several other saffron-robed personages; Elder Guardians in company with their presiding Official. He also saw Andrah, in company of six other Gita Officials. There was a company of russet-haired Ulathai in white, among which he spotted Vasai. She greeted him silently with the now-familiar gesture.
From the North, the Samai delegation was arriving. These were only four in number; Kashira, and three other similarly attired Samai. Most impressive, with their height, bearing, and intense features, they strode with long steps in casual haste, which sent their loose, silvery outer robes flying in the evening air, like wings beating in anticipation of flight.
Aside from members he recognized, there were others with whom he had not yet had contact. There were red-robed Officials, whose robes had fine traceries of gold trim. An ethereal appearing group wore soft,flowing, violet garments of filmy fabric similar to the white worn by Vasai. There were green robed members, whose hair was of lighter cast, though of the familiar reddish tone. There were several in robes of rich brown hue, whose inner robes were quite similar to Carl's. An orange-robed group, mingling closely with a group in yellow, moved like a dancing flame through the night.
Like a great prismatic river with many tributaries, the gathering converged toward the broad doors of the Concordium, which Carl could now see before them. He'd not seen it from outside before, and was immediately impressed with the beautiful, glowing vision.
A capacious, circular, domed structure, it radiated long, spokelike rays of light from full length windows and the broad doors, in a colorful stream. The windows were of the familiar crystalline substance, and were many-hued. They poured out into the night's gathering darkness wide bands of alternating color, so that the view resembled a huge flower, with many colored petals.
Passing through the doors, he was again struck by the beauty of the interior. The same casual, unstrained quiet he had previously noted, bathed all in a comfortable tide of fellowship. Concordium was indeed the right word !
When he and Etanai had found their seats,close to the aisle, as before, Carl spotted a man turning into a row a short distance from where he sat, who seemed familiar. He paused a moment, studying the face, and trying to recall a name. The man evidently felt his eyes on him. He looked up, in Carl's direction, smiling. He made the familiar gesture, and nodded in recognition.
Alex ! Carl suddenly made the connection. Alex Carlisle ! The Doctor from The Springs, with whom he had some interesting philosophical conversations. He smiled a return greeting. Beside the Doctor, already seated, was his wife. She too turned in her seat and greeted Carl with the silent gesture. It was only then that Carl noted they wore the blue robes of Gitas. He recalled that Etanai had said that several of the attending Gitas were from The Springs. A feeling of fellowship welled in him. He realized he had made his first link with return.
Carl occupied himself with thoughts of Alex's comforting companionship at a time when there were few he could feel comfortable with in his disturbed state. He now knew why Alex had been different. The inclusive awareness of the Gita had enabled him to understand Carl's state of mind. He had offered an uncrowding, soothing companionship at a time when that was exactly what the confused fugitive from the world had needed.
As they waited for proceedings to begin, Carl studied the pillars and gongs again, with no less appreciation than before. He imagined great music halls of his world, where, proper acoustics, and a gifted composer,might create a healing, harmonizing combination of sound such as he had experienced here the night before. He was summoned from thought by a hush which had fallen over the chamber. He looked to the platform, and saw Vasai about to sound the gong, signifying beginning of proceedings.
As before, the full. sonorous tone echoed through the Concordium. The resonating response of the smaller gongs began to reverberate in rich orchestral tones. At last, all blended into one lingering tone; a chord of harmonious unity. Again Carl was experiencing the actual sensation of complete harmony throughout his being.
As silence descended, Andrah rose from his seat and approached the podium, where Chan Shu was now standing. In his clear, smooth tone Chan Shu announced, "Our companion in Ulathai, Andrah, the Gita, will now address the Assembly". Immediately the Guardian returned to his seat, and the deep, penetrating voice of Andrah filled the Concordium.
"Fellow members of Ulathai, and respected World Aspirants." He paused briefly for a scanning view of the audience, as if to include each and every member in a mantle of communion. One could feel a palpable sharing of attentive respect surge through the hall. After a few moments of this collecting silence, Andrah continued.
"As you know, we Gitas are Guardians of the Waters. Thus I have come to address you concerning a serious condition which effects us all."
"Waters of Earth are all one ! Water is a pervading carrier, which cycles through all levels in some form. Although plants, sands, and rocks of Earth filter to some degree,and the evaporative nature of sun-rays and air currents serve to puify, refine, and distill, when the waters are poisonous this condition eventually touches all levels."
"Should the source of the poisoning be continuous, an accumulation eventually occurs which is beyond the capacity of purifying agents to correct. In such an instance, a planet may begin to strangle in the poisonous substances, and noxious fumes resulting from the accumulation."
"Humanity must learn to recognize itself, not only as consumer and developer of its environmental resources, but also as custodian and guardian of those resources. Both governing bodies and individuals must act responsibly in preserving the healthy balance of Planetary Ecology. Dominion does not mean despoiling !"
"This potential for planetary poisoning has reached a critical state ! Although, fortunately, not yet to the point where corrective measures could not be an effective remedy. However, unless intense action of an emergency type is taken immediately, to cease destructive tendencies, replenish what has been depleted, and restore that which has been damaged, the momentum of deteriorating direction will accelerate in the near future to a catastrophic condition ! This cannot be allowed to happen !"
