‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 6 – Ketumati – Altair Shyam

Mira and The Dance of The Impenetrable Realm – Art by Maryam Mughal


Chapter 6 – Ketumati

Altair travelled overland alone from Nepal to India to visit the Krishnamurti School in Varanasi, or Benares. He sat one day in the late afternoon in the garden of Krishnamurti’s own house. The School had kindly put him up in the house, complete with his own servants, and he was chatting with Krishnamurti’s gardener Henry, who was an exceptionally wise man.

“Why do you think Babaji wanted me to meet Krishna?” said Altair although he hadn’t the faintest idea how this could possibly happen.

“Because of your knowledge of other worlds,” replied Henry.

Altair looked at Henry in surprise. “Other worlds? Like the billions of stars and planets out there with habitable life?”

Henry laughed. “No not that. You will experience those worlds directly I’m sure. In your future, rather than mine. I am too old for space travel. Not the world of ghosts and spirits either. You will be able to contact those worlds too, in time, perhaps in your homeland. No, I mean the Pure Lands like Maitreya’s Ketumati where we are now, or Amitabha’s Sukhavati or Guan Yin’s Mount Potalaka. Masters, saints and Buddhas have known of these other worlds for thousands of years. Take Shambhala for instance. The Dalai Lama says in the Kalachakra Tantra that the Pure Land of Shambhala, which is ruled over by Maitreya, can only be visited by a worthy person. So I ask myself what a worthy person is, often. Pure Lands are not really part of this universe at all. They intertwine and are woven into the fabric of this world. People like you and Krishnamurti and others who practice the portal of deep constant presence can become aware of them. And aware of the Beings that inhabit them. The Beings we call Buddhas and Christs, Gods and Goddesses, they are in all our religions as well as our myths and legends and fairy tales for a reason.”

Henry stood up for a moment and gestured around the garden.

“Take Ketumati for instance.”

Altair blinked. He could have sworn he caught a glimpse of a completely different sort of garden, one like he first experienced as Palmo Shonu in the gardens of Zahor with Princess Mandarava. It was a garden glowing with energy, vibrant green, clear energy fields surrounding every flower, plant and tree, any point could be a portal that would transport a person’s awareness into other times or places.

“We are closer than close, closer than a heartbeat, worlds that are able to be known through stillness, silence and presence and letting go of the known,” said Henry.

Altair touched the grass. His hand disappeared, immersed in energy.

Armed With Energy by Saika’s Art Etsy

“Yes, I see it too,” said Henry, “the power of presence and cosmic consciousness. We are truly made of the same stuff as the stars. So how have you come to this awareness Altair? What has helped you along the way?”

“Firstly my dreams of Samye. That made me very curious about life and what came before and after even at the tender young age of three years old. Secondly, the visions of Zahor and many other places and Masters and guides. They made me aware of worlds beyond our own. The third was meditation, the doorway to Presence which is like the Garden of Eden here on Earth. Fourth would be action, when I was at Koya-san I decided to follow my dreams, however that turned out. Fifth and last is Kriya. My connection with Babaji through Yogananda elevated me to great heights of awareness, like climbing Mt Kailash.”

“When you breathe in such an active and sacred way as in Kriya Yoga, you actually charge the particles of your inner consciousness, a cosmos of your own creation existing within the astral spine and make the matter of this world very thin, so the portals of the chakras become much more accessible and easier to use and allow you to move between worlds for whatever your destiny and mission is. Great Masters have always known this.

Shri Krishna by Vishnu 108 @ DeviantArt

That is why many institutions fear it. That is why the ignorant imprison us by feeding us limited thoughts and fueling our material desires.”

“Why?” said Altair.

“Think of the possibilities, if we realized just how powerful we were. It would revolutionize churches, temples and governments, schools and businesses. If we realized there was a way to bridge this world and all others. If we knew the power of love language and communication with presence.”

“The key is intention,” said Altair. “We only have to think it and use the power of divine imagination.”

“Yes,” said Henry. “It is in the interests of those who inspire fear and ignorance and limited thought to keep the rest of us thinking the only reality is what we see through our senses. The power that would be unleashed worldwide is beyond anything we can imagine now if we were all to be free. It is about the collective, unity. We are not supposed to do it alone. It is about going home together.”

“So those that want to keep the wealth and power have a vested interest in keeping us imprisoned in our limited thinking?”

“Yes, those who have the most fear are holding on tight to what they have, which is in actuality very little.”

“And the Masters want to open this bridge across forever?”

“Even the Masters have different perspectives on opening portals. If they open it too soon, before most people have developed awareness, they could create an imbalance in the light and dark forces at play.”

“What about nature, snakes, dolphins, hummingbirds?” said Altair with a smile.

The Krishnamurti Foundation was located on a native wildlife reserve in Varanasi. Though there were no dolphins or hummingbirds there were snakes and eagles.

Henry smiled. “Those may well serve you in time. They are unconcerned with our problems. In fact we have upset their natural balance more than in any other time in history.”


“How do I connect with them?”

“The same way you are connecting to the Masters. Make a clear intention. Quiet the mind, still the heart, open up to limitless possibilities and surrender.”

“When will it happen?”

“Don’t be so impatient! Everything has its own time.”

At that very moment an eagle soared overhead and swooped down low as if feasting its eyes on the garden below.

“You see,” said Henry. “They are listening. Give it time. I imagine there are many surprises in store for you.”

In the wake of the eagle’s path a sudden brisk wind picked up, ruffling Altair’s hair.

Dark black storm clouds loomed swiftly over the horizon where there were none before.

“You’d best be getting inside,” said Henry. “There’s a storm brewing.”

“I need to buy some yoghurt!” Altair said and stood up in a hurry. “Do you think I’ll have time?”

“Maybe,” said Henry. “Better hurry!”

Altair dashed off down the path towards town. He passed by one of the fields where the boys were playing cricket.

“Six!” came a cry.

Altair turned seeking the source of the call when he received an enormous crack on the nose. He stumbled back, stunned, stars spinning in his vision.

A group of boys came running up.

“Sorry, Sir!”

“That’s alright.” Altair was still dazed. “I…I’m from New Zealand. I used to play cricket at school too.”

“Oh, Sir, do you know Richard Hadlee?”

It wasn’t long before they were all best of friends.

It was Altair’s first day at the school as a teacher. He’d arrived at the office that morning knowing they were expecting him, to find himself sitting beside an auburn-haired woman looking rather pensive, who introduced herself as Angela.

“I’m off home today,” she said, “my father is ill and they can’t find a replacement. I don’t want to leave them in the lurch.”

“What do you teach?” said Altair.

“English, drama and music.”

“I have a background in Performing Arts,” said Altair. “I might be able to help.”

Mirabai Krishna

And so he did, and half an hour later he was signing papers as a substitute teacher and getting Angela to show him around. The school put him up in Krishnamurti’s own house, complete with servants, which initially he felt most uncomfortable about until he discovered that it was their job and they were extremely proud of it having served generations of famous people including Krishnamurti before Altair.

So now as he headed into town just before the storm he thought back over the incredible sequence of events that had brought him here to the holy city of Varanasi.

After Nepal and Tibet he had stayed in New Delhi just to see the Taj Mahal. That was the comedy routine of his adventure so far.

Taj Mahal

“All aboard,” shouted the driver as they lined up for the bus in the dust and fumes of the early morning traffic outside the youth hostel. “We have to be back by 5pm. Evening curfew. Hurry up!”

That was true. Delhi was in the midst of riots and soldiers with rifles patrolled the streets and roofs looking to shoot looters.

They knew that to return after 5pm was to place their life in peril.

Everywhere they looked was a mass of dangling power cables, narrow streets, cycle rickshaws, winding old lanes leading to spice markets and traffic traffic everywhere.

Some of the stares they got were frankly unfriendly and for a woman more than that showing them places to avoid, especially after dark.

Altair wore his hair long and had massive curls so from behind looked every bit like a young woman. One of those days in Delhi he had an older man with his wife saunter up beside him in the crowd and grope at his breasts. Altair felt terribly invaded and was so incensed he turned and punched the man hard in the nose. The fellow hurried away with his wife through the madding crowd.

The bus lurched away from the hostel in a pall of smoke and careered down the highway knocking two cycle rickshaws off the road and into the ditch beside to the insults and waving fists of their drivers. The bus driver didn’t seem to care at all.

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra so they had a little way to go, some five hours or so, and a number of palaces and scenic spots to see on the way.

They came to the first stop, Agra Fort. The driver was very clear they didn’t have long as traffic had been heavy these first three hours. “We only have ten minutes so no photos,” he said.

A young German couple started grumbling immediately.

“We didn’t pay all this money for a ten minute tour. He can wait.”

They took their bags and cameras and set off for a stroll.

The rest of the group looked dubiously at the driver who seemed extremely nervous.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, on the dot, he climbed up into the driver’s cab and shouted “Time to go!” in the direction of the German couple who were the last to get back on. They were still atop the monumental Delhi Gate and waving buoyantly at the bus so when the driver put his foot on the gas pedal to resume his trip, minus the German couple, the tourists were all aghast, there was lots of shouting, and the Germans could still be heard yelling insults in German from the walls.

To no avail.

The driver would not turn back, regardless of threats and cajoling, and kept his head down for the rest of the trip to the Taj Mahal.

They stopped at several other minor attractions, losing at least one passenger at each.

By the time they got to the Taj Mahal, they were a decimated group of tourists.

“We must be hurrying!” continued the driver, scarcely pausing at this beautiful monument for long enough to take some decent pictures. “5 o’clock, 5 o’clock!”

It was beginning to sound like the rant of a madman. By any reasonable calculations the bus should make it home just in time.

So off they went, at a giddy gait, swerving around this obstacle or that car or knocking an occasional rickshaw off the road when they wouldn’t shift for the driver.

After about 2 hours they arrived at a fairly nondescript hotel, small, dingy and rather unkept. The driver met with another man out front and they shook hands gleefully. He gestured at them all to come in.

“Tea stop, souvenirs,” yelled the driver, proudly clapping the new man on the shoulder as he introduced him. “This is my uncle. My uncle’s hotel,” he waved his hands  with aplomb as if this were the most scenic attraction they had yet feasted their eyes upon.

“We have time for a stop,” he said as if to assure the group of his intentions to take good care of them finally.

Then the driver and the uncle disappeared, no doubt to discuss commissions and sales and the group were left to the extremely tardy tea service of one older gentleman, the sole waiter, server and tea pourer. Almost one hour later, the longest stop they had made anywhere, and Altair decided to go on the warpath. He found the driver laughing out the back with a group of men, smoking and drinking chai.

“The time, the time!”

The driver looked at his watch and immediately looked like he had been hit with a club. Fear filled his face and he sprung up like a jack in a box.

“Hurry up, hurry up!” He began yelling at the top of his voice.

They piled back into the bus.

“We must be taking a short cut,” said the driver.

He put his foot on the gas pedal and belted off at a gut wrenching pace, turning and scurrying down one winding narrow lane after another.

Soon he reached a long straight section which looked like it went on forever.

“Hold on!” he announced with more than a hint of trepidation in his voice.

The bus hurled past shops and doorways with barely a hair’s breadth separating them.

It was clear this short cut was going to put everyone at death’s door if the driver had anything to do with it.

The next moment they saw looming up ahead of them a very low lying bridge under which they would not pass.

“Hold on!” commanded the demon driver.

So they did and the bus hit the bridge with an enormous crash and a sound like bullets firing out of a cylinder could be heard as packs and bags which were on the roof-rack shot backwards off the top of the bus with the roof-rack and upper connections following in a tangle on the ground.

“Sorry! Sorry!” was all the mad driver could repeat over and over.

Altair got out slowly in a daze with the other passengers. The bus was still running and they gathered up their possessions and placed them back on board.

The driver said very little bar the occasional sorry on his way back to the hostel.

Needless to say Altair and the remaining passengers arrived late, past the curfew, and had to clamber secretively on the emergency escape ladders at the back of the hotel and then clutch and scrape at windowsills bruising their shins and fingers and cracking nails as they forced their way into one of the back windows of the hostel in constant fear of their life in case they were mistaken for looters by one of the soldiers positioned on nearby roofs.

Perhaps never again would Altair take a bus tour in India.

Brijrama Palace Varanasi

So it was that Altair found himself not on a bus heading to Varanasi but on a train, firstly in the lowest class carriage which was basically the baggage train filled with cattle and chickens, bad smells and cow-shit, and old men chewing betel nuts, teeth stained reddish-black from years of chewing this addictive nut, which they spat out on the floor at his feet. After a couple of hours of olfactory torture Altair upgraded to second class which was just as crowded and had some people riding the roof. A few hours of this experience and he went to first class which meant he had a seat and finally for the last segment he allowed himself the luxury of AC or air conditioning and found himself in a cabin with 4 other men, all with the same birthday as him. September 7th. This birthday had led to a number of synchronistic events. On one bus trip in Nepal he found himself riding on the roof of a bus with three other travelers all with this same birthday. And when he started university, he was walking up the hill to Albert Park when an old woman on the other side of the road pointed at him and called out.

“Hey you!”

She made her way across the road to him.

“You were born the same day as Queen Elizabeth the First.”

It wasn’t a question.

And she was right.

She proceeded to tell him many things about his life. How he would work with children in the arts, be a leader, travel to America and work as a healer.

So meetings with remarkable people in the most unlikely places never seemed out of place.

And so it was in Varanasi.

After signing up for the job Angela took him out on a boat on the Ganges for an hour just before lunch.

The sun was high over the holy river, casting a steady glow, big and imposing in the sky. The air was filled with the aroma of sandalwood and jasmine flowers. Angela found a boatman who rowed them close to the shore, bathing them in the aftermath of the morning cremation rituals. That meant an arm that had not been burned properly by the cremation ghats floated by the boat. An occasional body too.

