The Rampa Story/Chapter Two

Published in 1960, the only one of Lobsang Rampa's books to have not been renewed.

CHAPTER TWOEdit

TIBET, at the turn of the century, was beset by many problems. Britain was making a great uproar, shouting to all the world that Tibet was too friendly with Russia, to the detriment of British Imperialism. The Czar of all the Russia’s was shrieking in the vast halls of his palace in Moscow, complaining vociferously that Tibet was becoming too friendly with Britain. The Royal Court of China resounded with fevered accusations that Tibet was being too friendly with Britain and with Russia and was most certainly not friendly enough with China.

Lhasa swarmed with spies of various nations, poorly disguised as mendicant monks or pilgrims, or missionaries, or anything which seemed to offer a plausible excuse for being in Tibet at all. Sundry gentlemen of assorted races met deviously under the dubious cover of darkness to see how they could profit by the troubled international situation. The Great Thirteenth, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama Incarnation and a great statesman in His own right, kept his temper and the peace and steered Tibet clear of embroilment. Polite messages of undying friendship, and insincere offers of “protection” cross the Sacred Himalayas from the heads of the leading nations of the world.

Into such an atmosphere of trouble and unrest I was born. As Grandmother Rampa so truly said, I was born to trouble and have been in trouble ever since, and hardly any of it of my own making! The Seers and Sooth-Sayers were loud in their praise of “the boy's” inborn gifts of clairvoyance and telepathy. “An exalted ego,” said one. “Destined to leave his name in history,” said another. “A Great Light to our Cause,” said a third. And I, at that early age, raised up my voice in hearty protest at being so foolish as to be born once again. Relatives, as soon as I was able to understand their speech, took every opportunity to remind me of the noise I made; they told me with glee that mine was the most raucous, the most unmusical musical voice that it had been their misfortune to hear.

Father was one of the leading men of Tibet. A nobleman of high degree, he had considerable influence in the affairs of our country. Mother, too, through her side of the family exercised much authority in matters of policy. Now, looking back over the years, I am inclined to think that they were almost as important as Mother thought, and that was of no mean order.

My early days were spent at our home near the Potala, just across the Kaling Chu, or Happy River. “Happy” because it gave life to Lhasa as it ran chuckling over many brooks, and meandered in rivulet form through the city. Our home was well wooded, well staffed with servants, and my parents lived in princely splendor. I—well I was subjected to much discipline, much hardship. Father had become greatly soured during the Chinese invasion in the first decade of the century, and he appeared to have taken an irrational dislike to me. Mother, like so many society women throughout the world, had no time for children, looking upon them as things to be got rid of as speedily as possible, and then parked on some hired attendant.

Brother Paljor did not stay with us long; before his seventh birthday he left for “The Heavenly Fields” and Peace. I was four years of age then, and Father's dislike for me seemed to increase from that time. Sister Yasodhara was six at the time of the passing of our brother, and we both bemoaned, not the loss of our brother, but the increased discipline which started at his passing.

Now my family are all dead, killed by the Chinese Communists My sister was killed for resisting the advances of the invaders. My parents for being landowners. The home from whence I gazed wide-eyed over the beautiful parkland has been made into dormitories for slave workers. In one wing of the house are women workers, and in the right wing are men. All are married, and if husband and wife behave and do their quota of work, they can see each other once a week for half an hour, after which they are medically examined.

But in the far-off days of my childhood these things were in the future, something which was known would happen but which, like death at the end of one's life, did not obtrude too much. The Astrologers had indeed foretold these happenings, but we went about our daily life blissfully oblivious of the future.

Just before I was seven years of age, at the age when my brother left this life, there was a huge ceremonial party at which the State Astrologers consulted their charts and determined what my future was going to be. Everyone who was “anything” was there. Many came uninvited by bribing servants to let them in. The crush was so thick that there was hardly room to move in our ample grounds.

The priest fumbled and bumbled, as priests will, and put on an impressive show before announcing the outstanding points of my career. In fairness I must state that they were absolutely right in everything unfortunate which they said. Then they told my parents that I must enter the Chakpori Lamasery to be trained as a Medical Monk.

My gloom was quite intense, because I had a feeling that it would lead to trouble. No one listened to me, though, and I was shortly undergoing the ordeal of sitting outside the Lamasery gate for three days and nights just to see if I had the endurance necessary to become a medical monk. That I passed the test was more a tribute to my fear of Father than of my physical stamina. Entry to the Chakpori was the easiest stage. Our days were long, it was hard indeed to have a day which started at midnight, and which required us to attend services at intervals throughout the night as well as throughout the day. We were taught the ordinary academic stuff, our religious duties, matters of the metaphysical world, and medical lore, for we were to become medical monks. Our Eastern cures were such that Western medical thought still cannot understand them. Yet—Western pharmaceutical firms are trying hard to synthesize the potent ingredients which are in the herbs we used. Then, the age-old Eastern remedy, now artificially produced in a laboratory, will have a high-sounding name and will be hailed as an example of Western achievement.

