Twelth Scene : Borobudur. Central Java, June 2, 1525

After spending some time at the Prambanan temple complex and in particular investigating the strange tales and events of the Loro Jonggrang temple, the intrepid band compiles their notes and makes preparations to the lost temple of Borobudur.

Although a relatively short distance to the east of their current location, Borobudur is surrounded by extremely dense jungle and is lightly populated by humans. The journey, perhaps 60 kilometres at most takes the better part of a week. The foraging skills of Banyak prove indispensible in this journey with her skills at finding drinking water in particular.

During a particularly harsh part of the journey, one hot dusk, when spirits were at their lowest and party members were even a little delirious, a character came crashing out of the undergrowth in colourful garb and carrying a staff. His features whilst human, seem a little too close to comfort to the numerous primates of the jungle.

Prancing around the party, the odd person often paused to chatter away in ear of Topeng. Whilst all very amusing to the causal observer, for Topeng, this is quite serious. The monkey introduces himself as Hanuman, the God of Monkeys, a key character in the Ramayana, the epic of love and adventure.

Wen too picks up a great deal of this prattlings of this jungle clown, for this Hanuman character also claims to be an incarnation of the great sage (equal of heaven) Sun Wukong, who was born in a rock on a mountain top, the punkiest monkey who ever popped (you know the rest).

Hanuman announces that he knows that the party is off to Borobudur. He warns them that this may prove to be the end of their lives on this plane, for there are many great spirits are there and the gain their strength through the most diplomatic and enticing means.

After further questioning [insert questions here] and cryptic answers (but of course), Hanuman disappears, skipping, back into the jungle announcing the arrival of many Rakshaha which apparently he must defeat.

"What a very strange man", comments Macario.

Early one morning, deep in the undergrowth, Topeng stumbles over a ankle-high statue on the goat-trail that pretends to be a jungle path. This proves to a statue of the Buddha. Further ahead, Banyak discovers another - and then another - forming a very clear path.

Finally, the party finds themselves climbing a modest hill with occassional stones sticking out from the undergrowth. Comparing this location to Wen's map, there is little debate that this is the famed complex of Borobudur. There seems to be a rather stronger sense of a path here, circumnavigating the hill, with occassional moments where paths lead to a higher level.

At this point Topeng strongly recommends a hearty draught of soma for everyone. "We are about to entire the land of great spirits. It is imperative that we are able to make this journey".

Imbibing the soma, party members feel reinvigorated and their senses sharpened. Following the pathway, occassional stones display intricate carvings. One particular series display some rather bawdy experiences, following the imbibing of drink, and
finally, swordplay. Robert in particular seems quite fascinated by these and as he watches them, the images seem to gain motion.

A great feeling of sleepiness comes over him, far greater than invigorating power of the soma. He finds himself drifting away, with one word echoing in this dream state... Kamadhatu

Climbing Borobudor

Banyak attempts to waken Robert, but there is no doubt he is in a deeply magical asleep. He looks peaceful enough and untroubled. "We can return to him later", she announces, with a sense of determination in her voice.

A little more than 100 steps later however, Babas Bibi, upon being entranced by carvings on an enormous wedding party, finds himself in a similar state of delerious happiness. He passes out, falling to the ground, grinning from ear to ear, whispering the word "Kamadhatu", as he falls to the ground.

As the party debates what to do with this sudden loss of two of it's members, Macario also succumbs as he views a gem-encrusted carving of a merchant trading his wares in a market.

"We must not view any more panels", says Banyak. "Surely we cannot risk losing any more of us. The spirits here are so strong!"

With determination, the remaining members, Wen, Banyak and Topeng, climb up the hill, working their way through the jungle. Occassional block of stone make themselves known, jutting out from the foliage, but each time the party managed to avert their eyes from the carvings.

Suddenly Wen, despite his best efforts, feels a great urge to turn towards the hill-side. He fights the internal pressure, but to no avail. Facing him is the ghostly image of an old Chinese man, richly dressed, with a wife and two children at his side. His states a single word "Ruphadatu", and then fades from view. Wen finds himself staring directly at an image of successful family life and also, like the others, falls to the ground in a deep sleep.