“You may not be surprised to know that I heard you were coming,” said Angela. “I was hoping against hope that you would be able to fill my position. You know they are interested in you for other reasons. That is why they accepted you so easily. It’s usually much more difficult to get a job here. There are many volunteers waiting in line. The principal told me you would be here this morning.”

Altair had a strange feeling the school, the Principal and Krishnamurti were all somehow tied into Babaji’s prophecy of him meeting Krishna.

Meerabai by Avinash Thakur @ Art Finder

And so it was that he found himself searching the nearby markets for some yoghurt he loved just before the storm set in.

The markets were lazy, colorful and chaotic. Old men, stray dogs and bodies close to death lay strewn across his path at every turn. Men with baskets heaped with herbs tried to sell their wares and shopkeepers tried to bargain with him. He quickly found the shop he was looking for and ordered a mango lassi while he was waiting. He listened to the chatter of the customers around him and thought of the vision Babaji and Henry had brought him. A bridge across forever that he could travel over and link other worlds and Pure Lands. He wanted to take all the women and children that were caught up in wars and strife far away from here, to set them free, with stars and magic…

Blossom To The Stars by Wen Hsu

Sometime in the night he awoke to the sounds of thunder and pelting rain. The servant and his family were fast asleep and the house itself was eerily serene amidst the backdrop of the boom and bang of nature’s titanic forces clashing.

There was a soft knock at the door.

Altair waited. The storm rattled on.

The knock came softly again.

No one was going to answer it. The servants were still asleep. They were in the middle of a storm.

“Hello,” said Altair as softly as the knock. “Who’s there?” And he got up to open the door.

Standing there in the wind and rain, without an umbrella, as dry as a bone, was a woman. She was dressed in the orange cloth of a sanyasi, a wandering holy person. She had blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and was holding an ancient scroll in her hands. Behind her, in all directions, lay a tumbling sea of water that fell in ever increasing streams, pausing only now and then to catch its breath before resuming its fury, like a constant waterfall pouring straight down.

“May I come in?” Her voice was soothing, like a clear mountain stream.

Altair was at a loss for words. He gestured for her to come in and noticed that her sandals left no wet mark on the floor even though she had somehow come through the storm to get here. Now he could see her clearly for the first time. She was very young, yet wore spectacles, wore no hood or rain gear and seemed not to notice nature’s spectacle which had been crashing all around her. She had a simple red bindu between her eyebrows. She stood in the entrance like a goddess. She reminded him of Krishna himself.


Altair nodded.

“I have been sent to bring you a message.”

Altair could momentarily see through the veils and perceive the bridge across forever that Henry had spoken of, the unity linking all beliefs and faiths that Babaji had guided him to. He could feel the language of love breaking through to speak to his heart, and know of the timeless awareness that awakens when you are in the presence of divinity.

The scroll had binding which the woman carefully unwrapped and then unrolled the parchment before handing it to Altair.

“This is for you. Krishna bid me give it to you.”

Altair took the scroll and held it at the top and bottom so that he could see it better.

“This is Saraswati,” said the woman, in a sweet sing-song voice, pointing to the Goddess who sat playing a sitar surrounded by peacocks. “You have been devoted to Her many times over many lives.”

“Babaji said you would come.”

She nodded and pointed to another section of the scroll, in Sanskrit.

“Chapter 12, the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Shri Krishna spoke to Arjuna and said ‘Those who fix their minds on Me, who constantly glorify Me, and possess great faith, I consider them to be most perfect.’ That is the message from Lord Krishna to you.”

She took the scroll from Altair, rolled it up, bound it and handed it back to him.

“I think there are things I need to tell you,” she said. “Altair, you were a 16th century Raj in Northern India.”


The Sanyasi’s voice was so sweet it lifted him above the storm.

“You were married with three wives. You governed a small kingdom in what is now Rajasthan.”

Altair felt his body drifting, lifting upwards, soaring into the heavens.

“You worshipped Saraswati.”

Just like Palmo Shonu with Princess Mandarava in Zahor, thought Altair.

Below him the countryside splayed out like a balloon and ahead of him a magnificent palace was sitting in all its grandeur and splendor. He was part of it and it was all around him. Great forts with round towers rose up sprawling over hills and valley plains next to rivers. Temples, houses and markets were held within its walls.

Altair saw people running in every direction, barricading doors and windows and then he found himself in the midst of a large group of men, brave, armed and ready for fighting, standing before the last of seven massive gates.

Three women, dressed in beautiful saris stood at his side, all weeping.

The one closest to him, took his arm and spoke loudly and clearly to the throng.

“We are besieged sire, but should you got out to battle, and die, we will be lost without you, and surely we will not survive what is to follow.”

Altair simply nodded. He felt heavy and realized he was wearing armor. One of the men was helping him get up on a horse. He was eating his last betel nut together with his troops. He donned his saffron robes which his first wife, the one that had spoken to the crowd, handed him.

“The invading army outnumbers us ten to one,” said the man now in front of him brandishing a double edged scimitar.

Altair nodded again. He knew the warrior’s code. Compassion for defeated foes, generosity towards the helpless, fair play in battle, respect for women and conduct of warfare governed by elegant forms and ceremonies. His people loved him and he was renowned for his courage on the battlefield. He was part of a proud martial tradition and he had a passion for war. Everyone was waiting for his signal.

He, drew his sword, holding it aloft and cried out in a wild yell, and the gates opened on his command. The warriors on horseback circled and flew with him out the gates and onto the hills and down into the valleys, many were mounted and some were on foot.

They were met by a storm of shrieks and yells and blinding fury as the two armies collided. Horsemen, war elephants, soldiers with swords, lances, matchlocks and bows and arrows battled in the breach, many hurled into the air together, and many crushed by the falling debris caused by siege engines.

War elephants, as many as three hundred, joined the onslaught. One of them trampled a man near him, rolled him up in his trunk and crushed him. The elephant then turned on Altair, smashed its trunk down on his horse’s back breaking it in two with a terrible crack and throwing Altair in the air. When Altair hit the ground he was stunned and dazed. The battle had carried him right near the center of the fighting as he struggled to his feet, now a short distance away from the invading king. The king came down from the small rise of a hill that he stood upon and faced Altair, the two men now barely meters apart. Altair was trembling like a mighty dynamo, not from fear but from grim determination. He was a warrior and to die in battle was just as honorable as to die for love. He touched his heart as he stood, thinking of his brave wives and the fate they might face if he was vanquished. Brandishing his sword he said to himself,

“I fight for you my loves. I am a king and he is nothing.”

Raj Women

The warriors around them continued fighting but formed a protective cordon from which no one could get in or out. The bodies piling up made a wall. Here they were, two futures, two destinies, one would continue while the other would fall.

The air seemed to grow still and silent.

Then with a roar and a shaking like two mountains clashing, the two warriors crashed into each other and fell aside, and Altair sprung up first and slashed at the other man’s neck which was his most vulnerable point.

There was a clash of metal on metal as Altair’s thrust missed its mark but caught the man’s face and a scream split the air. The other king hurled himself in fury onto Altair pummeling him to the ground and the breath was squeezed out of him all at once by that crushing fall. Hands fixed themselves on his throat and hot bloody drops dripped down his helmet.

Altair threw himself backwards with all his might and ripped downwards, tearing away those vicious hands and swinging the sword which had been underneath him out and across.

He struck metal and then metal again as the two swords met and parried and thrust.

Then they stood apart struggling to regain their breath.

Both men were bleeding and both were panting heavily.

Altair knew it was going badly for his men. He was their last hope and he would not fail them. He allowed himself the luxury of a single tear. His dear brave fearless wives were going to die if he did not find victory, through love and belief, in fearlessness and valor. He thought of how Krishna assured Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita that the proper thing to do was to fight on the battle field. He thought of his friend Mirabai and her love for Krishna which had inspired his devotion. And it was at this moment, which passed as swiftly as a blink of an eye, that he was lifted out of the battle. He remembered the words Mirabai had taught him,

Mirabai & Krishna

“Be awake to the Name!

To be born in a human body is rare,

Don’t throw away the reward of your past good deeds.

Life passes in an instant— the leaf doesn’t go

back to the branch.

The ocean of rebirth sweeps up all beings hard,

Pulls them into its cold-running, fierce, implacable currents.

Giridhara, your name is the raft, the one safe-passage over.

Take me quickly.

All the awake ones travel with Mira, singing the name.

She says with them: Get up, stop sleeping—

the days of a life are short.”

A great swirl lifted Altair up as he raised his sword, and then something pulled him up above all of this, and then a more powerful surge, like a power tearing him away from the battle field and the carnage and the sadness and the loss. Then Altair saw in the air beside him the Sanyasi standing calmly looking at him.

“You will meet your three wives again. They are very dear to you and will be always. You will know them by this. One will be a dancer, one a singer and one an actress. Though you will try to hold on to them you cannot. You can only ever free them by letting them go. You can try anything you wish, marriage, children, but the law of karma is very clear. Trust in the flow of life. Go well Altair. Go well my child.”

Then she was gone into the storm.



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‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 5 – Kailash – Altair Shyam



Chapter 5 – Kailash

When he returned to his room Altair thought about consulting the ephemeris for himself, but this had never served him well. It always triggered events but never in a way he could foresee. So it was now. Shanti’s fateful words were somehow deeply woven into the fabric of time as within a few minutes he received a call from the temple hostess to say he had a message to call the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. He wondered whether he should call back immediately and following a hunch he decided to wait and telephone his mother Mary a little later. Perhaps she already knew the results of the scholarship to China.

He lay on his bed pondering the fires that had ignited within him, the desire to travel across China and study the Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu and the now very new and burning desire, a yearning to travel to Tibet and India and learn from the Siddha Masters. He felt intensely human, as if the stillness of the Shingon Temple was calling to him, and that maybe the continual grind of an academic life was not as attractive as the flow of study with a Master such as Yogananda or the Dalai Lama. It wasn’t long before he fell asleep, dreaming of a monk crossing a very different bridge, a bridge across forever that connected worlds way beyond this one.

He awoke suddenly to the voice of his mother. He had no idea what time it was.

“Altair is that you?”


“Mmm,” Altair was still half asleep.

“Altair, the Chinese Embassy rang.”

Mary hesitated.

“You didn’t get the scholarship. They gave it to an American scholar already at Beijing University. Professor Ip herself rang to confirm. You were in second place. So if it falls through…”

“Mum, I’m going to India…”

“There’s one more thing. I’m so sorry about the scholarship.”

“I’m not, because I’ve decided to go to…”

“A telegram arrived this morning…”

“India! I’m going to go to…”

“Yes! From India, the telegram is from India! How did you know?”


“Do you remember you asked to visit that Foundation, the Krishnamurti School in Varanasi?”

“The Krishnamurti…?”

Sleep was getting the better of him. Altair was sure he was hearing things, getting the messages all muddled up.

“Yes, they’ve sent you an invitation.”

There was a faint light now in the temple room that gave the whole episode more than an edge of mystery. Altair longed to be on the plane right now. India? An invitation? It all seemed too good to be true.

He stood up and walked over to the speakerphone.

“Mum, that’s great, that’s just great.”

“I’m so happy for you darling.”

“So am I. I’ll call you back later when I’m more awake.”

Altair walked out into the corridor and headed towards the entrance to the temple. It was just before sunrise as he stepped out.

He decided to go on the long walk to Okunoin, Kukai’s mausoleum and Japan’s largest cemetery. In the early morning mists it was the perfect place to clear his head. According to Shingon Buddhism belief there are no dead there, only waiting spirits. Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi, came out of meditation there upon the arrival of Miroku or Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future in his visions.



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As he crossed the Ichi No Hashi Bridge, reaching the outskirts of the first headstones, it was like he was crossing a bridge between two worlds, as something strange was happening in the mists. He thought it was the early morning winds, moving and trembling but something else was stirring. Dizzying cedars dotted the graves, hiding the sky. The atmosphere was different, the air charged with the sacred.


A figure was forming in the mists, like a ghost. Altair’s surprise was so strong he had to check his feet, that they were still connected to the ground.

The vision filled the forest. It began to spill out beyond the corners as if delicate fingers of light were searching and trembling for something. Kukai was holding a dragon blossom, coming into bloom, and the mists looked like the ocean rising, both signs of the future Buddha, Maitreya. Kukai was as transparent as fragile silk and shimmered like delicately disturbed water on a calm lake. Altair felt deeply moved. It was as profound as any dream or vision he had ever experienced. The beauty of the sacred, and its holiness touched his eyes with tears. As Altair watched, the vision became a portal, just like when he read someone’s astrology chart, and he was transported beyond the confines of the cemetery and the mountain he was standing upon, into another mountain range, one with its own mists and dreams and visions, as if he was looking across a vast natural vista and into another universe.

Cherry Blossom Dragon by Chocotaku @ DeviantArt

Altair was gifted with a mystical vision of the future, seated on the top of Mt Kailash on an outspread mandala. Shiva and Parvati, turned to look at him, then blended into Saraswati and Brahma. The fusion was deep, immersed in the ecstatic bliss of creation. Then they in turn blended into the wisdom and knowledge of the Bodhisattva Manjushri and the Goddess Benzaiten Saraswati. The fierce sun, the soft snow, the blue skies, the mystic mists, made the journey of the Tibetan pilgrims circumambulating the mountain far below look even more arduous. In the light he saw himself, now at some period in the future, making his way up a mountain range with a group of people, traversing the Himalayas.

So Shanti was right after all.

It was India, not China.

Something deeper had called Altair, perhaps the wild of the Himalayas.

“Boarding for Kathmandu at Gate 22!” came the call over the loudspeakers at Bangkok Airport. Altair had been staying with a friend of his, Ting, at a monastery in Northern Thailand after flying out from Japan and Koya-san.

“You should follow your dreams,” she said.

So he did.

He decided to follow the dream of Tibet and Samye Monastery, by going overland through Nepal.