Such is progress.

When I was eight years of age I had an operation which opened my “Third Eye”, that special organ of clairvoyance which is moribund in most people because they deny its existence. With this “eye” seeing, I was able to distinguish the human aura and so divine the intention of those around me. It was—and is!—most entertaining to listen to the empty words of those who pretended friendship for self gain, yet truly had black murder in their hearts. The aura can tell the whole medical history of a person. By determining what is missing from the aura, and replacing the deficiencies by special radiations, people can be cured of illness.

Because I had stronger than usual powers of clairvoyance I was very frequently called upon by the Inmost One, the Great Thirteenth Incarnation of the Dalai Lama, to look at the aura of those who visited Him “in friendship”. My beloved Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, a very capable clairvoyant, trained me well. He also taught me the greatest secrets of astral traveling, which now to me is easier than walking. Almost anyone, no matter what they call their religion, believes in the existence of a “soul” or “other body”. Actually there are several “bodies” or “sheaths”, but the exact number does not concern us here. We believe —rather, we know! that-it is possible to lay aside the ordinary physical body (the one that supports the clothes!) and travel anywhere, even beyond the Earth, in the astral form.

Everyone does astral traveling, even the ones who think it is “all nonsense”! It is as natural as breathing. Most people do it when they are asleep and so, unless they are trained, they know nothing about it. How many people, in the morning, exclaim: “Oh! I had such a wonderful dream last night, I seemed to be with So-and-so. We were very happy together and she said she was writing. Of course it is all very vague now!” And then, usually in a very few days a letter does arrive. The explanation is that one of the persons traveled astrally to the other, and because they were not trained, it became a “dream”. Almost anyone can astral travel. How many authenticated cases there are of dying persons visiting a loved one in a dream in order to say good-bye. Again, it is astral traveling. The dying person, with the bonds of the world loosened, easily visits a friend in passing.

The trained person can lie down and relax and then ease off the ties that chain the ego, or companion body, or soul, call it what you will, it is the same thing. Then, when the only connection between is the “Silver Cord”, the second body can drift off, like a captive balloon at the end of its line. Wherever you can think of, there you can go, fully conscious, fully alert, when you are trained. The dream state is when a person astral travels without knowing it, and brings back a confused, jumbled impression. Unless one is trained, there are a multitude of impressions con- stantly being received by the “Silver Cord” which confuses the “dreamer” more and more. In the astral you can go anywhere, even beyond the confines of the Earth, for the astral body does not breathe, nor does it eat. All its wants are supplied by the “Silver Cord” which, during life, constantly connects it to the physical body.

The “Silver Cord” is mentioned in the Christian Bible: “Lest the ‘Silver Cord’ be severed, and the ‘Golden Bowl’ be shattered.” The “Golden Bowl” is the halo or nimbus around the head of a spiritually evolved person. Those not spiritually evolved have a halo of a very different color! Artists of old painted a golden halo around the pictures of saints because the artists actually saw the halo, otherwise he would not have painted it. The halo is merely a very small part of the human aura, but is more easily seen because it is usually much brighter.

If scientists would investigate astral travel and auras, instead of meddling with fizzling rockets which so often fail to go into orbit, they would have the complete key to space travel. By astral projection they could visit another world and so determine the type of ship needed to make the journey in the physical, for astral travel has one great drawback; one cannot take any material object nor can one return with any material object. One can only bring back knowledge. So—the scientists will need a ship in order to bring back live specimens and photographs with which to convince an incredulous world, for people cannot believe a thing exists unless they can tear it to pieces in order to prove that it might be possible after all.

I am particularly reminded of a journey into space which I took. This is absolutely true, and those who are evolved will know it as such. It does not matter about the others, they will learn when they reach a greater stage of spiritual maturity.

This is an experience which happened some years ago when I was in Tibet studying at the Chakpori Lamasery. Although it happened many years ago, the memory of it is as fresh in my mind as if it happened but yesterday.

My Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, and a fellow lama, actually a close friend of mine named Jigme, and I, were upon the roof of the Chakpori, on Iron Mountain, in Lhasa, Tibet. It was a cold night indeed, some forty degrees below zero. As we stood upon the exposed roof the shrieking wind pressed our robes tightly against our shivering bodies. At the side of us away from the wind our robes streamed out like Prayer Flags, leaving us chilled to the marrow, threatening to pull us over the precipitous mountainside.

As we looked about us, leaning heavily against the wind to maintain our balance, we saw the dim lights of Lhasa city in the distance, while off to our right the lights of the Potala added to the mystical air of the scene. All the windows seemed to be adorned with gleaming butter lamps, which even though protected by the mighty walls, wavered and danced at the bidding of the wind. In the faint star- light the golden roofs of the Potala were reflecting and glinting as if the Moon itself had descended and played among the pinnacles and tombs atop the glorious building.

