From T.LOBSANG RAMPA's book:

"THE HERMIT" - here part 3

As for all of his books - he claims they are absolutely true -

and the people who KNOWS IN THEMSELVES - can recognise the wisdom…

So back to the hermits cave where he told the unbeliveable story to young Lobsang:

….glumly the young monk set about the task of separating the layers of bark. The dark outer skin, coarse and rugged helped to feed the flames. The smooth, greenish-white under layer to be torn into shreds and stuffed into the now-boiling water. Gloomily he tossed in the last lump of tea and jumped high as a splash of boiling water scalded his wrist. Grasping a newly peeled stick he prodded and stirred the mess in the can. With considerable apprehension he withdrew the stick and tasted the end to which a few drops of the concoction adhered; his worst fears were speedily realized. The stuff tasted like hot nothingness. Flavoured with weak tea!

The old hermit held out his bowl. 'I can eat this, when I first came here there was nothing else for me to eat. In those days there were small trees right up to the entrance. I ate them! Eventually people became aware of my presence, and most times since I have had a supply of food. But I never worry if I have to remain without for a week or ten days. There is always water. What more can a man want?'

Sitting in the gloom of the cave at the feet of the Venerable One, with the daylight growing stronger and stronger outside, the young monk thought that he had been sitting thus for a whole eternity. Learning, always learning. Fondly his thoughts turned to the flickering butterlamps of Lhasa, now in his mind almost a thing of the past. How long he had to remain was a matter of conjecture until the old man had nothing more to tell him, he supposed. Until the old man had died and HE had to dispose of the body. The thought sent a shiver of apprehension through him. How macabre, he though, to be talking to a man and then, just an hour or so after, to be unravelling his intestines for the vultures, or pounding up his bones that no fragment should be left unreturned to the earth. But the old man was ready. He cleared his throat, took a sip of water and composed his limbs.

'I was as a disembodied spirit spiralling down to the great castle which housed the Master of this Supreme World,' commenced the old hermit 'I was longing to see what manner of man commanded the respect and love of some of the most powerful worlds in existence. I was avid to determine what manner of man and woman could endure throughout the centuries. The Master and his Wife. But it was not to be. I was jerked as a small boy might jerk the cord of his kite. I was jerked away backwards. "This is sacred ground," said the Voice very dourly, "this is not for ignorant natives, you are to see other things." And SO it came about that I was towed many miles and then turned about and Set upon a different path.

'Beneath me the features of that world diminished and the cities became even as the grains of sand upon a river bank. I rose into the air and out of the air; I travelled where air was not. Eventually there came in range of my vision a strange structure the like of which I had never seen. The purpose of which I could not comprehend. Here, in the airless void, where I could not exist save as a disembodied spirit, there floated a city of metal kept aloft by some mysterious method quite beyond my power to discern. As I approached, the details became clearer and I perceived that the city rested upon a land of metal and covering its upper portions there was a material which was clearer than glass yet was not glass. Beneath that transparent sheen I could observe people in the streets of the city, a city larger than the city of Lhasa.

'There were strange protuberances on some of the buildings and it was to one of the larger of the edifices that I found myself directed. "Here is a great observatory," said the Voice within my brain. "An observatory from whence the birth of your world was witnessed. Not by optical means, but by special rays which are beyond your comprehension. Within a few years the people of your world will discover the science of Radio. Radio, in its highest development, will be as the brain power of a lowly worm compared to the brain power of the most intelligent human. What we use here is far far beyond even this. Here the secrets of universes are probed, the surface of distant worlds watched even as you now watch the surface of this Satellite. And no distance, no matter how great, is a bar. We can look into temples, into places of play, and into homes."

'I approached yet more closely and feared for my safety as that clear barrier loomed large before me. I feared to crash into it and suffer lacerations, but then, before panic set in, I recollected that I was now as one of the spirits to whom even the most substantial walls were as shadows to be crossed at will. Slowly I sank through this glasslike substance and came upon the surface of that world which the Voice had termed "Satellite". For a time I drifted hither and thither, trying to settle the turbulent thoughts within me. It was a shocking experience for "an ignorant native of an undeveloped country in a backward world" to endure - and remain fairly sane.

'Softly, like a cloud drifting over a mountain range, or a moonbeam flitting silently over a lake, I began to drift sideways, away from the idle movements in which I had previously indulged. I moved sideways and filtered through strange walls of a material quite unknown to me. Even though I was even then as a spirit, yet there was some slight opposition to my passage for I endured a tingling of my whole being and for a time - a sensation that I was stuck in a tenacious bog. With a curious wrenching which seemed to shred my whole being, I left the constraining wall. As I did so I had the strong impression of the Voice saying, "He's got through! I thought for a time he wouldn't make it."

'But now I was through the wall and into an immense covered space, it was too large to be demeaned by the term "room". Quite fantastic machines and apparatus stood about. Things completely beyond my understanding. Yet the strangest things by far were the inhabitants of the enclosure. Very very small humanoids busied themselves with things, which I dimly understood to be instruments, while giants moved heavy packages from place to place and did the hard work for those who were too weak. "Here," said the Voice in my brain, "we have a very great system. Small people make delicate adjustments and build small items. Large people do things more in keeping with their size and strength. Now, move on." That imponderable force propelled me once again so that I encountered, and overcame, yet another barrier to my progress. This was even harder to enter and leave.

'"That wall," murmured the Voice, "is a Death Barrier. No one can enter or leave while in the flesh. Here is a very secret place. Here we look at all the worlds and we detect immediately any warlike preparations. Look!" I looked around me. For moments that which was before me had no meaning. Then I got a grip on my reeling senses and concentrated. The walls around me were divided into rectangles about six feet long by about five feet high. Each was a living picture beneath, which were strange symbols, which I took to be writing. The pictures were amazing. Here was one in which a world was depicted as though seen from space. It was blue-green, with strange white patches. With a great shock I perceived that this was my own world, the world of my birth. A change in an adjacent picture drew my immediate attention. There was a deplorable sensation of falling as I gazed and I saw that I was watching a picture of MY world as though I were falling on to it.

'The clouds cleared, and I saw the whole outline of India and Tibet. No one told me that this was so, yet I knew it by instinct. The picture grew larger and larger. I saw Lhasa. I saw the Highlands, and then I saw the volcanic crater. "But you are not here to see that!" exclaimed the Voice. "Look elsewhere!" I looked about me and marvelled anew at that which I saw. Here, on this picture, was the interior of a council chamber. Very important looking individuals were in animated discussion. Voices' were raised, and hands too. Papers were thrown about with a shocking disregard for decorum. On a raised dais a man with a purple face was speaking frantically. Applause and condemnation in about equal measure greeted his remarks. It all reminded me of a meeting of Lord Abbots!

'I turned about. Everywhere were these living pictures. Everywhere these strange scenes, some in the most improbable colours. My body moved on, on into yet another room. Here were pictures of strange metal objects moving across the blackness of space. "Blackness" is not the word to use, for space here was speckled with points of light of many colours, many of those colours previously quite unknown to me. "Space ships in transit," said the Voice. "We keep careful track of our traffic." Amazingly a man's face leaped into life on a portion of the wall. He spoke, but I did not understand his words. He nodded his head and gestured as though he were talking face to face with a person. With a smile and gesture of farewell the face vanished and the wall frame was again a smooth grey sheet.

'Immediately it was replaced by a view as seen by a high-flying bird. A view of the World I had just left, the World; which was the centre of this vast empire. I looked down upon the great city, seeing it in utter realism, seeing the whole immense spread of it. The picture moved rapidly so that I was again looking down on that district wherein was the residence of the Master of this great civilization. I saw the great walls, and the strange, exotic gardens in which the building was set. Saw too a beautiful lake with an island at its centre. But the picture moved, cast hither and thither, sweeping the landscape as does a bird in search of prey. The picture halted. Grew larger and focussed on a metal object which was describing lazy circles and sinking towards the ground. The picture swelled so that only the metal object was shown. A man's face appeared and he was speaking, replying to unknown questions. A wave of greeting, and the picture went blank.