Buddhist nuns monks-Tibetan women via James Blumenthal Ph.D

He was ready to get underway to Nepal and had been itching to do so ever since landing in Thailand but he’d promised Ting a visit and it was a good opportunity to weigh up the paths ahead once he decided not to take up the scholarship in China. Some dreams weighed more heavily than others. Even in airport terminals.

“Excuse me Sir?” It was a gentleman in fine clothes with gold trim, gold-rimmed sunglasses and a very tanned bald head. “Could you lend me a hand?”

He turned around behind him to lift the largest teddy bear Altair had ever seen.

“Do you have much check in luggage? I am wondering if I could bother you to take this?”

Altair nodded dumbly. He seemed to remember somewhere his mother warning him about the Asian drugs trade and Bangkok being a kingpin in the drug triangle.

Naively he took the bear which was as large as he was and lifted it clumsily into the plane, to the wide-eyed glances of the hostesses.

Soon they were skywards and heading towards Nepal. The flight and the landing were smooth and the tender bump on the runway filled Altair’s eyes with tears although he could have never said why. It was like he was coming home.

He clambered off, hugging the bear and made his way to immigration, looking out for the bear’s owner. There was no sign.

Altair felt anxious. He could have sworn the gentleman had got off the plane with him, though he didn’t see him sitting in economy class.

Suddenly there was a tug on his shirt.

It was an officer in a military uniform.

Altair’s heart skipped a beat.

But his consternation was met with a smile.

“This way Sir, please.”

The officer opened a door he hadn’t noticed to the side of immigration.

It was semi-dark, a long smooth corridor with no distinguishing features or signs.

The next moment he emerged to a fanfare of trumpets and a crowd surging towards him as he marched with the bear down between a guard of honour, to join the bear’s owner and another man in a wheelchair with a bandage wrapped tightly around his head.

“Welcome to Nepal!” said the man with the gold-rimmed sunglasses. That bear belong’s to this man’s son.”

“What happened to him?” whispered Altair.

“This man is the King’s brother and I am his Secretary. He was shot and wounded in an assassination attempt a few months ago. We have just returned from America where he was taken for surgery. We are very grateful to you for helping us. We want to repay your kindness. Tell us anything you want or need in Nepal and we will make sure it is done.”

And so it was that Altair was given a King’s Feast, a luxurious hotel, as well as a Royal Tour of Nepal and its surrounding schools and educational foundations which is how he thought this gift would serve his mission here on earth the best.


A young woman seated with a small group of hikers greeted Altair in Pokhara. He was at the start of the Annapurna Circuit which snakes through lush rice paddy valleys, roaring rivers, Tibetan Buddhist villages, Hindu temples and unassailable arid Himalayan peaks. He had taken some crazy bus rides to get here after the tours of Nepalese schools, on overloaded buses with 20 seats and 40 people to pack in like sardines. He had ridden on the rooftops of buses along insanely dangerous ravines where the slightest mistake would have meant a fatal fall of several hundred meters to their death. He had even driven into Tibet with a truckload of Chinese soldiers which left him feeling completely ill at ease even though they had been very civil and shared their Chinese superfood biscuit rations with him.

With his pack on his back and his heart beating with excitement, Altair was ready for the first ascent, which he was told would climb to giddy heights of several thousand meters and leave him breathless and with aching muscles especially around his kneecaps.

So it was with a measure of relief that he met the woman’s smile and greeting.




“Climbing alone?”

Altair nodded.

“Want to join us?”

Tibetan Child by Christine Randolph @ Fine Art America

Altair smiled again. As simple as that and he was one of them. He soon discovered they were all ballet dancers from Belgium. Monica was the leader, and she had gathered her friends, Cecilia, Irene, Louise and Peter, to come on the hike with her. Together they made their way through lush hills and over swollen rivers, in and out of bamboo forests and traversing waterfalls. Sometimes they skipped across rocks and at other times the trail wove into and up hillsides, with giant blocks at some parts which went upwards for hours leaving them all with sore knees at each resting point. Each night they stayed at a different village along the trail in very basic tea house accommodation. Mattresses varied from very sparse to somewhat thicker, walls would often have cracks to encourage a view, showers ran from cold to very cold and toilets smelt bad or just plain intolerable. Food was usually Dahl, rice, lentils, potatoes and tea. As their bodies adjusted so did the path, from muddy tracks to dusty paths with valleys revealing the snowy mountain peaks from time to time.

“Tashi Delek”

Shiva Shakti – Lord Shiva

In the light of one early morning high up in the Annapurna mountain range they were met by a young Tibetan monk smiling broadly and sipping tea. His saffron robes flapped in the breeze.

“You teach us?”

Altair felt a chill up his back. He knew this young monk would help him connect to his dream as a child, that this boy would somehow link him to Samye.

“I…I’ll…” he had trouble getting his words out.

It was Monica, the lead dancer in the Belgian Ballet group who replied.

“We dance,” she said, “we love dancing!” And she turned and twirled and did a dainty pirouette right there on the spot.

The monk clapped in delight and called out something in Tibetan. Instantly doors opened all around the group and young monks and several nuns gaily skipped out to join them.

The monks were composed and free and wild all at once. Then Cecilia danced followed by Irene and Louise. The monks copied them all as Altair breakdanced and Peter showed them some jazz steps. It was a hilarious introduction. The young nuns pointed and giggled.

At the end they all bowed respectfully.

“We are happy to teach you our meditation,” said the monk with a smattering of English. “Here…”

And he brought out some ancient texts all in Sanskrit that none of the group could read.

“This here,” he said. “Breathing.” He pointed to a diagram of a Yogi sitting. “Like this.” He began to demonstrate so Altair and the dancers all sat down together to practice.

The young monk, whose name was Jampa, which means loving kindness and is the Tibetan name for the Buddha Maitreya, took great pride in showing Altair sitting posture, breathing techniques and how to visualize the various deities.

“Inside or outside?” he said pointing to their rooms which were simple dwellings built of brick.

“We’d rather stay outside,” said Altair laughing as he watched a group of four monks mimicking Peter as they danced in unison across the courtyard.

“Not cold?”

They shook their heads vigorously although it was rather brisk at this high altitude.

“You,” said Jampa pointing at Altair. “Who?”

“Altair,” said Altair. “Shyam.”

The monk nodded, gesturing wide with his arms. “Space.”

“Shyam. That’s right. It means space in Sanskrit.”

Himalayas – Abode of the Snow – Padmasambhava by Nicholas Roerich

“You monk.” He tapped his chest. It was more a statement than a question.

Altair hesitated not knowing whether to nod or shake his head so he decided to smile instead. The other monks had gathered around, listening as Jampa chatted in Tibetan, translating the staccato English conversation.

Altair stayed with them like this, exchanging culture and dance, meditation and mindfulness all day until the sun went down, when he headed to the tea houses with the group and the monks and nuns to their own lodgings.

They were all well wrapped up and ready for the cold night air when they began drinking tea just before dinner.

After a few sips Altair hesitated.

“Anyone taste anything funny?”

“It all tastes the same to me, awful,” said Monica grimacing.

“Did anyone add their iodine tablets?” said Peter.

“I did,” said Altair.

“Me too,” said Monica.

Irene, Louise, and Cecilia all shook their heads.

“Boiled water?” Altair asked the owner of the tea house in Nepalese.

The owner nodded.

“Can we look?”

He gestured towards the fire where there was a pot heating over logs.

“It has to be properly boiled to be effective,” said Monica. “And if it isn’t…”

“Then the water source could be the problem,” said Altair.

“Can we see the water?” asked Altair. “Where it comes from?”

The owner nodded and took a flashlight and walked with them outside the simple shelter to the water tank around the back. High up in the mountains some of the lodgings were infamous for polluted water supplies.

Altair stood on tiptoes and looked over the edge of the water tank.

What they saw made their stomachs churn. A dead rat, some other indescribable objects and bird shit, was floating in the water.

“I’m going to be sick,” said Monica.

Altair felt his stomach clench.

“Let’s go back to the hotel.”

The hotel was little more than a wooden shell with some rooms.

And it was to this wooden shell that they were all confined together for the next three days, much of it spent moaning or going to the toilet to throw up or emit watery substances from either end, much to the dismay of the other members of the group who were trying to keep everything down.

Altair struggled up as often as he could to meditate and do yoga, which kept the food down rather than up, and he drank enormous quantities of purified water, much to the delight and then growing consternation of his ever-groaning stomach.

It was in one of these long nights that he saw Babaji. He could never be quite sure which night it was as he was so sick but the message Babaji gave was clear and direct.

Babaji looked straight at Altair with dark sparkling eyes.

His mere presence engulfed Altair in a wave of spiritual blessing.

Altair could not stand to bow at the feet of this angelic being so he let his heart kneel in front of Babaji in humility.

Babaji was young, just like in all the pictures Altair had seen of him.

Babaji had a power allowing direct telepathy between two souls so what Altair heard was like a stream of nectar flowing between two hearts.

“What do you think of the schools you have seen here?”

“I am looking for so much more sir, the blending of yoga and science, of life and literature, of love and peace.”

“Child,” the Master said, “the forces on earth are mixed, like sand and sugar, so be wise. Look for schools blessed by men and women of God-realization.”

“Sir, the Western schools are filled with science and the Eastern with philosophy. One can benefit from the other.”

“I know you are interested in the East and the West. That is why I am here.

East and West must share the golden path of spirituality and activity.

Your dreams and visions can shake material reality when founded in yoga science and meditation and transformed through action.

Altair, very soon Krishna will visit you, and help you understand your path in the West. There are many very young Yogis waiting to be awakened. You will know by the signs I send you, the Bhagavad Gita and the Goddess Saraswati. You will write about the unity between the Christ, Krishna and the Buddha. That inspired sons and daughters of God speak with the same truth.”

“Babaji, how can I undertake such a task?”

“Why do you doubt? Whose work is all this? Who is the doer behind all your actions? Who is the meditator and who dreams the dreams?”

The vision was fading. Altair bowed humbly in farewell and Babaji smiled.

“I will visit you again.”

The others were roused and looked up from their beds.

“I saw something,” said Monica. “A light. Did you have a visitor?”

Altair laughed and told them the story of Babaji. Irene looked at Altair curiously.

“Does this sort of thing often happen to you?”

“Only when I’m not expecting it,” Altair said with a smile. “I know I have to meditate more. Then I will be able to see the Great Masters hiding behind the sunlight.”

“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Irene as they all laughed.



Babaji – Immortal Youth @ Janaka’s Art

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists
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‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 4 – Koya-san – Altair Shyam

Kannon Bodhisattva, Kannon Bosatsu, Lord of Compassion, Goddess of Mercy


Chapter 4 – Koya-san

“Altair, come on,” said Ma

  1. “Is everything packed?”

His mother always got nervous when Altair went away anywhere and this, being his first overseas trip, made her more nervous than normal.

Altair’s possessions were minimal. He had a credo which was to go from place to place with as little as possible. The last place he gave away everything he had except his guitar. So all he had to do was pick up his pack and he was ready.

Very Zen.

The first thing he was going to do when he landed in Japan was visit the Zen temple in Shikoku he had written to asking if he could be accepted for zazen training.

It took a long time to find it. The temple was nestled in the heart of a rural area, hidden from prying eyes by an ancient forest. The Master lived in the temple itself and sent a junior monk ahead to meet Altair at the train station.

The young monk served green tea while they were waiting and then knelt in seiza style. Presently the Master arrived, a squat, powerfully built man who looked at them both intensely and then knelt in seiza style for a long time opposite Altair before speaking.

The junior monk translated as the Master spoke.

“Stay as long as you like. Follow the rules.”

He then stood, bowed and left.

Altair was taken aback.

He had been expecting a little more since he no idea exactly what “the rules” were.

The young monk, whose name was Atsushi, explained.

“Whenever you sit, sit intently. Keep your mind here now. That is Zen.”

Altair nodded. He had studied Zen at university.

“You start tomorrow. 6am start. 7:15 breakfast. Then continue. If your mind is distracted the Master will hit you with a stick.”

“Hit me? How hard?”

Atsushi laughed. “Hard enough to wake you up.”

“How long have you been here?”

“One year.”

“How many times did you get hit in the beginning?”


“How about now?”

“Less than many.”

“I see. Is there anything else I should know?”

“Stay fresh. Live freely. Like a cloud floating in the sky.”

“A cloud.”

“Every encounter is precious. Cherish them. There are no shortcuts.”

“I am on a path of stars and magic. Is there any more you can tell me about them?”

The young monk looked closely at Altair for a moment.

“Cherish them too.” He smiled, stood up, bowed like the Master and gestured for Altair to follow.

Kannon – Affection by Ichiro Tsuruta

Altair sipped his tea a few minutes later alone in his room. There was little to distinguish it, tatami floor, rice paper walls with little decoration, a rolled up futon at one end and the small table he was sitting beside.

Altair had so many thoughts flooding his head. There were all kinds of things going on beneath his mind such as the vision that had led him here in the first place. It had manifested in his first year of Chinese Philosophy at University and it changed his path forever.

He was sitting in a lecture studying Zen with Dr. Ip and gazing out the blinds at the sun dappling on the venetians.

  Suddenly he was transported, to an ancient time and past.

He was on the slopes of TianTai Shan mountain with Master Huang Po. They were on a journey to the summit of the mountain and had stopped beside a waterfall and stream, a sign post on their spiritual pilgrimage.

The Temple was gloriously surrounded by waterfalls, one of them the Flying Waterfall. The stone bridge that stretched across it, in some places only 10 inches across, was their meditation walk. The Temple sat sprawling over the rocks at the top of the waterfall.

The Master said to him, “All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. The Mind is without beginning and end, is unborn and indestructible. Sentient beings are attached to form and so seek externally for the Buddha. By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha. Stop all your conceptual thought, cease all worrying and the Buddha will appear before you.”

Then the vision vanished and Altair was staring at the blinds and sun peeking through. Dr. Ip was speaking to him, calling his name.

