Novel: The Light of the Silver Wheel (or: A Present Darkness, A Distant Light) An Introduction

This novel tells of the spiritual experience which resulted in me becoming a Buddhist. It is a work of semi-fiction; mixing real life with flights of fancy. I decided to write the novel this way, rather than as a ‘straight’ re-telling of my experiences, to paint a more cohesive and interesting story. I’ll do a post-script once it is finished providing details of exactly which bits are historically accurate and which are fantastic invention (unfortunately, I can’t offer any prizes to anyone who successfully guesses!).

My original title for the novel was ‘The Light of the Silver Wheel’, but as there is already a book with the title ‘The Silver Wheel’, I created the alternative title to avoid confusion between them.

Dedicated to, and in loving memory of,
Ellen Marie Arbuthnott –
my gratitude and devotion are endless.

Dedicated also to my mother and my sister –
blessings to you both.

Prologue: The Light of the Heart

When you are destroyed – when all that to you seemed good and holy is gone, when who you are ceases to matter, and you find yourself in the inner chamber of your heart, and watch with dismay as the candle that burns there goes out, leaving you utterly alone and forsaken in the darkness – then might something extraordinary happen.

It feels like you are completely lost and isolated; there is no-one here to care for you, nothing to catch hold of you and bring you out of yourself. All your senses seem undone, for there is nothing to see here, nothing to hear, touch, taste or smell.

But wait; the darkness is not total. There is the faintest glimmer in the air, a near formless glow. You realise that there is a curtain in the chamber; a large, heavy drape that allows just enough light through to turn the pitch black of the chamber to a deep gloom.

Suddenly the curtain drops, and the full light of the sun streams into the chamber, into you. It is a million times brighter than your candle was, and the joy and brilliance of it are too much; the light vaporises, it smashes through you like a tidal wave. Everything stops, disappears, vanishes, in that light, which is pure love.

Then you come back to yourself. Time has moved on; day has given way to night, and all is dark again. For a terrible moment you think that it has all been a fantasy, an hallucination, that there was no curtain and no sun, that you are alone in the darkness, and always have been.

But wait; the darkness is not total. There is another source of light, coming not from the candle, which has been blown out, nor from the window, which is itself now one with the darkness – but from yourself. And you see now that you have been remade of light and love, and that you no longer have need of a candle, for that light and love will shine through you, wherever you go.

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