THE RAIN-WASHED hills were sparkling in the morning sun and the sky behind them was very blue. The valley, full of trees and streams, was high up among the hills; not too many people lived there, and it had a purity of solitude. There were a number of white buildings with thatched roofs, and many goats and cattle; but it was out of the way, and you wouldn't ordinarily come upon it unless you knew or had been told of its existence. At its entrance a dustless road went by, and as a rule no one came into this valley without some definite purpose. It was unspoiled, secluded and far away, but that morning it seemed especially pure in its solitude, and the rain had washed away the dust of many days. The rocks on the hills themselves seemed to be watching, waiting. These hills extended from east to west, and the sun rose and set among them. There was one which rose against the blue sky like a temple sculptured out of a living rock, square and splendid. A path wound its way from one end of the valley to the other, and at a certain point along this path the sculptured hill could be seen. Set further back than the other hills, it was darker, heavier, endued with great strength. By the side of the path was stream gently whispered, moving eastward towards the sun, and the wide wells were full of water which held hope for the summer and beyond. Innumerable frogs were making a loud noise all along the quiet stream, and a large snake crossed the path. It was in no hurry and moved lazily, leaving a trail in the soft damp earth. Becoming aware of the human presence, it stopped, its black, forked tongue darting in and out of its pointed mouth. Presently it resumed its journey in search of food, and disappeared among the bushes and the tall, waving grass. It was a lovely morning, and pleasant under a big mango tree which stood by an open well. The fragrance of fresh washed leaves was in the air, and the smell of the mango. The sun didn't come through the heavy leaves, and you could set there for a long time on a slab of rock which was still damp.
The valley was in solitude and so was the tree. These hills were some of the oldest on earth, and so they knew what it is to be alone and far away. Loneliness is sad with the creeping desire to be related, not to be cut off; but this sense of solitude, this aloneness was related to everything, part of all things. You were not aware that you were alone, for there was the trees, the rocks, the murmuring water. You are only aware of your loneliness, not of your solitude; and when you are aware of your solitude, you have become lonely. The hills, the streams, that man passing by, were all part of this solitude whose purity held all impurity within itself, and was not soiled by it. But impurity could not share this solitude. It is impurity that knows loneliness, that is burdened with sorrow and pain of existence. Sitting there under the tree, with large ants crossing your leg, in that measureless solitude there was the movement of timeless age. It wasn't a space-covering movement, but a movement within itself, a flame within the flame, a light within the emptiness of light. It was a movement that would never stop, for it had no beginning and no cause to end. It was a movement that had no direction, and so it covered space. There under that tree time stood still, like the hills, and this movement covered it and went beyond it; so time could never overtake this movement. The mind could never touch the hem of it; but the mind was this movement. The watcher could not race with it, for he was able only to follow his own shadow and the words that clothed it. But under that tree, in that aloneness, the watcher and his shadow were not.
The wells were full, the hills were still watching and waiting, and the birds were still flying in and out among the leaves.