The Eye of God
The wick and the flame were one and together they formed the cobra. The candle stood square and mystic and fit in the cup of his hand. The monk elevated the mystic candle to his eyes. He observed the cobra flickering back and forth. The cobra hissed. The cobra spit. Heat, the holy man sensed, emanating from the red skin of the flame.
It was dawn.
"We will go to holy mountain," the monk whispered into his hand. "We will consummate our vow."
The monk placed the square mystic candle within its square sacred carrier. The monk situated the sacred carrier within his tattered rucksack. And, just an hour later, still chill with his ritual bathing, only a beseeching chant as companion and dress, the monk set out from his forest hut. His stomach was empty as prescribed.
Before gaining holy mountain's foot the naked monk had savored the berries of bushes and ingested the bread of believers. Flush was his belly. He stood nourished, hale. The monk reached into his rucksack. With his fingers he caressed the sacred carrier tenderly. With his eyes he longingly looked on holy mountain.
"Now we go," he breathed secretly to the cobra.
It was mid-morning.
To climb holy mountain's steepness was arduous. The monk footed its bouldered pathways with gasps and pants. The monk clambered over its loins with grunts and sweat. There, about midway up the mountain, the monk located the forgotten cliff.
The forgotten cliff dropped below the naked monk a thousand cubits. He stepped gingerly to its edge. Cross-legged then the monk sat, dangerously placed atop the sheer face. He swung the tattered rucksack to his lap. The monk pulled from the rucksack a small plump pouch. The pouch was of coarse crimson and black weave. The pouch was of fine deep embroidery. The pouch jingled with golden ingots. The monk fingered the fabrics of the pouch. The monk shook the gold of the pouch. Then, without ceremony, without word or hesitation, the monk tossed the pouch over the cliffside.
The monk rose.
The monk turned from the forgotten cliff.
His ascent resumed.
Below the summit of holy mountain a blessed springhead pooled. An abrupt fissure of rock there created a deep and natural well. Over the wet lower edge of the well the blessed spring trickled coolly. Over the dry upper edge of the well the naked monk gazed blankly.
The naked monk did not refresh his burning skin at the cool spring. Squinting, cross-legged, the monk swung his tattered rucksack to his lap. He pulled from the rucksack a refined sheer kerchief. The monk fondled the transparent material. Then, for many moments, the monk peered into the profound blue pool. Finally the monk took a dusty rock from springside. The monk tied the sheer material around the dusty rock. Then the monk tossed the swaddled rock into the well.
"Go now," the monk uttered quietly to the kerchief. "Go now to the blessed source."
The monk sat for a moment longer. Then he rose.
The monk turned from the blessed spring.
His ascent resumed.
At the crest of holy mountain stood a mystic temple. The mystic temple stood without walls, without roof. A flat square of marble was the mystic temple, a marble square edged on its four sides by high marble columns. The naked monk knelt between two of those high marble columns. Then the naked monk crawled from the columns to the temple's center. There the naked monk prostrated himself.
After his obeisance, the monk turned his front to the burning sun. He lie at that very center of the marble square then unprotected. He lie at that very center of the mystic temple burning red.
It was midday.
Evening sun touched horizon and the monk sat erect on the marble. The naked monk beheld the redness of his arms, of his legs; the redness of his chest, of his loins. Faintly, the monk smiled. The monk dragged the tattered rucksack to his knees then. The monk drew from the tattered rucksack the square sacred carrier. He opened the sacred carrier. There, within, the mystic flame burned still hotly. The monk watched the cobra flickering side to side. The monk watched the cobra stiffen, then relax, then stiffen again. The flame glinted redly. It hissed. It spit.
"Now," the monk whispered to the snake.
The monk lifted the mystic candle from the carrier. He placed the candle in the cup of his hand. The monk elevated the candle to his eyes and observed it. Without hesitation then, without word or ceremony, the monk put into the flame of the candle his hand. Instantly, the fangs of the cobra broke his flesh. Instantly, the fangs of the cobra sank into his flesh. The venom of the flame entered the monk's being. It soothed him.
The naked monk drew from the candle his hand.
The naked monk lifted his head. He gazed on the redness of the failing sun.
"Do not desert me," the monk begged.
The great eye of the sun smoldered redly as it hung half above and half below horizon. The flames of the great orb flickered over the hilltops, brushing the countryside with glinting rays, with dancing redness.
"O sun, let me wound you," the monk begged. "O sun, let me sink into you my fangs."
The naked monk lifted his hand again to the candle flame. Instantly the cobra struck him. Then again the monk put his hand into the candle flame. Instantly the fire pierced him. The wick and the flame were one and together they formed the cobra. The candle stood square and mystic and fed on the flesh of his hand. The monk fed the mystic candle the red blood of his hands. Throughout the night, the monk fed the mystic candle the red blood of his hands.
At dawn his vow was complete.
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