'I moved not of my own volition. My directed mind left that strange room and entered another. Stranger! Here, at nine of these picture screens sat nine old men. For a moment I stared in stupefied amazement, then I began to chuckle almost with hysteria. Here were nine old men, all bearded, all very similar in appearance, all of the gravest mien. In my poor brain the angry Voice thundered: "SILENCE, sacrilegious qne. Here are the Wise Ones who control YOUR destiny. Silence, I say, and show respect." But the old wise men took no notice yet they were aware of my presence, for upon one screen there was a picture of me on Earth, a picture of me surrounded by wires and tubes. Yet another picture showed me HERE! A most unnerving cxperience indeed.

'"Here," continued the Voice in a most equable tone, "are the Wise Ones who have called for your presence. They are our wisest men who for centuries have devoted themselves to the good of others. They work under the direction of the Master Himself, who has lived even longer. Our purpose is to save your world. To save it from what threatens to be suicide. To save it from the utter pollution, which follows a nuc--- but no matter, these are terms which have no meaning for you; terms which as yet have not been invented on your world. Your world is about to have a fairly intense change. New things will be discovered, new weapons will be invented. Man will enter space within the next hundred years. Thus it is that we are interested."

'One of the Wise Ones did things with his hands, and the pictures changed, world after world flitted across the screens. People after people made their brief debut and vanished to be replaced by others. Strange glass bottles became luminous and wriggling lines undulated across their exposed bottoms. Machines clattered and ejected long paper tapes which curled into baskets placed near. Paper tapes covered with remarkable symbols. The whole affair was so far beyond my understanding that even now, after all these years of thinking about it, I still cannot discern the meaning of all I saw. And ever the Old Wise Ones made notes on strips of paper or spoke into discs held near their mouths. And in response there would come a disembodied voice, which spoke even as a man speaks, but the source of which I could not detect.

'At last, when my senses were reeling under the impact of such strange events, the Voice in my brain said, "Of this you have seen sufficient. Now we will show you the past. To prepare you, I will tell you what you will experience, then you will not be frightened." FRIGHTENED? I thought to myself; if he but knew I AM Absolutely terrified! "First," resumed the Voice, "you will experience blackness and some spinning. Then you will see what you think is this room. Actually it will be as this room was millions of years ago by YOUR time, but which is not so long by ours. Then you will see how, first, your universe was created, and then, later, how your world was born, how it was stocked with creatures among them those we call Man. The Voice faded, and my consciousness with it.

'It is a disturbing sensation to be so summarily deprived of one's consciousness, to be robbed of a portion of one's life-span and not even know for how long one has been unconscious. I became aware of swirling grey fog, which sent tendrils right into my brain. Intermittent glimpses of SOMETHING tantalized me and added to my general frustration. Gradually, like a morning mist dissipating before the rays of the rising sun, my awareness, my lucidity, returned. Before me the world became light, no, it was not the world, but the room in which I floated betwixt floor and ceiling like a lazy puff-ball rising and falling in tranquil air. Like the incense clouds billowing in a temple I lingered aloft and contemplated that which was before me.

'Nine old men. Bearded. Grave. Intent upon their tasks. WERE they the same? No, they were not, the room was different. The screens and instruments were different. And the pictures were different. For a time there was no word spoken, no explanation of what all this portended. At last one old man reached out and turned a knob. A screen lit up and showed stars the pattern of which I had not seen before. The screen expanded until it filled the whole of my vision, until it appeared that I had a window on space. The illusion was so great that I had the feeling that I WAS in space without even a window. I stared at the cold, motionless stars shining with such an unfriendly, hard glare.

'"We will speed it up a millionfold," said the Voice, "or you will not perceive anything in your lifetime." The stars began a rhythmic swinging, about each other, about some unseen centre. From an outer edge of the picture there came speeding a vast comet with its flaming tail pointing toward that unseen, dark centre. Across the picture the comet flew, drawing together behind it other worlds. At last the comet collided with the cold, dead world which had been the centre of that galaxy. Other worlds, drawn out of their predestined orbits by the increased gravity, raced on a collision course. On the instant when comet and dead world collided the whole universe seemed to burst into flame. Whirling vortices of incandescent matter were flung across space. Flaming gases engulfed nearby worlds. The whole universe, as seen in the screen before me, became a mass of brilliant, violent flaming gas.

Slowly the intense brightness pervading the whole of space subsided. At last there was a central flaming mass surrounded by smaller flaming masses. Gobbets of incandescent material were flung out as the great central mass vibrated and convulsed in the agony of the new conflagration. The Voice broke into my chaotic thought, "You are seeing in minutes that which took millions of years to evolve. We will change the picture." My whole vision was limited to the extent of the screen and that which I now perceived was of the star system receding so that I appeared to gaze from afar. The brightness of the central sun dimmed, yet it was still exceedingly bright. Worlds nearby still glowed red as they twisted and spun on their new orbits. At the speeded-up rate at which I was being shown, the whole universe seemed to be in whirling motion so that my very senses became bedazed.

'Now the picture changed. Before me lay a great plain speckled with immense buildings some of which had strange projections spouting forth from their tops. Projections which seemed to me to be made of metal bent into curious shapes - the reason for this was quite beyond my intellect to understand. Swarms of people of widely diverging shapes and sizes converged upon a truly remarkable object located at the centre of the plain. It appeared to be a metallic tube of unimaginable size. The ends of the tube were less than the main girth and tapered rather to a point at one end and terminated in a rounded blob at the other. Protuberances extended at intervals from the main body and as I stared intently I could discern that these were transparent moving dots were inside and my observation led me to believe that they were people. I judged that the whole building was about a mile(1,61km) in length, or rather more. Its purpose was quite unknown to me. I could not understand why a building should have such a remarkable shape.

'As I watched intent on missing nothing, there swam into the picture a most remarkable vehicle drawing behind it many platforms laden with boxes and bales sufficient, was my idle thought, to stock all the market places of India. Yet - how could this be? - all were floating in the air as fish float and propel themselves in water. The strange device drew alongside the great tube which was a building and one after another all the bales and boxes were drawn inside so that the strange machine pulled away again with empty platforms following. The stream of people entering the tube diminished to a trickle and then ceased. Sliding doors slid, and the tube was closed. Ah! I thought, it is a temple, they are showing me that they have a religion and temples. Satisfied with my own explanation I let my attention flag.

'No words could describe my emotion as my gaze was jerked back to the picture. This great tubular building, about a mile long and about a sixth of a mile thick, suddenly ROSE INTO THE AIR! It rose to about the height of our highest mountain, lingered there for a few seconds and then - vanished! One instant it was there, a sliver of silver hanging in the sky with coloured lights of two or three suns playing upon it. Then, without even a flash it was not there. I looked about me, looked at adjacent screens and then I saw it. Here, upon a very long screen perhaps twenty-five feet long, stars were whirling by so that they appeared merely as streaks of coloured light. Apparently stationary in the centre of the screen was the building which bad just left this strange world. The speed of the passing stars increased until they formed an almost hypnotic blur. I turned away.

'A glare of light attracted my attention and I looked again at the long screen. At the far edge a light was appearing forecasting the advent of a greater light just as the sun sent rays over the mountain edge to foretell its approach. Quickly the light grew until it was intolerably bright. A hand stretched out and twisted a knob. The light was reduced while leaving the picture clear. The great tube, a mere insignificant speck in the immensity of space, drew near the bright orb. It circled round and then I was moved to another screen. For a moment I lost my orientation. I stared blankly at the picture before me. A picture of a large room wherein men and women dressed in what I now knew to be uniforms had their being. Some were sitting with hands on levers and knobs, others were watching screens even as I watched.

