Not wanting to intrude, as his friend seemed disinclined to speak further at the moment, Carl leaned back under the awning of the lounge. He focused his eyes into the distance,scanning the landscape before him. As if by mutual consent, both he and the Elder retired into silent thought. In the distance, toward the Northwest, there appeared to be a storm. There was a fiercely darkened area of considerable size. Carl estimated it to cover several miles. Blue-black, and ominous appearing, it was broken at times by rips of jagged lightning, but was apparently too far away for sounds of thunder to reach the Encampment.
A sidelong glance at Etanai revealed a face immobile and sternly alert, as he watched the display in the distance. It was noticeable that activities around the pool had subsided. The courtyard was quiet, with a pervasive sense of suspension in the air. As they watched , it gradually became apparent that the system was moving away from the Encampment.
Although Etanai made no comment about the storm, it was obvious that the taut features relaxed as its distance increased. Also, the atmosphere around the pool and courtyard eased into former casualness. Carl wondered briefly why a distant storm should cause such obvious concern among these people. They did not seem to be easy to alarm.
As if there had been no interruption in discussion, Etanai resumed his explanation of the Ulathai. "To truly heal conditions, one must travel in Time. Many of the discords and irregularities apparent at one point in Time, had their inception in another. There is no lasting remedy, except one deals with 'causal' levels. This is why I referred to our people as "Time-Medics. You have heard references to what you call 'karma' in some teachings. You understand this to some degree as 'the law of cause and effect'. However, this is not always interpreted in a full and proper sense. Most in your world view it as 'punitive'. We prefer to approach its discordant effects as 'healers', rather than 'judges'. Simply stated, it is the simple fact that you cannot get 'right' answers with 'wrong' methods. Even the term 'righteous' really only means 'right use'."
"In the span of the evolving 'soul', there are sometimes inharmonious records. We work to 'heal' these records, and correct 'scars' on Time. This is done, in an individual sense, only upon the request of the afflicted individual. Such requests come in many forms, from conscious 'prayer' petitions, to more subtle 'soul appeals' which are completely outside the awareness of the conscious mind."
"When these records are restored to harmony, they become healthy, lasting memories in the treasure-house of advancing 'soul'. If they remain unharmonized, they may form a psychic 'kink', interrupting the healthy unfoldment. It is our work to harmonize as many soul records as is possible, that they may remain intact, to enrich the recorded experience of the evolving soul."
The Elder paused again, allowing Carl a reflective moment. Carl knew that he was also awaiting any questions which might have come to mind. No questions came to Carl's mind now, as he was again experiencing the strange 'transmission' of awareness he had known throughout his mentor's discourse. He was becoming acutely aware of the marvelous interweaving of Life, as he listened . How could he ever have felt so alone in the past ? He could see now that it was his being unaware amid the thousands of taken-for-granted routines, which had kept him blind to the flowing, weaving threads of Life. These link all living in a unity of progression. Each part, as it fulfilled its individual truth perfected the expression of the Whole. And the Whole rewarded each part that was open to it with new surges of livingness ! Unique, but not alone; this he now saw was the real truth about the individual.
Etanai must have sensed Carl's realization. He smiled warmly to Carl, as he said - "You will come to understand much more of this , as your interest, and capacity to conceive our ideas, unfolds. Such knowledge will not be imposed upon you. It will be determined only by your desire-invitation, and capacity to receive."
Carl now realized that it was those inner attitudes which the Elder paused periodically to await. He wondered how much of this marvelous awareness he would be able to retain, when he returned to his former world, after the Ulathai had dispersed. Although he had not been told so, he assumed that he would return to his former environment when the overlapping was discontinued.
Again the ready response to his wondering came -"As to recollection of your experiences - you will recall in usable form whatever would be useful for you to recall. Other aspects will remain latent in areas which , for lack of a better word, I shall call 'unconscious', although such is not strictly accurate. It is very much conscious - in its own way " !
"However - such latent knowledge will be available to you if summoned by genuine need. Otherwise, it will pervade your awareness only as general intuitions, or subtle hunches, regarding trends and purposes behind them. This is all in keeping with usual operations of consciousness as you already know it. It is this 'departmentalizing' of knowledge and awareness that keeps the everyday mind from a too cluttered condition. "
Again Carl was impressed with the beautiful order at work in Life, which he had not known so vividly before. It was all so logical ! As one who made his living by gathering facts and data, and organizing it for printing and distribution, he could certainly appreciate the filing away of superfluous data where it was accessible, but out of the way until needed.
