"When I ask people questions about spiritual concepts, I often just receive more elusive concepts in return. Not Akemi. In this book, she gets to the core of many concepts. She is almost like a spiritual mechanic or technician in that she'll get to the nuts and bolts of spirituality in plain language."
"Everything makes more sense ..."
"What an AMAZING take on life itself!"
(from Amazon customer reviews)
It's a clear and concise guide to life and spirituality. Also contains short-stories (modern-day parables).
Available in paperbacks (USA & Europe) and Kindle books (worldwide). Your local bookstores should be able to order a copy for you, too. (Subject to their policy.)
"I’m usually not a big fan of spiritual fiction because I sometimes find them kind of cheesy and forced, but I had no doubts about this one—I mean, Akemi and cheesy do not go together. As usual, her no-nonsense, simple, light-hearted style of presentation—with a touch of humor, of course—carries the story. It allows the reader to explore complicated and even uncomfortable ideas safely."
"Fresh, original, entertaining!"
(from Amazon customer review)
Reincarnation is still an unfamiliar idea for many. So I've written a novel about it: I Remember You. It's a saga of love and forgiveness that spans through 8 lifetimes (7 past lives and the present lifetime). There are 6 books (installments) in the series, each for USD $0.99. Enjoy!
Here is the teaser -- the first three chapters of I Remember You.
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times …
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
On that clear September afternoon, Alex was not expecting anything in particular as she sat at the window-side table of her local café. It was her favorite pastime to do some leisurely reading here while enjoying the sun and occasionally watching the people around. The sun was warm, although its light was already starting to have the yellow-golden hue of autumn evening.
“Excuse me.” She realized she had been momentarily lost in her thoughts when a young man spoke to her. “Do I know you? I think I remember you.”
Alex looked up at the man, feeling slightly annoyed. Couldn’t men see that she was enjoying her time by herself? She’d even brought a book—didn’t that signal that she wanted to be left alone?
The guy was waiting for her answer. He was dark, and his round, big eyes were friendly, with a tinge of shyness. Alex wondered, “Does this guy really mean what he just said? Do I remember him?”
“I’m waiting for my sister, but she is running late. May I talk with you while I wait? I really think I’ve met you before,” the guy continued, “Oh, and by the way, my name is Derek.”
“Alex.” She figured she had to reply, and watched Derek pull the chair and sit down. He was big-boned and was wearing a chino and navy polo shirt. On a Saturday afternoon. His brows were thick, and even though he had probably shaved that morning, dark stumps of hair were already shading around his chin. Alex kept wondering, “Do I know him? Maybe from school? It’s been awhile since I saw anyone from school …”
“What are you reading?” Derek leaned over and looked at her book. It was a book, which she had checked out at the library, about ancient Egypt and its pyramids.
“Ancient Egypt!” Derek exclaimed, “I love reading about ancient Egypt, too.” Then he immediately realized how shallow he sounded, so he said,
“Look, Alex, I really don’t go around picking up girls. But I understand you don’t quite trust me. And you seem to be a quiet person. So why don’t I tell you my dreams? I dream about ancient Egypt quite often.”
“You mean the dreams you have at night while you sleep? You have the same dream over and over about ancient Egypt?” Alex asked.
“Not exactly the same dream over and over again. But they are about ancient Egypt and the dreams are related to one another. I’ve been having these dreams for years. In the dreams, I am always supervising the slaves building the very first pyramid.”
“The very first pyramid?” Alex couldn’t help asking.
“Yes. I am the on-site supervisor—one of them—because I have some technical training. Oh, by the way, I work for the IT department of an insurance company—now,” Derek replied.
“Most of the dreams are about the construction. The construction is taking place on a hill that overlooks the great Nile River. On one side, I can see the low land, the delta, spreading all the way as far as I can see. The other side is hillier and the river disappears in the valley. I think it took years just to prepare the site—reinforcing and leveling the ground, with repeated meticulous surveys.
“My responsibility is to follow the instructions—exactly—and if there is any problem in implementation, report to my boss, who will then report to the original designer of the pyramid. I live on the site, but he lives in the capital city—the designer. He occasionally visits the site, however, and I look forward to those days.”