“Sorry Dr. Ip,” said Altair. “I was transported.” He began to describe exactly what he had seen.

“TienTai Shan, the mountain,” said Dr. Ip. “That is what you saw. Fangguang Temple and the Shiliang Flying Waterfall. Have you been there?”

Altair shook his head.

“Then you must go,” she said. “It’s quite likely you were a student of Huang Po’s. You have such a versatility with Zen. Have you ever thought about a scholarship in China to study Chinese philosophy? I can nominate you!”

And so she did. With Japan the first port of call on the path between magic and the stars to explore Zen, this particular temple was dedicated to the Goddess Kannon-Guan Yin, and was one of a pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku. It was a special recommendation of the Professor’s.

After 3 days at the temple sitting staring into a wall for 8 hours a day and getting hit with a Keisaku or awakening stick every time his awareness faltered, Altair had a dream. In the dream he was led by a man chanting a mantra over and over into the forests and mountains of Shikoku. He asked to talk to the Master.

“I wondered why you were sent to us,” said the Master. “I know of your vision of TianTai.” Atsushi smiled at this. Altair had mentioned it to him after breakfast one morning as most of their day was spent in silence. “Now I know. I am merely to be a messenger for you. Take this contact. It is a Master in Koya-san, a Shingon Buddhist monastery and temple complex in Wakayama. I have contacted him already. The man in your dream was Kukai, founder of the Koya-san community. Your path continues there. You will leave tonight and arrive tomorrow morning at first light. I have arranged for rooms to be ready on your arrival. There is a retreat this weekend which you will attend.”

Altair thanked him profusely and bowed low. The Master returned the bow.

“Two things,” said the Master. “Firstly, Kukai will help you on your path towards magic. Things are not always what they seem. Secondly, Koya-san will help you understand the stars a little better. We are all made of the stuff of stars. When the mind is still and silent the stuff of the stars, light, can be directly realized. This is enlightenment, bright and spotless as the void, having no appearance or form whatsoever. Awaken to the One Mind and there is no enlightenment to be attained. It is within you already. The stuff of the stars, the cosmos, the One Mind, Buddha, has never ever been anywhere else.”

Handcarved Japanese wood Buddhist monk, Taisho c. 1920. This is Kukai Kobe Daishe, founder of Shingon Buddhism or the True Word school of Buddhism. at J. Collector

Arriving at the train station at Koya-san there was a different smell in the air, as if the spirits were wild and free here, and the mists filled with mysteries of the mountain. Altair stared around him for signs of life, the town and streets bare at this early hour. Directly ahead lay the mountain, with the little town below it. Wooden houses with ornate tiled roofs, a temple bell ringing out for prayers, and a solitary crow cawing in response. The smell of incense was mixed in with the early morning food smells from a concealed alley as well as cedar and pine and something else, cold and wild. The blanket of secrets that was the mystical Kōya-san. Altair followed the directions on the map he’d been given, while making his way up the mountain to the temple lodgings which catered for foreigners. Squirrels darted in and out of the trees, showing impish faces before dashing off to gather more acorns. There was little wind in the mists, which was fortunate as it was bitterly cold, and every step seemed to make Altair’s clothing thinner until his body started shivering.

On the path the wind was calm as Altair moved up towards the Danjo Garan temple complex which marked the heart of the Mt. Koya settlement. He knew that secret Shingon Buddhist training had been taking place here for hundreds of years. He began to feel unsteady from the lack of rest as he had been on the go since yesterday. He stopped at a bend in the pathway beside a bamboo grove and settled back on his haunches for a breather. All the sounds died away completely and there was an ominous silence and then suddenly there were voices rumbling, shouts, rocks were thrown and a hand was pulling at his own.

“Come on, Ah-chan!”

He hesitated, scrambling for his pack, which he now could not locate anywhere.

“It’s me, Ren!” The voice was more urgent now. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

A young Japanese woman, about the same age as him, was glaring at him with impatience.

Altair didn’t try to argue as a crude missile whizzed past his head and embedded itself in one of the walls at his back. He was squatting at some sort of intersection around which a crowd was gathering and throwing insults at each other as well as anything they could lay their hands on.

Altair ran as fast as his legs would carry him in the direction the girl was tugging. She didn’t so much as glance behind and ran with a sure, practiced gait he could easily match.

They wove through a number of alleys and backstreets until they came to a wide open place where a temple was under construction. There were six other lodgings surrounding it which by the looks of the numbers of people gathered outside must have catered for visiting pilgrims. In the middle of it all stood a monk in robes with a beaming smile, intense benevolent eyes and an aura of calm. As he watched the building’s progress he was chanting under his breath and referring to a map he held in his hands as he gesticulated this way and that like a conductor.

“Gyoki-san, sorry we are late. We ran into trouble,” said Ren.

“So I heard,” said Gyoki. “The government has not taken kindly to our extending a helping hand to the poor. They see us as a threat to stability. Taking from the rich to give to the poor. They are persecuting us whenever they can find us alone. That rock throwing welcoming committee was organized by none other than the Kansai Office of Priestly Affairs who see me as a renegade and a rebel. My only goal is to teach people about Buddhism while building temples like this that function as community centers. From here we can provide irrigation to the surrounding fields.”

“But won’t they attack us here?”

“Ah-chan, it is far too public and the poor farmers would rise up in revolt. They don’t want that. They hope to unsettle us and pick us off one by one, exposing our weaknesses, uncertainties and vulnerabilities and making us look foolish in the eyes of the local people. Luckily I have devoted followers like you and Ren to help me.”

Wood statue of Kūkai. Japan

  “It is the Bodhisattva work,” said Ren with a contented sigh. “It is what drew me to you from the beginning.”

“Meeting all sentient beings in streets and intersections. Teaching and transforming all regardless of means or philosophy.”

“Magic and the stars,” said Altair.

Ren glared at him.

“We are endowed with wonder working power and miraculous transformations,” said Gyoki, “so in that sense you are right. It is like magic to the common people. You are both learned in song, dance, music and narratives, the best way to reach the heart of these farmers. You enchant them to hope for more and reach for the stars.”

Gyoki came across and took both Altair and Ren’s hands in his. Energy vibrated through Altair’s arms, into his heart and down his legs into the soles of his feet which tingled crazily as they connected with the earth.

“I have a surprise for you both. Kūkai-san will visit us here soon to pray for the farmers to be free from natural disasters and sickness. You will both meet him personally.”

He looked at Altair with a twinkle in his eye.

“To help the poor, the women and children of this world, you need to find magic in the simple things, songs and symbols, dance and stories, enchantments of the heart. Perhaps one day you two will meet again in this place in another life and learn how to bring this same magic in stories and song to the entire world.”

Altair was speechless. Ren closed her eyes and stayed very still as if in deep prayer and then bowed very low. Altair followed suit.

When he raised his head his heart was thumping hard and a presence of great power, both beyond human and very deeply human, seemed to surround him in the mists. He was back at Koya-san, his pack on his back, his body pointing in the direction of the temple complex again, shivering as if to shake the earth with a coldness that was almost overpowering.

It didn’t take Altair long to find his accommodation. The lodgings were in the east wing of the temple looking out over a valley and a forest. The woman who met him in the genkan or entryway was expecting him and was very polite. She showed him to his room which was extremely quiet and apart from those on retreat with him, who were mostly Japanese, Altair saw very few other foreigners. The retreat was conducted in total silence and at the end he was bursting to share with someone but his Japanese language ability was too limited. On the way back to his room he passed a woman in dark sunglasses with a shaved head. She claimed she was German but looked more Indian and introduced herself as Shanti. He wasn’t sure what to make of her as she looked at him intensely with bright sparkling eyes.

“I understand you are a reader,” she said, to his great surprise as there was no way she could have known anything about him.

“Yes,” said Altair hesitantly, “I love books…”

“No, no,” she said with a laugh, “I meant a purveyor of the stars. A reader. A journeyer.”

This surprised Altair even more.

“I understand you see the stars like magic.”

Altair had never thought of it that way, so he simply nodded.

Suddenly he plucked up courage.

“Would you like to see how I do it?”

“I would like that very much.”

They had reached his room and it seemed only natural to invite her in so he did. There were no chairs so she sat on the tatami mat. He shuffled inside his pack and pulled out an old manuscript which he placed in front of her. He made tea which he poured and then sat down with her like two conspirators over a treasure map.

Ephemeris Chart

She didn’t look at the manuscript but merely said, “Ephemeris, and an old one at that.”

“Yes,” said Altair, “Suzie, my friend, gave it to me before I left for Japan. I’ve been studying it.”

“Do you know how to interpret it?”

“Yes, well, er, no, I kind of just feel it, like energy patterns.”

“Do you know anything about Vedic or Hindu astrology?”


“Well, you will, and a lot, one day. You are a moon seer.”

“How can you tell?” Altair was perplexed by Shanti.

“We are made of the stuff of stars,” said Shanti. “We navigate by the stars and astrology was the original science devised by ancients in order to understand the structure and movement of the universe. Spiritual cultures like Egypt, Babylonia, India, China and Mexico were founded on the cornerstone of astrology. Even social systems derived from it as in the rule of sun and moon kings and queens. Our birth chart is a mirror of our soul and its particular incarnation. It gives us the keys to the inner unfoldment of spirit.”

Shanti picked up the manuscript.

“So how do you read the energy patterns without a book or teacher to help you?”

“When I make my mind still by breathing in the central spine like Yogananda taught me then patterns become clear in my mind like a matrix. They look like energy grids, sparkling paths of the soul which appear like pictures connecting one to another in my mind.”

“Could I ask you to read mine?”

“What would you like to know?” asked Altair.

“Ask what I am supposed to be doing in this life, now, right at this moment?”

Altair found the page in the manuscript corresponding to the date that Shanti gave him. He knew he would not be able to see her rising sign immediately so just focused on the planets in the signs and let his mind go still. He closed his eyes and relaxed. Instantly a wheel, turning slowly, came into his mind’s eye as if he was seeing into a miniature picture of the cosmos when Shanti was born through a circular window. The stars and the planets formed a complicated pattern that slowly took shape like a mandala with light, color and sound. Altair watched it closely until it settled and he could see the configurations.

Altair looked closely at Shanti. It was as if both of them were caught in a trance.

“You are a healer and an artist, a dancer. You wanted to have children but couldn’t. Your totem is an elephant and you practice yoga daily, especially pranayama. Someone close to you has just died which is why you are here. You are a leader and will receive an inheritance on return. You are writing a book which is what you are supposed to be doing right now.”

“How did you know?”

“The way I see it, the planets are relay stations for the reception and transmission of stellar energies. They bring to us the forces of the cosmos itself. So I see planets in particular positions when you were born as portals, and open myself up to the energy of those portals in their signs, where the signs are like rulers of cosmic forces that originate from the stars. These forces determine the nature of the time in which we live and because we are so focused on the personal events in our lives we miss the great powers altogether. Like hungry fish pursuing prey, we are not deeply aware of the ocean or its current and flow. All I shared with you is what I see when I open up the portals and read the symbols as they flow through by tuning into the current of the ocean.”

“Thank you,” said Shanti, “for where I am now that was unbelievably accurate.”

Instead of leaving Shanti stayed sitting and pondering. Then she said, “Can I ask you for one more thing?”

Altair nodded.

“Today I went for a Shingon initiation. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, I just went and did it. Can you tell me what you see? You may be able to shed some light on my true name and the path I am meant to follow.”

“No problem,” said Altair with a touch too much bravado as he felt the flow of cosmic forces enter him. It was easier now, as he had found before when he did a series of readings for his friends all in a row. Strange things somehow just manifested.

“I can see you already,” grinned Altair as if he was watching a movie. “You are in a line with many others. Blindfolded. A monk is giving you a flower to hold. You are being led to a mandala. It is shaped like a…”

Altair hesitated before continuing. “A Diamond…”

“The Diamond Realm,” confirmed Shanti.

“The Diamond Realm,” repeated Altair as if he were singing a refrain in a song with her.

“The flower is landing on a figure, a Buddha, the one you have the deepest karmic connection with, a woman, with 1000 arms.”

  “Senju-kannon,” said Shanti with a sigh.

Altair looked at her expectantly.

“Remarkable,” said Shanti. “I couldn’t hope for better confirmation. Do you know who you are?”

“Watashi wa jinsei ni tsuite benkyo shite imasu,” said Altair.

  “A student studying on the path of life,” said Shanti, translating the Japanese. “And a Naga.”

“Naga?” It was the first time Altair had heard this name.

“I have met only one before. A woman. An energy worker like you. In Canada. She could read a person’s body and diagnose them for all manner of ailments. A Naga is a manifestation of some aspect of the cosmos. Enormous responsibility and significant powers or siddhis come along with being a Naga so you must be tremendously careful. It will appear you do magic to other human beings. Patanjali was thought to be a manifestation of the Naga of eternity. Naga is an ancient energy so guard it well. A Naga can cross the place between worlds with remarkable ease and hear immortal whisperings in the ether. You are incredibly innocent, almost naive, so be careful who you trust and help. You will make many mistakes I am sure but that is all part of the path and must be cherished.”

Shanti reached into her pocket and took out a tiny charm.

“This is for you. Keep it safe.”

“I will,” said Altair and looking closely he saw the woman he had seen in his vision, Guan Yin, embossed in gold in a tiny oval locket. “Thank you.”

He slid it into the manuscript.

Shanti got up and went to the door. She turned one last time and bowed low with a look of deep serenity written across her face.

“Where are you off to next?” said Shanti. “India?”

“China,” said Altair, “on a scholarship.”

“I think not,” said Shanti, with a most bemused expression on her face. Then she quickly gathered herself. “Sorry, I have no idea why I said that. I just have a hunch. I hope you find success with whatever you do.