Etanai began again, with a studied tone to his words - "As to publication of your experience, when you return to your field of action..." Carl sat up, and looked at the Elder with surprise. This was something that had not occurred to him.
His companion smiled at the surprised response, and continued."It may very well be a part of your future work there. However, as to the best way to go about it, that will have to be decided. We have need of such efforts by those whose work lies along these lines. Your experience in the journalistic field would be valuable in this sense. However, the ultimate decision will depend on how useful it will be to the work of anxiety healing in your world. This is of great concern to us at this time."
"Don't think that, when I speak of your return, and such possible work, I imply that we have influenced this by any means of imposition. Such is entirely an individual choice. Your flight to the desert, and insistence on respite, was to regather your psyche. In a way, it was a plea sent forth, and responded to by us. You were ready for this experience, and naturally gravitated to it. You were also latently aware of the fact that your particular 'work-in-the-world' was not yet completed, but you needed to re-attune. It is by a very healthy operation of mutual agreement that you have come to this encounter. "
"The seizure of panic was entirely an elemental event. This was a reaction caused by long-term stress, which had depleted certain elemental energies necessary for healthy encounters with the unexpected. Your 'body' panicked, but you quickly understood this, when there was time of quietude to reflect."
Carl could now see that his hunches about that had been on the right track. Relieved, he listened intently as Etanai continued this personally enlightening explanation.
"Some of our younger members were a little too enthused in their interest and desire to welcome you. You weren't prepared for such vigorous display and reception. They are not yet familiar with forms of stress such as you are subject to in your world. I'm sure that now you understand their actions were meant in a friendly way."
Carl smiled and nodded silently. He felt sure there was no need for further comment. Etanai had made it clear that he understood Carl's inmost feelings.
The Elder returned his smile, and continued -"As their experience in this service progresses, they will come to a fuller understanding of the factors which brought about your retreat. We, who have greater accumulations of contact with levels other than our own 'native' level, have greater empathy for ordeals of consciousness. We have experienced them ourselves. It is a required phase of our training, and is related to the 'merging' capacity I mentioned earlier. These younger ones are about to embark on that phase of training. It is very closely supervised, although, for a time, they will not be aware of it."
Carl became aware of a faint background flow of the flute-like music he had previously heard. This was subtly different from the fountain tones. Etanai had paused thoughtfully again. Carl felt all his listening drawn to the clear, melodious sound. He was also noticing a delicate , floral scent. Slowly, before his mind's eye, another image began to emerge. It was the woman he had first met. She was smiling a slow smile. The remarkable, changing eyes seemed to be speaking to him. He suddenly realized who she reminded him of - it was Julie !
There was a softer, and more mature, quality about her, which differed from Julie's crisp, beachy, outdoor type. But the eyes were so similar, it was like Julie looking at him. He had often referred to Julie's eyes as 'cloudy', meaning exactly the changeable quality of these eyes. Yet, there was also, paradoxically, a steadier quality to these eyes. She nodded silently. Carl suddenly felt it was this identification with Julie that she was trying to convey. It seemed so right. He was convinced it was all part of some harmonious pattern, of which he was only latently aware.
Slowly, she turned to one side, gesturing toward a gleaming object. It was the gong he'd seen on the platform in his 'dream'. She had been the Official in white, who had struck the gong announcing the speaker's appearance ! This was why, although he had examined features of the others on the platform, he had by-passed both this figure, and his guide, because of being familiar with them already. He was pleased with this discovery, and it seemed to satisfy the visionary image also, as she slowly vanished from his inner vision.
Etanai appeared somewhat amused as Carl turned to him, full of new discovery. "Vasai, is, what you might call, our 'nurse' ." - he said - "concerning the matter of 'supervised training', of which I was speaking. She attends those who are in the phase of 'stress-familiarization' . This is necessary, as, in many ways, we are capable of experiencing more acutely than you, so some experiences are more intense for us. This is due to the same sensitivity which enables us to have extended faculties, which you have not yet developed. This training phase must be highly regulated, or it could be shattering to us, because of these differences."