Topeng looks sullen at his fallen companions, but urges the young Banyak onwards. "One of us must make the apex", he says, "Otherwise I believe we will all be lost".

Continuing their climb, they struggle on a slippery part of the path. Topeng, with his poor leg, slips on grabs on the some foliage, revealing writing carved in the stone underneath. "Sanskrit!", he exclaims. "Perhaps here we can find out how to awaken our friends." He hurridly starts to read. "The first level is Kamadhatu, the world of desire, as described in the sacred text Karmavibhangga. The second, is the world of forms as described in in the sacred texts Lalitavistra, Jataka-Avandana and Gandavyuha... They all describe the life Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha... Ahh... There's a third level. The Arupadhata, the world of formlessness... Oh, I am so sorry Banyak.... It seems my love of knowledge has led me to desert you", and with
that, the wise Topeng also falls asleep.

Banyak looks around in despair. She is now alone. Or not quite. "Keep going, my little friend", squeaks Tikkus. "Not far now". Banyak nods, and pats Tikkus. She marches with determination up the hillside slope. Suddenly, the foliage breaks, and she finds herself on the the highest levels of the hill. There she is confronted with an large stupa, which contains a statue of the Buddha. Looking in wonder, she circles around the crown of the hill, looking at the vine encrusted stupas and the
statues within. Then, overlooking the lands below as they lead towards Merapi, she finds an empty stupa containing a skeleton.

"Here", says Tikkus. "This is where we must rest".

"Whatever do you mean, Tikkus?", replies Banyak.

"These are the mortal remains of Maribuya, the Seer of the Badiu. These are the bones you must take back. And here is the place where you must come to terms with your greatest challenge."

"How do I do that, Tikkus?"

"Place me on the ground. Sit down next to me. Drink more soma. Stare at Merapi. And wait."

Banyak shrugs and does all that Tikkus says. He's a wise old rat and has never been wrong in the past. She takes another draught of soma, and stares at Merapi. Smoke billows from the old God, the nail of Java. A soft, gentle rain begins to fall. And Banyak finds herself drifting off into another world...

Reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merapi

The House of Good Repute

Robert finds himself at the just inside the entrance of a tavern. To the left, two soldiers are skillfully engaging in mock combat. To the right, a group of handsome men and beautiful women are eating, drinking, joking, playing cards and dice games. The air is think with the sweet smells of flavoured tobacco, cloves, cinammon and other spices.

A dusky lass wearing fine silver jewellry approaches you with a tray of drinks. "I am Rani", she announces. "And this is the house of Good Repute. A haven for adventurers who still have a pulse, and who, in their search for a place that stimulates the mind with cleverness and the senses of the body, have become weary of a world that offers neither."

"Everything you, especially you Robert, could ever ask for is here. No more trekking through disease-infested jungles, engaging in pointless quests or as pawns in political games that you want nothing to do with. No more dealing with bookish scholars, sombre priests or greedy merchants. This is a place that deals only with people like yourself Robert, and caters only for those things that you love.

"What's more, you'll never age or tire of this place. It is available to you forever."

"What say you Robert? Won't you stay? With me?"

"Aye." Robert smiles from ear to ear and scoops the girl up, planting a kiss on her lips, "I'll stay a while with ye, lass!"

He looks through the entrance of the tavern and says, "Yet so far as I am from Carcasonne, I feel as if I have come home."

With a whoop he launches headlong into the tavern and seeks the nearest thing whose pursuit can bring him happiness. He indulges his senses and and revels in his passions, seeking even to tire those whose excesses cannot be exhausted.

But when the wine does not dull his senses nor tire him (for that would spoil the party, would it not?), when he continues to find ever more money in his pockets (even though he has lost more money at the tables than Macario has ever seen), and when every girl is conquered without effort, Robert begins to wonder.

Everything that seems so right, is somehow wrong. Something that he once heard from a wise man springs to mind.... he tries to grasp it but the thought is elusive...

"Perfection is made up of imperfection. You cannot break the World down into perfect parts - when each is but a shattered part of the whole."