But we shivered in the bitter cold, shivered, and wished that we were warm in the incense-laden air of the temple beneath us. We were on the roof for a special purpose, as the Lama Mingyar Dondup enigmatically put it. Now he stood between us, seemingly as firm as the mountain itself, as he pointed upwards at a far distant star—a red looking world—and said, “My brothers this is the star Zhoro, an old, old planet, one of the oldest in this particular system. Now it is approaching the end of its long lifetime".

He turned to us with his back to the biting wind, and said, “You have studied much in astral traveling. Now, together, we will travel in the astral to that planet. We will leave our bodies here upon this windswept roof, and we will move up beyond the atmosphere, beyond even Time.”

So saying he led the way across the roof to where there was some slight shelter afforded by a projecting cupola of the roof. He lay down and bade us to lie beside him. We wrapped our robes tightly around us and each held the hand of the other. Above us was the deep purple vault of the Heavens, speckled with faint pin-pricks of light, colored light, because all planets have different lights when seen in the clear night air of Tibet. Around us was the shrieking wind, but our training had always been severe, and we thought naught of remaining on that roof. We knew that this was not to be an ordinary journey into the astral, for we did not often leave our bodies thus exposed to inclement weather. When a body is uncomfortable the ego can travel further and faster and remember in greater detail. Only for small transworld journeys does one relax and make the body comfortable.

My Guide said, “Now let us clasp our hands together, and let us project ourselves together beyond this Earth. Keep with me and we will journey far and have unusual experiences this night.”

We lay back and breathed in the accepted pattern for astral traveling release. I was conscious of the wind screaming through the cords of the Prayer Flags which fluttered madly above us. Then, all of a sudden, there was a jerk, and I felt no more the biting fingers of the chill wind. I found myself floating as if in a different time, above my body, and all was peaceful. The Lama Mingyar Dondup was already standing erect in his astral form, and then, as I looked down, I saw my friend Jigme also leaving his body. He and I stood and made a link to join us to our guide the Lama Mingyar Dondup. This link, called ectoplasm is manufactured from the astral body by thought. It is the material from which mediums produce spirit manifestations.

The bond completed, we soared upwards, up into the night sky; I, ever inquisitive, looked down. Beneath us, streaming beneath us, were our Silver Cords, those endless cords which join the physical and the astral bodies during life. We flew on and on, upwards. The Earth receded. We could see the corona of the sun peering across the far ridge of the Earth in what must have been the Western world, the Western world into which we had so extensively traveled in the astral. Higher we went and then we could see the outlines of the oceans and continents in the sunlit part of the world. From our height the world now looked like a crescent moon, but with the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, flashing across the poles.

We moved on and on, faster and faster, until we out- stripped the speed of light for we were disembodied spirits, soaring ever onwards, approaching almost the speed of thought. As I looked ahead of me I saw a planet, huge and menacing and red, straight in front of me. We were falling towards it at a speed impossible to calculate. Although I had had much experience of astral traveling I felt pangs of alarm. The astral form of the Lama Mingyar Dondup chuckled telepathically and said, “Oh Lobsang, if we were to hit that planet it would not hurt them or us. We should go straight through it, there would be no bar.”

At last we found ourselves floating above a red, desolate world; red rocks, red sand in a tideless red sea. As we sank down towards the surface of this world we saw strange creatures like huge crabs moving lethargically along the water's edge. We stood upon that red rock shore and looked upon the water, tideless, deadly, with red scum upon it, stinking scum. As we watched, the turbid surface rippled unwillingly, and rippled again, and a strange unearthly creature emerged, a creature also red, heavily armored, and with remarkable joints. It groaned as if tired and dispirited, and reaching the red sand, it flopped down by the side of the tideless sea. Above our heads a red sun glowed dully casting fearful, blood-red shadows, harsh and garish. About us there was no movement, no sign of life other than the strange shelled creatures which lay half-dead on the ground. Even though I was in the astral body I shivered in apprehension as I gazed about me. A red sea upon which floated red scum, red rocks, red dying embers of a fire, a fire which was about to flicker into nothingness.

The Lama Mingyar Dondup said, “This is a dying world. There is no longer rotation here. This world floats derelict in the sea of Space, a satellite to a dying sun, which is soon to collapse, and thus to become a dwarf star without life, without light, a dwarf star which eventually will collide with another star, and from those another world shall be born. I have brought you here because yet in this world there is life of a high order, a life which is here for research and investigation of phenomena of this sort. Look about you.”

He turned and pointed with his right hand to the far distance, and we saw three immense towers reaching up into the red, red sky, and on the very top of those towers three gleaming crystal balls glowed and pulsated with clear, yellow light, as if they were alive.

As we stood there wondering one of the lights changed, one of the spheres turned a vivid electric blue. The Lama Mingyar Dondup said, “Come, they are bidding us welcome. Let us descend into the ground to where they are living in an underground chamber.”

