Seventy Three

Lauren’s idea for a walk was a good suggestion, we return to the houses and the children settle for an hour’s nap. It encourages the rest of us, soon the rooms are quiet as we zone out, either to sleep or sleepy twilight.
Tea time comes and goes, I check in with Amaya, “Coming home for dinner or still shooting?”
“We shall be home in an hour, our crew is so amazing, like clockwork to haul out the common cliché. I am rather too tired to think up something spiffier.”
“Cocktails at the ready, dinner will be simple, grilled fish, Miso, stir fried vegetables, nothing heavy. We picked up things from the Nishiki Market, Emma B and Grace B took them back to the house while we went on a walk. It is helpful to have them here. When we returned, travel clothes had been laundered and folded.”
“See you soon, one more short shot and we’re gone.”

We gather at the biggest house for cocktails, film girls appear fifteen minutes later.
Amaya, “Booze! I need to wind down my brain. Thank goodness for Miranda, her schedule has a schedule, I thought I was anal.”
Chloe, “Matt and Claudia showed up, they don’t have work until day after tomorrow, but Matt likes to see what’s happening, get a feel for the other characters. He’s done that in every film we’ve worked together, a consummate pro.”
Ellen, “It was fun, Sarah and I shot three people in LA, then Sarah bumps off a guy here in Japan just for being annoying. Tomorrow, we do the scene where Mani gets hired as a techie. She and Sarah hit it off and there’s some innuendo about S&M.”
“You shooting that scene too?”
Amaya, “That’s later, tomorrow is verbal play. The scene in the movie isn’t until much later. After all our films, you know that movies aren’t shot anything like they show up on the screen. We did the final scene first in one of the Ultra Violets.”
Danika, “Is is permitted for guests to observe? I would love to see the process.”
Amaya, “Come along. We can’t have the whole crowd, but we can use you as security. When we shoot at the monastery, it will be easier to have observers, the set is the monastery and the grounds, not narrow Kyoto streets or inside a small building. In fact, any of you who wish can be in the crowd scenes as visitors to the temple complex.”
Su, “Danika, we will be famous film stars, what will Master Chan think?”
“Master Chan has more to do than worry about what we get up to. Besides, we will be faces in the crowd only, a good place for a Shaolin priest.”
Dasha, “Dinner ees ready, buffet style. Kota B has fed already children, there ees plenty, enjoy.”
Katya, Katja, Amaya, Eloise, Chloe, Ellen, Sarah and Mani (whew! what a list) had a long day working and have a five thirty call tomorrow.  They don’t need encouragement to have a nightcap and make for firm mattresses and soft sheets.
The rest of us enjoy the courtyard for an hour, do bed prep and check out for the day as well.
Dasha and I do a final sprite pass, Kota B is at her post. She sits silently, monitoring her charges. If a girl has to get up to use the bathroom, she lights the path going and coming. 
The kids are snuggled in, Dasha makes the rounds, a kiss to soft cheeks. The children have torn away the rugged hides of our twins. Dasha has always been less thorny than Daria, but both sisters are vicious and unforgiving when it comes to abusers. Neither is particularly forgiving of general human stupidity. With the children, who are Slavic, there was an immediate mommy bond. That the girls are Latvian, not Russian, doesn’t matter to Dasha or Daria. When the girls adopted them as Mamas, they accepted the role, and grew to relish it.
As we leave, Daria is standing at the door, “Children are good?”
Dasha, “Da, safe, happy to be wiz each other.”
Daria nods, “Dostatochno khorosho, we will also rest now sister, spokoynoy nochi, Dafna.”
“Spokoynoy nochi.”
Daria has decided it is good enough, and wished me a good night. I move along the corridor and slip into the room Janah and I have taken. 
“Children asleep?”
“Yes, like always, curled around each other like a box of kittens, oblivious to anything. Dasha couldn’t resist kisses, Daria hovered by the door to make sure all is well.”
“They are our precious treasures, supplied with eternally vigilant Kota B and twin Mamas. I think the security bases are covered.”
“Is there anything I can do to insure your total relaxation before I wind down for the evening?”
Janah, “You’ve been peeking in my mind.”
Ah, morning, refreshed after a good sleep preceded by better sex. I make my way to the kitchen, film girls have long gone. Dasha is at her post, with a bowl of biscuit batter and a few dozen eggs.
I kiss her good morning, pour coffee, “Going traditional today?”
