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Excerpt from The Secret of Shambhala by James Redfield, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Secret of Shambhala

In Search of the Eleventh Insight

by James Redfield

The Secret of Shambhala by James Redfield X
The Secret of Shambhala by James Redfield
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  • First Published:
    Nov 1999, 238 pages
    Nov 2001, 238 pages


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Wil had left my home as quickly as he had arrived, without telling me anything more, and my mind was full of questions. What did he know of this place near Tibet? And why was an adolescent girl telling me to go there? Wil was being very cautious. Why? I wasn't going a step beyond Kathmandu until I found out.

When the day came, I tried to stay very alert through the long flights to Frankfurt, New Delhi, and then Kathmandu, but nothing of note occurred. At the Himalaya, I checked in under my own name and put my things in the room, then began to look around, ending up at the lobby restaurant. Sitting there, I expected Wil to walk in any moment, but nothing happened. After an hour the idea of going to the pool came to mind, so I hailed a bellman and found out it was outside. It would be slightly chilly, but the sun was bright, and I knew the fresh air would help me adjust to the altitude. I walked out the exit and found the pool in between the L-shaped wings of the building. There were more people there than I would have imagined, although few were talking. As I took a chair at one of the tables, I noticed that the people sitting around me--Asians mostly, with a few Europeans scattered about--seemed to be either stressed-out or very homesick. They frowned at each other and snapped at the hotel attendants for drinks and papers, avoiding eye contact at all cost.

Gradually my mood began to decline as well. Here I was, I thought, cooped up in one more hotel halfway around the world, without a friendly face anywhere. I took a breath and again remembered Wil's admonition to stay alert, reminding myself that he was talking about watching for the subtle twists and turns of synchronicity, those mysterious coincidences that could pop up in a second to push one's life in a new direction.

Perceiving this mysterious flow, I knew, remained the central experience of real spirituality, direct evidence that something deeper was operating behind the scenes of the human drama. The problem has always been the sporadic nature of this perception; it comes along for a while to entice us and then, just as quickly, disappears.

As I looked around the area, my eyes fell on a tall man with black hair who was walking out of the hotel door heading straight for me. He was dressed in tan slacks and a stylish white sweater and carried a folded newspaper under his arm. He walked along the path through the loungers and sat at a table directly to my right. As he took out his newspaper, he looked around and nodded to me, smiling radiantly. Then he called an attendant over and ordered some water. He was Asian in appearance, but he spoke in fluent English with no detectable accent.

When his water arrived, he signed the ticket and began to read. There was something immediately attractive about this man, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. He just radiated a pleasant demeanor and energy, and periodically he would stop reading and look around with a wide smile. At one point he made eye contact with one of the crabby gentlemen directly in front of me.

I was half expecting the sullen man to look away quickly, but instead he smiled back at the dark-haired man and they began to engage in light conversation in what sounded like Nepalese. At one point they even burst out laughing. Attracted by the conversation, several other people at nearby tables became amused, and one said something that created another round of laughter.

I looked out on the scene with interest. Something was happening here, I thought. The mood around me was changing.

"My God," the dark-haired man stammered, looking in my direction. "Have you seen this?"

I looked around. Everybody else seemed to have returned to their reading, and he was pointing to something in the paper and moving his chair around to get closer to me.

"They've released another prayer study," he added. "It's fascinating."

© 1999 by James Redfield. All rights reserved. Published with permission of the publisher, Warner Books.

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