'One who was more gorgeously attired than the others paced around with his hands clasped behind his back. Frequently lie would stop his pacing and peer over another person's shoulder while he looked at some written notes, or studied the wriggling lines which were manifested behind circles of glass. Then, with a nod, he would resume his pacing. At last I chanced to do likewise. I glanced at a screen as the Gorgeous One did. Here were flaming worlds, how many I could not count because the light dazzled me and the unaccustomed motion bewildered me. So far as I could guess, and guess alone, it was, there were about fifteen flaming gobbets encircling the great central mass, which had given them birth.

'The tube-building, which I now knew to be a spaceship, stopped, and much activity took place. Then from the bottom of the ship there appeared a great number of small ships circular in shape. They scattered hither and thither, and with their departure life aboard the great vessel resumed the even tenor of a well-ordered existence. Time passed, and evetually all the small discs returned to their parent ship and were taken aboard. Slowly the massive tube turned and sped like an affrighted animal through the reeling heavens.

'In the fullness of time, how long I could not say as all the travel was speeded up, the metal tube returned to its base. Men and women left it and entered buildings on the perimeter.' Before me the screen went grey.

'The shadowed room with the ever-moving screens upon the wall fascinated me beyond measure. Previously I had been too intent upon one or two screens, now, with those lying dead, inert before me I had time to look about. Here were men of approximately my own size, the size that I should imply when I used the word "human". They were of all colours, white, black, green, red, and yellow and brown. Perhaps a hundred sat in strange form-fitting seats, which swayed and tipped with every movement. In rows they sat at instruments ranged along the far wall. The Nine Wise Ones sat at a special table in the centre of the room. Curiously I looked about me, but the instruments and other appliances were so far removed from anything previous in my experience that I have no way in which they could be described. Flickering tubes containing a ghastly green light, pulsing tubes of amber light, walls which WERE walls, although they radiated the same colour light as that out in the open. Glass circles behind which points fluttered wildly or held rock-steady at one point would THAT convey anything to you?

'One section of wall swung out suddenly to reveal a stupendous mass of wires and tubes. Climbing up and down those wires were small people about eighteen inches high, small people festooned with belts containing shining implements which were tools of some kind. A giant came in carrying a large heavy box. He held it in place for moments while the small ones fastened the box at the back of the wall. Then the wall was swung shut and the small ones went out with the giant. Here there was silence. Silence save for a routine clicking and the shussh-shussh as the tape moved endlessly from a machine orifice to a special receptacle.

'Here, upon this screen, a strange strange thing was depicted. At first I thought to gaze upon a rock rough-hewed into human shape. Then, to my intense horror, I saw the Thing move. A crude arm-shape lifted and I saw that it held a large sheet of some unknown material upon which was inscribed writing-shapes. One could not say "writing" and let it go at that. It was so obviously alien that a special form of speech would have to be invented that it could be described. My gaze passed on; this was so far above me that it held no appeal or interest for me. I experienced only horror as I looked upon this travesty of humanity.

'But my wandering gaze stopped abruptly. HERE were Spirits, winged Spirits! I became so fascinated that almost I crashed into the screen as I moved closer with the hope of seeing more. It was a picture of a wonderful garden in which winged creatures disported. Human in shape, both male and female, they wove an intricate aerial pattern in the golden sky above their garden. The Voice broke in on my thoughts. "Ah! So you are fascinated, eh? These are the - (an unwriteable name) and they are able to fly only because they live in a world where the pull of gravity is very very low. They cannot leave their own planet for they are too fragile. Yet they have mighty and unsurpassed intelligence. But look about you at other screens. Soon you will see more of your own world's history'."

'The scene changed before me. Changed deliberately I suspected so that I should see that which it was desired for me to see. First there was the deep purple of space and then an entirely blue world moved across from one edge until it occupied the centre of the screen. The image grew larger until it filled the view completely. It grew larger still and again I had the horrid impression of falling head-first out of space. A most distressing experience. Beneath me blue waves leaped and rolled. The world turned. Water, water, everywhere water. But one speck projected above the eternal waves. On the whole world there was a plateau about the size of the Valley of Lhasa. On it strange buildings loomed on the shore. Human figures flopped on the shore with their legs in the water. Other figures sat on rocks nearby. It was all mysterious and none of it made sense to me. "Our forcing shed," said the Voice, "where we raise the seed of a new race."'



CHAPTER NINE- (back to the hermits cave for a while)

THE day was wearing on dragging weary hour after weary hour. The young monk gazed - as he had gazed most of the day - up to the notch in the mountain range wherein was sheltered the Pass between India and Tibet. Suddenly he uttered a whoop of joy and turned on his heel before dashing into the cave. 'Venerable One!' he cried, 'they are starting down the path: Soon we shall have food.' Not waiting for an answer, he spun round and rushed out into the open. In the clear, cold air of Tibet minute details can be seen over long distances, there is no air pollution to mask one's sight. Over the rocky ridge came pouring black dots. The young man smiled with satisfaction. Food! Soon there would be barley, and tea.

Quickly he dashed down to the edge of the lake and filled the water-can so that it was even slopping over. Carefully and slowly he carried it back to the cave so that water would be available when the food was. Down the slope he hurried again that he might gather the last of the branches from the storm-blasted tree. A considerable pile of firewood was now stacked beside the glowing fire. Impatiently the young man climbed up the rock face above the cave. Shielding his eyes from the glare he stared out and upwards. A long line of animals moved away from the lake. Horses, not yaks. Indians, not Tibetans. Numbly the young monk stood there dwelling upon that awful thing.

Slowly, heavily, he descended to ground level and re-entered the cave. 'Venerable One,' he said sadly, 'the men are Indians, they are not coming our way and we have no food.'

'Worry not,' said the old hermit soothingly, 'for an empty stomach makes a clear brain. We shall manage, we must have patience.'

A sudden thought struck the younger man. Grasping the water-can he hurried to the rock where all the barley had been spilled. Carefully he sank to his knees and scrabbled in the sandy soil. Here was barley - and sand. Sand will sink in water, he thought, while barley will float. Carefully he dropped handful after handful of soil in the water-can and tapped the side. The sand sank and the barley floated. Little lumps of tea brick floated too.

Time after time he scooped the barley and tea lumps from the surface of the water and placed them in his bowl. Soon he had to obtain the old hermit's bowl and at last, when the evening shadows were again creeping across the countryside, both bowls were full. Tiredly the young monk rose to his feet, hefted the sand-filled water-can and left the cave. Outside he lost no time in tipping out the useless contents of the can then, gloomily, he made his way down the path to the lake.

Night birds were coming awake, and the full moon was peeping over the mountain edge as he scoured the can and filled it with water. Wearily he washed his knees free of embedded sand and barley grains before lifting the can again and wending his way back to the cave. With a thump of resignation he dropped the can into the heart of the fire and sat by the flames while impatiently waiting for the water to boil. At last the first wisps of steam arose and mingled with the smoke of the fire. The young monk rose too and fetched the two bowls with the barley and tea - and quite a bit of earth! - mixture. Carefully he dumped the whole lot into the water.

Soon the steam was rising again. Soon after the water was bubbling energetically, stirring up the brown mess. With a flat piece of bark the young monk scooped off the worst of the floating debris. Unable to wait longer, he hooked a stick under the handle of the can and lifted it from the fire. First he dipped the old hermit's bowl in the can and scooped out a generous helping of the porridgey contents. Wiping his fingers on his already grubby robe, he hurried in to the old man with the unexpected and rather unsavoury supper. Then he returned for his own food. It was eatable - just!

With the pangs of hunger but barely assuaged they lay down upon the hard and cheerless sandy soil for yet another night of sleep. Beyond the cave the moon rose high, and sailed in majestic decline beyond the far mountain range. Creatures of the night went about their lawful occasion, and the night wind rustled gently through the gaunt branches of the stunted trees. In far lamaseries the night proctors pursued their ceaseless vigil while in the back streets of the city those of ill-repute sat and plotted how they might secure the advantage over their more trusting fellows.

