An Old British Colonel
One afternoon some years ago, I was sitting in the park reading an afternoon paper, when an elderly gentleman walked up and seated himself alongside me. Appearing to be in his late sixties, he was gray and balding, his shoulders drooped, and he leaned on a cane as he walked. Little did I know that from that moment, the whole course of my life would be changed forever.
It wasn't long before the two of us were engaged in a fascinating conversation. It turned out that the old man was a retired British Army Officer, who had also served in the diplomatic corps for the Crown. As a result, he had traveled, at one time or another, to virtually every corner of the globe. And Colonel Bradford, as I Shall call him, though it is not his real name, held me spellbound with highly entertaining stories of his adventures.
When we parted, we agreed to meet again, and, before long, a close friendship had developed between us. Frequently we got together at his place or mine for discussions and conversation that lasted late into night.
On one of these occasions, it became clear to me that there was something of importance that Colonel Bradford wanted to talk about, but for some reason was reluctant to do so. I attempted to tactfully put him at ease, assuring him that if he wanted to tell me what was on his mind, I would keep it in strict confidence. Slowly at first, and then with increasing trust, he began to talk.
While stationed in India some years ago, Colonel Bradford had, from time to time, come in contact with wandering natives from remote regions of the interior, and he had heard many fascinating stories of their life and customs. One strange tale that particularly caught his interest was repeated quite a number of times, and always by the natives of a particular district. Those from other districts seemed never to have heard of it.
It concerned a group of Lamas, or Tibetan priests who, according to the story, knew the secret of the "Fountain of Youth". For thousands of years, this extraordinary secret had been handed down by members of this particular sect. And while they made no effort to conceal it, their monastery was so remote and isolated, they were virtually cut off from the outside world.
The monastery and its "fountain of Youth" had become something of a legend to the natives who spoke of it. They told stories of old men who mysteriously regained health, strength, and vigor after finding and entering the monastery. But no one seemed to know the exact location of this strange and marvelous place.
Like so many other men, Colonel Bradford had become old at the age of 40 and since then had not been growing any younger. The more he heard of this miraculous "Fountain of Youth" the more he became convinced that such a place really existed. He began to gather information on directions, the character of the country, the climate, and other data that might help him locate the spot. Once his investigation had begun, the Colonel became increasingly obsessed with a desire to find this "Fountain of Youth".
The desire, he told me, had become so irresistible , he had decided to return to India and earnestly search for this retreat and its secret of lasting youth. And Colonel Bradford asked me if I would join him in the search.
Normally, I would be the first to be skeptical of such an unlikely story. But the colonel was completely sincere. And the more he told me of this "Fountain of Youth", the more I became convinced that it could be true. For a while, I was tempted to join the Colonel's search. But as I began to take practical matters into consideration, I finally sided with reason and decided against it.
As soon as Colonel Bradford had left, I began to doubt whether I had made the right decision. To reassure myself, I reasoned that perhaps it is a mistake to want to conquer aging. Perhaps we should all resign ourselves to growing old gracefully, and not ask more from life than others expect.
Yet in the back of my mind the haunting possibility remained: a "A Fountain of Youth"." What a thrilling idea! For his sake, I hoped that the colonel might find it.
This can't be Colonel Bradford
Years passed, and in the press of everyday affairs Colonel Bradford and his "Shangri La" grew dim in my memory. Then one evening on returning to my apartment, I found a letter in the Colonel's own handwriting. I quickly opened and read the message that appeared to have been written in joyous desperation. The Colonel said that in spite of frustrating delays and setbacks, he believed that he was actually on the verge of finding the "Fountain of Youth". He gave no return address, but I was at least relieved to know that the Colonel was still alive.
Many more months passed before I heard from him again. When a second letter finally arrived, my hands almost trembled as I opened it. For a moment I could not believe its content. The news was better than I could possibly have hoped. Not only had the Colonel found the "Fountain of Youth" he was bringing it back to the States with him, and would arrive sometime within the next two months.
Four years had elapsed since I had last seen my old friend. And I began to wonder how he might have changed in that period of time. Had this "fountain of Youth" enabled him to stop the clock on advancing age? Would he look as he did when I last saw him, or would he appear to be only one year older instead of four?