“Why?” Alex asked. “How does that affect your job?”
“Oh, he is just so amazing! So unreal.” Derek was clearly excited. “I only get to see him from a distance … he talks with my boss, you know. But even from a distance, you can’t help noticing how graceful he is! When he walks by, I feel as if a gentle, cool breeze walks with him … and you know, we work under the scorching sun all day long, every day.
“And he looks different from the rest of us. We—the slaves, laborers, craftsmen, scribes, my boss, me—are … Egyptians. He … well, he always wears a white gown that covers most of his body, but his skin is ivory and … well, in my dreams, he shines.”
Derek paused, searching for his words. “I think his name is Aquan. We also call him the Visitor, but that’s not because he visits the construction site from the city. The rumor—I don’t know for sure, but they say he is from Atlantis.”
Alex and Derek stared at each other.
“Well, let’s talk about what I’ve seen in my dreams. I don’t know much about his origin and I’m not comfortable talking about it. Anyhow, he visits us occasionally, and my boss shows him around. Often he arrives in the afternoon, and after my boss shows him around, he stays there with his own servants. I go back to my room for the night—there are large, long buildings where the slaves and laborers rest at night, and, as supervisor, I have my own room there.
“The pyramid is huge and beautiful. It’s almost like modern architecture in its precision. The stone blocks are cut to exact dimensions and placed according to the drawing—the drawings are on giant sheets of papyrus, and made by Aquan himself.”
“You just cannot help talking about him, right?” Alex thought while Derek tried to structure his story. “He does sound like such an interesting figure! Is it possible that northern Europeans lived in ancient Egypt? It seems his dreams are taking place in Lower Egypt … could Europeans have come to Egypt across the Mediterranean back in those days? But wait … he just said this person is from Atlantis. Atlantis!”
“This is a long, long time ago,” Derek resumed. “I can’t explain why I think so, but I think this is like 3200 BC, or about 5200 years ago.
“The construction isn’t easy. We’ve never done anything like this before. We are also excited. Well, I am excited … I feel confident that we can do this. His—Aquan’s—design is so perfect, all the way to the details. All we have to do is to follow this beautiful plan step-by-step.
“A few times a year, I visit the capital city,” Derek continued. “In my dream, I am in my mid-thirties. I’ve lived on the construction site for over ten years, maybe close to twenty years. Never married. But my mother lives in the city, so I want to visit her and make sure she is okay. The city is not that far away—I just need to take a boat down the Nile.
“The capital city is nice and clean. I always feel shy entering the city … so many beautiful women …” Derek could hardly finish his sentence. “The construction site is like a small village, with thousands of people, but most of them are male. There are some female slaves who are there to prepare meals and do other housekeeping work—but the city women look so different!
“When I visit my mother, I take her to the Temple of Wadjet. Do you know the goddess Wadjet? She is the goddess in the form of a cobra, goddess of birth and death.”
“Your dreams are so detailed,” Alex said, “You even remember names? Most people can’t remember their dreams.”
“Well, in the dreams, names are not so clear, but I remembered she was the goddess in the form of a cobra and also the protector of the Delta, so later I made sure of her name on the Internet,” Derek replied. “And as I said, I’ve had these dreams over and over again. Sometimes I feel they are more than just dreams … like I actually lived that life in the past. But my sister laughs at me when I say this…she says reincarnation is just an oriental woo woo belief.”
Alex thought about what Derek had said so far. The monumental construction of the first pyramid—nobody had ever seen anything like it. The mysterious figure who designed it—how did he come up with the idea? And how did he know how to build it? What was the purpose of its construction? It sure is interesting if this was true … but could it be?
“The construction was funded by the pharaoh, right? The pyramid was going to be his tomb?” Alex asked.
“Oh, yes, this is a government project. No way anyone else could keep all those people working for years. The working conditions aren’t bad, either. Hard labor, but everyone is fed well. But I don’t know if the king is called pharaoh. And I’m not sure why we are building this pyramid. His tomb? I don’t know. His palace is big and beautiful, but nothing comparable to the pyramid we are building. I know ancient Egyptians valued the afterlife very much, but still, does one need a tomb that is so much more than his current residence? And if so, why didn’t his father and grandfather build pyramids?