"No. That's not quite right..." He shakes his head and discovers that now it hurts, now he feels tired. His eyes begin to grow heavy and he leans heavily against the wall, waving off the arms of a buxom and ever-so-willing wench. He feels that if only he could sleep, that all would be right in the morning. In the morning he would awake afresh and ready to party again. Sleep is all he really needs...

Angrily, Robert shakes his head again, strangely grateful for the pain that throbs through his brows. "But the World..." He mutters, "Is the devil's creation. The realm of the demi-urge.... That is what Grandfather always said."

He begins to stagger towards the door and a wench wraps her arm around his waist. He peels her hand away, "This is not the plane of Amour. This is the land of Roma. Its opposite."

He takes another step and his hand rests upon a plate of roast turkey. The smell saturates his senses, filling him with hunger. "Though I have not walked the Parfait path, I know its hazards. This is not the food that my soul hungers for. This is the flesh of the Beast and it is impure..."

He staggers on but two fencers leap across his path, seeking to engage him in artful combat. He shakes a finger at them, "And this is the plane where Good and Evil do battle. I have no time for your mock combats."

At last he reaches the door and the delightful Rani blocks his path. "Will you not drink from this cup?" She offers him a golden vessel, brimming with red wine. "Is this not the graal that you seek? Am I not the "rose"?"

He takes the golden vessel from her hands and looks into its depth. Then he looks into her eyes and forces a smile, "The "rose" is but a scented trap, made to lure the nightengale to its thorny spar. The headiness of this wine is but a signpost on the Way and it is not my destination. Though I may become drunk with love for the Lord ... and for the Lady, it is not Love that I seek to give but Service."

Robert takes a step across the threshold and into the night...

The Sultan of the Immortals

Babas Bibi cannot believe his luck.

The sun shines today as he rests in the grounds of a magnificant castle. The smell of roses and rose water is abound, along with that of hashish. The gentle sound of a fountain, and his is surrounded by beautiful women, caressing his body with scented oils. Garlands of flowers are heaped over him.

People begin to approach. He is surrounded by throngs of well-wishes. They raise him from the ground, and start crying "Babas! Our leader! Babas! Our Lord!"

And they carry him his wife to be, a smile just noticeable through her veil, petit and beautiful, dressed in the finest and most lush silks....

A smiling mullah beckons you both open-armed... "Babas Bibi, for actions of great valor, nobility and truthfulness, the most merciful smiles upon you.... As the rules of Nika, from the Holy Book, verse 4:4 ordian... This is a permanent and blessed bond... You are to inherit from each other.. The tremendous wealth of Babas shall pay for his wife's expenses.. As ahl al Kitab, a Qadi myself and two witnesses, so you Babas Bibi... shall become the husband of ... _Princess_ Sherifa"

"And among God's signs is this: He created for you mates from amongst yourselves that you might find tranquillity and peace in them. And he has put love and kindness among you. Herein surely are signs for those who reflect (The Quaran 30:21)."

"Allah be praised! For only with Allah's will could this young man, Babas Babi, leave the land of the pagans, serve in the courts and now, of the most common birth, be raised so high that he will become Prince of the Immortal Sultanate"

Surely this is not an opportunity to refuse? For after the wedding, we have Wilima, the eternal banquet!

The enthusiastic Babas Bibi confirms he'll marry the Princess.

Borobudur; The Interzone Cabah

Macario slowly opens his eyes to the multitude of sounds that makes up an active market and the smell of a port-side. Beards are stroked, hands are waved, numbers debated. A voice distracts him "Excuse me sir", says a young boy, "can I please buy some of your porcelian?"

Macario finds himself at a stall, where he has some of the finest trading goods he has ever owned. In the distance he can see a magnificant caravel, far greater than anything he has ever owned, and he just *knows* that it his. Around his stall is magnificant porcelain from China, the finest silverware from India, cloves and cinammon from the Spice Islands, steel from Damascus... And so it goes on. Macario is surrounded by the greatest goods from the corners of the earth - and they are all his.

A trader brandishes a strange black stick towards Macario: "Care for some of meat of the black Moorocan caterpillar?", he inquires.

