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The Secret of Shambhala
By James Redfield
Warner BooksCopyright © 1999 James Redfield
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFIELDS OF INTENTION
The phone rang and I just stared at it. The last thing I needed now was another distraction. I tried to push it from my mind, gazing out the window at the trees and wildflowers, hoping to lose myself in the array of fall colors in the woods around my house. It rang again, and I got a vague but stirring image in my mind's eye of a person needing to talk with me. Quickly I reached over and answered it.
"It's Bill," a familiar voice said. Bill was an agronomy expert who had been helping me with my garden. He lived down the ridge only a few hundred yards.
"Listen, Bill, can I call you back later?" I said. "I've got this deadline."
"You haven't met my daughter, Natalie, yet, have you?"
"Listen," he finally answered, "my daughter wants to talk with you. I think it might be important. I'm not quite sure how she knows, but she seems to be familiar with your work. She says she has some information about a place you'd be interested in. Some location in the north of Tibet? She says the people there have some important information."
"How old is she?" I asked.
Bill chuckled on the other end of the line. "She's only fourteen, but she's been saying some really interesting things lately. She was hoping she could talk with you this afternoon, before her soccer game. Any chance?"
I started to put him off, but the earlier image expanded and started to become clear in my mind. It seemed to be of the young girl and me talking somewhere near the big spring just up from her house.
"Yeah, okay," I said. "How about two p.m.?"
"That's perfect," Bill said.
On the walk over I caught sight of a new house across the valley on the north ridge. That makes almost forty, I thought. All in the last two years. I knew the word was out about the beauty of this bowl-shaped valley, but I really wasn't worried that the place would become overcrowded or that the amazing natural vistas would be destroyed. Nestled right up next to a national forest, we were ten miles from the closest town-too far away for most people. And the family who owned this land and was now selling selected house sites on the outer ridges seemed determined to keep the serenity of the place unspoiled. Each house had to be low-slung and hidden amid the pines and sweet gums that defined the skyline.
What bothered me more was the preference for isolation exhibited by my neighbors. From what I could tell, most were characters of a sort, refugees from careers in various professions, who had carved out unique vocational niches that allowed them to now operate on flextime or travel on their own schedules as consultants-a freedom that was necessary if one was to live this far out in the wilderness.
The common bonds among all of us seemed to be a persistent idealism and the need to stretch our particular professions by an infusion of spiritual vision, all in the best Tenth Insight tradition. Yet almost everyone in this valley stayed to themselves, content to focus on their diverse fields without much attention to community or the need to build on our common vision. This was especially true among those of different religious persuasions. For some reason, the valley had attracted people holding a wide range of beliefs, including Buddhism, Judaism, both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, and Islam. And while there was no hostility of any kind by one religious group toward another, there wasn't a feeling of affinity either.
The lack of community concerned me because there were signs that a few of our kids were displaying some of the same problems seen in suburbia: too much time alone, too much video, and too much regard for the slights and put-downs at school. I was beginning to be concerned that there wasn't enough family and community in their lives to push these peer problems into the background and keep them in proper perspective.
Up ahead the path narrowed, and I had to make my way between two large boulders that edged right up to a sheer drop-off of about two hundred feet. Once past, I could hear the first gurgles of Phillips' Spring, named by the fur trappers that first set up a camp here in the late seventeenth century. The water trickled down several tiers of rocks into a lazy pool ten feet across that had originally been dug out by hand. Successive generations had added features, such as apple trees up near the mouth and mortared stone to reinforce and deepen the pool. I walked up to the water and reached down to cup some in my hand, brushing a stick out of the way as I leaned forward. The stick kept moving, slithering up the rock face and into a hole.
"Cottonmouth!" I said aloud, stepping back and feeling the sweat pop out on my brow. There are still perils involved in living here in the wild, although not perhaps the ones that old man Phillips faced centuries ago, when you could turn a corner on the path one day and come face-to-face with a big cougar guarding her young, or worse, a pack of wild boars with three-inch tusks that would slit your leg wide open if you didn't get up a tree fast enough. If the day was going especially bad, you might even come upon an angry Cherokee or a displaced Seminole who was tired of finding some new settler on his favorite hunting grounds ... and was harboring the conviction that a large bite of your heart would stem the European tide forever. No, everyone alive in that generation-Native Americans and Europeans alike-faced direct perils that tested one's mettle and courage in the moment.
