About Hellmantle of
Normandy's meeting with the holy man
after taking a dip in the
Hardiwar, the Ganges River,
the ride to Hardiwar in a rented jeep, D'Aqs thoughts kept drifting back to the
dream he had had last night. All night he dreamed in a rapid fire of scenarios
and situations, and realized in the twilight between dreams and
semi-consciousness that he wasn't only dreaming from the perspective of himself
but also from the perspective of Hellmantle and his father. Never before had he
dreamt from a multi-perspective viewpoint. All three of them looked out upon
D'Aqs dreamscape thinking the same thoughts. He wasn't surprised that
Hellmantle shared the same perspective, but with his father it was odd. In one
of the dreams he found Hellmantle at the end of a long struggle and there he
was holding the scrolls safely in his hands.
During the ride he confessed
his dream to Hellmantle. His reaction was concise.
you know it means?" Hellmantle asked him, a smile curving at the edges of his
mouth. He didn't know he really wanted to hear what he thought but he had to
find meaning in such an unusual and vivid and arresting dream.
I can't figure it out."
as I see it, you have come to see things from our perspective. You have
experienced firsthand these hidden truths of the New Testament and come to
regard it all as substantive truth. Therefore the sharing of three points of
view in three peoples confirms that you have indeed grown and changed." That
was what he was afraid of. It meant there was no turning back to his life as a
preacher of the gospels that he no longer fully believed in with his heart. In
effect, he was now out of a job.
can't lie to you," he replied. "That's what I thought it might mean. I've
changed my beliefs after all our adventures, grown maybe but it means I cannot
go back to my life as a minister."
you're out of a job."
beat around the bush!"
think you know me well enough now that I never beat around the bush."
for D'Aqs, the directness of his words was like the removal of a thorn in his
paw, a sliver that had started to fester that needed to be pulled out with
sharp tweezers. There was relief in this revelation for he could move forward
to a new life, one that was no longer hampered by inconsistent dogma that he
now knew had been fudged.
rode the rest of the way to the Ganges, but when they arrived Hellmantle had
one more thing to say, and he spoke thus:
cousin Grosseteste, do not be saddened by this change in you for you have been
blessed by your open-mindedness and your willingness to say yes to these
adventures. You have evolved My Son and now have the future open to you to do
what is in your heart. That is your task; that is what you now need to find
out. Listen to the new murmurings in your heart and follow your intuition
because there is no wrong when a man evolves as you have. There can only be
good in it. Opportunitites will present themselves to you and you will open one
of these doors and step through to a new world, a new life. I can only envy how
you have come into your own and now have a firmer foundation from which to
govern your new life."
was nothing for him to say for he knew what had to be done and the Ganges was
the perfect place to start anew.
They finally reached the
swift flowing Ganges River just as it gained momentum falling from the melted
snow tops of the Himalayan chink. Hellmantle knew they were at the ‘Gateway
to God' when he saw the monastery on the hill overlooking an old colonial clock
tower by a shrine on the riverbank where holy men sat cross-legged with long
When the three of them
crossed the bridge to the holy shrine and the dipping area around the old
tower, they had encountered their first leper. There were many sitting in small
groups on the bridge leaning against the railing and selling wares. All of the
men wore their beards long and white. The holy men sat among the sick with
their backs straight and limbs as thin as chopsticks. Most were shirtless and
some were decorated with the red and yellow coloring that signified
enlightenment and cleanliness of spirit.
"Hellmantle, sir" said Abid,
stopping. "I go eat while you clean, OK?" Abid, the son of an Indian military
officer, could no longer ignore the pains in his stomach. Leaving them Abid
hurried off to a café below the monastery at the top of the escarpment. He was
feeling hungry after skipping lunch so his passengers would have more time at
the sacred river.
When Abid turned on his heel
to satiate his hunger, Hellmantle saw a line of ascetics sitting contentedly by
the water in the classic Asian squat. Some had made a spot on the water's edge
their own. No possessions save a cup and cloak that doubled as their bed
blanket. Hardiwar, already 3000 feet above sea level, when the sun dropped
behind the surrounding mountains even the holiest men needed a cloak. Holding
their metal cups, they dranl steaming sweetened tea.