The morning was cheerless. The remnants of the sodden barley and tea leaves made but poor fare, but as the sole means of sustenance available it just had to be forced down. With the morning light growing and the newly fed fire sending out sputtering showers of sparks from surface-dried wood, the old hermit said, 'Let us continue the passing of knowledge. It may help us to forget our hunger.' Together the old man and the young entered the cave and sat in their accustomed positions.

'I drifted awhile,' said the hermit, 'like the thoughts of an idle man, without direction, without purpose. Vacillating, flitting from screen to screen as the fancy took me. Then the Voice intruded upon me, saying, "We must tell you more." As the Voice spoke I found that I was being turned and directed to the screens which I had first studied. Now again they were active. Upon one screen was depicted the universe containing what we now know to be the Solar System.

'The Voice resumed, "For centuries most careful watch was kept in case there should be any radiation hazard from the new System now in formation. Millions of years went by, but in the life of a universe a million years is as minutes in the lifetime of a human. At last another expedition set out from this, the heart of our empire. An expedition equipped with the most modern apparatus with which to determine the planning of new worlds which we should seed." The Voice ceased, and I looked again at the screens.

'The stars glittered cold and remote in the stupendous distances of space. Hard and brittle they shone with more colours than that of the rainbow. The picture grew larger and larger until a world was shown which seemed to be just a ball of cloud.

Turbulent clouds slashed through and through with the most fearsome lightning. "It is not possible," said the Voice, "to make a TRUE analysis of a distant world by remote probes. At one time we believed otherwise, but experience has taught us our error. Now, for millions of years, we have sent expeditions. Look!"

'The universe was swept aside as one draws aside a curtain. Again I saw a plain stretching out to what seemed to be infinity. The buildings were different, now they were long and low. The great vessel, which stood there ready, was different too. Something like two platters was this vessel, the lower half a platter standing as a platter should stand, while the upper rested upon the lower but inverted. It shone bright even as the full moon. Hundreds of round holes with glass behind them encircled the circumference. Upon the utmost elevation there rested a dome-shaped transparent room possibly some fifty feet across. The gigantic girth of the vessel entirely dwarfed the toiling machines, which laboured at its base to supply it.

'In groups there loitered men and women, all in strange uniform dress, all with a number of boxes reposing at their feet upon the ground. The talk seemed to be merry, the humour good. More ornately attired individuals strutted unapproachably backwards and forwards as though deliberating upon the fate of a world as indeed they may have been. A sudden signal made them all bend quickly, seize their packages, and scurry to the waiting vessel. Metallic doors like the iris of an eye closed tightly behind them.

'Slowly the immense metal creation rose some hundred feet in the air. It hovered for a moment of time and then just vanished leaving no trail of any kind to mark that it had ever existed. The Voice said, "It travels at a speed unthinkably faster than the speed of light. It is a self-contained world and when one is in these ships one is QUITE unaffected by any outside influences. There is no sensation of speed, no feeling of falling, not even on the sharpest turns. Space," continued the Voice, "is NOT the empty void that your own worldians believe. Space is an area of reduced density. There is an atmosphere of hydrogen molecules. The separate molecules may be hundreds of miles apart admittedly, but at the speed generated by our vessels that atmosphere seems almost as dense as the sea. One hears the molecules rushing against the side of the ship and we had to take special measures to overcome the problem of heating through molecular friction. But look-!"

'On an adjacent screen the disc-shaped vessel was tearing along leaving an almost intangible trail of faint blue light behind it The speed was so great that as the picture moved to keep the ship centred, the stars appeared as solid lines of light The Voice murmured, "We will omit the needless travel sequences and keep to the items which matter. Look at the other screen." I did so, and witnessed the vessel, now travelling very much more slowly, circling around the sun, OUR sun. But a sun very very different from what it is now. It was larger, brighter, and vast streamers of flame reached out far beyond its girth. The ship circled round, orbiting first one world and then another.

'At last it drew close to the world which somehow I knew to be the Earth. Completely enshrouded in clouds it rolled beneath the ship. Several orbits were made and then the vessel slowed even more. The picture changed and I was shown inside. A small group of men and women were walking down a long metal corridor. At the end they debouched into an enclosure wherein there were small replicas of the large vessel. Men and women walked up a ramp and entered one of these smaller ships. All other people left that area. Behind a transparent wall a man watched, his hands upon strange coloured buttons, with flashing lights before him. A light glowed green, and the man pressed several buttons simultaneously.

'A section of the floor retreated equally from the small ship, and opened as the iris of an eye opens. The ship fell through and entered into space. Lower and lower it glided until it was lost to our view in the clouds which encompassed the Earth. Then the picture before me changed again and I saw as from the small craft itself. Here were the swirling, billowing clouds, appearing first as impenetrable barriers, but melting away at the touch of the spaceship. Down down we went through miles of the cloud until at last we merged in to a dull, sullen day.

Grey sea rolled and surged and in the distance seemed to merge with the grey clouds, clouds upon which were reflected ruddy glares from some unknown source.

'The spaceship levelled off and flew between cloud and sea. The miles passed, miles of endless, surging sea. Upon the sky-line a dark mass appeared, a dark mass shot through by intermittent gouts of flame. The ship moved on. Soon below us there loomed a great mass of mountainous land. Vast volcanoes' reared their ugly heads high towatds the clouds. Tremendous flames shot forth and molten lava came tumbling down the mountain sides to plunge into the sea with a hissing roar. Al-though it had been a grey blur in the distance, close to the land it appeared as a very dull red.

'The ship moved on and circumnavigated the world for a number of times. There was but one immense landmass surrounded by the tossing sea which, from the lower altitude, seemed to be steaming. At last it rose, entered space, and returned to the parent ship. The screen faded as that vessel sped again back to the Empire world.

'The Voice, now so accustomed to speaking in my brain, commented, "NO! I am not merely speaking to YOU, I am also addressing those who are participating in this experience. Because you are so receptive you are aware of all my remarks by what we term acoustic feed-back. But pay attention. This applies to you also.

'"The Second Expedition returned to -" (here there was a name, but' it is beyond my power to pronounce it so I will transpose and say "our empire"). "Scientists studied the reports submitted by the crews. Assessments were made of the probable number of centuries before the world was fit for stocking with living creatures. Biologists and geneticists worked together to formulate plans for the best types of creatures to be made. When a new world is to be stocked, and when that world is the offspring of a nova, ponderous animals and heavy foliage is first required. All soil consists of powdered rock, with lava dust and certain trace elements. Such soil will support only coarse-feeding plants. Then those plants decay, and the animals die and decay and mix with the rock dust. In the course of millenniums 'soil' is formed. As the soil becomes more and more remote from the original rock, finer types of plants can be grown. In time, on any planet, the soil is really the cells of decayed animals and plants and the excreta of the former for aeons past."

'I had the impression that the Owner of the Voice paused while he surveyed his audience. Then he continued, "The atmosphere of a new planet is not at all breathable by humans. The effluvia from the belching volcanoes contains sulphur and many noxious and lethal gases. Suitable vegetation will over-come this by absorbing the toxins and returning them as harmless minerals to the soil. The vegetation will take the poisonous fumes and convert them to the oxygen and nitrogen which humanoids require. So, the scientists of many branches worked together for centuries preparing the basic stock. These were then placed upon a nearby world of similar conditions so that they could mature, so that we could ensure that they were entirely satisfactory. If necessary they could then be modified.

'"So, for ages the new planetary system was left to its own devices. Left while wind and waves eroded the sharp rock pinnacles. For millions of years tempests beat upon that rocky land. Powdered rock spilled forth from high peaks, heavy stones fell and rolled under the storms, grinding the rock-powder ever finer. The giant waves beat in fury on the land, breaklng off spurs, bumping them together, reducing them to smaller and smaller particles. The lava that flowed white-hot into the waters fumed and foamed and split into millions of particles to become the sand of the sea. The waves flung the sand back on the land, and the continual scouring wore down the mountains from their miles-high altitude to merely tens of thousands of feet.