Eventually the opportunity to answer these questions arrived. While I was at home alone one evening, the house phone rang unexpectedly. When I answered, the doorman announced, "Colonel Bradford is here to see you." A rush of excitement came over me as I said, "Send him right up." Shortly , the bell rang and I threw the door open. But to my disappointment I saw before me not Colonel Bradford , but another much younger man. Noting my surprise the stranger said, " Weren't you expecting me?"
"I thought it would be someone else," I answered, a little puzzled and confused.
"I thought I would be receiving a more enthusiastic welcome." said the visitor in a friendly voice. " Look closely at my face. Do I need to introduce myself?"
Confusion turned to bewilderment and then amazed disbelief as I stared at the figure before me. Slowly, I realized that the features of his face did indeed resemble those of Colonel Bradford. But this man looked as the Colonel might have looked years ago in the prime of his life. Instead of a stooping, sallow old man with a cane, I saw a tall straight figure. His face was robust, and he had a thick growth of dark hair with scarcely a trace of gray.
" It is indeed I." said the Colonel, "and if you don't ask me inside, I'll think your manners badly lacking."
In joyous relief I embraced the Colonel , and unable to contain my excitement, I ushered him in under a barrage of questions.
"Wait, wait," he protested good naturedly. "Allow yourself to catch your breadth, and I'll tell you everything that's happened. And this he proceeded to do.
The Return Of Youth
As soon as he arrived in India, the Colonel started directly for the district where the fabled "Fountain of youth" allegedly existed. Fortunately he knew quite a bit of the native language, and he spent many months establishing contacts and befriending people. Then he spent many months putting together the pieces of the puzzle. It was a long slow process, but persistence finally won him the coveted prize. After a long and perilous expedition into the remote reaches of the Himalayas, he finally found the monastery which, according to legend, held the secret of lasting youth and rejuvenation.
I only wish that time and space permitted me to record all of the things that Colonel Bradford experienced after being admitted to the monastery. Perhaps it is better that I do not, for much of it sounds more like fantasy than fact. The interesting practices of the Lamas, their culture, and their utter indifference to the outside world are hard for western man to grasp and understand.
In the monastery, older men and women were nowhere to be seen. The Lamas good naturedly referred to the Colonel as "the Ancient One" for it had been a very long time since they had seen anyone who looked as old as he. To them he was the most novel sight.
"For the first two weeks after I arrived," said the Colonel, "I was like a fish out of water. I marveled at everything I saw, and, at times, could hardly believe what was before my eyes. Soon., my health began to improve, I was able to sleep soundly at night, and every morning I awoke feeling more and more refreshed and energetic. Before long, I found that I needed my cane only when hiking in the mountains.
One morning, some time after I arrived, I got the biggest surprise of my life. I had entered, for the first time, a large well-ordered room in the monastery, the one that was used as a kind of library for ancient manuscripts. At one end of the room there was a full length mirror. Because I had traveled for the past two years in this remoter and primitive region, I had not in all that time seen my reflection in a mirror. So with some curiosity I stepped before the glass.
"I stared at the image in front of me in disbelief. My physical appearance had changed so dramatically that I looked fully 15 years younger than my age. For so many years I had dared hope that the "Fountain of Youth" might truly exist. Now, before my very eyes, there was physical proof of its reality.
"Words cannot describe the joy and elation which I felt. In the weeks and months ahead, my appearance continued to improve, and the change became increasingly apparent to all who knew me. Before long , my honorary title, 'The Ancient One', was heard no more."
At this point the Colonel was interrupted by a knock at the door. I opened it to admit a couple who, though they were good friends of mine, had picked an inopportune moment to visit. Concealing my disappointment as best I could, I introduced them to the Colonel and we all chatted together for a while. Then the Colonel rose and said, I am sorry that I must leave so early, but I have another commitment this evening. I hope I shall see all of you again soon." At the door, he turned to me and said softly, "Could you have lunch with me tomorrow? I promise, if you do, you'll hear all about "The Fountain of Youth."
We agreed to meet at a time and place, and the Colonel departed. As I returned to my friends, one of them remarked, "He certainly is a fascinating man, but he looks awfully young to be retired from the army service."
"How old do you think he is?" I asked.
"Well he doesn't look forty," answered my guest, but from the conversation I would gather he's at least that old."
"Yes, at least," I said evasively. And then I steered the conversation to another topic, I wasn't about to repeat the Colonel's incredible story, at least not until he had fully explained everything.