Ancient Chinese Bronze Gild Kwan Yin Guan Yin Boddhisattva Head Bust Statue on Aliexpress.com – Alibaba Group

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists
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‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 3 – Eden – Altair Shyam

Buddha Cat by Artist Kathy Morton Stanion @ EBSQ


Chapter 3 – Eden

  Altair had no easy time adjusting to this new information. To be told one can heal is one thing but to know that he was able to call Beings from another Star to visit is quite another. Altair knew his path lay between stars and magic. He just didn’t know quite how that would come about yet. 

  Altair didn’t get time to worry about that for long as there were school days to fill with music and art and books. His favorites, now placed with honor alongside Autobiography of a Yogi and the Kybalion, were Lord of the Rings, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Michener’s The Drifters. 

  Before three years were up he had mastered a number of instruments and was about to start his first band. That band had a lot of fans, especially young girls, one of whom was AD. She was in a gang of some notoriety and that was when all the trouble started. 

  “One evening we were messing with ouija board just for fun,” she told Altair amidst hysterical tears, “and the glass started moving of its own accord. It was possessed!” She continued sobbing. “The glass spelt out one of our names. It totally freaked us out so we smashed the glass. Woke up the neighbors who thought we were having a fight. That’s when it happened. To Carl. He’s in the Mad Ave gang too. So on his way home he hit a telephone pole. Not another car on the whole street. He’s in hospital.”

  “What sort of car?”

  “His dad’s! So his family found out and now they’re real mad at all of us. They think we caused it. They don’t know how awful we feel!

  So the rest of us were in a fix then, coz we thought this thing must be coming for us. And sure enough, Alan, that’s Carl’s friend, he tried to steal the church’s offertory one Sunday after mass and the cops came and he got arrested.”

  “So what did you do?”

  “It got worse,” AD took a heavy breath and her head slumped. “John, is in critical care.”

  “Were you with him?” John was AD’s boyfriend. 

  “Yes,” was all AD could say and the tears kept flowing down her cheeks and wouldn’t stop. 

  “I’m next,” AD said finally. “John took an overdose and I’m next.”

  AD was Samoan and came from a large family of Catholics. Psychic experiences were the norm rather than the exception. But black magic was black magic. Altair knew AD’s family would have frowned on her excursions into Ouija boards. She would not get any support from them. Suddenly a strong conviction came over him. He felt Master R.’s words weaving through and dispelling AD’s fear. Healing, casting out demons, freeing people by giving them faith. 

  “You’ll be OK,” said Altair. “And if you get frightened again come back and I’ll see if I can help you.” He told AD what the Master had promised he would be able to do. 

  “Healing? I want to learn that too. There’s so much I want to do. I don’t want to die! I’m too young! We only did the Ouija board as a joke. We never meant to cause anyone any harm! You’re such a good person. Why did I ever get mixed up in this?” AD managed to calm down after lots of breathing. 

  “You’ll be OK.”

  She nodded and left. 

  Altair was convinced AD would be fine but he had the feeling this wasn’t the end of it. 

  That night when he was alone he said his prayers and sat down to do his daily meditation. Since reading Yogananda’s book he had started the lessons with Self Realization Foundation and he was also practicing Alchemy through the lessons of Builders of the Adytum. This gave a strong foundation for the feeling he had that his path to the stars and magic was unfolding surely and clearly. He had also began a study of both Eastern and Western astrology so on this night he was contemplating how to unify these philosophies and practices. 

  Remembering what Yogananda had said about divine consciousness and being receptive to what the divine sends you, or doesn’t, Altair focused his mind on meditation, prayer and alchemy and the symbols of the stars. He found that if he truly relaxed with awareness by practicing the AUM technique and breathing calmly, new visions and insights would come. 

  Tonight the only message he received was to go to sleep. AD was on his mind. Her fear and worry whirled round in his mind like a playground roundabout. He found if he didn’t avoid it but embraced it like a warm cuddly cat then its energy would shift and he could appreciate its angles and glimpse its deeper meaning for both AD and himself. So he decided to go to sleep. 

  He was no sooner asleep then a shaft of light brighter than the sun struck his room and he awoke to a radiant presence. The majestic Light poured from an eternal Source blazing and blinding him. It sent a thrill through his body of something far beyond anything he had known, heralding the arrival of someone who was always there for him, a powerful presence and joy he had always felt since a baby when Mother Adamson and his own mother Mary had first whispered the words “baby Jesus” to him. That same deep thrill filled his heart with joy as Jesus appeared in the room, radiating the dazzling light of the Christ Consciousness from his Sacred Heart and said to him 

Jeshua by Glenda Green

  “Be healed according to your faith”


  “By the power of Christ begone”

  In that moment and forever more Altair knew that he would never fear death or demons or the world of the Dark because the Light that shone on the darkness was so much greater. 

  Altair sank back into his bed with a sigh and fell immediately into a deep sleep. 

Several days later, with much coming and going, friends visiting and relatives dropping by, there came an evening when his parents were out helping a family of Cambodian refugees, charity work they had all done for years. His mother Mary received the Queen’s medal for her service to several hundred Cambodian families in placing them in jobs and houses in the community so a sudden trip to help someone in need was not out of the ordinary. The house was empty which seemed scarcely possible. Altair was sitting on the sofa when there was a knock at the door. 


  AD could barely get up the grey steps and through the double doors. She looked like she was weighed down with a burden. As she came through the door Altair noticed a slight shift in the air, as if something ominous was attaching itself to AD. 

  “It’s got hold of me,” said AD as she sunk down into the sofa. 

  “What is it?” said Altair even though he felt he knew. 

  “A demon,” said AD and slumped even lower, her hair falling forwards and her face sinking into her hands. She began to cry. Big whale tears the size of olives welled up and stalked down her cheeks. “Do you know why it is harming us?”

  Altair didn’t know but he could guess. The Agents of the Dark were cunning and manipulative. They bred on fear and vulnerability and loved to meddle. They preyed on young people who exposed themselves to the unknown through drugs or black magic without knowing what they were dealing with. They were insidious and deadly dangerous. 

  “Lie down,” said Altair. “I can help you. Close your eyes.”

   AD sighed and lay down. Her face was damp with sweat and her eyes were glazing over. Altair looked at AD. She was lying very still. He placed his hands on her forehead to begin. He had no real idea of what to do. Just follow his heart and trust in Jesus. 

   AD’s breath was very shallow. It began to follow an uneven pattern with ragged gasps. Altair moved one of his hands from her forehead to her heart. 

   Then he said in a very loud voice. 

   “By the power of Christ, begone!”

   AD shuddered. Her body tightened as if she were going to have a fit, her breath came in gasps and her eyes closed tighter in pain. 

   Altair cried aloud again,

  “By the power of Christ, begone!”

  AD’s body began to spasm. She frothed at the mouth. The room filled with dark wild shapes and sounds that created confusion and fear. 

  Altair stayed steadfast and said a third time in a commanding voice, 

 “By the power of Christ, begone!”

 AD gave a fearful cry, groaned and was still. 

 Above Altair’s head there was a burst of light and for an instant he could see the radiant face of Jesus. Tears of gratitude filled his eyes and he remained for long moments with his hands on AD’s forehead and heart before removing them. 

 AD had sunk into a deep sleep. She didn’t wake for nearly an hour and a half and when she did she looked at Altair with soft, comprehending eyes. 

 “Thank you,” was all she could say. “It’s gone.”

 Then she left. She was never bothered by demons or evil spirits again. 

 That night Altair lay in the comfort of his bed in the east wing of the house. It was a bitter night with heavy clouds, swirling winds and driving rain. 

  Suddenly something hurtled out of the dark and struck his window. It sent his heart into a flutter of shock. He got up to peer out of his window into the darkness. It was like a sharp pain, buzzing and murderous, trying to fill his head with confusion and fear. As his sleepy eyes adjusted he saw it. A face, black, angry and furiously trying to get in the window. It scratched and clawed on the smooth glass. It was so monstrously angry Altair thought it would break the glass. It had two gaping holes for eyes and a twisted malevolent mouth. It saw Altair and Altair saw it. And in that moment he spoke. 

  “By the power of Christ, begone!”

  And with a flash of light burning bright in the darkness like magnesium set to a flame the creature vanished with a howl.

Etheric Flight by Sheranda Ann Kumara – See Link below

  Of all the colleges in the Sky City the largest was Sacre Couer. It was built around a mountain and was coveted for its sports fields and its musical heritage. The Chapel was at its center, and not far from there Brother Stephen could be found narrating stories of heroes in Latin. Beyond his rooms was the library and it was here that Altair’s parents had invested their money to help fund research. The money was used to buy books for the astronomical and astrophysics wing, the subjects after Altair’s own heart. As a center for sports and music there was no equal and Altair loved to boast of it to his friends from other schools. He regarded his teachers as being of little help or consequence except for Mr Lake, the English and literature teacher, whose interest in Altair led to him many years later publishing his first best seller. 

  Altair was more concerned with his path between magic and the stars, as well as playing rugby on Saturdays, flute on Tuesdays and tennis with his father at every other opportunity. Rugby he loved for its speed as Altair could run as fast as the wind and became the top try scorer in that year’s competition. Flute he loved for the smell of his teacher’s perfume and because every flute player seemed to be a girl. Tennis, well both his dad and Mum had been tennis champions so it seemed only proper to continue their legacy. As for magic and the stars, he had to let those come to him in their own time and way. And so they did. Because after AD came Grace. 

  Altair was searching for Eden one day. He liked nothing better than frolicking in nature through gardens and roses and sweet spring flowers. In many ways he was a true poet. He loved the call of the wild, to get lost in the call, to let the caller and the called disappear. This was true surrender to the powers of creation within. And who better to do it with than Grace, an exquisite elfin creature that his best friend introduced him to at a party and whom for the rest of the summer he would spend every hour with, climbing hills to seek splendor, weaving pussy willow through each other’s hair, racing through fields of long grass where the paspalum stuck to their clothes and they would pick them off afterwards one by delicious one, and dancing through the night. 

  Altair was unaware that beneath the surface of his world the politics of fear were stirring, because he was enveloped by the innocence and charm of love at play in his heart. 

    Altair faced three enemies in his battle for a path between the stars and magic. The first was the bullies. On certain occasions, for example, Desmond, whom he had infuriated in Grade 6 for revealing who had actually thrown a rock through the Headmaster’s window when the whole school was about to get punished, would chase him round and round the paddocks and fields of the outer school with a promise to beat Altair up if he caught him. He never did. Desmond was big and heavy and used to beating up kids which was not a habit Altair wished to encourage, least of all when that punishment was directed at him. He was grateful to Desmond however, as he learned how to run very fast, and build incredible stamina, two factors which helped him compete in the Sky City athletics competitions at a very high level. Altair was not unused to bullies. At elementary school an undertaker’s son named Perry helped build his initial speed by chasing him around and around the elementary school opposite his house, merely for the fun and games of it. Altair was also grateful to Perry, because in one of those circuits he met his first girlfriend, Linda, from Canada Ontario, who was also a speedster and accompanied him on one of his escape routes and then on their first date which was to race each other to her home. Perry’s bullying days ended when one of the St Joseph nuns caught him terrorizing the kids and held his head underwater when the class next went swimming until he promised to stop his errant ways. Such were the old ways of discipline. Force met with force.

Lord Krishna

The next enemy Altair could not outrun. They were the Brothers, earthly Agents of the Dark, whom he called The Inquisitors. Altair was forced to attend classes he often loathed and as good fortune would have it, because he was bright, he was put on individualized programs in which he taught himself, and so had little if anything to do with The Inquisitors except on exam day. Inquisitors were known for their particularly cruel methods of punishment for children. Of course there was the strap, the cane, and the wallop, during which the Master of Discipline would force you to bend over and then hit your bottom with such force you would collide with the opposite wall and bang your head. Altair received one of these for whispering to his friend in assembly that the Master actually did do this heinous act, because no one ever saw him do it, there were no hidden video cameras or iphones and everyone was too scared to say. But there were equally devious and manipulative methods of control used by other Masters such as Hang-glider. He was known for his big ears. If you spoke in his class he would come and drag you out by the ear and then yank and pull vigorously on your ear with such force that your ears would ring and you would get a headache and you would have to promise not to do it again. There was also the notorious Golden Ruler. This was a Master who wielded a particularly hard ruler that if you were not paying attention he would come and force you to lay your hand on the desk and rap your knuckles so hard that bruises would come and he would watch until tears came. The Inquisitors were Masters of Torture, sadistic and twisted and unfortunately there were far too many of them for one kid to deal with. The exact opposite was Peeps, a mild-mannered Brother who was famous for having absolutely zero control of any class and so the class did what they wanted for the entire year of Grade 9 and learned exactly nothing. Altair’s class used to fly paper aeroplanes and launch innumerable objects, a hobby Peeps grew so tired of that one day he said to everyone, “OK, if you want to fight, go ahead and fight, outside!”  So the class did, and they all went outside and had a ding dong fight and one of the bullies Tozer, ganged up with his mates against the friend that Altair was coaching in maths, Martin, laid into him and broke his arm. That was the last day Altair ever saw Peeps.

The most difficult enemy to deal with was the Dark itself sent to plunder human consciousness through the forces of fear and ignorance and innumerable distractions. The demons tried to invade Altair’s world through Claude who had been besieged by demons since birth, and Julianna who had attracted a demon onto her property so that it lurked around her house, and Lisbeth, who unfortunately had built her house near a graveyard and incurred the wrath of local spirits who became increasingly angry and moved and smashed objects in her house. All these Altair could help by using the same words Jesus had given him to cast out demons and liberate spirits and in the case of the warriors, as it had been an ancient battlefield, he went and had a chat and they compromised. Lisbeth moved house and the warriors never disturbed anyone again. Such was Altair’s life and he would never wish for another as his life was far too interesting and unexpected and filled with adventure and love and mystery.

Then Grace vanished.

