I’ve spent the past few days working through the exercises. Friar Francis seems to have an endless supply of these puzzle boxes, each one with a new aspect that I need to discover. The puzzles grew more challenging, and that helped me develop new techniques for attacking each new puzzle.
In the evening, when they left to my own devices I continued to probe the barriers enclosing the cell. I think they were monitoring my progress and changing the structure of the entwined barriers. It seemed that I would get so far then it would change and I would lose the progress that I had made. It was frustrating, but at least it proved that the shield around the cell was vulnerable.
On the fourth day Friar Francis introduced a change in the training program. Before he got started I asked him if there had been any progress in locating Lazarus.
“Nothing concrete, but there has been some unusual activity near the site of an ancient temple on the island of Cyprus. There’s been no direct sighting of Lazarus himself, but some strangers have been spotted in a nearby village. Luckily for us the area is so remote anything, or anybody new stands out.”
“If this is Lazarus’ people we’ll have to move out there soon, probably in the next few days. So we need to push things forward a bit faster than I’d like.”
“Today we’re going to shift focus. Before we started I said there were two things you needed to work on to become ready. You’ve been working pretty hard on the first issue and you’ve picked it up quickly, I’m hoping you’ll do the same with today’s new subject – symbols.”
“Symbols are a way of visualising the effect you are trying to achieve. For most people symbols provide the only mechanism for developing these abilities. Usually we start with learning how to leave your body, but I think we can skip that step with you.”
I close my eyes for a moment so I can miss that smile. It’s still there when I open my eyes.
“Symbols can be used as a focus for what you think, or as a guide for what you want others to think. Let’s start with a simple, but very useful trick. Making yourself invisible.”
“You’re not actually invisible of course. The affected people will just ignore you, so don’t try using it against cameras. “
“Now expand your awareness and fill the room.”
I do as I’m told.
“Now copy put the image of the room in your head. Don’t worry too much about the little details, focus on the broad brush strokes, people will fill in the details for themselves. When you have the image fixed in your head, remove yourself from the picture.”
It’s surprisingly difficult to remove myself from the picture. There’s some part of me that keeps putting me back in there. It’s as if some part of me is afraid that removing myself from the picture is removing me from reality.
Friar Francis sees my problem. “Instead of removing yourself from the picture, try painting yourself transparent, you’re still there, you can just see through yourself.”
That works. I now have the room in my head, I can see through myself.
“That’s good.” Says the Friar. “Now, expand your awareness again, this time carry the picture with you. Let your picture of the room fill the room.”
I repeat this a few times until he is satisfied, then he instructs me to delve into Hammond’s mind and look through his eye. A moment later I am looking through Hammond’s eyes, I can see everything as before. There’s me sitting in the chair. I’m confused.
“You’re too used to delving, try looking through his eyes as filtered by his brain, not directly through the eyes.” I can hear amusement in his voice. I do as he says and pull back from his eyes and into his mind. I see myself fade away. Wow.
“That’s good. Now let’s see you keep it up with more than one person.” He walks to the door and after opening it he calls down the hallway. For the next twenty minutes different people, guards mostly from their uniforms. As I delve in their minds I notice that like Hammond they all have that monolith at the centre of their minds. The rock that anchors their thoughts, I suddenly realise what it is. It’s their faith. It is their faith that centres them. Each person’s is different, a different look, a different size, but it’s always in the same place.
Only people here seem to have them.
On a few occasions the picture slips, I quickly recover and hold the image steady. I believe my mistake was trying to push the image into each person one by one. I just need to hold the image straight and let it fill the room.
“You picked that up quickly. It can be very useful, but as I said it won’t work with technology. Its other drawback is that it won’t work with people who can shield their minds. Or rather it won’t work if a person has their mind shielded.”
For the rest of the day I continued to practice. A succession of people walked through my expanded awareness and they didn’t see me.
While we ate dinner, Friar Francis continued to talk about symbols.
“For most people, they inherit the symbols they use from the world around us. For us in the church we already have a rich history of symbols to draw upon. Probably the most obvious is the cross, its simplicity provides a powerful focus. With it we can focus our will, use it as a shield or as a weapon.”
“For you it makes more sense for you to create your own symbols. They’re just a tool to help refine your ability. You have no shared history to gain any benefit from established symbols. So use what feels right for you. Allow your will to shape the symbol and symbol will then focus your will.”
I let that sink in and think about the rocks in all of their heads. I wonder what would happen if those rocks broke.