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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

one morning that he would like his pay, and thereupon desert me
for the more sociable and civilized city of Delhi, where I engaged
him. I can very well attend to my meals with my own hands—alas
that even mystics must eat!—and would even prefer that to having
the calm atmosphere of these mountains disturbed by troubled
thoughts. The preparation of a savoury supper is not at all beyond
my culinary capacity. "Peace at any price"—once the favoured
motto of a certain English political party—has become my motto
also. Those Yogis who retired of old to these Himalayan recesses
took none but devoted disciples with them into their solitary retreats
to attend to their worldly needs: now I understand why. And
although I am not a Yogi—at least, in the orthodox sense—my
purpose here is very much like theirs.

The revelations which I receive from my post-bag are sometimes
extraordinary. Here is a man in Czecho-Slovakia who tells me that
more than two thousand people have quietly been banded together
in his small country, purposely to study the secret wisdom of the
Spirit and to practise meditation regularly as a means of attaining
thereto. Here is a letter from an Indian barrister practising in the
High Court of a large city, who is attempting to organize a spiritual
retreat in the Himalayan foothills as a place whither he and other
professional men may fly for vacations and still their overworked
minds.

Here is an invitation from a European psychic research com-
mittee to witness and investigate a demonstration of walking on red-
hot coals. Alas! distance prevents my attendance, but in any case I
would prefer to witness and investigate the setting of the sun amid a
blaze of golden light.

Here is a journalist friend, who, plunged for twenty years into
every kind of misfortune and who with proud head but empty purse
tried to make a show before the world, suddenly finds his fate
reversed and all the gifts of destiny begin to pour into his lap.

Here is an eighty-year-old Hindu disciple-hunting charlatan in
Madras, who offers, in a duplicated letter, to give me "initiations for
God (sic) and to revive those Greater Mysteries which have been so
jealously guarded, and to be put freely and openly before the eyes of
men who deserve the same". But "as it is necessary to find a per-
manent building and facilities requisite for doing this work and also
for my daily prayers, I charge a nominal fee of 108 rupees for the
rich, 40 rupees for the middle class, and 9 rupees for the poor'*.
Thank heaven, I can receive an "initiation for God" here in the
silent mountains without paying a penny, and it will be a better kind
of initiation than that old rupee-hunter is ever likely to give. But I
wonder why he sent that letter to me? I am sufficiently well known

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