Book 5 – Horns
Chapter 25 – Simplicity Itself
“Inner Panorama?” Zax got up and asked his Master.
Kartius shook his stag head and said in resignation. “Back then I only gave you an abbreviated explanation of the third form of meditation. I didn’t expect that you will reach it so fast… Naturally, you don’t know about the Inner Panorama”.
“Martial son, Zax”, the use of both names signified to Zax that his Master was about to impart on him some knowledge. “It’s my fault that I did not tell you this before… Now that you adapted to a second bottleneck of insight, in the future you should not mention this one, the first bottleneck and other bottlenecks that you will comprehend. Among cultivators this matter is taboo for discussion. You can’t be sure who comprehended the same bottlenecks as you did. And if you go and talk about it frivolously, there are many indecisive cultivators who can listen to you, have their cultivation negatively impacted and blame you later”.
“Yes, Master”. Zax responded. He did not need his Master anymore to go into details in order to understand the consequence of sharing personal insight recklessly. In the case of the six bottlenecks of insight, if he will expose one of his insights to a second realm cultivator that had yet to comprehend it, the cultivator might dwell over the insight, placing more importance to it than to the bottleneck on his path.
“Good. Next, you just finished adapting to your second bottleneck, in addition to reaching Warood Meditation. Considering your confusion, you most likely have not realized the changes in your sea of consciousness. Inspect it now and don’t try to enter a meditative state while you do it”. Kartius instructed.
Concentrating on his inner mind, Zax entered and observed his sea of consciousness. ‘Eh? The sandy land is still here, and it’s even encompassing a larger space!’ From Zax’s view, the barren landscape, which had dozens of meters before, stretched now to a radius of eighty meters around his soul. ‘Currently, I just leisurely entered my sea of consciousness, yet my mind is exceptionally clear… wasn’t the sandy land a manifestation of Warood Meditation?’ Zax awareness and soul felt vibrant in this supposedly normal state, than he ever was during Adraak Meditation. As for why? Zax was not sure.
Not wanting to make wrong assumption, Zax approached with his awareness to the barren landscape. The moment Zax crossed above the perimeter of the landscape, his awareness manifested, yet again, the form of his naked body, and as his feet touched the warm sand, the sensation of lucidity intensified.
‘I’m feeling ticklish and the fragrance of this place is so sweet’. Along with the effect of his first bottleneck, the effect of the second bottleneck of insight was prominent and actually pleasant now that he adapted to it. ‘Wait, what are these?’
Upon closer inspection, Zax found that a change occurred in the barren landscape... it appeared to have many protrusions. Sweeping the sand with his foot, a centimeter long black bud emerged.
‘A plant?’ Zax raised his head to look at the protrusions. With but a thought, the sand covering the protrusions was swept and more black buds emerged. ‘All of these buds definitely weren’t here before I comprehended the second bottleneck. Could it be that with every bottleneck the sandy land will change? Master also said to inspect my Inner Panorama… is it this sandy land?’
To know the answers to what goes on in his sea of consciousness, Zax used his outer mind to communicate with his Master while absorbing the no longer barren landscape with his inner mind.
“Well, should you ask your questions or should I explain right away?” Kartius ask after seeing his Martial son’s eyes shifting to his direction.
“Please explain, Master”. Zax requested. By now he learned that it is better to gather as much information regarding one’s interests, and only then, if the answer is still too hard to come up with alone, raising questions will not be redundant.
“Very well. Then I will expound a bit more about Warood Meditation and what I omitted previously”. Kartius sat on all four. Even in his animalistic form he gave the air of a scholar as he complied with his Martial son’s preference. “To reach the state of Warood Meditation you know that one must possess an excellent understanding of the subliminal mind. What you aren’t aware of, is how difficult it is to reach this level of understanding of the subliminal mind. We, cultivators, become familiar with the subliminal mind the more we appreciate the spiritual knowledge it gathers from our Martial path. To give you indication of what this level of difficulty is, generally, only third level Core Masters manage to attain a sufficient understanding of their subliminal mind, enough to break through to the state of Warood Meditation. Exceptions are cultivators with innate affinity to the soul aspect, such as little sister. Little sister attained the third form of meditation as a first level Core Master”.
Kartius turned his head away, avoiding Laivien who suddenly seemed pretty pleased with herself, showing a smug on her doe face.
The reason was not discussed outloud, but the abrupt change in the two’s attitude was due to the fact that Kartius had yet to reach the state of Warood Meditation. A fact he hoped to hide from his Martial son, simply for keeping face in front of him, despite being glad for his achievement.
