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The Man and the Mountain
In the middle of a wide valley, there once stood Mount Sudhindra. To the people of the area, climbing the mountain was seen as one of the greatest achievements possible. It’s summit had never been reached.
On either side of the mountain, there was a city. To the north was Ojas, and at the south was Mahabali.
Ojas was very prosperous. The People of Ojas were wealthy and of a high class; their life was quite easy. Dhananad was a well-known citizen of Ojas. Dhananad inherited a great fortune, and felt the need to be the best at everything.
One day, from the patio of his beautifully pillared abode, he set his sights on Mount Sudhindra. He announced that he was to take a voyage up the mountain, and was to bring a group of explorers with him. His declaration was received with a great din of applause.
Mahabali was quite different than Ojas. Mahabali was a village of huts home to the lower class. One of these huts was the dwelling of Ajay. Ajay struggled for his survival everyday. With the recent loss of his life partner, he felt especially dazed and detached. He wanted to accomplish something with his life, and as his day drew to an end, he found himself gazing up at Mount Sudhindra. That night, Ajay lay awake, unable to sleep. After a long while of thought, he decided to embark on a trip up the mountain.
The next morning, Dhananad gathered a group of five explorers and departed up the northern mountain trail. For the first few miles, the trail was lined with a low-lying stone wall and filled with scattered sets of stone stairs. The going was fairly easy, but Dhananad’s arrogance began to show. He was shouting orders to his crew and cursing the universe at every misstep he took.
Early the same morning, Ajay was up, tending his morning work. As the sun began to break the horizon, he slipped out of the village, in order to avoid making a scene. Once out of sight, Ajay walked until reaching the base of Mount Sudhindra, which on the southern end, was a cliff about fifty feet in height. He took one look back in the direction he had come, and then commenced climbing. It was not easy, but Ajay held his tongue and gathered his focus even in the most dangerous of moments. Once the top was reached, he looked down, patted himself off, and continued walking.
After many more miles, Ajay reached a small settlement of no more than one hundred people, the highest frontier on the southern face. Upon entering, he noticed an elderly man struggling with bails of hay. Ajay did not hesitate to help him, and when they were finished, he insisted on letting Ajay recoup in his home. Ajay humbly accepted and was treated to food, clothing, and a place to sleep.
Dhananad was still pushing onward. His crew and him were growing increasingly hungry and tired, although he refused to accept this because of his ambitious ignorance. When they reached the last established settlement on the northern face, Dhananad made sure to stop. However he only stayed long enough to make a scene and spread the word of his travels. At one point, he was approached by an elderly man. The man said that he had heard of Dhananad’s journey, and said that no one who ventured on farther had survived. He continued by saying that if Dhananad and the crew wished to continue, then he could supply them with whatever they may need if they simply help him with a few tasks. Dhananad laughed at the old man and said that no one else had survived because they were not the best, like he was. His crew begged him to accept the man’s offer, but he refused and, after only a few hours time, they left the settlement.
The six men were walking for a long time. One of them pointed out a crow, the first life they had seen since the settlement. The crow circled overhead several times and then was on it’s way. Within the hour, they found that they could not see more than twenty feet in any direction. The snow was very deep and coming down quite heavily. The hunger was catching up with them all. Dhananad stopped and looked around. He begins to shout and curse the heavens, “Is this it?”, “Where’s the glory? Where’s the pride?!”
Ajay awoke with a feeling of comfort he had not felt in a long time. The old man said that he had never seen him before, that outsiders were uncommon. Ajay told the man of his travels, and it was several moments before he replied. When he did, he simply stated that no one has ever returned. Ajay nodded solemnly, and told the man that he was very determined. The man gave a nod that told Ajay, “I understand, and I wish you good fortune.” With that, he thanked the old man and left the settlement.
Ajay was ascending a steep area of the mountain. Eventually, the slope increased to a cliff. It stayed like this for about one hundred feet upwards. Halfway up, he stopped to catch his breath. Involuntarily, he looked down, and the situation caught up with him. As he brought his head up though, Ajay spotted a white hawk flying at about the same height as him. Watching the bird’s gracefulness and majesty reassure his confidence, and he continued to the top of the cliff.
From there, the snow under his feet became deeper, and the snowfall became thicker, until he had reached the altitude at which Dhananad had experienced. An over whelming sense of helplessness and loss of direction threatened to grip him. Ajay put everything out of his mind though, except two things; the white hawk, and the instinctive feeling that there was something better beyond where he was. With these two thoughts, he pushed himself onward.
Suddenly, off in the distance, Ajay saw what looked like a patch of pine trees. It was impossible, he said to himself, that there would be trees at such an altitude. As he grew closer though, he realized that they were in fact pine trees. Ajay made his way through them, only to find himself in the midst of more trees, but no longer pines. In fact, these were trees that could not even survive in cold climates at all. Once through these, Ajay stepped out into a large clearing. There was no more snow. Lush grass carpeted the area, and plant life was scattered all over. Animals could be heard, but not seen, living together in harmony. A tranquil pond lay in the center, peppered with lily pads. The pond was fed by a gentle waterfall from about twenty feet above, and when Ajay looked to the top of it, he saw the white hawk. With no hesitation, he began climbing up towards it. When he was almost there, the bird flew off behind the waterfall. When Ajay reached the top, he found himself at the top of a mountain, the hawk perched a few feet in front of him. Off in the distance behind the bird, he could make out the bodies of seven dead men, but this did not keep his attention.
Ajay took a look around and saw his hometown, Mahabali, at the base of the mountain. He turned around and saw Ojas. After examining both, he concluded that all he saw was people going to and fro, about their business, doing this and that; but everyone was doing it. Before he could understand what he was saying, the words spilled out of his mouth: “All is one.”
Ajay quickly turned around to find the hawk, but it was gone.