“We will haf Japanese every meal during our stay at the temple complex, this morning scrahmbulled, wiz beeskit and ham slice.”
“Good, what’s my duty?”
“We can roll out beeskit and into oven, make eggs when girls show up. Children are still asleep, tired from busy day.”
“Should we just let them hang out today?”
“Maybe go for lunch, then a couple of temples, they do not seem to get tired of temples. We will shop for steaks this morning and bring home to marinate, maybe also shreemp for appetizing.”
We start in, by the time we have biscuits in the oven girls are wandering through for coffee or tea. While they feed, we discuss the loose plan for the day.
“Obviously anyone who has something else they prefer to do should do it.”
Nikko, “It’s more fun to see the kids’ enthusiasm. I don’t mind goofing off this morning, maybe lunch by the river then temple hop.”
Eloise, “And Kota B or Janah can tell us what we’re looking at.”
Grace B, “Emma and I will square away the bedrooms, we will come along for the temple tour.”
“Good, you can make video and send it to the moms, they’ll enjoy seeing the kids do their thing. I should have thought of it yesterday.”
Emma B, “Kota B did it, your parents have already seen it. They enjoyed the philosophy discussion.”
“Wow, she’s ahead of my curve.”
Grace B, “We don’t have all your potholes.”
Lauren, “Don’t insult my mother, titanium brain.”
“My brain is not titanium, it is quantum, my exoskeleton is titanium. I withdraw my pothole comment in deference to Your Worship, one of my creators.”
“Satisfactory. Mother, would you please do my toes? I have the polish already. I’d do it myself but I have to contemplate my perfection prior to luncheon.”
Janah, “Emma B, search for Kitaro Nishida’s books, they must be for sale someplace in Kyoto.”
Emma B, “Keibun-sha Ichijoji, they have both the books you are looking for, do you want me to purchase them?”
“We have all morning to kill, let’s go now. Nikko, you want to come along, Daphne won’t let me out without security.”
Tasia, “We will go also.”
Janah, “Is it walking distance?”
Emma B, “No, not for little girls, and it may rain. I will arrange for transportation.”
An hour later a microbus with a driver appears. Kota B, eight children, Janah, Nikko, Zi and Sloane make the trip.
I go to Lauren’s room, “Keibun-sha Ichijoji won’t know what hit them.”
Lauren, “A good trip for the children, all those books in Japanese.”
She’s thoughtfully nude, I can help her contemplate her perfection while I make her toes shiny maroon. When it is dry, I take a tiny brush and paint kanji on each toe. Lauren studies them, “Does it spell anything, or did you just make it up?”
“Made it up, doesn’t mean a thing.”
Time to dress, we’re going out to lunch, I presume we’ll meet the others at one of the places on the river. It’s overcast today, but no threatening thunderclouds so far.
I mental Janah, “Meet us at Arashiyamayoshimura, you’re about a half hour away by car.”
“Will do, you made reservations?”
“Emma B did, we aren’t going until one. Dasha wants steak tonight, and we’ll wait for Amaya and crew to come home first, dinner might be more like eight than seven.”

We’re seated when our swarm swarms in, all excited about their purchases.
Jesica, “Tetya Dafna, there are many mystery writers in Japan that have not been published in English. We have twenty new books to read to each other at night.”
“Cool, you can scare yourselves with Oriental intrigue.”
“Kota B will scan the books first, she can help us with translation, we might make a play from the story.”
It’s good to allow children to roam their own fields, they come up with such interesting things to do.
Lunch is mostly good, we have a mix of sobagaki, buckwheat cakes served in either  a soy based broth or with sauce, duck soup, vegetable and shrimp tempura, soba noodles with dipping sauce, wild vegetables and buckwheat ice cream. Noodles and tempura are popular with the children, duck soup is excellent. Soba is buckwheat, which seems to be the prime ingredient. It’s peasant food, fairly simple to mix and make cakes or dumplings, filling but bland without sauce.
Dasha, “Soba will not make it to our table at home, the rest of it was good though.”
“Agreed, maybe buckwheat is an acquired taste, but it eats like dense bread and is no good alone, it has to be buried in soup or a sauce. We try everything, now we know.”
General agreement that soba-free is the way to go, with the exception of soba ice cream. Add sugar and heavy cream to anything, it’s going to taste good.