'"Endless centures of Earth-time passed. The blazing sun blazed not so fiercely. No longer did flaming gobbets become spewed out to engulf and incinerate adjacent objects. Now the sun burned fairly regularly. The nearby worlds too cooled. Their orbits steadied. Every so often little lumps of rock collided with other masses and the whole plunged into the sun, making a temporary increase in its flaming intensity. But the System was steadying down. The world called Earth was becoming ready to receive its first life.

'"At the Empire base a vast ship was being prepared to travel to the Earth and the members of what would be the Third Expedition were being trained in all matters relating to their coming task. Men and women were being selected for compatibility and for the absence of neurosis. Each space ship is a self-contained world in which the air is manufactured by plants and water is obtained from excess air and hydrogen - the cheapest thing in the whole universe. Instruments were loaded, general supplies, the new stock were carefully frozen ready to be re-animated at the appointed time. At long last, for there was no hurry, the Third Expedition was ready."

'I watched the vessel slide through the Empire universe, cross yet another, and enter that which contained at its distant edge the new Earth. There were many worlds circling around the bright sun. These were ignored; all attention was given to the one planet. The great vessel decelerated and swung in an orbit such that it was stationary relative to one point on the Earth. Aboard the ship a small craft was made ready. Six men and women entered and again an opening appeared in the floor of the parent ship through which the survey vessel dropped. Again on the screen I watched as it fell through the thick cloud and emerged a few thousand feet above the water. Moving in a horizontal plane it soon came to where the rock land projected above the water.

'The volcanic eruptions, although most violent, were yet less intense than previously. The shower of rock debris was less profuse. Carefully, very yery carefully, the small ship sank lower and lower. Keen eyes searched the surface for the most suitable landing place and at last, with that location decided upon, it made landfall. Here, resting upon the hard surface, the crew made what appeared to be routine tests. Satisfied, four members of the crew donned strange garments, which covered them from neck to feet. Upon their head each person placed a round transparent globe which connected in some way with the neck-piece of the garment already donned.

"Each picked up a case and entered a small room the door of which was carefully closed and fastened behind them. A light opposite another door glowed red. The black pointer on a circular dial commenced to move, and as it came to rest over an "0" the red light turned to green and the outer door swung open. A strange metal ladder, as though imbued with life of its own, rattled across the floor and extended down to the ground some fifteen feet below. One man, carefully descended the ladder and stamped about as he reached the surface. From the case he drew a long rod which he thrust into the ground. Bending, he minutely examined the markings upon the surface of that rod and - rising to his feet - beckoned to the others that they should join him.

'The little party moved around seemingly at random, doing things which had no meaning for me. Save that I knew these to be intelligent adults I would have put down their antics to that of children playing games. Some picked up little stones and put them in a bag. Some hit the ground with hammers, or stuck in what appeared to be metal rods. Yet another, a female, I observed, wandered around waving little strips of sticky glass and then hastily inserted them in bottles. All these things were quite incomprehensible to me. At last they returned to their vessel and entered the first compartment. They stood still like cattle in a market place while remarkable coloured lights shone and moved over the entire surface of each. A light glowed green, and the other coloured lights were extinguished. The party removed their protective garments and entered the main body of the ship.

'Soon there was a great to-do. The female with the sticky glass strips rushed to put each one in a metallic device. Putting her face to it so that she looked through two tubes, she turned knobs, making comment to others the while. The man with the little pebbles tipped them into a machine, which emitted a great whirr and suddenly ejected the pebbles, which were now reduced to a very fine powder. Many tests were made. Many conversations were held with the great parent ship.

'Other of these vessels appeared, while the first one withdrew and returned to the greater vessel. Those which remained circled the whole of the world and from them there dropped articles which fell on to the land and others of a different type fell into the sea. Satisfied with their work, all the small craft drew close and formed a line after which they rose up and left the atmosphere of the Earth. One by one each re-entered the mother ship, and when the last had so done the great vessel sped from that orbit and travelled to other worlds in that system. Thus it was that many, many years of Earth time was occupied.

'Many centuries passed on the Earth. In the time of a ship travelling through space it was but weeks, for the two times are different in some manner difficult to comprehend, but it Is so. Many centuries passed, and rough, coarse vegetation flourished on the land and under the waters. Vast ferns towered skywards, with immense, thick leaves absorbing the poisonous gases and breathing out oxygen by day and nitrogen by night. At long last an Ark of Space descended through the clouds and landed upon a sandy shore. Great hatches were opened and from out of the milelong vessel lumbering, nightmare creatures came - so ponderous that the Earth shook to their tread. Horrendous creatures flapped heavily into the air on creaking leathern wings.

'The great Ark - the first of many to come throughout the ages - rose into the air and glided gently over the seas. At predetermined areas the Ark rested upon the surface of the water and strange creatures flopped into the ocean depths. The immense vessel rose and vanished into the remotest recesses of space. Upon the Earth incredible creatures lived and fought, bred and died. The atmosphere changed. The foliage changed, and the creatures evolved. The eons passed and from the Observatory of the Wise Ones, universes distant, watch was kept.

'The Earth was wobbling in its orbit; a dangerous degree of eccentricity was developing. From the heart of the Empire there came a special ship. The scientists decided that one land mass was insufficient to prevent the seas from surging and unbalancing the world. From the great vessel hovering miles above the surface a thin beam of light shot out. The exposed continent of the Earth shivered and cracked apart into smaller masses. Violent earthquakes took place. And in the fullness of time the land masses drifted apart forming ramparts against which the sea, now divided into SEAS, beat in vain. The Earth settled into stable orbit.

'Millions of years crawled on. Millions of years of EARTH time. Again an expedition approached from the Empire. This time it brought the first humanoids to the world. Strange purple creatures were unloaded, the women having eight breasts, and men and women having a head set square on the shoulders so that to see at the side the whole body had to be turned. The legs were short and the arms were long, descending to below the knees. They knew naught of fire or weapons and yet they were ever quarrel. They lived in caves and in the branches of mighty trees. For food they had berries and grasses and the insects which crawled the earth. But the Watchers were not satisfied, for these were but mindless creatures who could not fend for themselves and who showed no signs of evolving.

'By now vessels of that Empire were on constant patrol through the universe which held the solar system. Other worlds here too were being- developed. That of another planet was proceeding much more 'quickly than the Earth. A ship of the patrol was detached to go to the Earth where it landed. A few of the purple natives were captured and examined and it was decided that the whole race should be exterminated just as a gardener exterminates weeds. A pestilence fell upon the Earth, and all the humanoids were killed. The Voice broke in, saying, "in years to come your own Earth people will use this system to kill off a plague of rabbits, but your people will use a pestilence which will kill the rabbits in agony; WE do it painlessly."

'From the skies there came another Ark bringing different animals and very different humanoids. Throughout the lands they were distributed, a different type and perhaps a different colour chosen to suit the conditions of that area. The Earth still roared and rumbled. Volcanoes belched forth flames and fumes and the molten lava came pouring down the mountain sides. The seas were cooling and the life therein was changing to meet the altering conditions. At the two poles the waters were cold and the first ice on Earth was beginning to form.

'The Ages went by. The atmosphere of Earth changed. Giant fern-like growths gave way to orthodox trees. Lifeforms became stabilized. A mighty civilization flourished. Around the world flew the Gardeners of the Earth visiting city after city. But some of them became too familiar with their human charges, or the women thereof. An evil priest of the human race persuaded a beautiful woman to seduce one of the Gardeners and to inveigle him so that he betrayed forbidden secrets. Soon the woman was in possession of certain weapons formerly in the man's care. Within the hour the priest had them.

'By treachery certain of the priestly caste manufactured atomic weapons, using the stolen one as pattern. A plot was hatched whereby certain of the Gardeners were invited to a temple for celebrations and thanksgiving. Here, in the sacred grounds, the Gardeners were poisoned. Their equipment was stolen. A great assault was made on the other Gardeners. In the battle the atomic pile of a grounded spacecraft was exploded by a priest. The whole world shook. The great continent of Atlantis sank beneath the waves. In far-off lands tornadoes rent the mountains and tore humans apart. Great waves stormed in from the seas, and the world became almost barren of human life. Barren save for a few who cowered whimpering with terror in remote caves.

