Don’t be in such a hurry, my son, to follow the example of the majority. You understand nature: How many eggs do the creatures of the earth and air lay? And how many of them survive? How many people survive to old age? I know, I know--all the ones around you insist you follow their examples, their ways. That’s their survival technique, you know. It comes from the fear of knowing, of not deeply understanding that they’re all just a natural trial experiment. We’re all of the same consciousness; even when we’re seeds just out from our jade stem, we all think we’re going the right direction. And how many of those make it to the goal? Most of us die before our natural time; it’s not the majority that survives to maturity. Very few know they’re here to extract the essence out of being alive; fewer yet find out how. You can be a straw dog burnt like an effigy in the fire of the Tao. Or you can extract the essence out of being human, and move on to greater growth. Don’t lament the sacrifices of straw effigies, Eagle: the choices were not yours.


[     It was 4:30 a.m., and Abbot Chan Da Moh had just finished singing his sutras/the Diamond Sutra. The Abbot meditated in a half-lotus position, with one foot supported on the opposite thigh, for a full hour before turning to the novices.

We are forever in the debt of our spiritual masters who provided us with the means to refine our character blah blah. However, we have an even older obligation to a particular secular group of men, men who sought to hone their fires of their characters and spirits on the iron anvils of experience in the world.

“The disciplines which they devised over the last four thousand years came to be known as the deepest, most profound well-spring of applied training for warriors and kings. This most ancient caste of disciplined men was the Ksatreya of Indian. If we hope to understand the Katrina code, goals and methods, we’re obligated to research the old ones to the best of our abilities.

“While it is obviously very good to refer to sacred scriptures for such research, it is even better to communicate directly with the old masters. Sacred scriptures such as the Vedas, the Bible, the Koran and the Sutras of course provide insights as to how higher moral codes may be applied to everyday living.

“The Vedas recount the challenges of early Indians in their journey of self-evolution, just as the recorded words of other Awakened Ones testify to their own growth. Within its role as spiritual advisor, the Vedas often considered the ethics of warfare, reaching conclusion that clearly established the spiritual potential within warriorhood.” The Abbot paused to gather his breath, look inward, and sink his gather chi to his lower abdomen. The acolytes attention remained riveted to the old man in that silent hall.

“Of course these ancient sages were referring to the intensely illuminating experiences of looking into the polished mirror of the self when locked in combat eyeball-to-eyeball—hardly comparable to the barbarism of remote dispassionate carnage sought by modern technology, with soldiers pulling triggers and lanyards to kill anyone from a far and impersonal distance.

“As students of the ancient arts, you need to acknowledge a fundamental truth inherent to your training: The heightened awareness that we forge with our self-disciplines furthers development of Self as well as all sentient beings. This is not easily understood by those who are not involved in the training or by those who are guided through life by the question, ‘Where’s the money in that?’

“Fundamental truths and time-tested conclusions were manifested and codified within the Ksatreya caste. Trained from infancy in armed and unarmed martial arts, as well as in spiritual practices, the Ksyatreya studied all available literature, history, religion and philosophy. Tests and exams in these fields of learning were required before membership into the martial brotherhood was proffered. You, little brothers, will meet these same ancient standards.

“The ancient Mahabarata literature puts forth the strict ethical conduct of the Ksatreya:

‘Those who attack by the use of words should only be fought with words.

‘One should strike only after giving due notice.

‘A noble warrior should only fight his equal in battle.

‘A noble warrior would not strike one who is tired, weeping, unwilling to fight, ill, or one who cries surrender.

‘A noble warrior defends all who have surrendered, even an enemy.

‘In battle, the noble warrior does not strike one who is in conference with another, one who is panicked, or one who is unprepared for battle.

‘It is the noble warrior’s duty to fight under the principle of “righteous conquest,” for the righting of wrongs or injustices, regardless of whom the transgressors might be.’”

Ishi’s attention level soared with this last principle, and led him into possibilities of action he hadn’t thought of before. What if he could convince some of his brothers to help him fight? Surely the Abbot would see the righteousness of his cause?

“The inner teachings (The Voice of Lightning) of the noble warriors of India were considered so sacred that only persons of high moral character were worthy students. Vajramukti is the name by which we call our art: literally, “Striking to the heart of the matter,” or “Living without illusion.” But when the teachings are applied in combat, Vajramukti is known as ‘Thunderbolt Hands.’

“I said earlier that it’s best to speak directly with these ancient ones for their guidance. How may we accomplish such a seemingly impossible task? The answer lies in the moment-to-moment process of daily training.”

With this enigmatic statement Chan Da Moh closed his mouth, stood up off his meditation dais, and left the hall through a rear door.

The acolytes bowed him out and turned to pay attention three giant men who approached from the other end of the Hall. They were solid men, with a centered calm that makes unconfident men nervous. They were the head martial monks, and it was the first day of training for the novices.