With Abid at the café, a
strong mixture of thrill and panic coarsed through his heart because he was new
to this world. Past the venders selling jewelry and empty plastic bottles, he
and D'Aqs stepped onto the platform that kissed the fast-moving river. It was
here where the British had left their mark with a classic single turret showing
the world the time in the empire with long skinny black arrows pointing to
Roman numerals. But what first caught Hellmantle's attention was not the number
of stalls along the water or the number of people who were bathing in the
sacred river, but the size and swiftness of the Ganges River itself. He
regarded it as a flow with divine purpose from the mountains that touched the
Chains lined the manmade
platform that had been built on the side of the river for pilgrims to dip
without being swept away by the current. A flowing narrow channel went between
the British bell tower and the natural shore of high rock. The water was fast
so they had funneled part of the river inside a pontoon, where older women and
children could bath. After the narrow mouth of the channel widened, the current
waned and there was a manmade eddy where builders had indented part of the
shore. This was where the very old bath, where the eddy was safest.
But it was on the other side
of this pontoon where Hellmantle and D'Aqs stood and watched the white-bearded
men dip into the dangerous open waters in the fleetest part of the Ganges.
Hellmantle noticed an old holy man with flowing hair and a long white beard
watching them, but the look on the old man's face was not derision or suspicion
but one of wonder and implicit respect. He wore only a small loincloth, without
shoes or socks or shirt or robe. Cross-legged, he leaned his back straight
against a pole beside the bell tower. The eye contact was brief but warm, with
a hint of communication that Hellmantle couldn't put his finger on.
Then the old white-haired
holy man rose slowly, patiently, showing his emaciated slimness and the yellow
markings on his body. He walked as slow as molasses towards the water where he
and D'Aqs were watching him. The old man looked straight ahead at the water but
they both could see the half smile on his face. Hellmantle knew that the holy
man could see him through the corner of his eye.
Slowly the man with the long
white beard stepped into the rushing water, and then took another step, and
then another, downward, holding a metal chain until the water raced past his
waist. Still keeping Hellmantle in the corner of his eye, he turned toward the
current with his half smile and neatly dipped under the water submerging his
body completely. He was only under the surface for a few seconds, when he
emerged with the poise of a veteran that could only be seen as holy. He again
submerged himself into the river with only his tooth of an arm still visible,
clinging to the metal chain. He surfaced a second time with the same holy
aplomb, and then plunged a third time in the same manner. No one seemed to take
notice of him except Hellmantle and D'Aqs, who were his audience.
The man with the white beard
stepped up the concrete steps onto the pontoon where he returned to his spot by
the bell tower. The half smile had blossomed into a full smile but with his
mouth still closed. Again Hellmantle was sure that the holy man kept his eye on
him out of the corner of his eye. A minute passed by while Hellmantle pondered
and observed, savored and wondered. Then, in a sudden burst, he approached to
the Ganges, removed his clothes save his boxer shorts, and stepped into the
cold water step by step, and grabbing hold of the metal chain just as the holy
man had done.
At first he was in shock at
how chilly the water was, but looking up to the horizon at the Himalayas, he
saw why. He could feel the ice in the water.
He wavered for a moment and
then looked over to the holy man with the long white beard and full head of
long white hair. Seeing that he was still looking at Hellmantle, he faced the
flowing river and held on to the chain, and just as the old man did, submerged
his entire body in the ice-cold river. Without making too much of a splash, he rose
up slowly and immediately experienced the cool rush of his skin burning from
the holy mountain water under the hot Indian sun. His spirit swelled as if
percolating towards Great Hall in the Sky. He knew God was present.
Now feeling the eyes of the
holy man watching his white skinned body reacting to his first dip in the
Ganges, Hellmantle slowly descended under the surface again going completely
under but with his right arm holding the chain, just as the old man had done.
He did it a third time like his teacher had shown him, and then he stood there
in the Ganges waist deep for a moment letting the medicine water heal him.
Fatigue brought forth emotional truth and the mirth was palpable as bodies
immersed into the holy stream, regenerating the spirit. Ills and omens washed
away by the pilgrimage and by the belief in the holiness of the Ganges River.