“Anyway, I’m not so interested in why we are building it. I am more interested in how magnificent the structure is. I’m happy to be part of this great project. For me, the only problem is … my boss,” Derek mumbled.
“Your boss?” Alex repeated to encourage him to continue. Gosh, isn’t this a universal issue?
“Yes. He is a good person … He is from a noble family, well-educated, very intelligent. He is careful and very devoted to the project himself. It’s just … I feel uncomfortable around him. But it’s not like he has done anything mean to me.”
Derek looked down. It was obvious he didn’t know how to explain his feelings. Alex wasn’t sure what to say.
The sunset was filling the café and the glare made Alex blink.
“Derek!” Someone was approaching from behind Alex. “Sorry to be late. Hi, who is this?”
Alex looked at the woman who had just arrived. And it was Alex who said, “I remember YOU. You went to Westerville High School, didn’t you?”
Alex thought over her encounter with Derek and Nancy that afternoon as she lay in bed.
“Nancy Clifford! She was a smart kid,” Alex thought. “So they moved to Chicago after their parents got divorced. I heard about them going away but didn’t know what happened … How old was I? Fifteen?”
“I wasn’t so close to her, but I think I met her family a few times. Did I meet her little brother? Maybe.” Alex thought about Derek. He looked so happy when she recognized his sister. “Four years difference is a big deal for … kids, isn’t it? I guess I just wasn’t paying much attention … And, to say the least, he is not a bad person. He is almost awkward in his honesty.”
“Nancy,” Alex continued remembering, “hasn’t changed much. She still feels so … distant. Like she needs some space … even with her brother.”
Alex also thought about what she’d just read in the book. “The book says the first pyramid was the Step Pyramid of Djoser, who was the first or the second pharaoh of the third dynasty. Around 2660 BC.
“But can we really trust history? History is written later, often by those who conquered the land and gained power. Upper Egypt invaded Lower Egypt and started the first dynasty of unified Egypt. Did they—those from Upper Egypt—understand the history and culture of Lower Egypt? Were they willing to keep accurate records? Or did they destroy the great artifacts of Lower Egypt to make themselves appear superior? Looting is customary in invasion, isn’t it?”
Alex’s thought stopped there. She had a deep fear of and apprehension about violence. For a brief moment, she felt as if she could hear the roaring screams of women and men, along with the banging sounds of spears and shields.
Then she sighed, rolled over, and fell asleep.
She looked up at the silvery bronze disk set high in the altar. It was quite large, about three feet in diameter, and finely polished to be a mirror. There was a snake carving around the disk. The fragrant smoke of the incense drifted slowly in the quiet corridor of the temple.
Alex was wearing a soft flax linen dress. It was sleeveless and hung down to her ankles. She was wearing leather sandals and a golden anklet. She also had on armlets and a jeweled talisman pendant. She was walking down toward the courtyard to receive the worshipper, who was an old woman. The woman was supporting herself on a cane as she dragged her left leg. A muscular man was assisting her.
The sun was high. Alex greeted them at the entrance and watched the temple girls take her in. When they settled in the corner of the main hall, the old woman said,
“Honored Daughter of Wadjet, I’m growing old and weak, and I know I am moving on to the other side of the river soon. My husband has been waiting for me there quite some time. I do not have regrets about my lifetime on this side and I am not afraid of the great judgment.
“My concern is my son. That is my youngest son … I’ve had five children, but three died in childhood and my daughter died when she was giving birth to her first child. My son is almost forty and still single. He is a good boy … makes a good living, too. He will be so lonely when I am gone …”
Alex thought she heard the comforting music of flute and harp as she listened to this old woman. Then her dream faded for a while, and when it came back, Alex was in a small house. It was her abode near the temple. The sun was setting and she was at the supper table with a very special friend.
“Thank you as always for your hospitality, Auri,” Aquan said, “It is such a pleasure to see you. I would not be in my current position without you and your late father’s help.”
“Oh, the pleasure is mine,” Auri replied with a genuine smile. “I love listening to your stories. And please don’t feel you owe anything to us. We are related … my father’s grandmother was an Atlantean. She used to tell me about her homeland, but I was just a little girl and have forgotten most of it. So it means a lot to me to learn about that lost land from you.