'For years the Earth shook and shivered with the effects of the atomic blast. For years no Gardener came to inspect the world. Radiation was strong, and the scared remnants of humanity brought forth mutated progeny. Plant life was affected, and the atmosphere became debased. The sun was obscured by lowering red clouds. At long last the Wise Ones decreed that yet another expedition should travel to Earth and to take new stock to their desecrated "garden". The great Ark of humans, animals and plants set forth through the far reaches of space.'


The old hermit fell over with a gasp. The young monk leaped in the air with the shock and then hurried over to the fallen ancient. The little bottle of precious drops was at hand, and soon the old man was lying on his side breathing normally. 'You need food, Venerable One,' exclaimed the younger man…


Some pages forth the story soon again enters earths far history:

"We must talk long today" said the old hermit as they finished their meagre, breakfast, 'for I feel the Heavenly Fields calling upon me to hurry. There is a limit to what flesh can endure and I have far outlived man's allotted span.'

The young man looked sad, he had developed a deep affection and respect for the old one and considered that his suffering had been far too great. 'I am ready when you are, Venerable One; he said, 'let me just fill your bowl with water first.' Rising, he swilled out the bowl and refilled it with fresh water.

The old hermit commenced, 'The Ark appeared in the screen before me vast and cumbersome. A vessel which would have engulfed the Potala and the whole of the City of Lhasa complete with Sera and Drepung Lamaseries. It bulked so huge that the humans streaming from it were by comparison as small as the ants which work in the sand. Vast animals were unloaded, and crowds of new humans. All appeared dazed, doped, presumably so that they should not fight. Men with strange things on their shoulders flew about as the birds fly, herding the animals and men, prodding them with rods made of metal.

'Around the world the ship flew, landing at many points to leave behind animals of different types. Humans who were white, those who were black, and some were yellow. Short humans, tall humans. Humans with black hair and those whose hair was white. Animals with stripes, animals with long necks, some with no necks, never had I known there could be such a range of colours, sizes, and different types of living creatures. Some of the seacreatures were so utterly immense that I could not for a time comprehend how they could move, yet in the sea they appeared as agile as the fishes in our lakes.

'Constantly through the air there flew small vessels, which had in them people who were keeping check on the new inhabitants of Earth. On their forays they dispersed large herds and made sure that animals and humans were spread over the globe. The centuries passed and Man still was not able to light a fire nor even to shape crude implements of stone. The Wise Ones held conferences and decided that the "stock" must be improved by introducing some humanoids who were more intelligent, who knew how to light fires and work flint. So the centuries went on with the Gardeners of the Earth introducing fresh, virile specimens to improve the human stock.

Gradually mankind progressed from the flint-chipping stage to the firelighting level. Gradually houses were built and towns formed. Always the Gardeners moved among the human creatures and the humans looked upon them as gods upon the Earth.

'The Voice broke in, saying "No useful purpose would be served in merely following the endless troubles which beset this new colony of Earth. I will tell you of the salient features for the sake of your own instruction. While I speak we will have before us suitably phased pictures so that you may also see any point of note.

'"The Empire was great, but there came from another universe violent people who tried to wrest our possessions from us. These people were humanoid and upon their head they had horny growths projecting from the area of the temples. They also had a tail. These people were of a surpassingly warlike nature, it was their sport as well as their work. In black ships they poured into this universe and laid waste to worlds, which we had so recently seeded. In space cataclysmic battles took place. Worlds were laid desolate, worlds erupted into gouts of smoke and flame and their debris clutters the spaceways as the Asteroid Belt even to this day. Previously fertile worlds had their atmosphere blasted away and all that lived there perished. A world struck another world a glancing blow and threw it against the Earth. The Earth juddered and shook and was pushed into another orbit, which made the Earth-day longer.

'"During the near-collision giant electric discharges leaped from the two worlds. The skies flamed anew. Many of the Earth-humans perished. Great floods swept the surface of the world and compassionate Gardeners hurried around in their Arks trying to load aboard humans and animals that they should be safely conveyed to higher ground and safety. In later years," said the Voice, "this would give rise to incorrect legends throughout all Earth lands. But in space the battle was won. The forces of the Empire defeated the evil invaders and made many of them captive.

'"The Prince of the Invaders, Prince Satan, pled for his life, saying that he had much to teach the peoples of the Empire. Saying that he would at all times work for the good of others. His life and that of some of his leading men was spared. After a period of captivity he expressed himself as anxious to co-operate in the rebuilding of the solar system which he had so desecrated. Being men of good will, the Empire admirals and generals could not imagine treachery and evil intent in others. They accepted the offer and set the Prince Satan and his officers tasks under the supervision of Empire men.

'"On the Earth the natives were crazed by the experiences they had undergone. They had been decimated by the inundation and by the flames from the clouds. Fresh stock was brought from ouflying planets where some humans had survived. The lands were now different, the seas were different. Through the complete change in orbit the climate had altered. Now there was a hot equatorial belt and ice formed very heavily on the polar areas. Icebergs broke away from the main masses and floated in the seas. Huge animals died in the sudden cold. Forests collapsed when their living conditions changed so drastically.

'"Very slowly conditions became stabilized. Once again Man started to build a form of civilization. But Man was now excessively warlike and persecuted all those who were weaker. Routinely the Gardeners introduced fresh specimens that the basic stock should be improved. The evolution of Man progressed and a better type of creature slowly emerged. But the Gardeners were not satisfied. It was decided that more Gardeners should live upon the Earth. Gardeners, and their families. For convenience mountaintops or high places were used as bases. Over an eastern land a man and a woman descended in their space ship and made their base on a pleasant mountain rise. Izanagi and Izanami became the protectors and founders of the Japanese race and - the Voice sounded both rueful and cross at the same time - "once again false legends were woven; because these two, Izanagi and Izanami, appeared from the direction of the sun, the natives believed they were the sun god and goddess come to live among them."

'On the screen before me I saw the blood red sun shining full in the sky. As from it there descended a shining vessel coloured red by the reflected rays of the setting sun. The ship descended further, hovered and then lazily circled around. At last, as red rays from the evening sun were reflected on the snow-covered mountain top the ship descended on to a level slope high on the mountain side. The last beams of sunlight lit up the man and woman who descended from the ship to look about them, and then to re-enter. The yellow skinned natives lying prostrate before the ship, overawed by the glory of the sight, waited in respectful silence and then melted away in the darkness of the night.

'The picture changed and I saw another mountain in a far-off land. Where, I knew not, but that information was soon to be given to me. From the sky there came spaceships, which circled about and then slowly descended in a regular formation until they too occupied a mountain slope. "The Gods of Olympus!" said the Voice in a sarcastic tone. "The so-called Gods who brought much trial and tribulation to this young world. These people, with the former Prince Satan among them, came to settle upon the Earth, but the Centre of the Empire was far away. Ennui and the promptings of Satan led astray these young men and women who had been given this Earth assignment that they could gain experience.

'"Zeus, Apollo, Theseus, Aphrodite, the daughters of Cadmus, and many others, formed these crews. The messenger Mercury sped from ship to ship throughout the world carrying messages - and scandals. Men became overwhelmed with desire for the wives of others. Women set themselves to trap men they desired. Across the skies of the world there were mad chases in speeding craft as woman chased man or husband chased eloping wives. And the ignorant natives of the world, watching the sex antics of those whom they deemed to be gods, thought that THIS was the way in which THEY should live. So there began an era of debauchery in which all the laws of decency were flouted.

'"Various wily natives, more alert than the average, set themselves up as priests and pretended to be the Voice of the Gods. The 'Gods' were too busy with their orgies to even know.

