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".