It happened after a summer holiday in which everything was sheer delight and perfection. The flowers could not have been rosier, and the beach could not have been more romantic. The hills were rolling and alive and the grasses they cavorted in were surely planted for them alone to hide in and kiss and share secrets. As with all holidays and young lovers the joy also had to include going to school and keeping in touch and promising to return every holiday as they lived in different islands and so they parted with every good intention. And Altair sent her letters every day.

With none in return.

First there was disbelief, then disappointment, then grief. It was like an arm or a leg had been cut off. A part of his life snatched away. And his heart hurt so badly. He was like a ship with no anchor or an adventurer with no compass. Stars and magic no longer seemed to have quite the same allure.

  So it was that days went by with no love or stars or magic. Until the visit.

  Altair had been deeply devoted all this time to Alchemy on the one hand and meditation and yoga on the other. He would get up every morning to practice for 2 hours and the same in the evening. He used the family’s second lounge, would shut himself away with their two cats, Milligan and Ziggy, who would curl up, one at his feet and one on his lap, and away he would go, deep into worlds beyond this one. He found that by following Yogananda’s instructions exactly, all the experiences of the Masters would manifest just as Yogananda had said, and at the same time, while following the practices of Alchemy to the letter, equally wondrous worlds would be revealed in his consciousness for him to explore.

  So he could hardly have expected what came next.

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  One thing that Altair noticed as he deepened his practice was that ideas began to manifest in reality. Dreams would come true. He would think about someone and they would call. He would dream about a package arriving with a particular gift and a few days later it would appear unexpectedly in the post. Very simple things. Nothing to boast about. Everyone has these. But the frequency was increasing.

  Meditations were the same. Altair wrote in his diary.

  ‘Diary of A Yogi’

  “They begin like any normal meditation, deluged by disobedient thoughts and rebellious ideas. A stormy mind with a spirit as wild and free as a young horse. Then calmness, as if the ocean waves subsided all at once and a vast presence, radiant and alive, was lapping at my consciousness. Then the breath, unceasing and endless would stop and would be drawn out of my lungs and another breath would take its place, one in which I was not the breather. My sense of self would move outwards, into the room, the street, the world and stars, so that the people and the stars moved as one with my consciousness. I could see the phenomenal whirling of the planets and fiery spheres as well as feel them all melting into one luminous sea. Joy would fill my soul, and continue unabated until I would drag my consciousness back to this mortal coil. God as Bliss, God as Light, God as Love, these were realities within the infiniteness of my Being. Worlds upon worlds throughout the cosmos were at play within my Being. The heavenly realm was made manifest in my heart. The nectar of immortality, amrita, flowed through my Being. The Voice of God resounded as Om throughout, just as I had heard when I was two year old child. To have an experience of cosmic consciousness like this was a priceless gift, my heart would swell with deepest gratitude. I could see how the sacred breath and mindfulness were the key to calming the ocean and how the perception of the One Light in the Shared Heart arose from this. As I dipped into silence daily, with my guru Yogananda filling my heart with the Light of God, deep devotional bhakti and regular yoga practice had prepared my mind and heart for omnipresence. The force of God attracted me like a bee to honey.”

  After these meditations Altair would go immediately to bed and sleep deeply. On this one particular night he awoke with a sudden start. A bright light filled the room. There standing in front of Altair was Master, Yogananda. Tears filled Altair’s eyes.


  “Master,” was all Altair could muster.

  “It is time to make a choice,” said Yogananda, looking straight at Altair. “You have been following the path of meditation and alchemy. In order to go deeper you need to choose only one.” Then he gave Altair a most magnanimous smile and disappeared.

  In the morning Altair took the winding path beside the pohutukawa tree to Suzie’s door. He hoped she would understand. 

  The door opened as he stood on the top step wondering just how he should say it. 

 Suzie’s beautiful face was framed in the doorway. 

 “I thought it might be you,” she said.

 “I had a vision.” Altair’s heart was beating. “Yogananda came to me. He said I could only choose one path. I need to follow him. I…I have to stop. The lessons. The Alchemy.”

 Suzie smiled that beneficent smile Altair loved so much. She always made him feel warm no matter the occasion. 

 “I thought it might come to that,” she said. “Some are more suited to this way and some more suited to that. You have always struck me as a Yogi.”

 Altair nodded not sure what else he could say. 

 “You may find you will come back to it, in time,” said Suzie. “All that you have ever wanted, or looked for, is here now.”

The Guru Lineage @ The Self Realization Fellowship – Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar


“Outward longings drive us from the Eden within; they offer false pleasures which only impersonate soul-happiness. The lost paradise is quickly regained through divine meditation. As God is unanticipatory Ever-Newness, we never tire of Him. Can we be surfeited with bliss, delightfully varied throughout eternity?” (Sri Yukteswar to Yogananda)


Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists




Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yogananda by Soulstice Creation @ DeviantArt


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‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 2 – Zahore by Altair Shyam

Goddess Saraswati by Vimala Jajoo @ Fine Art America


Chapter 2 – Zahor

Altair woke and seeing his mother Mary’s laughing face, began to laugh too. Mary pretended to hide and every time she reappeared it made Altair laugh harder, until he laughed so hard that he got hiccups. 

  She made soft shooshing noises patting him gently on the back, until he burped up the air and lay back in her arms with an angelic demeanor. 

  Mary and Altair were besotted with each other. Everything about the other was perfect and delightful. 

  “Time to sleep little darling. I shouldn’t have woken you sweetheart.”

  Altair was the son of a hospital manager and a hospital matron. At just two years old he began to lucid dream which frightened him out of his wits. He had the same dream, night after night for an entire year, a dream in which he was a monk on a bridge, falling off into a chasm. The dream always ended the same way, with an enchanted sound, like Om. Altair was a very curious, gentle child with a sleight build not unlike a Yogi and curly brown hair which made him look like Apollo, a nickname his elementary school teachers called him. The school lay directly opposite his house. He had many good friends but he was happiest gazing into the stars and so he wrote to NASA when he was five years old asking to be an astronaut on the first one way trip to Alpha Centauri which he had noticed was the closest star to where he was now. NASA responded by inviting Altair to join them when he was eighteen which only encouraged him to go deeper into researching the planets and the stars for signs of life, a habit which would pay dividends many years later when he bumped into a real extraterrestrial being. 

Apollo Greek God by ArcosArt

  Like every star child, Altair managed to find exactly who he needed to at exactly the right time in his life, while he went about the daily tasks of eating and sleeping, going to school and doing his homework. When he was thirteen the blessing in his life was Suzie and he recognized her by a blue light that shone around her. The blue light appeared in front of him every time a truth or important sign post, which I call a Light Post, or significant person would appear. A Light Post is a sign on your path that you really should not miss, a sign that you have deliberately planted upon agreement with that person or truth so that you would know them when you met them. Suzie was in her twenties, tall, goddess-like, with golden-red hair that shone like spun gold. She wore her hair long and smiled with a radiance that would have shattered the heaviest darkness. She was graceful and assured and loved to hear Altair play the flute. “Do you like Mozart?” she would ask, which of course was Altair’s favorite composer and “Won’t you stay for tea?” she would insist, once they had finished playing a duet, with Suzie on her baroque recorder. 

  From the first time he met Suzie, Altair was convinced she was an alchemist or magician. He tried to ignore it, but some of the goings on at the house next door, which was where Suzie lived, were far too mysterious to put aside for long. One day Altair was stricken by a strange illness. It felt like a fever that did not belong to him, as if he were bearing the burden of some forgotten time or place. “What’s wrong?” said Suzie when she saw him, crossing the road from the school playground, pale as a church mouse. “Something has got hold of me,” said Altair despairingly, “and I can’t shake it!” He looked downcast. Suzie just smiled one of her radiant smiles. “Never you mind. Go and have a short nap. Close the door and make sure you are not disturbed. Think of me. I will be with you.” Altair went and did as she had told him. From the moment his head hit the pillow a most curious sensation overwhelmed him. Colors of the rainbow began moving up his body, caressing his skin, beginning with the soles of his feet. As the Rainbow Body surrounded him he was transported to a garden, where he lay in repose, barely breathing, as the Circles of Light softly nurtured and healed him. He could hear Suzie’s voice, or someone that sounded like her, gently soothing and easing away all the aches and pains. “Zahor” the voice intoned. He drifted away as if he were a feather on a breeze, riding on God’s breath. The next sound he heard was his mother’s voice. “Altair, Altair, are you alright?” He opened his eyes feeling his body as he scanned it top to toe. Not one ache, pain or feverish complaint remained. 

  Altair and his brothers and sisters lived a short walk from the beach front, some distance from the great city, and contented themselves with boats and boat races. The city stood with a great tower, which was like a castle in the sky and so was called Sky City. Altair lived opposite the Convent, or so it was known, as it housed the Sisters of St Joseph, who went daily about their holy business, which included giving Altair piano lessons and striking his knuckles with a holy ruler when he struck the keys with lazy fingers. Altair’s house, known as The Railway Station, because all manner of creatures from humans to dogs and ducks converged there, bordered on a stream with trout and that backed on to an orchard with horses, where they could ride if they asked politely, and pinch apples and oranges from the neighbors trees if they didn’t ask at all. Altair and his brother built forts down the back, hidden in the trees, and waged wars with the neighboring boys, which on one unfortunate occasion ended with his brother being blinded, temporarily mind you, on account of a vicious grapefruit thrown smack in his eye. Altair’s heart missed a beat that day. He loved his brother Simon dearly. Altair and his brother were reckless. They climbed icy mountains in gumboots and shorts, made counterfeit money to fool the local green grocer, and crafted makeshift rafts to steal aboard luxury yachts in the harbor to have private parties with their friends. In a manner of speaking they felt for all the world like pirates and adventurers, wiling to take what treasure and captives came their way, and sail into the wide blue yonder. 

  Altair enjoyed his life by the sea. For the most part, to an external observer, he appeared to be a boy attending middle school, but to the inward witness he was a detective following a trail. A path to the stars and beyond. 

  Altair became so interested in the stars that Suzie introduced him to a world-famous astrologer called Richard. Altair’s ears pricked up when she first offered to take him for a visit. Suzie had so many unusual friends. The sisters Ruth and Gabrielle on the other side of her house who had statues of Say Baba that bled oil and gold dust they called vibhuti or sacred ash. The old friend Graham who looked rather like a warlock, whose entire life had been foretold in a book of leaves named The Book of Bhrigu. Whenever Suzie asked Altair to accompany her he would put down whatever he was doing and sit at her side and listen intently to the tales of magic from around the world. So when he sat in front of Richard he was most surprised to hear this famed oracle pronounce “You have the makings of a famous astrologer” and then go on to tell Altair all he already knew about the fragile world of a thirteen year old and a lot more besides. Altair never had the aim of being rich. He was content with finding happiness and passing on what he could to other people. He knew he was lucky because a luck dragon had breathed on him early on in life and charms and treasures literally would fall in his lap. If he had known of the Chintamani Stone, and he would, when he was lucky enough to be given one, many years later, out of the heart of a statue of the Goddess of Compassion Guan Yin, he might have been persuaded to use “wish-fulfilling jewel” as a nickname, but that was something most thirteen year old boys didn’t bother themselves about. 

 Altair’s path, as he would later find out, lay between the stars and magic. Suzie would introduce him to both of these, most unexpectedly, and all at once. 

  The path of magic, he was to find, lay just over the fence and down the winding path past the pohutukawa tree resplendent with crimson blossoms like toothbrush bristles and up a single flight of steps to Suzie’s library set among musical instruments and paintings of tarot keys and the tree of life. The Alchemist herself was working on the blueprint for the philosophers stone on this particular day, the pattern on the trestleboard and the Kybalion which is how Altair first learned The Seven Principles of Alchemy. In between these tasks she was bringing up her daughter and attending to daily matters of the household, which included keeping an eye on the family debt, incurred through the wayward hands of her gambling husband. To make ends meet, the Alchemist was sewing elegant garments for wealthy clients, and the chitter chatter of the spool of thread on the winding bobbin was the noise that greeted Altair as he entered. 

  “I want to learn magic!” Altair burst out, unable to contain himself any longer. 

  Suzie got up slowly from her seat and walked over to the library. 

 “I’ve been waiting a long time for you to ask,” she said, pulling two books from the library and handing them to Altair. 

  The first book had the most gracious face Altair had ever seen staring out from the cover. 

  “Who is this?” he said pointing to the godly person in orange robes. 

  “Yogananda,” said Suzie as if Altair should know. 

  “A Yogi.”

  That simple word sent shivers up and down Altair’s spine. 

  “The other book is The Kybalion. It opens the door to all the forces that govern the universe. Mastery of those forces enables you to do Alchemy and become an Alchemist.”

  Altair looked at the small book in black with gold inscription on the cover and a symbol of a triangle with three concentric circles as its seal. 

 “Borrow them, for as long as you like,” said Suzie. 

 “Then come and ask him some questions,” she said, pointing to the door.

 ‘Him?’ Did Suzie mean Michael, her gambling husband? Altair felt a growing excitement as he turned to go, walking towards the door of the library, clutching the two books in his hand. 

 Perhaps she’d been joking, and she’d meant Richard the astrologer, he was far more interesting and more likely to be able to answer some of the questions Altair wanted to ask. Perhaps he was through the door.

 Altair stopped and stared. By the time he reached the door of the library he felt his hairs on the nape of his neck stand on end as he was walking into a crowd of people he didn’t recognise. He was blindfolded with semi-transparent silk and holding a staff and the crowd on either side of him were staring at him, willing him to go on. 

 Now Altair was nervous. He looked for Suzie and to his relief he noticed her, dressed in a white tunic, he knew it was her by her long golden-red hair. But when she looked at him her eyes were a deep green, like emerald, rather than her usual hazel color. 