The kids are excited about their finds, temples will be there tomorrow, we ride back to our trio of houses for a lazy afternoon of zip. Hour of zone out to digest, then Janah and Nikko go to the girls’ room. They spend until tea reading to each other, each reads a few pages, then passes the book to the next girl. They do well, only a few prompts from Kota B, who has the text in her memory. When an unfamiliar kanji comes up, she pronounces and explains the meaning. It sounds like a Japanese book club across the way.
We’re in the room we use for tea and meals, which is the largest room in the largest house. I’m filling cups with high grade matcha.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. Shading slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes increased production of theanine. You get more effect because you are drinking the powdered leaves, not just tea with the leaves removed. While matcha can increase focus with fewer caffeine jitters, bear in mind that a cup of matcha has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. The theanine helps moderate the nervous reaction, but if you drink it at night, you’ll still be awake, just calm. Better to indulge earlier in the day, not after three or four in the afternoon.
“Do you like Japanese mystery?”
Uma, “Da, Hai, more spooky places and creepy people.”
Karol, “And many lonely, empty people with mysterious pasts.”
“I’m only familiar with Murakami, not Nikko, Haruki, the author. And a bit of Keigo Higashino. Nikko and Janah are more readers than I am.”
Grace B, “It is easier if you do not move your lips.”
Lauren, “Cut the crap Grace B.”
My daughter defending me against the mouthy bot.
“Apologies Your Highness, Tetya Dafna leaves herself open to the barbs, I am programmed for snappy repartee.”
“Amaya’s doing, you cannot help yourself. Go away and straighten up something.”

Seventy Four

Four days later, filming in Kyoto proper is finished. The rest of us meandered around Kyoto. With so many, restaurants can be difficult, Dasha, Grace B, Emma B and I grocery shop and do a fair amount of cooking at the house. We’re going to spend upwards of two weeks in the Shingon Temple Complex and the meals are primarily vegetarian, although our guesthouse serves fish. We took our last days in Kyoto as a chance to check out the local beef and pork, which we used in American style dishes before our immersion into all Japanese all the time.
Now it’s a travel day up Mt. Kobe, or Kōyasan. Over the years, fifty temples have been constructed and a small town has built up around the complex.
We had to rent much of the Shojoshin-in ryokan, it has thirty five rooms, we chew up all of them, including the guesthouse. The guesthouse has the only private bath facilities and we thought it best for the children. Kota B will be there, along with Dasha and Daria. We take about half the space, the rest is film crew, assistants, costume and makeup people. It takes a village to make a movie.
Breakfast and dinner is part of the price, and there is six a.m. meditation in the Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in Temple.
The journey is by train then a short cable car ride, then a bus to the top of the mountain. You can hike on a different route, but that’s out of the question, we have two week’s worth of  clothes and a film crew with the accompanying gadgets, cameras and lighting.
The film crew has been here twice prior to our arrival in Kyoto. Amaya says everything is in order.
We take the kids on a walk around the immediate area, in the course of filming, we will see everything eventually. A parade of monks passes in full regalia, headed to Torodo Hall, built in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Inside the hall are more than 10,000 lanterns. They are lit day and night, and the lanterns are inside, but the spectacle seems more wondrous in the evening.
“We will come back tonight after dinner to see the lanterns, it is thought two of them have been burning for nine hundred years.”
Our dinner is served in the main room, it is busy, there are near twenty five of us, fifty film crew, support actors and, of course, Matt and Claudia.
Matt, “Those kids are incredible, they rattle off Japanese like they were born here. And the temple complex leaves me speechless. Amaya, I am so grateful to you for including me in the film.”
Amaya, “How could I not? You and Chloe fit hand in glove onscreen. The chemistry was there with Ultra Violet and remains today. I hardly have to write dialogue, just let you two go at it.”
Claudia, “Matt always preps, but he double preps when he works with Chloe and you. How many times was he on Skype with you guys going over parts, lines, words even? Good thing you’re lesbians or I’d have to kill you.”
Amaya, “I get some of my best stuff from actor’s suggestions. In fact, this movie will credit Matt Damon with me as screenplay by.”
Claudia, “No! You’re kidding. Matt hasn’t written a line.”
“He spoke several, and improved them, even things I wrote for other dialogue. I would be remiss not to give him credit.”
“You know, he’s tried his hand at screenplays.”
Matt, “Claudia, that’s junk for my amusement.”
“I read it, it is not junk. He refuses to let me shop it.”
Amaya, “You will send them to me.”
Matt, “Amaya, really….”