Everything is for sale here, and everyone wants to buy. This is the Interzone Casbah, free from the rantings of priests and so-called scholars, free from the trappings of family life, free from the trivialities of the sensates. Here is the finest goods in the world, where one can be surrounded by magnificant and exotic things from every corner of the earth and some would even say beyond. All working on the brilliant principles of peaceful, voluntary exchange of coin for goods and goods for coin. No true merchant could ever tire of this place!"

"Your porcerlian?" asks the boy again. "Surely, Macario you can sell me some porcelian? My purse is fat, and my desire is great. As is the case with so many, many people in this market. We all know that Macario is a good and honest trader, and that your supplies will always be in demand. We are so happy to have you here. You will stay won't you?"

Finally, after so many miles, after so many sufferings of pagan idolatory, has brought Macario the rewards he fully deserves.

He wonders, though, where his wife and his darling little Macarios and Macarioettes are? Surely she should be preparing some lovely matzel ball
soup - his favourite, done just the way he likes it.

The Most Serene and Perfect Family

"There are ways but the Way is uncharted; There are names but not nature in words: Nameless indeed is the source of creation, but things have a mother and she has a name. The secret waits for the insight of eyes unclouded by longing; Those who are bound by desire see only the outward container."

When one follows the Great Way, one cannot fail but reach the grand cosmic harmony. It is so obvious, as long as one does not fight the normal urges to understand nature, to nurtue one's self, and to put the chaos and disharmony of social life at a distance.

Only in such an environment can one undergo the serenity to study, watch one's children grow, and learn the secrets of immortality. One must be firm and flexible, dynamic and still, to combine heaven and earth.

Wen finds himself in a study and workshop with a cool breeze blowing through the window. He is older, wiser, and so wealthy he will never have to work again. In his workshop and study are all the ancient scrolls he needs, and all the elements and tools.

His study overlooks a garden, where the laughter of his children playing carries like gentle music. Wen picks up a scroll from his desk;

"I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world"
(Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching).

His wife walks in, footsteps gentle like the morning rain. She carries a tray with a herbal tea and some simple foods; wholegrains, seasonal vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and a steaming bowl of tofu.

"Wen?", she asks, "life here is so perfect. Let's not leave this place."

It is perfect. Wen feels a huge desire to stay. Everything he has wanted. Finally, a chance to simply rest and concentrate on what he desires, knowing his family is provided for. In this place the world can finally be put at a distance and Wen can seek harmony.

He takes the food and tea from his wife and enjoys a simple meal.

He swells with joy and happiness and enjoys his meal. He feels fulfilled and peaceful. But yet, there is something.

Contented and at peace, he reaches for the scrolls. He reads the familiar words of the Tao Te Ching.

"The Master doesn't seek fulfillment."

But yet it may find him muses Wen?

He ponders.

"Embrace simplicity.
Put others first.
Desire little. "

Wen wonders how it is that he can have everything he ever desired, but yet truly be putting others first. He has wealth, and accomplishments, but is he truly putting others first? Others, there were others. He struggles to see clearly, to recall. There were others, and he had obligations to them, did he not? A quest, a temple, demons and prophecies and stone princesses and more. How could he be truly following the tao if he abandoned his obligations, and did not put others first? Wen is troubled.

He thinks back on that time, which seems so far away. Times of hardship and danger.

He considers whether it is right to leave others to face these tasks without him. Wen remembers being the only one to face the snake demon, and wonders how they will do without him.

'Wen, why is it that troubles you?' asks his wife.

'Perhaps I still have obligations I must fulfill before I can stay here.'
' What is it you could want for, here where we have everything we could want?'

That is true. Wen feels himself filled with a huge desire to stay. And then he knows. A moment of terrible insight strikes him. The sage is not a slave to desire, and if he stays here that is what he shall be. He thinks of the happiness and joy he can have here, and the hard road of the world outside, and knows that the very urgency of his desire to stay tells him it is not the true path.

He thinks of the parable of the three vinegar tasters. The Buddha, Confucius and Lao-Tse once all tasted a jar of vinegar. To the Buddha it tastes bitter, to Confucius sour, but to Lao-Tse it is sweet. That is the world outside, the world that still has many hard trials he must face.