“My great grandmother loved me very much,” Auri kept on. “Oh, I remember playing with a ball she gave me. I called it the moon because it was moon white. It was about the size of my head—as a little girl. The strange thing was that the moon changed its hue to any color of the rainbow when I played with it. When I bounced it against the brick wall, it turned red. When I rolled it on the floor, it turned yellow. When it was thrown high—I couldn’t do it myself, but my father used to do it for me—it was sky blue when it fell back.”
Aquan was smiling.
“Did your great grandmother stop the moon midair?”
“How do you know?” Auri said. “Yes, she could stop the moon anywhere, anytime. She would say, ‘Watch,’ and hold up her hand, and the moon would stop all of a sudden.”
Aquan was now chuckling. “Well, I had one of them, too, when I was a kid. Hmm … let’s see … maybe I can make one for you.”
“Really?” Auri now had the expression of a delighted little girl. “I lost mine long ago … Wow, that would bring back so much of my childhood memory. And you know how to play that trick to stop the ball?”
“Yes, of course,” Aquan replied. “When my project is completed, I’ll have more time for myself, so I will make the new moon for you. It won’t be long.”
“So the construction is turning out as planned?” Auri asked, as she passed the bowl of curdled milk and figs to Aquan.
“Yes,” Aquan replied. “The exterior is already completed. It is covered with polished white limestone. The pathway to the entrance is also completed.”
“You mean … entrances,” Auri whispered, although there were only the two of them at the table. She always excused her chambermaid when Aquan was visiting.
Aquan still looked around and whispered back, “Yes … and of course, the basic layout of the interior is ready. The final step is to finish the interior.
“It is critical that we safeguard the Code, Auri.” Aquan was very serious now. “It can bring eternal peace and prosperity—or, used the wrong way, it can destroy this country, or even the whole world, like it did to Atlantis.”
“The lost land of great Atlantis,” Auri said, leaning toward Aquan. “I feel for you. It must be so hard to live far from home, never to return.”
“I was one of the few who had escaped before it sank. A few others may have fled to the other side of the ocean, but I haven’t been able to contact them,” said Aquan. “I love the king and this country. But practically no one is ready for the Code at this time. So the best approach is to keep it behind the wall and only utilize its applications as it is appropriate. That alone can protect this country from the unreasonable demands of Upper Egypt.”
“Oh, those fierce, rude people from the south,” Auri said, “we have been sending them huge tribute annually just to learn the condition of the river up there, and they don’t seem to be satisfied. Their demands are escalating and almost sound like a threat.”
“They are surrounded by desert and their only cultivatable land is the narrow strip along the river. They do not have ports to the sea like we do, nor the direct route to Asia. When one doesn’t have much to lose, they become fierce and brave, you know,” Aquan said in a quiet tone. “As things are, they will invade this country soon, I think.
“But when the pyramid is ready, we won’t need to ask them how the river is rising. We will be able to predict it by observing the sun and the stars. We will know before they do, actually.
“And so, here is the point: When you know, let them know as well. This way, both countries can enjoy prosperity. Neither side needs to take from the other. We already have plenty.”
Aquan thought, “Auri is a wise girl. She figured out that the pyramid was not only about honoring the king, as everyone thinks it is. I just had to tell her about the Code. But she doesn’t know what the Code is. Good for her, for if she knew, and if someone noticed she knew, they might do horrible things to her. Besides, she has never been to the construction site, so she doesn’t know exactly what the interior is like.
“All the supervisors are kept in their places, too. Each supervisor is provided with only the drawings that they are responsible for. They won’t be able to figure out the totality of the pyramid,” Aquan kept thinking.
“My only concern is Nujm. He has access to all the drawings and will be overseeing all the internal work. And I know he doesn’t like working for me—before this project, he was the top architect of this country. Yet I need his support—I cannot manage all the local workers. I have no ambition in the king’s court—I’m happy to retire after this project. But how can I let him know I am not his competitor? How can I protect the Code from him and complete the project?”
They finished the supper and the glass of mead. Auri gave a hug to Aquan and said, “Take care. I know some people at the palace are jealous of you and the king’s trust in you. May you be safe and your secret be covered. Let me know if I can be of any assistance—consider this your home.”