"I repeat, this requires responsible attitude and action by both governing bodies and average individuals. Neither can do it alone. Hostile attitudes on both sides need to be superseded by a conscientious partnership attitude. It need not even be epic effort. Mainly what is required is a day-to-day considerate usage of Earth resources, and a continuing program of renewal of diminishing resources. If this attitude becomes 'Inhabitant Habit',environmental improvement will be a continuing result."
"For this reason, the Gitas have asked the aid of all members of Ulathai to support us in bringing about such attitudes. We also need the help of each of you at your level, and we need your aid to reach those in your world who can aid the new awareness until it has become a new consciousness of environmental responsibility among all humanity."
"We wish to express our gratitude toward World Aspirants who are already working closely with us. You are a great growing light of dedication in the world, where clouds of turmoil now gather. The light of dedicated Aspirants does not flicker and grow dim, even in the winds of ridicule, or cold indifference."
"We must intensify our efforts to reach the unaware members of humanity, and awaken them to this threatening condition. And - we must hold out to them awareness of the importance of ALL efforts - large or small - at all levels - to alter the course of dangerous abuse ! If one truly realizes the full import of what inaction would mean, one must surely see that there is no small action !"
Again, Andrah paused, scanning the listeners with steady gaze, intense with the importance of his message. At last, he concluded - "We thank you for your attentive interest - and anticipate your willing response. Omu Amrishi ! "
A unison of "Omu Amrishi" ! sounded through the Concordium as Andrah returned to his seat. This was followed by an attentive silence. Carl realized that among these people a respectful reception was followed by an attentive silence. One could feel a current of communion flowing through the air. This was as the silent response he had offered Chan Shu in the garden, and which he now keenly experienced for Andrah. It was a silence of intense awareness - far from apathy.
After a few moments, Chan Shu returned to the podium. He was now accompanied by Kashira, the Samai. He spoke quietly, "Our companion in Ulathai,Kashira, will now address the Assembly. I shall act as his interpreter." He explained this in a matter-of-fact tone, as if members were aware of interpreter necessity.
Although Kashira uttered no words, his eyes flashed from time to time, and a subtle altering of posture and features conveyed much, as Chan Shu relayed his message. It was a message heavy with importance, although Carl suspected it was somewhat softened by Chan Shu's translation.
He spoke of the rupturing of Earth's atmospheric shield by careless use of various 'explosive devices capable of undreamed of extensions of destruction'. It was further stated that careless release of these destructive and accumulating radiations, which all major nations of Earth were now guilty of, was spreading through ALL levels in increasingly destructive effect.
Effects of this were described as a variety of harmful aspects, and potential future dangers, not immediately known, but subtly lingering. Dangerous conditions which could be a direct result were: fire storms, future severe droughts, devastating wind storms, extreme nervous disorders among Earth's peoples, poisoned waters, intensified pressures on, and unbalancing of the planetary crust, already showing dangerous fissures, and many other effects related indirectly, by reaction.
It was an awesome picture of a drying and unbalanced planet, increasingly seared by radiations greater than its natural ability to withstand. As with Andrah's address, there was a plea for aid from all members to approach those in Earth society who were able to comprehend the inter-dimensional aspects of effect, to explain the situation to those in authority, who did not have the scientific background to realize what potential effects threatened.
Great emphasis was placed on stressing that activity from many levels was necessary to alter the headlong course toward 'planetary suicide', as the planet itself was on approach to a Space-Field of high intensity. Activities of this sort by its citizens was amplifying destructive potentials !
Chan Shu added a few words which were plainly his own, and were spoken in a weighty tone indicating his concern. "The patience of the Samai in this matter is wearing thin. We prefer, as a majority, to approach responsible offices, and representatives, with reason, and with temperate pleas for serious consideration, where possible. However - it is also decided that, should such efforts fail to accomplish the desired end within a limited period of time - which is dependant on how rapidly the deteriorating situation progresses - the Samai must be allowed to implement more severe measures. This would be for the safety of the planet, its peoples, and by natural extension, our Solar System !"
"You assembled here already understand that there is no such thing as an isolated action. Like waves of the sea, which touch all shores, so do these destructive acts. Yet - there are many in Earth society who do not understand this; some who know, but do not care; and even some so aberrated they seek total destruction. These constitute the opposition to the work we call for volunteers to assume. You must understand the difference between an active and willful resistance, and simply inertia, ignorance, or indifference. All cannot be dealt with in the same way. This is brought to your attention that you may better be on guard."
"There is a need for 'specialists' of many sorts. By this is meant those familiar enough with scientific terminology and technology to approach members of that field, speaking in their language. This is not to say that all types of efforts are not needed. If one can do no more than keep others aware of the problems, and 'causes' of the problems, this will in time promote a more widely realized need for individual effort. We are grateful for your efforts in this behalf. Guard against becoming too forceful. However, use reason and determination, and just do whatever you can do. ALL are needed ! "
The Elder Guardian intoned "Omu Amrishi", and lingered a moment, silent, with bowed head. Again, came the sounded response of "Omu Amrishi" throughout the Concordium. And - again - the deep, receptive silence. After a few moments, the Samai retired to his seat. Chan Shu stood quietly, as the collective silence gathered. Carl again experienced the electrified awareness. He felt the great gravity of the situation, and knew that every person present shared it.
Finally, Chan Shu turned toward the huge gong. There was no announcement, yet suddenly, from somewhere behind the gong, the impressive figure from Carl's 'dream' experience emerged. The listening silence turned to expectant.
Carl felt both a comforting warmth, and an exciting anticipation, as he waited to hear the voice he had faded from before.