It was obvious from the dead dog and the crossbow arrow that someone from Ayatana had found me. I had to leave immediately. I no longer could put a John in danger.

My instincts told me to slowly back away from the dog and move toward the denser part of the forest, but just as I took a step I felt a pinch, then a burning. It didn’t feel at all like an arrow, but sure enough, there was an arrow through my side with its feathers sticking out near my naval and the tip protruding from my back. I immediately dove into the bushes before another arrow could find its mark convinced that only one assailant was involved. If there were more than one attacker, an avalanche of arrows would have found their marks. It was a solitary bounty hunter.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first arrow to violate my body; so I knew what to do. I rolled into the forest, broke off the feathers, reached behind and pulled it out.

I felt nothing. I never did in battle. My anger overrode any other feelings and masked any pain that I might otherwise have experienced. The only thing I felt was rage for the one who shot me - because he was a dead man.

I sat there not moving or breathing with blood running down my leg. I listened for a telltale sound - and there it was; a subtle rustling in the bush unnoticeable to an untrained ear. Like a stalking tiger I silently circled until I came up behind a robed man! He was hiding by a mango tree. He turned and put his hands up in alarm.

“Please don’t harm me! I saw the one who shot you - a warrior from Ayatana. When he saw you pull the arrow from your side, he became afraid and ran off.”

The robed man then became silent, looking at me with pleading eyes. He was definitely a key seeker; at least he wore the robe, and a clay pot lay next to him.

“I am Moosawa,” he said, smiling thinly. “Please come closer and sit down so I can look at your wound.”

Suddenly someone was running toward us.

“He leaves me for only a few moments and look what happens!” a John said breathlessly as he inspected the damage.

“My name is Moosawa,” the key seeker said introducing himself and bowing to a John. “A warrior has shot your friend, but the assailant has fled.”

A John inspected the wound ignoring Moosawa, and asked me if it was serious.

“I have had worse,” I said.

“We are fortunate that you were so near,” a John said to Moosawa. “You are welcome to join us if you wish.”

“Oh, if only I could,” Moosawa replied, “I am sure it would be delightful; however I am expected in the community of key seekers by next week where I have important duties to perform, so I must be on my way. Unless of course I can help you with this wounded key seeker.”

“Well, then thank you my friend,” a John said, “but we can manage. We will be journeying to the community before the rains as well. Perhaps we will meet again.”

“Of course,” said Moosawa, “I was just fortunate to be in the area and witness the attempt on this poor man’s life. It is none of my business why someone would want to harm him, and I would be better off not knowing, I’m sure. So I will continue on my journey and will perhaps see you during the monsoon.” With this, Moosawa bowed and walked hurriedly down the path.

A John shook his head, looked at me and said, “You are certainly full of surprises! Let’s take care of that wound.”

The village doctor had a great time treating my wound. He came to the forest every morning along with a John who would be coming back from alms round carrying both our bowls. After we would eat, a John always had a few words of wisdom for the doctor.

One day I was feeling better and asked a John to give me a few words of wisdom as well, and tell me more about my ‘self.’

“Of course,” a John smiled. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything?”

”When you study the self, King, with the help of your inner work, you will intimately become familiar with this ‘self.’ Once you become familiar with the self, you will someday be able to forget the self. Once you forget all about the self, you will be very close to finding your key. Now, do you want to learn about this self through your own experience, or will you take my word for it?”

What did he mean by that? I was confused. I had assumed that I knew all about myself! I was an expert about myself!! Look! Here I am! I’m a key seeker! I could not imagine that I did not intimately know myself. “I know all about myself,” I said to a John, “and if there is more to know I would certainly rather find out for myself than take your word for it!”

“Excellent!” A John agreed. “Never believe anything you cannot prove true for yourself! So, to learn more about your ‘self’ and determine if that self is real, where do you want to begin? Should you begin by inquiring deep inside, and investigating this body and mind to see if it is real? But hold on! Since your mind is what you will be using to investigate itself, it won’t be completely honest with you, will it? Your mind is a fox guarding the hen house, and you can’t trust it. Your investigations will definitely be skewed and propagandized.”

“But my mind is all I have to work with. So what do I do?” I asked with a perplexed look.

“What can you do to investigate this matter? Good question! A very important question, actually - Is the king real or not? Who or what is this self? What is the answer?

“The answer would have to involve the experience of Infinity! Once your mind touches Infinity, your mind will become honest and reveal truth so you can believe the results of the investigation. So, the next question is: how do we touch this Infinity with our mind?”

I had to admit I was lost again. Everything was mixed up. What choice did I have other than trust this little man?

“It is extraordinarily easy to touch Infinity,” he exclaimed. “We simply calm the mind with the help of the inner work so that Infinity can surface. Infinity is inside all of us, right here (as a John pointed to his heart). It is not hovering in the sky or sitting in the heavens. It is very close. It simply needs encouragement to make itself known. It needs some support so that it knows we are thinking of more than ourselves for a moment.

“When you receive a present, you must be unwrap it, yes? It must be opened to see what is inside. Similarly, with the assistance of the inner work, we must open our minds so that Infinity can, likewise, make its presence known.”

“How do I open my mind?” I asked. But before a John could answer we both heard a villager running down the trail.

“Please excuse me, a John,” she said breathlessly, “but soldiers are now camping not far from here. We are watching them and will alert you if they come closer.”

A John thanked the woman and waited until she started back down the trail to the village. Then he looked at me and said, “It is time for us to leave this part of the forest. We can’t delay. After we make our rounds in the village tomorrow, we will travel to a safer place.”