Even lepers sat by hoping for the miracle of life to cure their affliction,
bathing in the waters like all others.
per the existing dynamic between them, it was Hellmantle who lead first and
D'Aqs who followed however just as he was about to derobe and cleanse in the
holy river a leper approached him holding a bucket in his hand with no fingers.
The leper asked him for money but D'Aqs didn't want to touch him or the bucket.
Wanting to be left alone and unhindered beside the river, the leper demanded
money by moving closer and closer to him forcing him to move away. The leper
followed him, invading his personal space. He very kindly said he was sorry but
he wouldn't give him money, but the leper stepped still closer to him, which
forced D'Aqs to the water's edge. D'Aqs couldn't do anything but repeat the
word "sorry" as he tried to walk forward but the leper kept crowding him so he
turned around the other way and walked to the inner part of the platform around
the man with leprosy to return to where Hellmantle dripped with holy water near
the holy man.
a new friend I see." Abid, who had come back from the café on the hill,
can't-" D'Aqs felt bad about the situation because he knew he was a
compassionate man. He was just afraid of lepers.
said Hellmantle. He gave a few rupees to the leper. The relief was almost
quantifiable. The leper thanked Hellmantle by patting his shoulder with his
fingerless hand and walked away.
Hellmantle. I just couldn't-"
understand. The water's great. It's time." There were tremendous forces working
on D'Aqs at that moment and he could see the struggle going through his mind.
"It's a spiritual rebirth. You'll feel better. Overcome your fears. Only then
can you have true freedom. The water comes from the heavens up there." He
pointed up to the Himalayas lost in the clouds. "Trust me."
trust you," he replied. "You're right. It was my need for a spiritual rebirth
that lured me to the Ganges. That's what brought me from the Himalayas to the
river's edge in Hardiwar." So the ex-missionary proceeded to strip down to his
jockeys and undergo the same immersion three times as the holy man showed them.
D'Aqs was reborn, Hellmantle spoke thus:
else have I ever felt such deep belief as when I stand here bathing in the
Ganges, watching the joy in people's faces, the same as I feel." Hellmantle saw
the holy man painting his forehead with a bright yellow paint.
"I see a holy man," said Abid. He
looked at Hellmantle and then at the man with the white beard. His body was now
completely marked by the yellow markings.
"It is from this holy man in
a loincloth that gave me the Ganges River dipping technique as the key
to undergo the ancient Aryan rite of spiritual rebirth." D'Aqs returned from
his new beginning.
said Abid. "He is a holy man." Then, looking at D'Aqs, he said:
"He's the one who showed me
how to cleanse in the mighty waters." Abid walked to him and bowed
respectfully, and they spoke in Hindi. The old man listened, eyes glistening in
the sun. There was an urn behind the holy man where ashes could be seen around
you have the scroll?" asked Abid. Hellmantle removed the scroll from his breast
pocket and took off the membrane. Walking towards him, Abid sat beside the holy
man and then gestured that Hellmantle and D'Aqs should sit with him. They all
sat around the long white beard and Hellmantle handed him the scroll. He
studied the writing carefully.
he read it?" he asked, impatiently. There were more lepers in the vicinity who
were targeting D'Aqs for more money. Abid spoke some more Hindi.
he can." The old man now opened the scroll more, and then he read it aloud in a
bold and clear voice. Abid translated after every sentence the following
Thirteen Principles Lie Herein
These are the Thirteen Principles of the Book of
Life for all four races of humankind that one can deduce truths to create
harmony among all.
essence of the creator is our essence,
Are you not the same
essence from whence the fire came?
divinity is man's special identity in the universe,
Let the spirit show
the sacred geometry of self within.
sentience is the sign of evolution in man,
from the heart is the sacred way.
energy is a karmic boomerang that bites,
We live for eternity
with everyone we meet.
5. The candle is
The fire that burns
in the candle is thy spirit.
6. All flames
Join them to make
the light of mankind brighter.
7. Honor the
spirits of your ancestors,
respectfully on behalf of them.
8. To help
another is to help oneself,
To do harm to
another is to do harm to your self.
9. Let your
spiritual flame rest in your heart,
We alone judge our
10. To disrespect
another is to disrespect your self,
there can be no harmony.