Rainbow Blue Green Pyramid @ Philip Noyed

 The pyramid, for that is what it was, was lit by Dendera lamps, which illuminated the inner temple and the faces of what looked like priests and priestesses, although the main altar must have been hidden in darkness. The people lined the route to the altar and in front there was a beautiful carved throne. Altair paused at the edge of the crowd as a large man appeared from the shadows and came forward to meet him. A ripple of anticipation ran through the crowd as he threw a powdery substance into the air. Altair felt light-headed as a series of visions unfolded in front of him. An ocean, a garden, a palace, three lovers. The man was tall and bald and round-faced with an air of mystique. He wore a simple white tunic with a gold band around his waist and he was naked from the waist up with two serpentine rings encircling each arm. Altair recognised the aura the man gave off. It was someone used to wielding power, a lord, a pharaoh or a king.

 “That’s Master R, whom some call St. Germain,” whispered the voice of the woman who looked like Suzie, now beside him. “You can take your blindfold off now.”

 Master R began to speak in a low rumbling voice.

 “Welcome initiates of the Holy Temple. We’ve come here to listen and see. All of you who walk the path of pathlessness have lost something or someone dear to them to get here. Even if that is your self. We are under no illusions. The path from the dark places to the light requires great courage, perseverance and resilience. 

 We have in front of us a new initiate who like all of us is also an Old One. His name is Altair Shyam and he is being sought by the Dark. By the forces of ignorance and separation. He is in our care now and it is up to us to guide him with love and wisdom.”

Pamela Matthews Visionary Artist – Grail Graphics St Germain

 Altair felt his face go hot and his palms begin to tingle. He wanted to hide. He turned to Suzie for reassurance. 

  “To bring about great change we need to take big actions,” continued Master R. “The Dark is rising and the forces of ignorance are sweeping this world which in its turn opens portals to the ignorance of other worlds. We don’t know which way the tide will turn. All we do know is that if we don’t take immediate action the opus on love will cease its writing. 

  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We know that in as much as we have great Masters throughout our earth’s history, Source Messengers who have guided us, we also have equally powerful Agents of the Dark, who infiltrate our religions and governments and security forces to breed fear, divisive views and hatred. We know it’s going on, we see it and we are now in a better place than in all our human history to do something about it on a global level. 

  For every decision there is a price, a sacrifice. I am suggesting that we take a united stand and fill the corridors of power with young people like Altair, Angels of the Light, who are willing to stand and speak up and fight for peace and love and light.”

  There was a murmur, then a roar of approval from the crowd, the roar turning into a clamor which shook the foundations of Altair’s world. The walls of the pyramid shook and the capstone of the pyramid appeared to fall inwards, collapsing the whole structure in upon itself. Altair found the same light-headed feeling grasping at him until all at once he found himself back in the library, facing the figure now standing in front of him, silhouetted in the hallway.

  “Go ahead,” said Suzie. “Ask anything you want. He’s waiting for you. You don’t have long before he has to go.”

  Altair hesitated. The Master R was stern and yet kind, a pillar of light and also a bastion of hope. Altair held out his hand.

  “Welcome to the Family of Light,” said Master R.

  Altair felt like the sky was about to crumple and fall. The Master’s Voice was like a sound he remembered as a young toddler of two years old, the Om, rumbling like the Voice of God in a chasm.

  “Thank you,” was all Altair could manage.

  “So has Suzie here been teaching you properly?”

  “Oh yes, we play flute and recorder often.”

  “Ah, including an insight into the Rainbow Body I believe?”

  The library was a beautiful spacious room with a fireplace, laced curtains which allowed just the right amount of light in and an oval oak table with six chairs.

  Without quite knowing how, Altair found himself guided into one of the chairs with the Master R sitting at the head of the table and Suzie sitting opposite. Suzie was a beautiful distraction to the stern Master whose eyes seemed to bore into Altair’s very soul.

  Altair found a drink in front of him that he was sure wasn’t there previously. It was a nectar, warm and soothing, which he gratefully drank to settle his nerves.

  “So you fell off the bridge into a chasm,” said the Master, with no segway.


  “And you were running away from…”

  “I wasn’t running…I was charging, into a battle…for…”

  “The Dalai Lama. At Samye. Samye Monastery.”

  “Yes, I’ve known him before, many times, in different…forms…and I was in this garden…”

  “Zahor, the western gardens of Princess Mandarava’s palace in the Kingdom of Zahor.”

  “My name was…”

  “Palmo Shonu. You were sixteen when you met her.”

  “I knew astrology.”

  “You were an adept.”

  “A Saraswati initiate.”

  “Skilled in Jyotish astrology.”

  “I was Her astrologer, Princess Mandarava!”

Mandarava statue, Tsogyal Latso, Tibet

  “In the time of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, yes. You read symbols as you do now. Each person has a Light Body, a Rainbow Body that is a portal to all wisdom and understanding. It can be triggered or activated in so many ways. One of them is  by understanding and reading the symbols in the matrix of their chart.”

  Altair was swept back in time to the gardens of Zahor in an instant. It was like watching a movie running in full sensory vision in his head.

    “I remember. I was in the western gardens with many people from all parts of Zahor and beyond. There was a monk called Arnapa. People were asking him all sorts of questions but his answers only led to more confusion. So I asked him where he had trained to develop his knowledge. He took this as an insult and said a young sixteen year old girl like myself was no better than a rambling magpie. I explained that the esoteric instructions on astrology are like a wish-fulfilling jewel. That the wisdom text of Saraswati is as melodious as the sound of the vina. The composition is as beautiful as a dance of art on paper. To make contact with the Light through the Stars is to perfect transcendent primordial wisdom. It is the precious doctrine of the Buddha.”

  “He tried to belittle you,” said Suzie.

  “He was the reason Princess Mandarava noticed me. She told her mother the Queen that she wished me to be her teacher in the art of astrology. Her parents did not want a commoner to instruct her so asked a holy man to consult with them. He recognised me as a Dakini (Sky Dancer or Tantric Priestess) and said it would be good for me to stay permanently with the Princess. I was invited to the palace, became a member of her entourage and taught her everything I knew about astrology. We studied art and music and dance and magic together. I remained close to her thereafter.”

  “He made you stand up for the Light. Suffering has the potential to uncover the deepest Light. Just as you are doing now with the Brothers, the Agents of the Dark. Standing up for the rights of children in your school. Even though you are persecuted.”

  “Persecuted?” Altair had to think for a moment about what the Master R meant.

  “Yes, that same instinct that made you fight against the accusations of Arnapa is the same energy protecting you today against the Brotherhood that has infiltrated religious organizations and schools, security agencies and Hollywood celebrity circles, political groups and financial regulators as you will find out. Your rebellion comes from seeking the truth.”

  “Well, there are kids that hate the Brothers at our school and I know which ones to stay away from. There is Ape, and Hang-glider and Goldilocks, Muttonhead and Bosco, those are the nicknames we call them. They prey on kids, make them go naked to showers while they watch and pretend to be guiding kids when they are in fact fawning on them, pretending you are their favorite and then when you don’t allow them to touch you they make sure you fail your classes with them.”

  Master R nodded.

“One day I went on a walk with one of the teachers and he touched me and I said “Get away from me,” and hit his hand off my shoulder which ended up in a rose bush with thorns and he said “I will make sure you fail all my classes,” so I quit. I was so angry but didn’t know how to express it. My father and mother could not understand as that was my favorite class, physics, and I was the top student. Sadly that teacher committed suicide after his relationship with another young boy was revealed.

  On another day I was helping a friend with computer science which I was doing a scholarship for. The Principal came up and put his arm around my shoulders. I didn’t trust that Principal. I told him to stop doing that. He got angry. He told me to stop wasting my time and told me if I didn’t stop teaching others he would ensure I never became head boy. I didn’t stop teaching my friend so in that year I was the only one in the school who was not made a prefect or given a position of responsibility.

  The teacher called Ape coached a rugby team and used to watch us all in the showers. He was a creep. So I quit his team and played for the bottom team in the grade which made him real mad, especially when we won the competition in that year.

  And now I see it happening to children and women all over the world, what I experienced. The rape of children and women, physically and emotionally. I want to help.”

  “These people will meet with terrible karma and be answerable to their maker,” said the Master.

  Altair sat back against the chair and looked at Suzie. She was smiling at him, a rich, graceful smile filled with affection and kind expectation. The Master R. still had that stern look of deepest wisdom that left Altair feeling exposed.

  “Tell us how you wish to help and what it is that you see,” said Master R.

  At that the floodwaters broke. Almost as if on the Master’s command Altair’s vulnerability and his own deep wisdom was revealed as if all the veils were pulled back at once to reveal a bright day with wondrous shadows and textures.

  Altair saw wonders he could only gape and marvel at. He knew what he was seeing. The Djedhi Way.

  A Light Dolphin Isle in the Pleiades. Harvesting sea plankton in the Light Ponds of Atlantis. A Naga Serpent of Wisdom. A meeting with Krishna. Playing with Moses when he was but a babe and being an acolyte under Lady Nada in the Judaean Desert rituals. Meeting Buddha and Manjushri on the road to Sarnath. Standing at the foot of the cross looking up at Jesus with Mary Magdalene. Casting out demons. Alchemy in the Source Group of Merlin with Tareth. Meeting Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal in India and Tibet with Princess Mandarava. Doing Bodhisattva social work for Masters Kukai and Gyoki in Japan. Studying Tao and Zen under Master Huang Po. Sailing as a wayfarer from Maui. An adviser to Sakya Pandita. A Raj in Northern India. Serving the Fifth Dalai Lama as Sakya Pema, again an astrological adviser. And then with the Master R. as St. Germain before the fall off the bridge into the chasm in 1959. Then further, beyond the now, Altair saw into a time on Mt. Potalaka with Guan Yin, the astral worlds of Hiranyaloka with Yogananda and Ketumati with Maitreya.

Maharaja – The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts @ The Victoria and Albert Museum


  “It’s a continuum Altair,” said Suzie in her musical voice. “We’ve all met before.”

  “The Shared Heart,” said Master R.

  “Love,” said Altair.

  “The Golden Thread woven through all universes,” said Suzie.

  “The attractive principle,” said Master R. “The quintessential law of attraction.”

  “So why target women and children, and vulnerable young boys?”

  “The power of attraction, innocence and love, is strongest when we are young. Young and free, not bound or possessed. Sacred and pure. It takes a great deal of courage and practice to maintain that power of attraction as we get older. There are so many distractions.”

  “So if we maintain that innocence and purity, that awareness of love, we can see across worlds and into and beyond time like I did just now?”

  “Yes, that is why the Dark wants to tamper with consciousness of the young. It stops them from seeing the truth, from understanding their real power. It stops them from knowing that they are already free.”

  “Now Altair,” said Suzie, “I’m going to tell you something. The Master R. has been following the progress of many young people for a long time. People with a message. Young people like yourself.”

  Altair swallowed. He felt like someone was about to hand him an ancient text to read, a book filled with magic and infinite possibilities, stories of the stars, the realms of Gods and Goddesses, a book of Love. And with it came immense responsibility.

  “He knew about you as a child. From a baby. We knew about your visions, your dreams. We arranged for your mother to place you in the tender care of a Mother Superior.”

  “Mother Kathleen Adamson?” She had been Altair’s favorite source of all things wise for as long as he could remember. It was she who had told him he was placed under the protection of the Virgin Mary, and she who had taught him the powers of Jesus and the Archangels.

Virgin Mary and child

  “We don’t know what your parents have told you, but they don’t know the whole truth of it.”

  “You know you can cast out demons.”

  Altair was dazed.

  “You can heal.”

  “See the future.”

  “Speak to dolphins, snakes, and beings from other worlds.”

  “You can project your Self across worlds. That is how you will call Beings from other worlds to visit this planet. You can harness the Kundalini force, Shakti, completely naturally. To call the ocean to rise and help you, you have to become the ocean. The simple practice of the sacred breath and Kriya as you will find in Yogananda’s book has all you need to accomplish it.”

  “You will help thousands of people simply by sharing the power of faith. By believing in them and showing them that a 3000 year old ancient manuscript speaks from across time and space about their life path and purpose. You will awaken in them the power to be free, to go and live their true purpose.”

“This is the truth about you Altair, and so many others like you. You were not put here by accident. You chose, along with many others, to meet here, and change the world. Not just this world. But many others. You have many gifts to help others. What have you discovered?”

  “Well, there is this,” said Altair and he reached out to touch the hands of both Master R. and Suzie.

  “The Blue Light,” and the Blue Light to his amazement coursed up both his arms and into the room around them filling the old library. 

  “The Blue Pearl,” said the Master R. as it is often known is a sign of things to come. A message from other worlds. A Light from Guan Yin. Swami Muktananda described how it expanded in front of him, engulfed him and carried him to other worlds. It is a physical manifestation of the soul and contains all consciousness in it.”

  “Do you know how to use it to its fullest potential yet?” asked Suzie.

  “I have been able to see it since I was very little. It is a sign of truth. It appears whenever anyone speaks the truth or when I meet people that are an important part of my path. It appears in my head and with my eyes open. Sometimes it is a bright iridescent flash, like magnesium.”

  “It’s a truth-measure and a form of the inner Self. It contains all the different dimensions of existence,” said Master R.

  “Everyone can see it with practice,” said Suzie. “You just have a naturally developed extrasensory perception.”

  “A rare faculty,” said Master R. “to see it in one so young. Muktananda was also an adept and initiate of the Saraswati Order just like you. You have meditated a lot in this life and previous ones. With such consistency and love of meditation, Shakti, the power of the Source of All in the Universe awakes inside you. It created the outer universe and when you are still you can connect with it and it awakens within you an inner universe of bliss and happiness. As without so within. Try it now. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Breathing in, breathing out. Be still and know God. Trust your feelings, trust the Source. The energy and consciousness that flows within you flows in all things you perceive around you and outside you. As within so without. When we get our self out of the way, when we surrender to what is, the Source alone is.”

  “I see Light, everywhere. I feel the Universe flowing, everywhere. I see the Blue Pearl, everywhere.”