Together we moved toward the base of that tower, and then, as we stood beneath the framework we saw there was an entrance heavily secured with some strange metal which glimmered and stood out like a scar upon that red and barren land. We moved through it, for metal, or rocks, or anything is no bar to those in the astral. We moved through and traversed long red corridors of dead rock until at last we stood in a very large hall, a hall surrounded by charts and maps, and strange machines and instruments. In the center there was a long table at which sat nine very aged men, all unlike each other. One was tall and thin, and with a pointed head, a conical head. Yet another was short and very solid looking. Each of these men was different. It was clear to us that each man was of a different planet, of a different race. Human? Well perhaps humanoid would be a better word with which to describe them. They were all human, but some were more human than others.

We became aware that all nine were looking fixedly in our direction. “Ah,” said one telepathically, “we have visitors from afar. We saw you land upon this, our research station, and we bid you welcome.”

“Respected Fathers,” said the Lama Mingyar Dondup, “I have brought to you two who have just entered upon the state of Lamahood and who are earnest students in search of knowledge.”

“They are indeed welcome,” said the tall man, who was apparently the leader of the group. “We will do anything to help as we have helped you with others previously.”

This was indeed news to me because I had no idea that my Guide did such extensive astral traveling through celestial places.

The shorter man was looking at me, and smiled. He said in the universal language of telepathy, “I see, young man, that you are greatly intrigued by the difference in our appearances.”

“Respected Father,” I replied, somewhat overawed by the ease with which he had divined my thoughts, thoughts which I had tried hard to conceal. “That is indeed a fact. I marvel at the disparity of sizes and shapes between you, and it occurred to me that you could not all be men of Earth.”

“You have perceived correctly,” said the short man. “We are all human, but due to environment we have altered our shapes and our stature somewhat, but can you not see the same thing on your own planet, where upon the land of Tibet there are some monks whom you employ as guards who are seven feet tall. Yet upon another country of that world, you have people who are but half that stature, and you call them pygmies. They are both human; they are both able to reproduce each with the other, notwithstanding any difference in size, for we are all humans of carbon molecules. Here in this particular Universe everything depends upon the basic molecules of carbon and hydrogen for these two are the bricks composing the structure of your Universe. We who have traveled in other Universes far beyond this particular branch of our nebulae know that other Universes use different bricks. Some use silicon, some use gypsum, some use other things, but they are different from people of this Universe, and we find to our sorrow that our thoughts are not always in affinity with them.”

The Lama Mingyar Dondup said, “I have brought these two young lamas here so that they can see the stages of death and decay in a planet which has exhausted its atmosphere, and in which the oxygen of that atmosphere has combined with metals to burn them and to reduce everything thing to an impalpable dust.”

“That is so,” said the tall man. “We would like to point out to these young men that every thing that is born must die. Everything lives for its allotted span, and that allotted span is a number of units of life. A unit of life in any living creature is a heartbeat of that creature. The life of a planet is 2,700,000,000 heartbeats, after which the planet dies, but from the death of a planet others are born. A human, too, lives for 2,700,000,000 heartbeats, and so does the lowliest insect. An insect which lives for but twenty-four hours has, during that time, had 2,700,000,000 heartbeats. A planet— they vary, of course—but one planet may have one heartbeat in 27,000 years, and after that there will be a convulsion upon that world as it shakes itself ready for the next heartbeat. All life, then,” he went on, “has the same span, but some creatures live at rates different from those of others. Creatures upon Earth, the elephant, the tortoise, the ant and the dog, they all live for the same number of heartbeats, but all have hearts beating at different speeds, and thus they may appear to live longer or to live less.”

Jigme and I found this extremely enthralling, and it explained so much to us that we had perceived upon our native land of Tibet. We had heard in the Potala about the tortoise which lives for so many years, and about the insect which lived for but a summer's evening. Now we could see that their perceptions must have been speeded up to keep pace with their speeding hearts.

The short man who seemed to look upon us with considerable approval, said, “Yes, not only that, but many animals represent different functions of the body. The cow, for instance, as anyone can see, is merely a walking mammary gland, the giraffe is a neck, a dog—well, anyone knows what a dog is always thinking of—sniffing the wind for news as his sight is so poor—and so a dog can be regarded as a nose. Other animals have similar affinities to different parts of one's anatomy. The ant-eater of South America could be looked upon as a tongue.”

For some time we talked telepathically, learning many strange things, learning with the speed of thought as one does in the astral. Then at last the Lama Mingyar Dondup stood up and said it was time to leave.

Beneath us as we returned the golden roofs of the Potala gleamed in the frosty sunlight. Our bodies were stiff, heavy and difficult to work with their half frozen joints. “And so,” we thought, as we stumbled to our feet, “another experience, another journey has ended. What next?”

A science at which we Tibetans excelled was healing by herbs. Always, until now, Tibet has been shut off from foreigners, and our fauna and flora have never been explored by the foreigners. On the high plateaus grow strange plants. Curare, and the “recently discovered” mescalin, for instance, were known in Tibet centuries ago. We could cure many of the afflictions of the Western world, but first the people of the Western world would have to have a little more faith. But most of the Westerners are mad anyway, so why bother?