Carl could now see clearly the reason for that air of seasoned maturity, which, more readily than any other characteristic, identified the Elders of the Ulathai. It was not so much a matter of aging in Time, as it was a seasoning in experience.
Etanai continued in the smooth tone so befitting the scope of that social order depicted in his words. " I don't mean to say that we couldn't control these experiences. We could do so easily, had we our full consciousness while in them. But they must be experienced with only the consciousness of those native to the designated area in which we will be working. The exception is our sensitivity to influences. This must be retained for us to develop 'empathy' at the level where our work will be. It is not an easy phase of training. Therfore we have attending guardians of various specialties."
"All who enter upon the path of Ulathai, are aware of the various training phases they must experience to become fully qualified representatives. Preliminary to acceptance for training, there is a period in which they are counseled in these matters by Elder Guardians".
Again, Carl began to experience an inner vision. This time, it was the Oriental Official of his 'dream' . Apparently, Etanai, was explaining function of the figures on the platform in his 'dream'. In doing so, the purpose and promise of these meetings was being gradually revealed. Feelings of a great affinity welled in Carl as the wise and benign face cleared in his vision. The Official seemed almost to glow with mellow light, in his simple saffron robe. This was the perfect portrait of the Oriental Sage. He gently raised his bamboo staff in a token of acknowledgement. The wise, and somewhat mysterious, smile of all philosophers was like warm sunlight, without glare, golden and mellow. Soft white hair shone like a wreathe of spun-snow. Carl felt an instant kinship, such as he felt for Etanai. Words were unnecessary between them.
As Etanai spoke, there was a tone of tender reverence in his voice, which echoed the tone of Carl's thoughts. "Chan Shu is the presiding Official among the Elder Guardians. The Guardians are much loved and revered." Carl spoke with deep feeling - "Yes - Etanai - I too revere such wise and patient ones." He felt as if he'd known Chan Shu as an old and trusted Counseler.
Etanai replied as if he well knew Carl's feeling. "Ah yes - I know, my friend." As the image of the Elder Guardian faded with a gentle nod, Etanai continued. "Following the time of counseling by the Elder Guardians, candidates spend a period of relative isolation. Through thorough self-examination, they determine if the course of Ulathai is the true desire of their Spiritual-Self; if they feel this to be the 'calling' which is right for them."
"However, once entering the ranks, they are in no way compelled to continue if, at any point, they desire to withdraw. No stigma is attached to such decision. We are foremost concerned with the unfoldment of Life by natural selection , according to natural tendencies. By this we mean, by the inherent nature of the Spiritual Seed. Each individual is encouraged to fulfill their highest potential according to Spiritual proclivity. Such regulations as we have are only to insure this, for thereby is the total society bettered."
"Shortly after the arrival of our Encampment, a few of our younger members, who were well along with their training, decided to request training with the Samai. They will again be working with us upon completion of that training, but, in a somewhat different capacity. As you will - no doubt - understand."
Etanai chuckled his gentle chuckle, and stretched his arms in a broad sweep toward the pool. Activities in the courtyard had lessened. He arose, and motioned to Carl to join him. "I see the emptiness of the pool confirms the emptiness of my stomach. Let's have a bit of lunch, my friend, then we will resume this rather one-sided conversation - or condensed discourse - whichever you choose to call it. " !
A gathering was again at the tables. Carl too was feeling hungry, although he hadn't noticed while engrossed in Etanai's revelations about the Ulathai. He wondered if Etanai had continued too long in discussion, and he had not been considerate enough to notice. "Etanai, please forgive me if I've been inconsiderate. It's been so interesting learning about your people, that I hadn't even noticed the time."
Etanai waved his hand as if to dismiss such a thought. "Oh no - Kar-al - you've not been inconsiderate. I've not been intending to deluge you with information, only to answer questions about your present circumstance. After all - it is my purpose in life to do so - you know."
This last statement precipitated another subtle sense of nuance. For some reason he could not explain, Carl felt this was meant more personally than just the Elder's general function of 'mentor' as a Ulathai. However, it was another little unanswered nuance for now. He put it out of his thoughts, and joined Etanai as they moved toward the portico. The air was awash in congenial fellowship. The general air of the Encampment was a warmth of inclusion.
A Reason And A Robe