11. Each man is a
fragnment of God,
Like his sprit he is
12. Spirit is a
conduit to the divine flame,
The purpose of life
is to honor the creator's gifts.
genuineness & sincereity there can be no true self,
Let intention be
driven by the goodness of spirit.
by the twins Joshua & Jude the Nazarenes
the old man with the white beard stopped speaking, Hellmantle looked at D'Aqs
and then away at the river where he saw a half-sunken ship that was grounded
right in the middle of the strong center current. Its mast stuck out of the
water and the big white statue of the Hindu God Vishnu was near it, but the
Himalayas enclosed and protected it.
A man approached him with
cups and a kettle in his hands.
"Yes please," he said to the
man with the tea. He took the cup in both hands after paying the man, and made
sure the holy man, D'Aqs and Abid also got a cup.
It was only after D'Aqs had
heard the scrolls translated that he finally believed.
"Ah, Doubting Thomas.
Prolonged doubt, but no longer."
"The dip was my
purification," he said. He made the Blonde Aquitaine cross on his heart
and gave a wink with the left eye.
Hm, yes. That reminds me." He went to the rake-thin Holy Man where Abid stood.
this is a Holy Man of great wisdom, yes?"
"He is Hellmantle."
"I would can you ask him a
question for me: Is there an afterlife?"
"There is Hellmantle. You do
"It's not that I don't
believe. I wish to hear this man wisdom on the matter. Please ask him, and if
he says yes, then ask him: What is it?" Abid considered it and then saw what he
was after. With a light step he asked the Holy Man.
stood in front and watched his reaction. Without speaking the Holy Man looked
at Hellmantle and nodded. And then he spoke thus in Hindi:
cycle of life is like a river," he said, pointing to the Ganges. "A man's soul
never dies; it is timeless. The soul stays but we cannot see it because there
is no body or space, only one dimension: time. With senses like eyes or ears, a
soul can only feel the emotions from the chi that runs through us starting at
our heart. This is why one must keep love in their heart. If you a good person
souls who love you will want to be with you, and will protect you through
exuding an emotion that you can sense if you're are open to hearing." The Holy
Man stood up and put his hand on Hellmantle's right shoulder. "You have lost
someone and care he still exists. Calm yourself young man. Calm. Take a deep
breath like me." The slowest breath he had ever witnessed was difficult to
copy. "Now, feel the tingling in your arms and legs. That is the chi energy a
soul can feel. Keep that chi abundant and good things will happen. It will make
your friend's soul smile."
identical brother died twenty-seven years ago and I want to know if he is still
around and if I will ever see him." Abid translated, interest piqued.
Son," he said. The Holy Man's slow smile revealed two teeth but his eyes grew
in intensity, the brown iris swamped with light. "Twins forever remain together
through eternity. You will never lose your brother. He is waiting for you to
shed your earthly vessel so you will join him in the one-dimensional afterlife
where you will be bound together in unison with the love you both feel,
entwined as one like you were in your mother's womb. Just as you had an innate
understanding of each other here in this life, you will again have that in
another time when you will be born as twins again. You will have another
journey together, laugh and share the love of life you had before." He stepped
closer. "And I see in your eye mischief. Take comfort young man that that
mischief will again be shared with your twin brother. This is the way of life.
The afterlife is a mystery to us but not to them. Your brother is here." He
waved his hand above their heads.
you very much Holy Man," he said, but he did not let go of his shoulder.
have purified your sins in the Ganges. Please come with me so that you can
cleanse the sins of your twin brother. It is a Holy River with water from the
highest place on earth. Do it for him." They walked to the river, Hellmantle
disrobed and they stepped into the cold water not saying a word. In unison they
sumerged their bodies three times, his heart full of love and sadness for
done and ripping, they went back to Abid and D'Aqs where water fell into his
eyes and mixed with the tears overflowing from his eyes, his heart never so
full of love and warmth knowing Rhein was there with him. And always would be.
The Holy Man beamed with happiness at the transformation of the tall young man
in front of him. Like an ethereal spirit himself, the Holy Man felt the
happiness spilling forth into the ethers like a magnet for the countless souls
swirling around the Ganges River.