Every year parties of us, those who had done best at their studies went on herb-gathering expeditions. Plants and pollens, roots and seeds, were carefully gathered, treated, and stored in yak-hide sacks. I loved the work and studied well. Now I find that the herbs I knew so well cannot be obtained here.

Eventually I was considered fit to take the Ceremony of the Little Death, which I wrote about in The Third Eye. By special rituals I was placed in a state of cataleptic death, far beneath the Potala, and I journeyed into the past, along the Akashic Record. I journeyed, too, to the lands of the Earth. But let me write it as it felt to me then.

The corridor in the living rock hundreds of feet beneath the frozen earth was dank, dank and dark with the darkness of the tomb itself. I moved along its length drifting like smoke in the blackness, and with increasing familiarity with that blackness I perceived at first indistinctly the greenish phosphorescence of moldering vegetation clinging to the rock walls. Occasionally where the vegetation was most prolific and the light the brightest I could catch a yellow gleam from the gold vein running the length of this rocky tunnel.

I drifted along soundlessly without consciousness of time, without thought of anything except that I must go farther and farther into the interior of the earth, for this was a day which was momentous to me, a day when I was returning from three days in the astral state. Time passed and I found myself deeper, deeper in the subterranean chamber in increasing blackness, a blackness which seemed to sound, a blackness which seemed to vibrate.

In my imagination I could picture the world above me, the world to which I was now returning. I could visualize the familiar scene now hidden by total darkness. I waited, poised in the air like a cloud of incense smoke in a temple. Gradually, so gradually, so slowly that it was some time before I could even perceive it, a sound came down the corridor, the vaguest of sounds, but gradually swelling and increasing in intensity. The sound of chanting, the sound of silver bells, and the muffled “shush-shush” of leather- bound feet. At last, at long last, an eerie wavering light appeared glistening along the walls of the tunnel. The sound was becoming louder now. I waited poised above a rock slab in the darkness. I waited.

Gradually, oh so gradually, so painfully slowly, moving figures crept cautiously down the tunnel towards me. As they came closer I saw that they were yellow-robed monks bearing aloft glaring torches, precious torches from the temple above with rare resin woods and incense sticks bound together giving a fragrant scent to drive away the odors of death and of decay, bright lights to dim and make invisible the evil glow of the rank vegetation.

Slowly the priests entered the underground chamber. Two moved to each of the walls near the entrance and fumbled on the rocky ledges. Then one after the other flickering butter lamps sprang into life. Now the chamber was more illuminated and I could look about me once again and see as I had not seen for three days.

The priests stood around me and saw me not, they stood around a stone tomb resting in the center of the chamber. The chanting increased, and the ringing of the silver bells too. At last, at a signal given by an old man, six monks stopped and panting and grunting lifted the stone lid off the coffin. Inside as I looked down I saw my own body, a body clad in the robes of a priest of the lama class. The monks were chanting louder now, singing:

“Oh Spirit of the Visiting Lama, wandering the face of the world above, return for this, the third day, has come and is about to pass. A first stick of incense is lit to recall the Spirit of the Visiting Lama.”

A monk stood forth and lit a stick of sweet smelling incense, red in color, and then took another from a box as the priests chanted:

“Oh Spirit of the Visiting Lama, returning here to us, hasten for the hour of your awakening draws nigh. A second stick of incense is lit to hasten your return.”

As the monk solemnly drew a stick of incense from the box, the priest recited:

“Oh Spirit of the Visiting Lama, we await to reanimate and nourish your earthly body. Speed you on your way for the hour is at hand, and with your return here another grade in your education will have been passed. A third stick of incense is lit at the call of returning.”

As the smoke swirled lazily upwards engulfing my astral form, I shivered in dread. It was as if invisible hands were drawing me, as if hands were drawing on my Silver Cord, drawing me down, reeling me in, forcing me into that cold, lifeless body. I felt the coldness of death, I felt shivering in my limbs, I felt my astral sight grow dim, and then great gasps wracked my body which trembled uncontrollably. High Priests bent down into the stone tomb, lifted my head and my shoulders and forced something bitter between my tightly clenched jaws.

“Ah,” I thought, “back in the confining body again, back in the confining body.”

It seemed as if fire was coursing through my veins, veins which had been dormant for three days. Gradually the priests eased me out of the tomb, supporting me, lifting me, keeping me on my feet, walking me around in the stone chamber, kneeling before me, prostrating themselves at my feet, reciting their mantras, saying their prayers, and lighting their sticks of incense. They forced nourisment into me, washed me and dried me, and changed my robes.

With consciousness returning into the body, for some strange reason my thoughts wandered back to the time three days before when a similar occurrence had taken place. Then I had been laid down in this self same stone coffin. One by one the lamas had looked at me. Then they had put the lid upon the stone coffin and extinguished the sticks of incense. Solemnly they had departed up the stone corridor, bearing their lights with them, while I lay quite a little frightened in that stone tomb, frightened in spite of all my training, frightened in spite of knowing what was to happen. I had been long in the darkness, in the silence of death. Silence? No, for my perceptions had been trained, and were so acute that I could hear their breathing, sounds of life diminishing as they went away. I could hear the shuffling of their feet growing fainter and fainter, and then darkness, silence, and stillness, and nothingness.

