STILL by Howard Evans
Once upon a time, many years ago, one continuous path circled the earth – not a straight path but a crooked path that wound round lakes and rocks, fields and mountains. This path was not built for speed but was trodden into being by the feet of those who were drawn to every sacred place that ever was and in anticipation of every sacred place that ever would be. The path was not designed by humans but reflected a simple truth – that throughout the earth there are special places where earthly love and heavenly love mingle more freely.
Some people call this path the Silk Road and others the Diamond Way. Some call it the Way of the Light and others the Golden Line. All these names are correct, for this path has all these qualities – it is indeed as fine as silk, as clear as diamond, as precious as gold and as revealing as light. Sadly, the qualities the names describe are often misinterpreted and have caused ignorant people to fight for control of the path – convinced that control will lead to material gain. This valley forms a section of the path and my people have always been here to protect it. In good times they are a peaceful people dedicated to the well-being of their family, tribe and land, and to the study of the teachings entrusted to them. In difficult times, like now, they become ferocious warriors dedicated to protecting the path, its treasures and the people of the path. The process is cyclical and my people have developed an equanimity to both roles. Studying or killing are equally valid – it is simply a matter of acting according to the needs of the time.
All the prophets, teachers, mystics and sages of every era were born along this path, and all the great teachings encourage their followers to walk a section of this path – because treasures are hidden along it, available only to those with open heart, open eyes, open ears and a mouth closed against stupidity.
My father told me of a family of twelve who would travel this valley and gather together the treasures. Now I know we are that family but this is not the moment. One of us is still missing and we must travel this valley twice – once to complete our family and once to gather the treasures. But something strange is happening here, something my father didn’t tell me of. Whenever we stop under Shamal’s instruction, others in this valley prepare to move. When we move under the cover of stillness they move too. I do not know who they are – we cannot hold the stillness and follow their movements.
“They are the scholars,” Shamal volunteered. “They can never rest now that the City of Wisdom is lost. But they know you are here and you know they are there, and you are learning how to move together. Do not waste your skills on looking for them and do not worry about the treasures – nothing will stay still in this valley until you return.”
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