Behind him stretched the vast nothingness that made up his misbegotten home. In front, the possibility of a new life.
He stood there staring at the trees. ‘The branches drift in the wind ever so gently,’ he thought to himself. He took a deep breath in, sat down, and crossed his legs. He began meditating.
He had been considering this for a while, but now that the time was at hand to actually do it, he felt apprehension and anxiety. His monastery was counting on him to travel through this forest to reach the spring on the other side, where he could gather fresh spring water to help the other monks at the monastery bathe and hydrate.
They were all counting on him.
He re-opened his eyes. He felt the tingle of rejuvenated energy surge through his being, as he rose to face the forest head on.
One last moment of thought, one last shallow breath – and then he walked towards the forest.
As he progressed he noticed the light of the outside world start to fade, caving into the obstructive darkness that enclosed the deep parts of the forest like a blanket. The further he walked into the trees, the deeper he traveled into the darkness.
With his left hand he grasped firmly the prayer beads that hang loose from his neck. He wasn’t in need of spiritual support, but he didn’t want to let go of them either. He just held on to them.
Before long he came to a clearing. A brilliant light shone through the tops of the trees to illuminate the circular area, it reminded him of the eye of a storm. Like a calm in the middle of a typhoon.
He stepped forward to inspect the area when his eyes came across a dusty book covered in old leaves. He reached over to pick it up, clearing the leaves as he did, and opened it.
There were no words or text of any kind that he could see. He flicked through the whole book – not a drop of ink.
He was inspecting a particular blank page when some ink started to slowly bleed through. Before long, some text lay before him that he could read:
Child of the mountain, I hear your silent cries
For the good of your temple, pursue. You must try.
Be it not the teachings of your people:
That the cardinal virtues of discipline and persistence have no equal?
You silently concede to defeat,
You silently have given up your right to admission unto the elite,
But, fear not, child – your chances are not lost,
Take me with you on your journey,
And with the elixir of the elusive forest spring that you seek,
You will meet without cost.
The ink faded back into the page before the Monk’s eyes and before he knew it, the page was blank once again.
The Monk stood in silence comprehending what he just read.
He closed the book and carried it by his side as he strode forward deeper into the forest.