“It is done Matt. I will read, bear in mind, I will critique, if there is substance, and I have no doubt there is or Claudia would not have mentioned it, then we shall see how to proceed. For now, let us get this flick in the can to repeat a cliché.”
Of course, films don’t go in cans anymore, they go into computers. Still, the phrase lingers.
Matt, “ I don’t know what to say, thank you Amaya.”
“You just said it.”
We wrap dinner, our multitudes go off to rooms, or perhaps take a stroll. We hike the children to the Hall of Lanterns, it is spectacular. The kids are respectful, not flying around in a frenzy. They move as they always move, in a synchronized flock.
I sense a monk behind me, turn, he’s an elder, a Dento Dai-Ajari, the highest rank in Shingon. One must be a disciple to train for the title of Acharya, a teacher, then ten years of study and testing to become mahācārya, that is, Dento Dai-Ajari, a grand master.
“Welcome, I am Jian, a monk of this temple.”
I smile, “You are Grandmaster Jian,” I bow low, “I am Daphne Sylk.”
Jian, “No, you are Master Sylk, a priest of the Shaolin temple in New York, along with your companion Abbess Svensson, although I understand she is known as Master J. Your other companion is Hanshi Murakami, of the Murakami samurai lineage. You are part of the American movie?”
“More Japanese movie, Chloe is more Japanese in attitude than gaijin.”
He grins, “Yes, famous film star Chloe Sylk, but you are not related.”
“She took my family name as a child, it’s a long story.”
Janah comes up, “Grandmaster Jian, a pleasure. Thank you for allowing us to intrude with our filmmaking.”
“We will get more tourists after your movie is released, not so much a curse, mostly a blessing. People become familiar with our teachings. It does not stick to most, but it does not stick to most Buddhists either.
He laughs, we laugh with him. Like our last visit, the monks are not at all stuffy or pretentious. They have to adopt an attitude when the crowds are around, but away from all that we have found them to be curious and playful.
Jian, “May I inquire about the children? I heard about your last visit, but there were no children mentioned.”
Janah, “Wards we took on from an unfortunate situation. They have been a blessing to our family.”
“The one who hovers nearby, she is most attentive to the children.”
“Kota B, she is their, what shall I say? Nanny, guardian, teacher.”
Janah, “She is also a robot, but I tell you under strictest confidence.”
Jian, “No! A robot you say? She is as real as any of us, at least by appearance and action.”
“The doing of Eloise, the small girl to the left of Chloe, and Lauren, my adopted daughter to her right. They built her, Amaya fleshed in the personality. Kota B has one job, care for and guard the children.”
“There are eight, she must be busy.”
“She never sleeps, she is never distracted.”
I don’t mention that the children have GPS devices implanted, we know where they are at every moment, down to the square inch.
Jian shakes his head, “We are not technophobic here, we have joined the digital age, but what you describe is beyond our experience.”
“It is beyond everyone’s experience, which is why you must not discuss it, governments being what they are.”
He nods, “We have dealt with every kind of ruler in our history, as did the Shaolin. I may not know how such magnificent machines are built, but I know the deceitful hearts of politicians. We will speak no more of AI and its wonders. Can you spare time to let me speak with the children, tomorrow or day after? I think there is much to learn from them.”
“They will be delighted. Please, have a disciple find us when it is convenient, we are free to visit whenever you have a moment.”
He bows, takes another look at the silent children cross legged on the floor taking in the equally silent lantern light. A flash of energy seems to be making its way around each lantern, perhaps an illusion, a trick of the light…or something else.

Seventy Five

A restful evening, this morning film production begins immediately, and early. The kids wanted to attend the morning meditation, which is part silent meditation, prayers and chant by the monks. It lasts around forty minutes. Since we take up all the temple’s guest quarters, we are the primary participants, with the exception of a half dozen tourists.
Our young ones are adorable in white robes. Not quite monk’s robes, but heavy cotton, with long billowy sleeves, silver piping at the end and around the hem. They sit cross legged on pillows, attentive and silent. Kota B stands guard in the rear.
The ceremony closes and we stand, but people aren’t leaving, curious about the kids. I can see they want to ask questions, a woman gets up the courage to approach. She’s Caucasian, turns out to be Swiss. I’m a little surprised, the Swiss usually reticent, but she takes the plunge in fluent, if accented, English.
“The children were so still, I was a bit concerned that they would be, what’s the English word, flighty?”
