Art by jiashu xu ©

When their expedition stretched along an unassuming path that threaded tightly between the mountain and the icy shores of an unmarked river, the tortuous terrain and thin air began to take its toll on even the best conditioned of Evan’s men. But despite his long absence from the rigors of exploration, Sheridan forged on, propelled forward by the faithless determination revealed in the pitch black of his eyes. Pulling alongside a course of the river where the water swirled in a violent whirlpool, Kunchen came to a stop. Sheridan eased up beside Kunchen, wondering what the young monk saw in the thrashing water.

“This gateway will take us to the city of Shambhala,” Kunchen said.

Sheridan’s eyes fell to the watery gateway as he begrudgingly donned the novel wetsuit. Following Kunchen’s lead, he cinched it tightly around his waist, feet, and neck. And all the while his eyes returned to the teeming portal.

Kunchen took notice.

“This whirlpool is like the mighty river of life.” Kunchen said.

Sheridan watched as Kunchen dipped his right hand into a shallow pool of water, scooping up the pristine liquid in his cupped fingers. He submitted the handful of water to Sheridan. With the gentle tilt of his right hand he poured it out, watching it trickle into his left hand.

With unerring kindness in his eyes, Kunchen became the teacher and Sheridan the pupil: “Observe the water. It is soft, easily bending and transforming to its circumstance.”

He poured the water from his left hand. It fell into the writhing water and disappeared in an instant.

“But when it joins with the force of the whirlpool it becomes powerful and unstoppable. You must be flexible like the water, feeling the flow of life, tapping into its current. This is the only way.”

Art by Cornelia Kopp aka AlicePopkorn