That same night, Nancy lay in her bed, shaking.
“Oh my, what shall I do? I could shut up my brother, but you, Alex … Oh, yes, I remember you. Not just from high school. And I know you will remember our past lives soon … Maybe Derek will remember more, too, especially if Alex encourages him. They will remember what I did.”
Nujm stood alone on one of the platforms along the pathway to the pyramid. It was very early in the morning. The sun was just starting to color the eastern sky, and the great monument was reflecting its rosy hue on one side. The other side of the sky was still dark blue.
“I am humiliated beyond words,” he thought. “I, Nujm, the rightful successor of one of the most established families of this country. My father was the most trusted architect in the royal court, who was in charge of maintaining the palace and the royal tombs. He sent me to the best school in the capital city, and also tutored me himself. I studied very hard and completed the most advanced courses of mathematics, physics, and architecture at the tender age of fifteen. The king was so impressed that he called me a blessed genius and gave me one of his daughters as wife. I was managing hundreds of scribes and construction supervisors by the age of twenty, and when my father passed away when I was twenty-four, no one opposed my promotion to the chief architect position.
“I spent two years perfecting my design for the king’s new tomb. And he loved it! Then, those refugees came, and everything changed …
“I was thirty when this construction started.” Nujm looked up at the pyramid. Its bright white exterior was shining in the fresh morning sun. “What a waste.
“Sure, it’s beautiful and it will impress everyone, including the foreigners. Their surprise and awe might deter their attempt to invade this country. It might also attract undue attention—especially from the thieves. I could have built something far more elegant.
“And what’s that internal layout about?! It’s a three-dimensional maze. That Visitor is definitely hiding something.”
The sun was rising higher, causing the thick river mist to rise to where he was. Workers were starting to gather for the day’s labor. Nujm touched his thick beard and tapered it.
“But all the other refugees are gone now. It’s only you, Aquan. Do you know how humiliating it has been for me to report to you, a foreigner who is over ten years junior to me? And do you think I am unaware of who you are? But I haven’t been pretending to be stupid all these years for nothing.”
Alex looked up and sighed. She had been leafing through some books on ancient Egypt at the library.
The pyramids in the photos were only sad ruins compared to what she had imagined from her dreams. The various pictures—mostly murals of tombs, temples, and residences of wealthy people—were more interesting. Men and women with large, dark eyes. They painted thickly around the eyes, which made their eyes appear even bigger. Their hair was wavy but many combed it with oil to straighten it neatly. They also liked wearing wigs of elaborate styles, with many plaits. Shaved heads were also popular.
It seemed ancient Egyptians didn’t know how to dye, so everyone—from the pharaoh down to the slaves—wore white linen. However, the quality of the cloth varied widely, the book said, that linen could be soft, semi-transparent cloth made of fine yarn, or could be coarse. Most men just wore loincloths. Middle-class men, such as scribes, wore kilts. And, although the ground was very hot in the sun, most people were barefooted.
They more than compensated for the lack of color in their clothes with various pieces of jewelry. Well-off people wore many large pieces of jewelry. Multiple-layered necklaces of gold with precious stones such as turquoise, malachite, amethyst, lapis lazuli, carnelian, garnet, or even ruby and emerald. Bracelets, armlets, rings, earrings, and headbands were all popular as well.
“This is pretty similar to what I saw in my dreams,” Alex thought. “Of course, these are from later times. Hardly anything is left from the predynastic period … especially not from the Delta area.”
That night, she dreamed of ancient Egypt again. The streets were clean and orderly. She was going to the market to see the crafts of various artisans. Most works were directly commissioned, but they made some extra pieces and sold them at the market, which was held once a month. In addition to the colorful jewelry, there were painted potteries, carved alabaster figurines, toy furniture and boats for children … there were also musicians, jugglers, even acrobats. The stalls were set up along the canal, and lush palm trees lined the banks of the canal. She remembered the people’s conversations and laughters she heard as she strolled.
Alex could have commanded more attention if she had been just a little more tanned, or if she’d colored her hair lighter. Or if she’d dressed in more trendy, showy clothes. And if she were more voluptuous. As she was, she blended in too well. Derek, however, found her immediately when he walked into the café.