“Fidgety perhaps.”
“Ah, yes fidgety, thank you. Are they preparing for temple life someplace? You are American, yes?”
“Yes, and no, they are their own monastery you might say.” 
She’s nonplussed, “Their own…”
“They have personal rituals that suit them, we had nothing to do with it. It is not a religion in any sense, they don’t have a book or priests.”
“What are the precepts then? Sorry, I am being far too nosy.”
“Not at all. There is only one precept, to see without labels, without judgment, only to observe. The principle is not inviolate, that would make it rigid. William James and the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida call it pure experience.”
“Pure experience, ah, of course, seeing the thing as it is. Is that it?”
“Essentially, they expand on it, they did it before they learned of James or Kitaro.”
“I am Frieda Nestle, and you are…”
“Daphne Sylk.”
“My family is in the chocolate business, although I am not directly involved myself. I have heard of Murakami Sylk, the private corporation in the United States? Any connection?”
“I am, for better or worse, the Sylk part, but I do not work in the family business either. My companion Nishiko is the Murakami part, she does the hard work, along with two others.”
“Smart, you got a diligent Japanese. Your company is a model of business efficiency and social responsibility. In my own way, I push Nestle towards social responsibility, of course, we do make candy, a dichotomy.”
“There is no harm in candy, too much of anything is a bad idea. Chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures.”
A few others have remained in earshot, Nestle is known worldwide, fortunately Murakami Sylk is more known in the business world. Our company is not public, few people know the extent of our holdings.
Frieda, “I have taken too much of your time, perhaps we will see each other around the complex.”
“Pleasure to meet you Frieda, thank you for introducing yourself.”
She moves along, I get a few nods and smiles from the small audience, they wander off to breakfast, which is where we are headed.
Danika, “People are interested in the children, they don’t generally show up here, it’s not Buddha World, there aren’t any rides to enlightenment or even fast food.”
Su, “They are being exemplary, who could object? They do not natter, run around aimlessly or otherwise disrupt.”
“Remember, they are biologically young, not mentally. If they aged, Uma would be twelve and Nadia almost eighteen, the rest in between.”
Su, “Even though I know it, my eyes see children and my brain draws a conclusion, a fallacious one. There are many illusions, I never thought to see children as one of them.”
Janah giggles, “We see Daphne as an adult.”
Danika and Su smile, “We have known Master Sylk much longer, she is the same as when she was in the temple years ago. I can’t imagine her any other way.”
Janah, “Change is not permitted in her case.”
Nikko, “Zi and I are going to watch the filming, anyone else want to come along?”
Tasia, “We want to see Tetya Vesnushki acting. We will learn how to make our plays better. Tetya Eloise has offered to make a movie of our next performance.”
Lauren, “Sloane and I are going, which means Oceane and Cassie too.”
“Okay, you know what to do, be quiet and stay out of the way. There may be curious onlookers, don’t wiggle in front of them. Maybe the children, they won’t get in anyone’s way. Kota B, change them from robes to every day, sneakers, jeans, a pullover.”
Grace B, “Emma B and I will remain here and slave away fixing up your rooms. Do not mind us while you are out enjoying the cherry fucking blossoms.”
“Grace B, you have no interest in cherry blossoms. You are content to do speed crosswords in Latvian with Emma B, or play mental video games. Eloise will be directing the drone, you can watch the action from the best seats.”
“She caught on Emma B, not as dumb as she looks.”
Lauren, “I can disconnect you, motor mouth.”
“Then who will pick up after Your Royal-ass Highness?”
“Daphne of course.”
“Go away and leave Emma B and me in peace.”
Our crowd shows up, Matt and Chloe are walking one of the paths. Chloe stops, her shoulders start to shake, she near collapses, Matt catches her and helps her sit on a nearby bench. This is the scene where Chloe is confessing her rape by Geoff  Manheim, the connected and well insulated American CEO. In subsequent scenes, she attends prayers and meditation time-lapsed over a few weeks, her attitude goes from traumatized and shamed Geisha to placid on the surface, menacing girl underneath, out to stop a psychopath. 
Matt, an ex-pat intelligence officer stationed in Tokyo, retired to Kyoto. He disappeared into the Shingon Buddhist community. Now, he’s used connections from his former life to discover it wasn’t a one off rape by Manheim, more like a lifestyle.  