Our generation seemed to be dealing with other problems, problems that are more related to our attitude toward life, and the constant battle between optimism and despair. Everywhere are the voices of doom these days, showing us factual evidence that the modern Western lifestyle can't be sustained, that the air is warming, the terrorists' arsenals growing, the forests dying, and the technology running wild into a kind of virtual world that makes our kids crazy-and threatens to take us further and further into distraction and aimless surrealism. Countering this viewpoint, of course, are the optimists, who claim that history has been filled with doomsayers, that all our problems can be handled by the same technology that produced these perils, and that the human world has only begun to reach its potential.
I stopped and looked out at the valley again. I knew that the Celestine Vision lay somewhere in between these poles. It encompassed a belief in sustainable growth and humane technology, but only if pursued by an intuitive move toward the sacred, and an optimism based on a spiritual vision of where the world can go.
One thing was certain. If those who believe in the power of vision were to make a difference, it had to begin right now, when we're poised in the mystery of the new millennium. The fact of it still awed me. How did we get lucky enough to be the ones alive when not only a century changed but a thousand-year period as well. Why us? Why this generation? I got the feeling that larger answers were still ahead.
I looked around the spring for a moment, half expecting Natalie to be up here somewhere. I was sure this was the intuition I'd had. She'd been here at the spring, only I seemed to be looking at her through a window of some kind. It was all very confusing.
When I arrived at her house, there seemed to be no one home. I walked onto the deck of the dark brown A-frame and knocked on the door loudly. No answer. Then, as I glanced around the left side of the house, something grabbed my attention. I was looking down a rock pathway that led past Bill's huge vegetable garden and up to a small grassy meadow on the very top of the ridge. Had the light changed?
I looked up at the sky, trying to figure out what had occurred. I had seen a shift in the light in the meadow as though the sun had been behind a cloud and then had suddenly peaked out, illuminating that specific area. But there were no clouds. I strolled up to the meadow and found the young girl sitting at the edge of the grass. She was tall and dark-haired, wearing a blue soccer uniform, and as I approached, she jerked around, startled.
"Didn't mean to scare you," I said.
She looked away for a moment in the shy way a teenager might, so I squatted down to be at her eye level and introduced myself.
She looked back at me with eyes much older than I expected.
"We aren't living the Insights here," she said.
I was taken aback. "What?"
"The Insights. We aren't living them."
"What do you mean?"
She looked at me sternly. "I mean, we haven't figured it out completely. There's more that we have to know."
"Well, it's not that easy ..."
I stopped. I couldn't believe I was being confronted by a fourteen-year-old like this. For an instant a flash of anger swept across me. But then Natalie smiled-not a large smile, just an expression at the edges of her mouth that made her endearing. I relaxed and sat down on the ground.
"I believe the Insights are real," I said. "But they aren't easy. It takes time."
She wasn't letting up. "But there are people who are living them now."
I looked at her for a moment. "Where?"
"In central Asia. The Kunlun Mountains. I've seen it on the map." She sounded excited. "You have to go there. It's important. There's something changing. You have to go there now. You have to see it."
As she said this, the expression on her face looked mature, authoritative, like that of a forty-year-old. I blinked hard, not believing what I was seeing.
"You have to go there," she repeated.
"Natalie," I said, "I'm not sure where you mean. What kind of place is it?"
She looked away.
"You said you saw it on the map. Can you show it to me?"
She ignored my question, looking distracted. "What ... what time is it?" she asked slowly, stuttering.
"I gotta go."
"Wait, Natalie, this place you were talking about. I-"
"I gotta meet the team," she said. "I'm going to be late."
She was walking fast now, and I struggled to reach her. "What about this place in Asia, can you remember exactly where it is?"