The brother and sister were familiar with each other well enough for Kartius to know that for Laivien to stay quiet, he will have to later indulge her with some demanding request.
Sighing inwardly, Kartius continued. “Astonishingly, you, Martial son, really outdid yourself this time. In all my life I’ve never heard of a first realm expert who broke through the third state of meditation”.
Kartius’s praise almost made Zax to humbly accept it, if not for the memory of the Black Core in his dantian and all of his other amazing accomplishment that were actually credited to it.
“Master, reaching the third realm of Meditation is, too, probably, because of the Black Core”.
“Not necessarily”. Detecting that his Martial son is on the path to developing feelings of dejection toward the Black Core, and knowing the implication those feelings can cause to his future cultivation, Kartius refuted him with a sincere look in his eyes. “To understand the subliminal mind you need to appreciate the spiritual knowledge it gathers. Your subliminal mind possesses a spiritual knowledge far from the ordinary. I believe that through the effort of appreciating this profound spiritual knowledge, apart from cultivating your soul at a remarkable speed, you succeeded in doing the unprecedented breakthrough”.
“Zax, listen to big brother”, Laivien interrupted. “Aren’t you in possession of a formation scripture? See what spiritual knowledge your subliminal mind gathered from it and compare it to the profound spiritual knowledge of your Black Core and the entity you told big brother about. If the latter is really something, then its spiritual knowledge should be harder to appreciate, not to mention, fully comprehend”.
Zax did not need to follow Laivien’s suggestion. He already appreciated both type of spiritual knowledge, and the one related to the Soul Binding formation was a child play in comparison to that of the entity.
“No need. If the differences between spiritual knowledge are the root of the fast progression, then I take back my words and listens to Master and Laivien”. Glad to know of this fact, Zax said laughingly.
“If you understand, then little sister will proceed with you to expound about your Inner Panorama. My purpose here was to see how you do and there are still things I must attend to”. Kartius said and rose on his four legs.
“Ah… Master!” Zax suddenly called. Being able to meet his Master after nearly two weeks, there was a thing on his mind he had to ask. “For progressing to the next form of meditation and comprehending a second bottleneck of insight, am I allowed to return home now?” The words left his mouth very carefully, concealing the dissatisfaction of not receiving an approval the past few times he asked.
Kartius advanced a few step and stopped. “Tomorrow I’ll accompany you. You can take four days”. He departed after catching a glance at the huge smile one his Martial son’s face.
“Huhuhu”, Laivien’s laughter attracted Zax from the blur his Master turned when he left. “Isn’t it great, little Zax, now we know what you need to achieve for big brother to let you a few resting days, merely comprehending bottlenecks of insight, huhuhu!” She taunted for the chance to see his shocked expression.
Indeed Zax was taken aback and his jaw nearly broke free from the rest of his head as it dropped. Only after a few seconds did he realize that Laivien was joking on his expense.
“That’ too much, Laivien, if Master ever deiced such a thing I might as well forget about the place called ‘Kingdom Earth’”. Even with the sparks of light that contained the bottlenecks of insight and made his cultivation a lot simpler and easier… before the day he will discover the sixth bottleneck, Zax could not be sure that they all exist among the spiritual knowledge of his subliminal mind.
“Huhuhu, little Zax’s face his lovely when pouting. Fine, fine, treat this joke as payment for my explanation”. Seeing Zax growing angry, Laivien reverted to the matter at hand.
“Little Zax, the Inner Panorama, that is the patch of land surrounding your soul, can you describe it to me”.
“When I first broke through, it looked like a sparkling desert and had a radius of dozens of meters. I’m not sure if it’s related… after I adapted to the second bottleneck, the radius of the desert increased and black buds started to emerge from underneath the sand”.
Laivien nodded as Zax came to a halt. His description was accurate to the scene she saw when she used the violet stone to strength her soul and barge into his sea of consciousness. As for the black buds, the expression of the gentle yet mischievous doe head grew curious for a moment, and then another nod was given.
“Since you and I comprehended the same amount of bottlenecks of insight, I can only narrate my Kartion’s words… the Inner Panorama evolves parallel to the number of bottlenecks of insight you comprehend. After the second bottleneck, the first sign of plants began to appear. The coloring of the plants corresponds to the attribute of the cultivator. The buds in my Inner Panorama are white due to the light attribute of my soul. Yours and my Kartion are black due to the dark attribute. Cultivators who had yet to obtain an attribute have transparent plants that will only gain coloration after assimilating an attribute”. Sensing the question on the tip of Zax’s tongue, Laivien proceeded in the same breath. “In New Earth there are four types of attributes. Light, dark, fiery and icy. Either of the four can only be found in the Savage Caves. The objective of my Kartion’s Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refinement technique is an attempt to enable its practitioner to assimilate both the fiery and icy attributes”.