From here, Chloe goes into training seclusion, Matt convinces Chloe no matter how well trained she is, Manheim has too many layers of protection for her to go it alone. As Matt tells her about Ellen and Sarah, they will be on screen carrying out what Matt describes, professional assassins, hitwomen in American parlance. Those scenes were shot in LA, one hit on a dance club owner to make room for a competing club owner, another on a drug kingpin trying to move in on another’s claim. Lots of fighting over prime territory in America, vendors even fight over which ice cream truck gets to park where in Manhattan. Believe that? It’s true.
Apart from Mani’s role as Sarah’s dominatrix, the movie doesn’t go lesbian, nor is there any male romantic interest. It’s an action flick, slick dialogue, violence, not sex action.
There is a small crowd bordering the roped off area, which parted like the mist when the children arrived. We stand behind the onlookers, the children are in the front row. During a break, Chloe comes over to see the kids.
Devona, “Tetya Vesnushki, you are the star, we will learn how to make a movie, Tetya Eloise is going to film us.”
Chloe answers in Japanese, “You will make a beautiful movie. Have you decided on the play, or one of your own?”
Zofia replies in Japanese, “Sherlock Holmes to start, then perhaps something more complicated.”
Chloe, “Excellent decision, do you want Aunt Amaya to direct? Or should we leave it to you?”
Nadia, “If Aunt Amaya can find the time, we would love it, it will be better with her help.”
“She will find the time, when we are back at home. I have to get to work, see you later girls.”
The mostly Japanese crowd is entranced, the well known author and screenwriter is Aunt Amaya, and the high profile actor, Aunt Chloe Sylk, also frequently on Japanese TV. Eight gaijin girls, fluent in Japanese, more impressive that they speak in Kyoto intonation, different from the Tokyo version.
But the crowd is Japanese, middle aged and up, they do not make a fuss, it would be impolite.
We move off to find lunch. Our ryokan serves breakfast and dinner only, but the huge temple complex has birthed a small town catering to visitors, a pleasant lunch of noodles is simple to find.
We return to the complex, our intent is to visit other temples and shrines, perhaps walk through the massive pine grove to the Danjo Garan site where Koyosan was founded.
It is not to be today, a monk approaches, bows low, “Master Sylk, is it possible for the children to visit Grandmaster Jian?”
“Of course, when will be convenient?”
“At four, there will be tea. He set aside an hour, but if you are pressed for time, it can be any length you wish.”
“Tell Grandmaster Jian the children will be there, and he should take any time he wishes.”
“Domo, domo arigato,” he bows and hustles off to deliver the message.
“Kota B, let’s take the kids to the room, they can refresh and rest for an hour or so, Then rerobe, best not to visit Dento Dai-Ajari in jeans and sneakers. I don’t know, he’s hardly stuffy, probably wouldn’t care.”
“No, but the children would.”
I hadn’t thought of that.

Seventy Six

At four we appear at the temple. Kota B, Dasha and Daria come along with the children and me. We are escorted to rooms behind the scenes, looks like most administrative areas, desks, copy machines, computers, then to a spacious private office.
Jian is all smiles, “Welcome, welcome, please to sit.”
I introduce Dasha and Daria as the children’s mothers. If it registers with him that they look seventeen or eighteen and the kids look less than ten years younger, he ignores it. It’s obvious that the twins didn’t birth eight kids.
His desk is at a low table, like our tea tables at home. There are cushions, the children take their places, Dasha, Kota B and I sit behind, Daria excuses herself and goes out to more closely inspect the admin area and get familiar with entrances and exits. 
Jian addresses the children, “Thank you for indulging my curiosity. When you came to meditation, I was struck by your stillness, a sense of self-possession, not ego driven, inner calm. More stuck by your synchronicity, one moves, you all move, like the kata in gung fu, or a beautifully choreographed ballet. It is as if you are one, or perhaps better to say, connected.”
He is quiet for a bit, looks to Nadia, “How is it so, can you explain?”
“But sir, you just did.”
He blinks, processes, “Did I? You are saying that each of you experiences identically, that what one does transmits to the others, instantly even, since there are no words exchanged.”
Zofia, “Words would slow everything down, and add confusion, make the simple complex.”
Jian thinks he is looking at a small child of perhaps seven or eight, then he realizes.
“You are not children, you are….more.”
Good thing he hasn’t seen Cassie floating in the air, or maybe he would just sigh and take it in stride.
Valeska, “We do not say more, we are different, that is all.”