Death itself could not be worse than this, I thought. Time crawled endlessly by as I lay there becoming colder and colder. All of a sudden the world exploded as in a golden flame, and I left the confines of the body, I left the blackness of the stone tomb, and the underground chamber. I forced my way through the earth, the icebound earth, and into the cold pure air, and away far above the towering Himalayas, far out over the land and oceans, far away to the ends of the earth with the speed of thought. I wandered alone, ethereal, ghostlike in the astral, seeking out the places and palaces of the Earth, gaining education by watching others. Not even the most secret vaults were sealed to me, for I could wander as free as a thought to enter the Council Chambers of the world. The leaders of all lands passed before me in constant panorama, their thoughts naked to my probing eye.

“And now,” I thought, as dizzily I stumbled to my feet supported by lamas, “Now I have to report all that I saw, all that I experienced, and then? Perhaps soon I shall have another similar experience to undergo. After that I shall have to journey into the Western world, to endure the hardship forecast.”

With much training behind me, and much hardship too, I set out from Tibet to more training, and much more hardship. As I looked back, before crossing the Himalayas, I saw the early rays of the sun, peeping over the mountain ranges, touching the golden roofs of the Sacred Buildings and turning them into visions of breath-taking delight. The Valley of Lhasa seemed still asleep, and even the Prayer Flags nodded drowsily at their masts. By the Pargo Kaling I could just discern a yak-train, the traders, early risers like me, setting out for India while I turned towards Chungking.

Over the mountain ranges we went, taking the paths trodden by the traders bringing tea into Tibet, bricks of tea from China, tea which with tsampa was one of the staple foods eaten by Tibetans. 1927 it was when we left Lhasa, and made our way to Chotang, a little town on the river Brahmaputra. On we went to Kanting, down into the lowlands, through lush forests, through valleys steaming with dank vegetation, on we went suffering with our breathing, because we, all of us, were used to breathing air only at l5,000 feet or higher. The lowlands with their heavy atmosphere pressing upon us depressed our spirits, compressing our lungs, making us feel that we were drowning in air. On we went day after day, until after a thousand miles or more we reached the outskirts of the Chinese City Of Chungking.

Encamped for the night, our last night together, for on the morrow my companions would set off on the return journey to our beloved Lhasa, encamped together, we talked mournfully. It distressed me considerably that my comrades, my retainers, were already treating me as a person dead to the world, as a person condemned to live in the lowland cities. And so on the morrow I went to the University of Chungking, a University where almost all the professors, almost all the staff worked hard to ensure the success of the students, to help in any way possible, and only the very minute minority were difficult or un-coperative, or suffered from xenophobia.

In Chungking I studied to be a surgeon and a physician. I studied also to be an air pilot, for my life was mapped out, foretold in minutest detail, and I knew, as proved to be the case, that later I would do much in the air and in medicine. But in Chungking there were still only the mutterings of war to come and most of the people in this, an ancient and modern city combined, lived day by day enjoying their ordinary happiness, doing their ordinary tasks.

This was my first visit in the physical to one of the major cities, my first visit, in fact, to any city outside Lhasa, although in the astral form I had visited most of the great cities of the world, as anyone can if they will practice, for there is nothing difficult, nothing magical in the astral, it is as easy as walking, easier than riding a bicycle because on a bicycle one has to balance; in the astral one has merely to use the abilities and faculties which our birthright gave us.

While I was still studying at the University of Chungking I was summoned back to Lhasa because the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was about to die. I arrived there and took part in the ceremonies which followed His death, and then after attending to various business in Lhasa I again returned to Chungking. At a later interview with a Supreme Abbot, T'ai Shu, I was persuaded to accept a commission in the Chinese air force, and to go to Shanghai, a place which although I knew I had to visit had no attraction whatever for me. So once again I was uprooted and made my way to another home. Here on July 7th, 1937, the Japanese staged an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge. This was the actual starting point of the China-Japanese war, and it made things very difficult indeed for us. I had to leave my quite lucrative practice in Shanghai and place myself at the disposal of the Shanghai Municipal Council for a time, but afterwards I devoted all my time to mercy flying for the Chinese forces. I and others flew to places where there was a great need of urgent surgery. We flew in old aircraft which were actually condemned for anything else but which were considered good enough for those who were not fighting but patching up bodies.

I was captured by the Japanese, after being shot down, and they treated me quite roughly. I did not look like a Chinaman, they did not quite know what I looked like, and so because of my uniform, because of my rank, they were thoroughly unpleasant.

I managed to escape and made my way back to the Chinese forces in the hope of continuing with my work. First I was sent to Chungking to have a change of scene before returning to active duty. Chungking was then a different place from the Chungking which I had known before. The buildings were new, or rather some of the old buildings had new fronts because the place had been bombed. The place was absolutely crowded and all types of businesses from the major cities of China were now congregating in Chungking in the hopes of escaping the devastation of the war which was raging elsewhere.

