Silus was not a completely barren world. Near the polar caps, at the right time of the year, assuming one knew where to go and Von did, lush mountains and pristine lakes could be found.

Von would often sit from dawn to dusk watching the change in light and the beauty of nature unfolding in perfect solitude. Stillness calmed the soul and soothed the mind. Most Zing Tao would tell you after day fourteen, the mind and body settled on a new level as if reaching the floor of the ocean after gently floating down from the choppy surface above. The metaphor made sense. The feeling of isolation and peace seemed most like being underwater, floating in soundlessness within the great expanse of interconnectiveness.

In these moments, called by experienced Zing Tao, third-week insights, Von saw most clearly the mind as tool—an instrument to be used when needed and set aside when it was the wrong tool. Finding the off button, well, that was the challenge.

When he entered the order, Von never saw himself as anything other than one and the same with his mind and his thoughts. On Silus, however, the gap between the two, especially in the third week, became most discernible. It had always been there, much like the Milky Way does not disappear in the city, but time on Silus was like seeing the sky in complete darkness, or in this case the mind, from a place of absolute stillness.

In these moments of stillness Von swam in direct experience, a sense of no separation between himself and the experience before him—no filters, no layers, no opinions, no judgments, no concepts, no words or ideas. As soon as words appeared in his mind to describe what was happening, he immediately saw and felt separation and falseness. Learning to let the words drop, as if falling from the sky of his mind, he saw clearly again.

Von’s first reaction to this third-week insight led again to false view, or unskillful reaction as Zeke called it. He judged it and in the judging created the very separation he thought he had overcome. Quickly, he realized his folly; yet again the mind wormed its way in the backdoor in the guise of pride. Von saw that too and neither resisting nor judging allowed the mind to dance its dance. As often the case, the mind became bored and grew weary. And Von returned to the stillness of direct experience.

To know a matter, was one thing. To be able to assimilate the knowledge and apply it was quite another. What Dauculus had been for the order as a whole, the Javalina inquisitors had been for Von himself; namely, the opportunity to put into practice the lessons from the classroom. Without Silus, Von felt he would neither have survived his torture nor recovered after the event. As strange as it sounded to the average Hynerian, Von forever thanked his inquisitors, sending them as much compassion and love as he could. He truly had no hate, no bitterness in his heart.

Opening the door, Von walked into Kyra’s room and took a seat right next to her bed. She still slept, looking as peaceful as the mountain lakes in his memory. General alarm sounded. Von heard it and let it go. Rog would handle whatever the emergency was. He was needed here now; each to their own, in time and place, unfolding in the natural order. His time was now, and his place was here.

As if on queue, Kyra opened her eyes. “Where am I?” she asked.

“Exactly where you should be,” smiled Von.