Swami Muktananda – Copyright Syda Foundation

  “Muktananda, like many great masters, planted the seed of awakening in you long ago, just as Yogananda did. That knowledge has kept you safe until you were old enough to use its power to help others. The Agents of the Dark are tests for you and others like you, to help restore the balance. Where there is strong light there is equally strong darkness.

  Now the churches and religions and science are moving towards unity but there is an equally strong conservative movement that wants to keep things separate and will do anything it can to stop it.

  The experiences that occur in our life path are designed to make us stronger and our choices are simply to bring us to the point of ultimate freedom. Where we can let go and embrace all that is. Life and death, love and fear, peace and suffering.

  The Blue Light and the Blue Pearl are given to us to act as beacons to awaken the Light in others.

  They are gifts, never to keep, but to uncover wisdom and lead each of us to our purpose, our true destiny.

  So keep it secret and keep it safe.

  There will come a time when you will need it to assist you on your next journey as you leave this body and it departs with you. That is the true meaning of deathlessness or immortality.”

  Altair noticed the Master R. had cupped his hands and from within his palms a beautiful blue pearl radiated with unearthly light. He folded his hands over and reached over the table and placed his hands on Altair’s. Altair felt suddenly very shy of this immensely powerful man, with his stern look and eyes which pierced to his soul.

  “It is time for me to return. You have a lot to think about and absorb. Take care Altair.”

  “Thank you,” said Altair, clutching the blue pearl to his heart with one hand and taking the two books with his other.

  Master R. and Suzie smiled.

  Altair’s mother was waiting at the side door of the house in Speight Rd when he entered.

  “You were gone a long time,” she said. “I was about to call you for tea.”

  “Sorry Mum,” said Altair. And he gave her a big hug and kissed her on the cheek before settling down to tuck into the big Lancashire Hotpot Mary had prepared for them all.

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‘Diary of a Yogi’ Chapter 1 – Samye by Altair Shyam

This portrait by Gottfried Lindauer is of Tūhoto Ariki, a renowned  Tohunga of the Tūhourangi people in Rotorua. Tūhoto was a tohunga ahurewa, a priestly expert. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.


Hi everyone, I am working on publishing my new book ‘Diary of a Yogi’. I would love you to help me by reading it as I go and giving me constructive comments. Here is the first chapter, ‘Samye’. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 – Samye

Mary pressed her jade cross close to her heart and moved through the brightening morning, taking care to keep to the trees out of sight of the early morning workers. It was surprisingly quiet. The three lines of apple trees that were heavily laden with fruit ran the length of the orchard and caught the rising sun glistening on their dew as if they were dressing themselves to get ready for the first pickers. She caught a glimpse of the Tohunga from afar, walking towards her in the light of the morning. Mary reached for an apple and looked back the other way, avoiding the glare and stepped back along the path beside the tallest tree. That way was still in the gloom and decorated with the golden lanterns inset with tiny silver candles whose flames flickered in the early morning breeze. The seats along that path were oak, not pine, and reserved for special guests who loved to stop and sip the home-made apple cider.
Mary stopped beside the first bench and touched the wood gently. It gave off an amiable scent and a warmth like a friend beckoning her to sit with them.
“Everything will be ok” she whispered to herself.
She had encountered Tohungas or Elders before and knew they were able to shift form and travel across worlds if they wished. It was just as her grandmother had said, just like the stories she had been told.
“She only wanted a minute,” she reminded herself. “It can’t be that bad. Stop worrying.”
But Mary held the jade cross tighter against her chest. She strode ahead down the path and through the open door to the packing shed at the other end of the orchard.

Jade Green Cross @ Overstock.

“No one here” she said, ignoring the sign that said ‘Wipe your feet’. “Thank goodness for that.”
Settling herself on one of the old packing crates just inside the door to steady her nerves, Mary’s eyes darted back and forth along the walls of the shed and out through the door. The only light came from the sun which settled quietly on an old beaten Crucifix that hung on the wall above an equally old advertisement for the orchard’s gala apples which the owner prided herself on. Mary had lived most of her life in the Far North, so this working holiday in Nelson was a rare foray into the liberty of southern charm. She had never been away from home before and never met an Elder. That was a meeting reserved for more distinguished people than herself she thought.
She stood up and looked around.
The light moved and settled on her shoulder.
“Can I go now?” She was talking out loud to St. Anthony. Whenever she was in trouble or worried she would ask him for help.
She felt a warmth extend out from her heart as if the saint had placed his hands there.
“Ok Ok,” she took a deep breath.
The room was big enough, with a pool table in one corner for smoko time. The ash tray at one end was littered with cigarettes. Along one wall was a stack of crates for packing, stored about five high. A jar with drooping violets and chrysanthemums needed changing, its water browned with hints of green mould in the sides.
“They could do with a clean” she said under her breath.
She sat on an old leather armchair filled with newspapers which crackled as she sat. She pulled her legs up and hugged her knees to look at the last wall, the one adjacent to the door. There were family portraits, going way back in the owner’s history, showing at the far end a fierce warrior wearing a long feathered cloak, with tattoos covering nearly all his body. He stared at her with mana and authority, powers she felt she didn’t possess.
“What are you looking at?” she said in response but before she could wonder if those eyes really saw anything at all there was a shuffle of feet wiping themselves on the mat outside the door.
She shrank down in the armchair and wished she could disappear. She couldn’t hide but she could be quiet. Very very quiet.
The light seemed to change in the room as a woman entered. Mary was dazzled for a moment so could only focus on the woman’s legs and bare feet. Slowly she could make out an outline. She was very small, Mary thought.
Then a deep voice boomed, interrupting her thoughts, “KIa ora. Hello Mary. My name is Alice.”
It was the Tohunga. Mary held her breath, not daring to move. She swore she could see another figure beside Alice, but shook her head, thinking it must be her imagination.
“How do you know my name?” whispered Mary. The voice was small and didn’t even sound like hers and shook a little.
“I expect you will understand all that in due course.”
Mary just nodded.
“And you’ve brought the future for me?” smiled Alice, reaching out to take one of Mary’s hands.
“Yes, well…er, no, I didn’t know exactly why we were meeting. You did say it wouldn’t be for long.”
“That’s right, just a minute in your time…”
“A minute in my time?” Mary could feel the old woman’s grip tighten around her own.
Mary bent slightly trying to wrest her wrist free from Alice’s grasp although she was curious about what the Elder could see in her hands.
Mary watched as Alice began to trace the lines of her palm slowly and gracefully, as if Alice were writing on water. Alice must have been in her seventies but her movements belied that fact and were nimble and light. As Alice continued tracing, Mary’s vision became hazy and she became aware as she had done before that there seemed to be a second figure in the room, that separated out from Alice and settled just next to her right shoulder.
Mary was tense with anxiety. She was scared of bats and birds and crowded elevators so having such strange forces so close was both exciting and terribly unnerving.
“W…wh…who?” she stammered but Alice seemed to have anticipated her question already.
“Your son,” said Alice.
Of all the things Alice could have said, this shocked Mary the most because at just 16 years old and at a private girls boarding school she had been kept as far away from boys and men as her mother thought humanly possible. The thought of a son had never entered her mind until right now.
“Would you like to see what will happen to him? He has a very fortunate future if you can help him make it into one.”
A great fear was welling up inside Mary. Alice was said to be involved in magical arts with charms and spells and her father Hupini was reputed to be a wizard, a great medicine man with powers in makutu or the black arts. He had secrets beyond normal humans and could kill an enemy at a distance simply by projection of his will. Mary was scared that if she got caught up in this that something awful might happen to her.
What she saw next however completely banished all fear from her mind.

Jokhang Temple Tibet – SD Rights Managed

Alice took some toe toe grass from her pocket and rubbed it on Mary’s palm. Then she began to chant a prayer, a Karakia, mumbling in low soft tones that Mary could not understand.
As Alice spoke, continuing to rub deeper now, the grass turned into a white powder that filled the lines on Mary’s palm. The palm became a lattice of thin white flowing streams across a lush pink land in front of Mary’s eyes. Alice cupped Mary’s hand in her own and poured the thin streams of powder into her own palm before releasing her grip on Mary. Alice then stirred the magical streams of powder in her hand with her other finger until they all dissolved into one miniature ocean in the valley of her palm. It was this alchemical mixture that she threw up into mid-air and all over Mary.
Mary gave a shudder as the umbrella of water descended onto her, feeling for all the world as if a puddle had been dropped on her from heaven above. Alice mumbled one more word before turning and leaving from the door she had entered by and gesturing for Mary to follow.
Mary was dumbfounded. Her thoughts were racing. What had she really seen? Was she bewitched? Where was Alice going?
“Wait!” she called but it came out like a croak.
As she spoke there was the sound of shouting, a clamor, steadily rising into a battle cry from the far end of the orchard. And the sound of bells. A terrible sound, not like the sound of a bell calling people to church but the sound of many bells clanging as they were bludgeoned to death.
“Just a minute in my time…” said Mary. “I thought we had more time than that.”
For although she was swift to the door, Alice had vanished, and in her place was a scene of devastation.
The door, the one the Elder had entered and left by, now opened onto a horizon torn ragged by dense mottled brown mountains.
The Light grew more intense. The hidden veils trembled and parted and unfolded above her and to left and right like curtains drawn back against time. The arcs swirled around her increasing in brilliance and magnificence right across the horizon touching the lips of the sky itself. She could hear the hiss and fiery bellows of vast unimaginable forces forging weapons for battle.
“Soldiers!” came a cry, not in her own tongue but in a language and voice that was both strange and yet familiar and she knew with a mixture of joy and trepidation that it was mouthed by her son.
Suddenly a heavy hand knocked her forward and she lost her breath and could only lean over and pant and gasp as bullets rang overhead ricocheting off prayer bells. The thick whitewashed mud brick walls of the monastery were no defense. She was standing in the eggshell colored sands of the main courtyard in front of the main temple of the monastery.

Tibetan Gentian Flower

“Impossible!” she thought in vain as another round of artillery fire clattered off the already heavily damaged doors of the temple’s central gate.
Voices barked severe orders in strained voices. The monks around her were clearly trained for fighting as they moved into a defensive formation but they were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned by the soldiers pouring through into the temple grounds from the streets beyond. Soldiers that were heavily armed against the monks, many who only wielded farming implements and short kitchen knives. The monks could only fight at close range and so they waited, vulnerable to snipers and attacks from the air. Though the monks exploded with fury when the soldiers came closer, so many fell, wasted lives and helpless victims in a rebellion that was not of their choosing.
Mary was dragged back inside the temple gates and crouched low inside against the thick wooden doors with their beautiful brass ornaments. An arcade swept along the interior wall alive with ancient pictures of many Buddhas. Painted in extraordinary detail with flower petals that gently melded together and Buddha’s robes folding so precisely and intricately, Mary watched in horror as the first wave of Chinese soldiers defaced the frescoes as they ran past, gouging and hacking the faces of every Buddha from the plaster.
Mary looked up at the sky and gasped as fire burst from the air and artillery shells smashed into the columned prayer and chanting hall. The hall faced a huge altar of Buddhist symbols flanked by eight towering gold painted images of the Buddha. Tiny yellow flames in front of each statue flickered and then died out as if signaling the death knell of the heart of the temple, as the innumerable brass bowls brimming with cloudy yak butter were pitched and tossed into the carnage. The thick sweet scent was mixed with blood and the toxic fumes of the spent artillery shells hanging heavy in the dim light.
If she thought she had time to get her bearings she was mistaken, as another shell burst through the wall on the opposite side of the courtyard and opened to a vista of squat stark low stone buildings. Sporadic leafless trees skewering the landscape burst into flames as the soldiers passed.
In the direction the shell had come from Mary saw many platoons of soldiers coming to join the ones already looting the temple, and in the radiance of the Light she was tugged headlong out of the fray and over a bridge where she saw her son. She heard a sound that struck her heart with dread. A terrifying scream. Her son. The soldiers, standing in formation to block any exit from the bridge, had opened fire.
As Mary watched a bright line marked the track of the bullet that pierced her son’s heart. He pitched off the side of the bridge and fell into the river below and was borne away. The soldiers were following so quickly that they swept past her as if she was a ghost. Their real target was the temple at the center of the monastery. They ran straight on without hesitating or turning to the side.
More artillery shells flew overhead ripping straight through the remaining walls and devastating the enclosure within.
None of this mattered to Mary. The Light was becoming transparent and the veil between her own time and that horrid memory was thinning. Her heart felt like stone and her body was heavy. Little figures were running through the monastery, as bodies tottered and ran and were cut down in flames. The temple was a mass of twisted wood and metal, a pall of smoke rising from its centre.
The bridge clearly felt the weight of the carnage and creaked, cracked and then collapsed into the river after her son.
Mary was no longer on the bridge, but she wasn’t in the river either.
“Goodbye my son,” she said although she didn’t know where the words came from, it could have been an older Mary that was speaking. “I have to go back across now, but I will find you, again.”
Her heart thumping painfully with love Mary turned away and flew up, and reaching out felt a hand, the Elder, encouraging her onward.
“That is where your son will die, 17 years from now in 1959, on the bridge across the River Tsangpo to the Samye Monastery in Tibet.”


Anna Goncharenko (1959) Bardo Thödol, Tibetan Book of the Dead @ Catawiki

There was a loud crash as the last remnants of that horrid scene below fell into an abyss.
Mary was floating, perfectly still. She looked down and found her body, lying prone, in the sunlight of the orchard morning. The veil was still there and she didn’t want to return but she made a big effort, pushing, until she was gliding just above her body, one step, then another and then she leaped to the far side with all her strength. She landed with a soft thump and then a whoosh like all the air being taken out of her. Her body heaved and took a big breath.
After a moment she opened her eyes and dug her nails into the fresh earth to make sure she was home. There was no way back. The Tohunga stood some way off, then nodded to acknowledge her, turned and vanished into the trees.
Mary was alone.

Masterpiece Partly Gold Plated Copper Shakyamuni Buddha Statue @ Nepa Craft

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