But these orgies led to other excesses, led to murders so numerous that at long last news of them filtered back to the Empire. But the native-priests, those who pretended to be the representatives of the Gods, wrote down all that happened and altered sayings that their own powers might be increased. Ever it has been thus in the history of the world, that some of the natives wrote down not what happened, but that which would enhance their own power and prestige. Most of the legends are not even an approximation of that which really took place."

'I was moved to another screen. Here were another group of Gardeners, or "Gods". Horus, Osirus, Annubis, Isis, and many others. Here too orgies were occurring. Here too a former lieutenant of Prince Satan was at work trying to sabotage all efforts to produce good for this little world. Here too were the inevitable priests writing their endless and inaccurate legends. Some there were who had wormed their way into the confidence of the Gods and had so obtained knowledge normally forbidden to the natives for their own good. These natives formed a secret society designed to steal more forbidden knowledge and to usurp the power of the Gardeners. But the Voice continued to speak. "We had much trouble with certain of the natives and had to introduce measures which were repressive. Certain of the native priests, having stolen equipment from the Gardeners, could not control them; they loosed plagues upon the Earth. Vast numbers of the people died. Crops were affected.

'"But certain of the Gardeners, under the control of Prince Satan, had established a Capital of Sin in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Cities in which any form of vice or perversion or depravity was considered as virtue. The Master of the Empire solemnly warned Satan to desist and leave, but he scoffed. Certain of the better inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were advised to leave, and then, at the appointed time, a solitary craft sped through the air and dropped a small package. The cities were erased in flame and smoke. Great mushroom-shaped clouds ascended into the quaking sky, and upon the ground there was naught, but devastation, rubble of stones, melted rocks, and the incredible debris of human habitation in decay. By night the area shone with a sickly purple radiance. Very few escaped the holocaust.

'"Following this salutary warning, it was decided to withdraw all the Gardeners from the face of the Earth and to have no more contact with the natives but to treat them as specimens from afar. Patrols would still enter the atmosphere. The world and its natives still would be supervised. But no official contact. Instead it was decided to have upon the Earth natives who had been specially trained and who could be 'planted' where suitable people could find them. The man who later became known as Moses was an example. A suitable native woman was removed from the Earth and impregnated with the seed having the necessary characteristics. The unborn child was telepathically trained and given great - for a native - know-ledge. He was hypnotically conditioned not to reveal the knowledge until an appointed time.

"'In due course the baby was born and further training and conditioning was given. Later the baby was placed in a suitable container and under cover of darkness was deposited securely in a bed of reeds where he would speedily be found. As he grew to manhood he was in frequent touch with us. When necessary a small ship would come to a mountain and be concealed by the natural clouds or even by those, which we made ourselves. The man Moses would then ascend the mountain and come aboard, leaving after with a Wand of Power or specially compiled Tablets of the Commandments, which we had prepared for him.

"'But this still was not enough. We had to go through a similar procedure in other countries. In that land which now is known as India we specially controlled and trained the male child of a most powerful Prince. We considered that his power and prestige would induce the natives to follow him and adhere to a special form of discipline which we had formulated that there should be an improvement in the spiritual state of the natives. Gautama had his own ideas, however, and rather than discard him we allowed him to produce his own form of spiritual discipline. Once again we found that the disciples, or priests - usually for their own gain - distorted the teachings in their writings. Thus it ever was upon the Earth; a coterie of men, self-styled priests, would edit or re-write scriptures that their own powers and wealth should be enhanced.

"'There were others who founded new branches of religion, such as Mahomet, Confucius - the names are too many to mention. But each of these men was under our control, or trained by us with the basic intention that a world belief should be established, the leaders of that religion would then lead their followers into GOOD ways of life. We intended that each human should behave to others as he himself would wish others to behave towards him. We tried to establish a state of universal harmony such as existed in our own Empire, but this new humanity was not yet sufficiently advanced to put aside Self and to work for the good of others.

'"The Wise Ones were very dissatisfied with progress. As a result of their cerebration a new scheme was propounded. One of the Wise Ones had remarked that all those sent to Earth so far had been introduced to the wealthier type of family. As he correctly stated, many of the lower classes would reject automatically the words of such a higher-class person. Thus it was that search was made, first using the Akashic Record, for a suitable woman to bear a son. A suitable woman from a suitable lower-class family and in a country wherein it was considered that a new religion or doctrine might be expected to flourish. Researchers assiduously devoted themselves to the task. A fair number of possibilities were presented. Three men and three women were secretly landed upon the Earth in order that they could pursue their investigations so that the most suitable family should be selected.

"The consensus of opinion favoured a young woman who was childless and married to a practitioner of the oldest trade on Earth, the trade of carpenter. The Wise Ones reasoned that the majority of people were of this class and they may be more willing to follow the words of one of their own. So, the woman was visited by one of us whom she took to be an angel and told that she was to have a great honour. That she was to bear a male child who was to found a new religion. In the fullness of time the woman became pregnant but then occurred one of those events so common in that part of the world; the woman and her husband had to flee their home because of the persecution of a local king.

"'They made their slow way to a middle eastern city and there the woman found that her time was full upon her. There was no place to go except in a stable of a hostelry. There the baby was born. We had followed the flight, prepared to take all necessary action. Three members of the crew of the vigilant vessel descended to the surface of the Earth and made their way to the stable. To their dismay they learned that their ship had been seen and was described as a Star in the East.

"'The baby grew into boyhood, and through the special indoctrination he constantly received by telepathy, he showed great promise. As a youth he would dispute with his elders and regrettably he antagonized the local priesthood. In early manhood he withdrew from those he knew and travelled to many other lands in the middle and far east. We directed him to travel to Tibet, and he crossed the mountain range and sojourned for a time in the Cathedral of Lhasa, where even now prints of his hands are preserved. Here he received advice and assistance in the formulation of a religion suitable for western peoples.

"'During his stay in Lhasa he underwent special treatment in which the astral body of the Earth-human was freed and taken away to another existence. In its place was inserted the astral body of one of our choosing. This was a person with very great experience in spiritual matters - far greater experience than could be obtained under any Earth conditions. This system of transmigration is one we frequently employ when dealing with backward races. At last everything was ready, and he made the long journey back to his homeland. Arrived there, he was successful in recruiting certain acquaintances who would assist with the dissemination of the new religion.

"'Unfortunately, the first occupant of the body had antagonized the priests. Now they remembered the fact and carefully arranged an incident under which the man could be arrested. Having control of the judge who tried the matter the result was a foregone conclusion. We considered effecting a rescue, but came to the conclusion that the overall result would be bad for the general population and for the new religion.

'"The new form of spiritual discipline spread. But once again there were those who subverted it to their own ends. About sixty years after its inception a large convention was held in the middie east city of Constantinople. Here many priests foregathered. Many of them perverted men who had depraved sexual desires and who looked upon heterosexuality as unclean. Under their majority vote the real Teachings were altered and made women appear unclean. They now taught quite erroneously - that all children are born in sin. They decided to publish a book about the events of sixty years before.

'"Writers were hired to compile books on the same lines using as far as possible the tales and legends which had been passed down (with all their inaccuracies) from person to person. For year after year various committees sat to edit, delete and alter passages which did not please them. Eventually a book was written which did NOT teach the real Belief, but which was in effect advertising material to enhance the power of the priesthood. Throughout the centuries which followed, the priests - who SHOULD have been assisting the development of Mankind - actively hindered it. False legends have been propagated, facts have been distorted. Unless the people of the Earth, and particularly the evil priests, change their ways, we, the People of the Empire, will have to take over the Earth world. Meantime, except in such extreme cases as this, we have orders not to converse with Man, and to make no overtures to any government on Earth."

'The Voice ceased to speak. I floated numbly before those ever-changing screens watching the pictures as they brought to my vision all that had happened in those days of long ago. I saw, too, much of the probable future, for the future CAN be predicted fairly accurately for a world or even for a country. I saw my own dear land being invaded by the hated Chinese. I saw the rise - and fall - of an evil political regime, which seemed to have a name like communism, but this meant nothing to me. At last I felt extreme exhaustion. I felt that even my astral body was wilting under the strain which had been placed upon it. The screens, hitherto so full of living colour, turned grey. My vision blurred and I fell into a state of unconsciousness.