“What’s up? I’m so glad you called me,” Derek said with a smile.
Alex hesitated a little. “Well, umm … I’ve been reading this book, and … have been thinking about your dreams. Actually, I’ve been having strange dreams, too. Let me ask you … did your mother—in ancient Egypt—drag her left leg?”
Derek stared at her and his round eyes grew even bigger.
“How do you know? Yes, for a long time, she dragged her left leg and had to use a cane,” Derek replied.
Alex didn’t want to surprise Derek, but now that she’d said it, she had to explain. “Well, I was the priestess at the temple.”
Derek kept staring at Alex. After what felt like a few minutes, he said,
“That makes complete sense. You felt familiar from the very beginning. It’s not really about your looks. It’s how it feels around you. It feels easy to talk to you. In fact, I never told anyone about my dreams except my family. And since my sister made fun of me, I haven’t told anyone about it for a long time.”
“In my dream,” Alex said, “I was standing in the shade inside the entrance, and you were in the sun. So maybe you didn’t see my face very clearly. But I recognized you—you have the same eyes. I don’t mean the color or the shape of the eyes. The feel in the eyes is the same.”
“Did you see my boss or Aquan in your dreams?” Derek asked.
“Gee, he gets right to the point, doesn’t he?” Alex thought, and said, “Yes, I met Aquan.”
“What do you think of him? He is wonderful, isn’t he? Tell me about your dreams—how do you know Aquan?”
“Aquan and I are long-standing friends,” Alex replied.
“And? You probably know him more than I do. Tell me about Aquan.”
Alex told him that, in her dreams, she was called Auri, and Aquan was her family friend. She described the supper she’d had with Aquan—one of many such friendly occasions. She also described the pyramid, as she heard from Aquan.
Derek listened to Alex attentively, nodding at every detail she made about the pyramid. When she finished, he looked at her straight in the eyes and said,
“Is that all? I have the feeling you know more.”
Alex flushed. “Well … I don’t know if it is appropriate for me to tell you. I promised not to.”
“Promised? Over 5000 years ago? C’mon, we need to find out what happened—if it ever happened,” Derek said, and noticed how he raised his voice. So he adjusted his volume and said, “Okay, I respect promises—usually I am the dumb one who keeps the secret until everyone else knows. But really, don’t you think your promise is long expired?”
Alex didn’t answer.
“Okay, let’s talk about something else. There is something that’s been bothering me,” Derek said. “I’ve been reading about ancient Egypt. Historians say Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt and started the first dynasty of unified Egypt around 3150 BC. My dreams seem to be taking place some time before this.
“So this means we—Lower Egyptians—could not prevent their invasion. Even with that great pyramid. I was just a supervisor and I didn’t know the whole plan of the pyramid, but I feel something went wrong.”
Alex looked down and nodded slowly.
Her coffee was already cold, but she took a sip anyway. “But … do you really think we want to find out about our past lives?”
“What do you mean? Isn’t that why you called me?” Derek said.
“Well, I wanted to acknowledge your dreams,” Alex replied. “I thought it was interesting that our dreams matched. But excavating the past as much as we can? I don’t know. People have secrets, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to step in until they themselves willingly come out. Plus, even if we find out what went wrong, we cannot change the past, you know. Isn’t it easier to just forgive all and move forward?”
Derek thought for a while and replied, “I still want to know. Knowing the truth sets us free.”
“Really?” Alex looked up at Derek, “Well, here is the thing … I’ve been having strange dreams since I met you, and not all of them are about ancient Egypt.”
Now Derek went pale. “You, too? I have dreams of other times, too, although they are much more vague than the ancient Egypt ones …”
“And you know why, right? Psychologists point out that we repress unpleasant or unfavorable memories,” said Alex.
“Yes,” Derek admitted. He looked into Alex’s eyes and his expression twisted.
“So … I really killed that man?” Derek said. Then he realized something in Alex’s eyes and his face grew even paler. “Oh, no … it’s not ‘that man.’ It was … you?”
Alex shrugged. “If we consider our dreams as our past life memories. And I might have done something that drove you to that crime.”
(To be continued . . .)
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