He smiles, again no ego display, “Where do you study, and what?”
Tasia, “Kota B teaches us languages, a few other things. We read, create, act out scenes in plays, Tetya Amaya helps us with that, Tetya Dafna teaches us calligraphy, her Mama helps with our painting.”
 “And what do you learn of life? Society and the human condition?”
 Devona, “The human condition is well documented from Buddhism to Shakespeare, to Jane Austin and Sherlock Holmes. How could we not learn?”
He cocks his head, a slight grim, he’s enjoying this, “May I circle back a bit? You do not appear to be related, that is, not biologically. I only say so to clarify my understanding. It would be easier to grasp if you were sisters, in the biological sense, the same genetics so to speak.”
Karol, “We are sisters, biology is irrelevant. Humans are all related, consciousness divides, reality is unified.”
Jian’s head lifts, he looks to the ceiling, then laughs, long and strong, “I spend years trying to get my students to grasp that single point. Most of them pretend to agree, but their actions belie their words.”
Uma, “Everyone will come to it eventually, it is inevitable.”
“It seems to take infinite lifetimes.”
Jesica, “What is a lifetime? A spark that burns in a moment. Anyway, time is relative, in fact, time is an illusion, it has no reality in the Absolute.”
Jian knows this of course, he is quiet again, his eyes close, nothing moves. I hear the copy machine through the closed door.
After a few minutes, he blinks back from wherever he went, “You have…I do not know what…there is a vibration, silent but I feel it around you. Can you tell me what it is? Am I creating my own delusion?”
Nadia, “Zycyryn.”
His brows knit, “Zycyryn, I do not know Zycyryn.”
Nadia, “When you meditate, deeply, you disappear, yes?”
“Yes.”
“They may reveal themselves then, or not. They do not explain, if you sense them, you will have your explanation.”
“You are saying there are beings, of which most, if not all, of humanity is completely unaware.”
Karol, “Not beings, energy, they have no body, no substance. We know the common belief is that there is either energy or matter, and one converts into another, nothing is gained nor lost. That belief is incomplete. Zycyryn are energy without matter, and never convert, for them, there is nothing to convert to, they are complete. They is also inaccurate, the energies combine and disburse depending on intent and need. Zycyryn may be huge, larger than the sun, or tiny, smaller than a quark.”
Jian, “Is it, they, consciousness?”
Tasia, “Consciousness is too small a concept. People think too much of it. There are even philosophies that say conscious enables the universe, and that everything is conscious. They make consciousness God; it is not so. Consciousness does not expand awareness, it limits it. The brain takes in and processes far more information than consciousness can handle. You are only allowed to see what your brain lets you see. What you do not see is vast, infinite.”
“Do you see…or should I say, experience, it?”
Valeska, “In bits and pieces, when the Zycyryn feel playful they tease us with it. Cassandra sees more deeply, Oceane feels more deeply.”
Jian looks to me, “Cassandra, Oceane?”
“More weird girls in our family.”
Jian leans on his elbow, his palm covers his mouth, he surveys the children, Kota B, Dasha.
Finally, he speaks, “May I have the pleasure of meeting Cassandra and Oceane?”
“Under the same agreement, that nothing said is repeated, written down or in any way discussed or communicated except with us.”
Jian, “Understood. I do not know what I would tell anyone. They might haul me off someplace quiet and keep me locked away. I am honored that you allowed me to have this meeting at all.”
“The children decided what to reveal, not us. They saw something and trusted. They have never spoken of it so openly before.”
Jian, “Then I am doubly honored. May I meet with Cassandra and Oceane tomorrow? Perhaps for tea.”
“Good. Bear in mind, Cassandra does not talk, or so minimally as to be near inscrutable. Oceane understands her, she sometimes interprets, but only if she stays in the moment long enough. Her memory of conversations and events is a sieve, things go in and slip through.”
“Ah, then, what shall we talk about, and how?”
Uma, “Cassie and Oceane have no need of talk, you can observe, ask questions which may or may not get answered. In the end, if you are open, you will understand.”
Jian looks at me, I shrug, “There it is.”
We stand, Jain says, “My head will spin for a while,” he walks us to the admin offices and we make our way out.
I hear him tell the monk who contacted me, “Please leave me undisturbed until evening prayers, no calls, no visitors. Oh, our guests will return tomorrow for tea in my office. Set aside at least an hour, no interruptions.”
“As you wish, sir.”

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