'A horrid rocking motion awakened me from my sleep, or from the state of unconsciousness. I opened my eyes - but I HAD no eyes! Although I still could not move I was in some way aware that I was again in my physical body. The rocking was the table, which bore me being carried back along the space vessel corridor. An unemotional voice flatly stated "he is conscious". A grunt of acknowledgement followed and there was silence again except for the shuffling of feet and the faint scraping of metal as at times my table was bumped against a wall.

'I lay alone in that metal room. The men had deposited my table and silently withdrawn. I lay pondering the marvels that had befallen me yet feeling a little resentful. The constant tirade about priests; I was a priest and they were glad enough to make use of my unwilling services. As I rested broodingly I heard the metal panel slide aside. A man entered and slid shut the door behind him.

'"Well, Monk," exclaimed the voice of the doctor, "you have done well. We are very proud of you. While you lay unconscious we examined again your brain and our instruments tell us that you have all the knowledge locked inside your brain cells. You have taught our young men and women much. Soon you will be released. Does that make you happy?"

'"Happy, Sir Doctor?" I queried. "What have I to be happy about? You capture me, you cut off the top of my head, you force my spirit out of my body, you insult me as a member of the priesthood, and now - having used me - you are going to discard me like a man casting off his tattered body at death. Happy? What have I to be happy about? Are you going to restore my eyes? Are you going to provide a living for me? How am I going to exist otherwise?" I almost SNARLED the latter!

'"One of the main troubles of the world, Monk," mused the doctor, "is that most of your people are negative. No one could say that YOU are negative. You positively say what you mean. If people would always think POSITIVELY there would be no trouble with the world, for the negative condition comes naturally to people here, although it actually takes more effort to be negative."

'"But Sir Doctor!" I exclaimed, "I asked what you were going to DO for me. How shall I live? What shall I Do? Do I just have to retain this knowledge until someone comes along who says HE is the man, and then babble everything like an old woman in the market place? And WHY do you think I will do my alleged tasks, thinking as you do about priests?"

'"Monk!" said the doctor, "we shall place you in a comfortable cave, with a nice stone floor. It will have a very small trickle of water, which will supply your needs in that direction. As for food, your priestly state will ensure that people BRING you food. Again, there are priests AND priests; your priests of Tibet are mainly good and we have no quarrel with them. Did you not observe that we have previously used the priests of Tibet? And you ask about him to whom you shall give your knowledge; remember this - you will KNOW when the person comes. Give your knowledge to him and to none other."

'So I lay there entirely at their mercy. But after many hours the doctor came in to my room again, saying, "Now you shall be restored to movement. First - we have a new robe for you and also a new bowl." Hands were busy by me. Strange things were plucked out of me. My sheet was removed and the new robe - a NEW one, the first NEW robe I had ever had - was placed about me. Then movement returned to me. Some male attendant placed an arm around my shoulders and eased me over the edge of the table. For the first time in an unknown number of days I again stood upon my feet.

'That night I rested more content, wrapped in a blanket, which also had been given to me. And on the morrow I was taken, as I have already told you, and deposited in the cave where I have lived alone for more than sixty years. But now, before we rest for the night, let us have a little tea, for my task is at an end.'



THE young monk sat up abruptly, the nape of his neck bristling with fright. SOMETHING had brushed by him. SOMETHING had trailed icy fingers across his forehead. For long moments, he sat bolt upright straining his ears for even the slightest sign of a sound. Wide eyed and staring he strove in vain to pierce the utter blackness around him. Nothing moved. No vestige of noise made the slightest ripple on his consciousness. The entrance to the cave was a mere lighter-blackness vaguely etched on the entire lack of light engulfing the cave.

He held his breath, listening until he could hear the pounding of his own heart, and the faint creakings and wheezes from his own organs. No rustle of sound from wind-disturbed leaves cheered him. No creature of the night called. Silence. The absolute lack of noise, which is known to but few, and to none in populated communities. Again light tendrils wandered across his head. With a squeak of fright, he leaped high into the air, his legs running even before he hit the ground.

Dashing out of the cave, perspiring with fright, he stooped hastily over the well-banked fire. Throwing aside the enclosing earth and sand he uncovered the red glow. Quickly he thrust in a well-dried branch and blew on the embers until it seemed his blood-vessels must burst under the strain. At last the wood burst into flame. Grasping it in one hand he hastily inserted another stick and waited for it too to flare into light At last, with a burning brand in each hand he slowly re-entered the cave. The flickering flames leaped and danced to his movements. His shadows were thrown grotesque and huge on either side of him.

Nervously he peered about. Anxiously he searched in the hope that it had been a spider's web trailing across him, but of that there was no sign. Then he thought of the old hermit and he berated himself for not thinking of him before. 'Venerable One!' he called tremulously, 'are you all right?' With straining ears he listened, but there was no reply, not even an echo. Dubiously he made his slow, frightened way forward, with the two flaring branches thrust well before him. At the end of the cave he turned right, where he had not before entered, and uttered a pent-up gasp of relief as be saw the old man sitting in the lotus position at the far end of a smaller cave.

A strange flash - flash - flash caught his attention as he was about to silently withdraw. Staring hard he saw that water was emerging from a rocky protrusion as drop - drop - drop. Now the young monk was calmer. 'I am sorry I intruded, Venerable One,' he said, 'I feared you were ill. I will leave you. But there was no reply. No movement. The old man sat as still as a stone statue. Apprehensively the young man advanced and then stood for a moment studying the motionless figure. At last, fearfully, he extended his arm and touched the old one on the shoulder. The spirit had withdrawn. Previously bedazzled by the flickering flames he had not thought about the aura. Now he perceived that that too had faded, gone out.

Sadly the young man sat crosslegged in front of the corpse and recited the age-old ritual for the dead. Giving instructions for the journeyings of the Spirit on the way to the Heavenly Fields. Warning of possible dangers laid before him in his confused state of mind by mischievous entities. At last, his religious obligations fulfilled, he slowly rose to his feet, bowed to the dead figure, and - the torches having long burned out - felt his way out of the cave.

The pre-dawn wind was just rising and began moaning eerily through the trees. A wild keening came from a rocky fissure across which the wind was blowing and making a high organ note of dismal sound. Slowly the first faint streaks of light appeared in the morning sky and the far edge of the mountain range could now be distinguished. The young monk crouched miserably beside the fire, wondering what to do next, thinking of the grisly task before him. Time seemed to stand still. But at last, after what seemed to be an infinity of ages, the sun advanced and there was daylight. The young monk thrust a branch into the fire and waited patiently until the end burst into flames then, reluctantly he grasped the flaming brand and advanced with trembling legs into the cave and into the inner chamber.

The body of the old hermit was sitting as though he were still alive. Apprehensively the young monk bent and lifted the old body. Without much effort he raised it and draped it across his shoulders. Staggering a little he made his way out of the cave and along the side of the mountain where the big flat stone was waiting. The vultures were waiting too. Slowly the young man removed the robe from the wasted body and felt instant compassion at the sight of the skeleton-thin frame with the skin so tightly stretched. Shuddering with revulsion he jabbed the sharp-edged flint into the lower abdomen and pulled up hard. The tearing gristle and fibrous muscle made a dreadful sound which alerted the vultures and brought them hopping nearer.

With the body exposed and the body cavity gaping open the young man raised a heavy rock and brought it down upon the skull so that the brains came tumbling out. Then, with the tears streaming down his cheeks, he picked up the old hermit's robe and bowl and trudged back to the cave, leaving the vultures quarrelling and fighting behind him. Into the fire he tossed the robe and bowl, watching as the flames so quickly consumed them.

Sadly, with tears plopping down to the thirsty earth, he turned away and trudged slowly down the path towards another phase of life.

End of book

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