The next day, after having lunch together, the Colonel and I went up to his room in a nearby hotel. And there, at last, he told me in full detail about "The Fountain of Youth".
The Seven Vortexes
"The first important thing that I was taught after entering the monastery," said the Colonel," was this: the body has seven energy centers which in English could be called vortexes. The Hindus call them Chakras. They are powerful electrical or something fields, invisible to the eye but quite real nonetheless. Each of these seven Vortexes centers on one of the seven ductless glands in the body's endocrine system, and it stimulates the gland’s hormonal output. It is these hormones which regulate all of the body's functions, including the process of aging.
" The lowest or first Vortex centers on the reproductive glands (1). The second vortex centers on the pancreas in the abdominal region (2). The third centers on the adrenal gland in the solar plexus region (3). The fourth vortex centers on the thymus gland in the chest or heart region (4). The fifth centers on the thyroid gland in the neck (5). The sixth centers on the pineal gland at the rear base of the brain (6). And the seventh, highest vortex centers on the pituitary gland at the forward base of the brain (7).
These energy vortexes revolve at a great speed. When all are revolving at a high speed and at the same rate of speed, the body is in perfect health. When one or more of them slow down, aging and physical deterioration set in.
"In a healthy body each of these vortexes revolves at a great speed, permitting vital life energy, also called 'prana' or 'etheric energy', to flow upward through the endocrine system. But if one or more of these vortexes begins to slow down, the flow of vital life energy is inhibited or blocked, which is another name for aging and ill health.
"In a healthy individual, these spinning vortexes extend outward from the flesh, yet in the old, weak and sickly they hardly reach the surface. The quickest way to regain youth, health and vitality is to start these energy centers spinning normally again. There are five simple exercises that will accomplish this. Any one of them alone is also helpful, but all five are required to get best results. These five exercises are not really exercises at all. The Lamas called them 'rites' and that is how I shall refer to them too.
Rite Number One
"The first rite", continued the Colonel, “is a simple one . It is done for the express purpose of speeding up the vortexes. Children do it all the time when playing.
"All that you do is stand erect with your arms outstretched horizontally, parallel to the floor. Now spin around until you become slightly dizzy. One thing is important: you must spin from left to right. In other words, if you looked at a clock on the floor face-up, you would turn in the same direction as its hands.
"At first, most adults will be able to spin around only about half a dozen times before becoming quite dizzy. As a beginner, you shouldn't attempt to do any more. And if you feel like sitting or lying down to recover from the dizziness, then, by all means, you should do just that. I certainly did that at first. To begin with, practice this rite only to the point of slight dizziness. But with time, as you practice all the five rites, you will be able to spin more and more with less dizziness.
"Also in order to lessen dizziness, you can do what dancers and figure skates do. Before you begin to spin , focus your vision on a single point straight ahead. As you begin to turn, continue holding your vision on that point as long as possible. Eventually, you have to let it leave your field of vision, so that your head can spin on around with the rest of your body. As this happens, turn your head around quickly, and refocus your point as soon as you can. This reference point enables you to become less disoriented and dizzy.
When I was in India, it amazed me to see the Maulawiyah or, as they are most commonly known, the whirling dervishes almost unceasingly spin around in a religious frenzy. After being introduced to rite no one, I recalled two things in connection with this practice. First, the whirling dervishes always spun in one direction, from left to right, or clockwise. Secondly, the older dervishes were virile, strong and robust. Far more so than most men in their age.
"When I spoke to one of the Lamas about this , he informed me that this whirling movement of the dervishes did have a very beneficial effect but also a devastating one. He explained that the excessive spinning over-stimulates some of the vortexes, so that they get finally exhausted. This had the effect of first accelerating the flow of vital life energy, and then blocking it. This building up and tearing down action causes the dervishes to experience a kind of 'psychic rush'. which they mistake for something spiritual or religious.
"However," continued the Colonel, " the Lamas do not carry the whirling to an excess. While the whirling dervishes may spin around hundreds of times, the Lamas only do it about a dozen times or so, just enough to stimulate the vortexes into action."