‘Light, dark, fiery and icy?’ Zax was flabbergasted. He did not know that there were so many attributes and expected to find out only about one more besides the two he already knew. “Wait, what?! Master said that a person can only have one attribute…”
“Huhuhu, big brother wasn’t lying. I only said that it’s the objective of my Kartion’s Qi refinement technique. Currently, none of his apprentices managed to assimilate both attributes. Also, the fiery and icy attributes are the hardest to find, so it’s not worth the headache thinking about it”.
“Oh…” Zax calmed down. His dark attribute alone supplied him with so many benefits. It was too ridicules to imagine what can be achieved with two attributes!
“The Inner Panorama, little Zax, now that you reached Warood Meditation will never disappear. The state of Warood Meditation, unlike Somnolence Meditation and Adraak Meditation is constant. From now on, your mind will always possess a new level of lucidity, which will tremendously assist your future cultivation. Furthermore, in the times you’ll settle your awareness within the Inner Panorama your perception will only grow stronger when pondering over different methods and techniques”.
‘So that’s why the sandy- Inner Panorama appeared in my sea of consciousness despite me not meditating. Rather, it seems that now I’ll never need to meditate to maintain a higher level of comprehension’. Zax thought excitingly.
“Regrettably, at this point, your subliminal mind will no longer gather spiritual knowledge”. Laivien’s following words were like a bucket of ice cold water that caused turmoil in Zax’s head.
Being incapable of gathering spiritual knowledge?!
Appreciating pieces of spiritual knowledge was Zax’s substitute to soul refinement technique. Granted, only profound spiritual knowledge, which can only be gained by fortuitous encounters, is suitable to cultivate the soul, Zax still possessed a vast collection of a profound spiritual knowledge such as this thanks to the entity, but that was only good enough for the time being. Who knows what the future hold? If someday he will fully comprehend the entity’s spiritual knowledge, to cultivate his soul further he would have to resort to soul refinement techniques and forget of his subliminal mind ever gathering new profound spiritual knowledge.
With respect to soul refinement techniques, though Zax was familiar with only the Inner Spirit formation, he was fairly certain that nowhere in all of New Earth there is a soul refinement technique that is better than the entity spiritual knowledge.
Zax complexion paled as Laivien finished the sentence. Seeing the rapid transformation from his healthy facade to a rather sickly one, made Laivien flinch. “Little Zax, are you okay?!”
“Ah… you said that my subliminal mind will never gather spiritual knowledge?” Zax nervously asked in a weak voice, to be sure he had heard correctly
“Yes. Although it’s very helpful, for someone in the constant state of Warood Meditation there is no need for the subliminal mind to gather spiritual knowledge. Actually, the state of Warood Meditation aids your conscious mind so much that it surpasses the subliminal mind. Anything your subliminal mind could gather for you to appreciate, your conscious mind, from now on, will be able to perceive and study on your own much better”.
“So that’s it…” Zax heaved a pent up breath and blood slowly returned to his face. Still, he was not completely relieved. It just dawned on him that one day he will comprehend the entity’s spiritual knowledge regardless of his subliminal mind gathering spiritual knowledge or not. What that time arrive, he will have to start looking for the best soul refinement technique out there. ‘…Laivien is right. Some stuff are better not to dwell over when there is nothing that I can do. If one day I will be in need of a soul refinement technique, I will deal with it then’. Zax firmly made up his mind.
“Silly boy”, Laivien was not finished. “Have you forgotten that the subliminal mind is a construct that is being used in Adraak Meditation? The principle of breaking through new levels is improving, not deteriorating. Go and have a look at your soul formation scripture and see how much you can perceive from it with your conscious mind in comprehension to what your subliminal mind gathered from it”. Laivien nudged him off to pick up the casing and take out the scripture of the Soul Binding formation.
Zax hastily complied.
Rolling the scripture open and having a look at the drawn formation, in but a few breaths of time, it was like a light bulb lit in his head.
“The precise location to erect the formation!” It was not written anywhere in the scripture, but from his own experience with the Soul Binding formation, couple with the soberness of his new state of mind, detecting the right place in his sea of consciousness to erect the formation was simplicity itself.