This place is honey. He must learn to taste the vinegar and find it sweet.

Wen sits and contemplates, calm now that he knows is course, and refreshed from the meal and the joy of seeing his wife once more and the calm scene.

'I have obligations that must be fulfilled. There are others whose needs are greater than my own at this moment. I must leave you once more until my tasks are done.'

She protests, but he is firm in his resolve.

He gathers a few small possessions for travelling, and sets off towards the gateway to the world.

"When you have accomplished your goal simply walk away. This is the path way to Heaven."

He murmurs to himself, and tries to believe it.

Borobudur; The Library of Heaven

Topeng looks up from the stone Sanskrit tablet that he has been studying.

Gone is the jungle, the heat and the incessant bugs. Instead he is in a great hall, where there are books, scrolls, tablets - all as far as the eye can see. A short distance away, he notices a small group of scholars debating the finer points of the Buddhist and Hindu holy books. Assistants scurry back and forth, confirming or denying statements made.

By a window, overlooking rolling plains, he espies a old woman reading Greek physics. Another window along, an Arab man pours over the works of the Mutazilla.

He gets up and walks down the hall, pausing only to look in amazement at some of the most sought after treasures of knowledge he was quested his entire life for. "Aristotle's book on comedy!" he remarks. It is only then, he starts to laugh gently, realising that his limp has completely gone.

The reading room connects to a stately building of white marble and stone by a marble colonade. Within there are one hundred great halls, line with spacious armaria, numbered and titled, the accumulated knowledge of all people's from all corners of the earth from all times. Topeng does a quick mental calculation... "At least 10,000,000 scrolls manuscripts and books...", he mutters.

"Extraordinary isn't it?" says old Indian scholar next to him. "Plato was right after all, you know. The literal library of Alexandria was merely modelled on this formal one, the Library of Heaven. One could - and should - spend eternity here. No more having to worry about petty politics, no need to worry about where one's next meal is coming from. No family responsibilities, no monetary responsibilities, nothing of the sort. Just a community of scholars, dedicated to learning, learning, learning and more learning. No longer will you have to deal with the mentality of peasants, the deception of traders, or the greed of kings. A community of scholars. A college."

"You are an ideal candidate, Topeng. This is a great opportunity. Join us"

Topeng sits for a while on the floor and tries to think what is happeneing.

"I remember...being in Borobudor...we all started falling asleep...was it the Soma?" Topeng ponders this for a few moments "No, it was something else... we all saw images"

The Indian scholar nexts to him tries to prod him on into reading all the books around him but Topeng can feel something is wrong, "Have I lived my life just to see it end in a place of such...decadence?" was that the right word? Topeng wondered. "Could this be the afterlife? The idea of heaven never seemed
so...simple, so easy."

The scholar replies to Topeng as if he was speaking to him in the first place, "The answers to these questions lie in the books around you, you can find
out that this place truly is Heaven and these books are not come by simply but a reward for a hard life of religious servitude!"

Topeng wonders about this as well...if he had truly died...what had it been of? What happened to the rest of them? And why so suddenly if he had spent all this time travelling to Borobudur would his God suddenly end his life? Surely Topeng was in good health...so could this truly be death? "Something is wrong with this place" Topeng mutters, "it is everything I want, not everything I need - I must leave"

Topeng begins searching for an exit but spies books in every direction. "Why leave?" the scholar asks him "your answers are right here. Here are lost scrolls not seen in the mortal realm for thousands of years on the creation of life and the universe, on the creation of Borobudur and this place here. Here is everything you'll ever want, here is EVERYthing, all knowledge all thoughts all history recorded into one library. You have eternity to study it!"

Topeng spies the sanskrit tablet that he had seen in Borobudur before he awoke here. "An eternity to study it, yes" Topeng picks up the tablet "and an eternity of not being able to use any of it to any purpose. What good is all the knowledge in the universe without having a universe to use it in? This place is a prison, a torture chamber, and I will take no part in it!" and with that Topeng smashes the tablet on the ground and the Library of Heaven fades around him...