Rite Number Two
"Following rite number one," continued the Colonel, “is a second rite which further stimulates the seven vortexes. It is even simpler to do. In rite number two, one first lies flat on the floor, face up. It’s best to lie down on a thick rug or some sort of padded surface. The Lamas perform the rites on what Westerners call a prayer rug, about two feet wide and six feet long. It's fairly thick, and is made of wool and a kind of vegetable fiber. It serves solely the purpose of insulating the body f
rom the cold floor. Nevertheless, religious significance is attached to everything the Lamas do, and hence the name 'prayer rug'.
Once you have stretched out flat on your back, fully extend your arms along your sides and place the palms of your hands against the floor, keeping the fingers close together. Then, raise your head off the floor, tucking the chin against the chest. As you do so, lift your legs, knees straight, into a vertical position. If possible , let the legs extend back over the body, toward the head. However, do not let the knees bend. Then slowly lower both the head and the legs, knees still straight, to the floor. Allow all your muscles to relax and then repeat the rite. With each repetition, establish a breathing rhythm. Breathe in as you lift your head and legs and breathe out as you lower them. The deeper you breathe the better.
"If you are unable to keep your knees perfectly straight , then let them bend a bit but no more than absolutely necessary. Yet as you continue practicing this rite, attempt to straighten them as much as you possibly can.
"One of the Lamas told me that when he first attempted to practice this simple rite, he was so old , weak and decrepit that he couldn't possibly lift his legs straight up. So he did it the way that this thighs were straight up while his shins hung down. Little by little he was able to straighten out his legs until, at the end of three months, he could raise them straight with perfect ease.
"I marveled at this particular Lama," said the Colonel. "When he told me this, he was a perfect picture of health and youth, although I knew he was many years older than I. For the sheer joy of exercise, he used to carry loads of vegetables weighing fully a hundred pounds on his back from the garden to a village several hundred feet above. He took his time but never once stopped on the way up. When he arrived, he didn't seem to be in the least exhausted. The first time I attempted to follow him up the hill, I had to stop at least a dozen times to catch my breadth. Later, I was able to climb the hill as easily as he and without my cane. But that is another story."
Rite Number Three
"The third rite should be practiced immediately after rite number two. It too is a very simple one. All that you need to do is kneel on the floor against the thigh muscles.
"Now incline the head and neck forward, tucking the chin against the chest. Then throw the head and neck back as far as they will go and, at the same time, lean backwards, arching the spine. As you arch your spine, you will brace your arms and hands against the thighs for support. After that, return to the original position and start the rite all over again.
"As with the rite number two, you should establish a rhythmic breathing pattern. Breathe in deeply as you arch the spine. Breathe out as you return to an erect position. Deep breathing is most beneficial, so take as much air into your lungs as you possibly can.
"I saw more than 200 Lamas perform this rite together. In order to turn their attention within, they closed their eyes. In this manner, they eliminated distractions, and could focus their attention inwardly.
"Thousands of years ago, the Lamas discovered that all the answers to life's imponderable mysteries are found within. They discovered that all of the things which go together to create our lives originate within the individual . Western man has never been able to understand and comprehend this concept. He thinks, as I did, that our lives are shaped by the uncontrollable forces of the material world. For example, most westerners think it is a law of nature that our bodies must grow old and deteriorate. By looking within, the Lamas know this to be a self fulfilling illusion.
"The Lamas , especially those at this particular monastery, are performing a great deal of work for the world. It is performed, however at the astral plane. From this plane , they assist mankind around the globe , for it is high above the vibrations of the physical world and is a powerful focal point where much can be accomplished with little effort.
"One day, the world will awaken in amazement to see the results of the great work performed by these Lamas and the unseen forces. The time is fast approaching the point of a new age, and a new world will be revealed. That will be a time when man learns to liberate the powerful inner forces at his command to overcome war and pestilence, hatred and bitterness.
"The so called 'civilized' mankind is, in truth, living in the darkest of dark ages. However, we are being prepared for better and more glorious things. Each one of us who strives to raise his of her consciousness raises that of the whole mankind. So performing the five rites has an impact far beyond the physical benefits one achieves."
Rite Number Four
|Metaphorical representation of “future” in British political discourse||Journal of The British Interplanetary Society, Vol 43, pp. 265-272,1990|
|Journal of The British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 44, pp. 371-376,1991||Документы|
1. /British Slang Dictionary/britslang.txt
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1. /Tec/3d perevod.doc