As she glanced back at me over her shoulder, I saw only the expression of a fourteen-year-old girl with her mind on soccer.
Back at home I found myself totally distracted. What was that all about? I stared at my desk, unable to concentrate.
Later I took a long walk and a swim in the creek, finally deciding to call Bill in the morning and get to the bottom of the mystery. I retired early.
At about 3:00 A.M. something woke me. The room was dark. The only light was seeping in around the base of the window blinds. I listened intently, hearing nothing but the usual sounds of the night: an intermittent chorus of crickets, the occasional drone of bullfrogs down by the creek, and far away, the low bark of a dog.
I thought about getting up and locking the doors of the house, something I seldom ever did. But I shrugged off the idea, content to let myself ease back into sleep. I would have faded away altogether, except that in my last sleepy glance about the room, I noticed something different at the window. There was more light outside than before. I sat up and looked again. There was definitely more light coming in around the blinds. I pulled on some pants and walked over to the window and parted the wooden slats. Everything appeared normal. Where had that light come from?
Suddenly I heard a light knocking behind me. Someone was in the house.
"Who's there?" I asked without thinking.
I walked out of the bedroom and into the hall that led to the living room, thinking about going to the closet and getting out my snake rifle. But I realized the key to the closet was back in the dresser drawer by the bed. Instead I carefully walked on. Without warning, a hand touched my shoulder.
"Shhhhh, it's Wil."
I recognized the voice and nodded. When I reached for the light on the wall, he stopped me, then walked across the room and looked out through the window. As he moved, I realized that something about him was different from the last time I had seen him. He was somehow less graceful, and his features seemed completely ordinary, not slightly luminous as before.
"What are you looking for?" I asked. "What's going on? You scared me half to death."
He walked back toward me. "I had to see you. Everything has changed. I'm back where I was."
"What do you mean?"
He smiled at me. "I think all this is supposed to be happening, but I can no longer enter the other dimensions mentally, the way I could. I can still raise my energy to some degree, but I'm now firmly here in this world." He looked away for an instant. "It's almost as though what we did in understanding the Tenth Insight was just a taste, a preview, a glimpse of the future like in a near-death experience, and now it's over. Whatever we're to do now, we have to do right here on this Earth."
"I never could do it again anyway," I said.
Wil looked me in the eye. "You know, we've received a lot of information about human evolution, about paying attention, about being guided forward by intuition and the coincidences. We've been given a mandate to hold a new vision, all of us. Only we aren't making it happen at the level we can. Something in our knowledge is still missing."
He paused for a minute and then said, "I'm not sure why yet, but we have to go to Asia ... somewhere near Tibet. Something is happening there. Something we have to know."
I was startled. Young Natalie had said the same thing.
Wil walked back to the window again, peering out.
"Why do you keep looking out the window?" I asked. "And why did you slip into the house? Why didn't you just knock? What's going on?"
"Probably nothing," he replied. "I just thought I was being followed earlier today. I couldn't be sure."
He walked back toward me. "I can't explain everything now. I'm not even sure myself of what is happening. But there is a place in Asia we must find. Can you meet me at the Hotel Himalaya in Kathmandu on the sixteenth?"
"Wait a minute! Wil, I have things to do here. I'm committed to ..."
Wil looked at me with an expression I've never seen on anyone's face but his, a pure mixture of adventure and total intent. "It's okay," he said. "If you're not there on the sixteenth, you're not there. Just be sure if you come that you stay perfectly alert. Something will occur."
He was serious about giving me the choice, but he was smiling broadly.
I looked away, unamused. I didn't want to do this.
The next morning I decided I would tell no one where I was going except Charlene. The only problem was that she was on an assignment out of the country and it was impossible to reach her directly. All I could do was leave her an E-mail.
I walked over to my computer and sent it, wondering, as I always did, about the security of the Internet. Hackers can get into the most secure corporate and government computers. How hard would it be to intercept E-mail messages ...
Excerpted from The Secret of Shambhala by James Redfield Copyright © 1999 by James Redfield. Excerpted by permission.
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