After recovering somewhat I was sent down to the coast under the command of General Yo. I was appointed as medical officer in charge of the hospital, but the “hospital” was merely a collection of paddy fields which were thoroughly waterlogged. The Japanese soon came along and captured us and killed all those patients who were unable to rise and walk. I was taken off again and treated remarkably badly because the Japanese recognized me as one who had escaped before, and they really did not like people who escape.

After some time I was sent to be Prison Medical 0fficer in charge of a prison camp for women of all nationalities. There due to my specialized training in herbs, I was able to make the best use of the natural resources of the camp to treat patients who otherwise would have been denied all medication. The Japanese thought that I was doing too much for the prisoners and not letting them die enough, and so they sent me to a prison camp in Japan, a camp which they said was for terrorists. I was herded across the Sea of Japan in a leaky ship and we were very badly treated indeed. I was badly tortured by them, and their continual torture gave me pneumonia. They did not want me to die and so in their way they looked after me, and gave me treatment. When I was recovering—I did not let the Japanese know how well I was recovering—the earth shook; I thought it was an earthquake, and then I looked out of the window and found that the Japanese were running in terror, and all the sky turned red, it looked as if the sun was obscured. Although I did not know it, this was the atom bombing of Hiroshima, the day of the first bomb on October 6th, 1945.

The Japanese had no time for me, they needed all their time to look after themselves, I thought, and so I managed to pick up a uniform, a cap, and a pair of heavy sandals. Then I tottered out into the open air through the narrow unguarded doorway, and managed to make my way down to the shore where I found a fishing boat. Apparently the owner had fled in terror as the bomb dropped, for he was nowhere in sight. The boat idly rocked at its moorings. In the bottom there were a few pieces of stale fish already starting to give off the odor of decay. There was a discarded can nearby which had stale water in it, drinkable, but only just. I managed to hack away the flimsy rope holding the boat to the shore, and cast off. The wind filled out the ragged sail when I managed to hoist it hours later, and the boat headed out into the unknown. The effort was too much for me. I just toppled to the bottom in a dead faint.

A long time after, how long I cannot say, I can only judge the passage of time by the state of decomposition of the fish, I awakened to the dimness of a dawn. The boat was racing on, the little waves breaking over the bows. I was too ill with pneumonia to bale, and so I just had to lie with my shoulders and the bottom of my body in the salt water, in all the refuse which swilled about. Later in the day the sun came out with blinding power. I felt as if my brains were being boiled in my head, as if my eyes were being burned out. I felt as if my tongue was growing to be the size of my arm, dry, aching. My lips and my cheeks were cracked. The pain was too much for me. I felt that my lungs were bursting again, and I knew that once more pneumonia had attacked both lungs. The light of the day faded from me, and I sank back into the bilge water, unconscious.

Time had no meaning, time was just a series of red blurs, punctuated by darkness. Pain raged through me and I hovered at the border between life and death. Suddenly there was a violent jolt, and the screech of pebbles beneath the keel. The mast swayed as if it would snap, and the tattered rag of a sail fluttered madly in the stiff breeze. I slid forward in the bottom of the boat, unconscious amid the stinking, swirling water.

“Gee, Hank, dere's a gook in de bottom of de boat, sure looks like a stiff to me!” The nasal voice roused me to a flicker of consciousness. I lay there, unable to move, unable to show that I was still alive.

“Whatsamadder wid ya? Scairt of a corpse? We want da boat, don't we? Give me a hand and we toss him out.”

Heavy footsteps rocked the boat, and threatened to crush my head.

“Man oh man!” said the first voice, “Dat poor guy he sure took a beating from exposure. Mebbe he still breathes, Hank, what ya think.”

“Aw, stop bellyachin. He's good as dead. Toss him out. We got no time to waste”

Strong, harsh hands grabbed me by the feet and head. I was swung once, twice, and then let go and I sailed over the side of the boat to fall with a bone-rattling crash on to a pebble-and-sand beach. Without a backward glance, the two men heaved and strained at the stranded boat. Grunting and cursing they labored, throwing aside small rocks and stones. At last the boat broke free and with a grating scrunch floated slowly backwards into the water. In a panic, for some reason unknown to me, the two men scrambled frenziedly aboard and went off in a series of clumsy tacks.

The sun blazed on. Small creatures in the sand bit me, and I suffered the tortures of the damned. Gradually the day wore out, until at last the sun set, blood-red and threatening. Water lapped at my feet, crept up to my knees. Higher. With stupendous effort I crawled a few feet, digging my elbows into the sand, wriggling, struggling. Then oblivion.

Hours later, or it may have been days, I awakened to find the sunlight streaming in upon me. Shakily I turned my head and looked about. The surroundings were wholly unfamiliar. I was in a small one-roomed cottage, with sea sparkling and glistening in the distance. As I turned my head I saw an old Buddhist priest watching me. He smiled and came towards me, sitting on the floor by my side. Haltingly, and with some considerable difficulty, we con- versed. Our languages were similar but not identical, and with much effort, substituting and repeating words, we discussed the position.

“For some time,” the priest said, “I have known that I would have a visitor of some eminence, one who had a great task in life. Although old, I have lingered on until my task was completed.”

The room was very poor, very clean, and the old priest was obviously on the verge of starvation. He was emaciated and his hands shook with weakness and age. His faded, ancient robe was patterned with neat stitches where he had repaired the ravages of age and accidents.

“We saw you thrown from the boat,” he said. “For long we thought you were dead and we could not get to the beach to make sure because of marauding bandits. At nightfall two men of the village went out and brought you here to me. But that was five days ago; you have been very ill indeed. We know that you will live to journey afar and life will be hard.”

Hard! Why did everyone tell me so often that life would be hard? Did they think I liked it? Definitely it was hard, always had been, and I hated hardship as much as anyone.

“This is Najin,” the priest continued. “We are on the outskirts. As soon as you are able, you will have to leave for my own death is near.”

For two days I moved carefully around, trying to regain my strength, trying to pick up the threads of life again. I was weak, starved, and almost beyond caring whether I lived or died. A few old friends of the priest came to see me and suggested what I should do, and how I should travel. On the third morning as I awakened, I saw the old priest lying stiff and cold beside me. During the darkness he had relinquished his hold upon life, and had departed. With the help of an old friend of his, we dug a grave and buried him. I wrapped what little food was left in a cloth, and with a stout stick to help me, I departed.

A mile or so and I was exhausted. My legs shook and my head seemed to spin, making my vision blurry. For a time I lay by the side of the coast road, keeping out of sight of passers-by, for I had been warned that this was a dangerous district indeed for strangers. Here, I was told, a man could lose his life if his expression did not please the armed thugs who roamed at large terrorizing the district.

Eventually I resumed my journey and made my way to Unggi. My informants had given me very clear instructions on how to cross the border into Russian territory. My condition was bad, frequent rests were necessary, and on one such occasion I was sitting by the side of the road idly watching the heavy traffic. My eyes wandered from group to group until I was attracted to five Russian soldiers, heavily armed and with three huge mastiffs. For some reason, at the same time, one of the soldiers chanced to look at me. With a word to his companions he unleashed the three dogs which came towards me in a blue of speed, their snarling fangs slavering with fierce excitement. The soldiers started towards me, fingering their sub-machine guns. As the dogs came, I sent friendly thoughts to them, animals had no fear or dislike of me. Suddenly they were upon me, tails wagging, licking and slobbering over me and nearly killing me with friendship, for I was very weak. A sharp command, and the dogs cowered at the feet of the soldiers, now standing over me. “Ah!” said the corporal in charge, “You must be a good Russian and a native here, otherwise the dogs would have torn you to pieces. They are trained for just that. Watch awhile and you will see.”

They walked away, dragging the reluctant dogs, who wanted to stay with me. A few minutes later the dogs leaped urgently to their feet and dashed off to the undergrowth at the side of the road. There were horrible screams suddenly choked off by frothy bubbling. A rustling behind me, and as I turned, a bloody hand, bitten off at the wrist, was dropped at my feet while the dog stood there wagging his tail!

Comrade,” said the corporal, strolling over, “you must be loyal indeed for Serge to do that. We are going to our base at Kraskino. You are on the move, do you want a ride that far with five dead bodies?”

“Yes, Comrade corporal, I should be much obliged,” I replied.

Leading the way, with the dogs walking beside me wagging their tails, he took me to a half track vehicle with a trailer attached. From one corner of the trailer a thin stream of blood ran to splash messily on the ground. Casually glancing in at the bodies piled there, he looked more intently at the feeble struggle of a dying man. Pulling out his revolver he shot him in the head, then reholstered his gun and walked off to the half track without a backward glance.

I was given a seat on the back of the half track. The soldiers were in a good mood, boasting that no foreigner ever crossed the Border when they were on duty, telling me that their platoon held the Red Star award for competency. I told them that I was making my way to Vladivostok to see the great city for the first time, and hoping I would have no difficulty with the language. “Aw!” guffawed the corporal. “We have a supply truck going there tomorrow, taking these dogs for a rest, because with too much human blood they get too savage so that even we cannot handle them. You have a way with them. Look after them for us and we will take you to Vladi tomorrow. You understand us, you will be understood everywhere in this district—this is not Moscow!”

So I, a confirmed hater of Communism, spent that night as a guest of the soldiers of the Russian Frontier Patrol. Wine, women and song were offered me, but I pleaded age and ill-health. With a good plain meal inside me, the best for a long, long time, I went to bed on the floor, and slept with an untroubled conscience.

In the morning we set out for Vladivostok, the corporal, one other rank, three dogs and me. And so, through the friendship of fierce animals, I got to Vladivostok without trouble, without walking, and with good food inside me.