- Abandoned -
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
“I checked out your Abandoned website. Very cool! You must have put a lot of work into that thing: great photos, great text, and extremely unique. I especially like the writings you had in Abandoned on love.” Kon Berner
Chapter 6: The Ocean of Milk
Major Sutton was acutely aware of just who Nickolas Fotis was. He couldn’t read any further. He needed a drink. He needed a cigar. He needed another drink. He needed to come to grips, once and for all, with the dirty little secret that had been gnawing away at him for over two decades.
Yeah, he knew Nick. In fact, Sutton was the one who brought Nickolas into “Shining Brass” in the first place.
Sutton’s office had recruited all of their SOG units (Studies and Observations Group). When the war had unexpectedly ended on that dreadful day in 1973, a handful of Sutton’s brave young men were simply left behind to somehow fend for themselves. Furthermore, “Shining Brass” wasn’t the only SOG mission operating in Vietnam. “Heavy Green” was very active. Then again, the C.I.A. was involved, inserting other teams of Americans.
Altogether some have estimated that as many as twenty G.I.s were simply abandoned. Its hard to say for sure because these missions were highly sensitive. So much so that sometimes before being inserted, the Americans would be sterilized—in the sense that they would officially get out of the Army and then go back in as civilians, thus rendered completely free of any military identity. Plus they never carried any type of identification papers, and even their weapons and clothing were so generic that if captured, the VC would never know who they were.
Being killed in action—at least Sutton could cope with that, but to just abandon his men—he never signed-off on that. He thought that surely the President had known about these brave men. If he didn’t, then others close to him certainly knew what was going on. Over the years Sutton could only guess that the Commander-In-Chief had been advised that after America’s swift withdrawal from Vietnam, these men would simply be captured and returned home—just as our other POWs were destined to be released. That had to be it. But when that didn’t occur he could only guess what had happened to his men—soldiers who had trusted him with their lives—trusted that Sutton would get them back on American soil. Some of the men had wives and children. Now he was about to find out what had happened to at least one of them. The name on that dog tag was no mystery to him.
Yes, Sutton knew who Nick was. Sipping his whiskey, he thought about the day Nick had come to his office with Eleni. Sutton held his cigar between his teeth and bit down. He remembered Eleni’s raven black hair and her charming smile. Sutton also remembered her deep concern for her husband. No wonder she was so worried; she was four months pregnant.
Of course, she was never told the whole truth. None of the wives were. And as far as Uncle Sam was concerned, he had a great way out. Three little letters—MIA. There: a whole bunch of problems solved at once.
Picking the letter back up, the Major continued to read.
* * * * * * * *
“What I am now going to tell you, Eleni, can only be described as Divine Intervention.
My prayers, asking God for His mercy, were answered. What happened next will show you there is no doubt that He heard me. I had asked Him to save me and He did.
Eleni, when I finally came to, at first I thought I was in a church or something. I was so confused. My leg and my head were both throbbing--especially my head. Then I heard a little bell ringing off in the distance, along with the most wonderful aroma. I had been saved by a group of monks who live in an enormous cave located in a remote corner of Laos. They had turned their cave into a beautiful monastery.
A young man by the name of Rama took care of me until I was able to move around on my own. Soon we became very good friends. He even spoke a few words of English and was quick to learn more. Rama told me that when he was a boy, he had left Cambodia to come live at the monastery.
Actually, all of the monks had come from Cambodia. The only person at the monastery who speaks English fluently is Suryavarman. I’ll tell you about him in a moment.
As I mentioned, Eleni, it was the smell of this really wonderful incense that woke me up. Also a little bell that I kept hearing. Since my leg was broken, it must have been close to two months before I was able to move around on my own.”
Altar Inside the Cave
photo by: Nick De Marco
“Eleni, where do I begin? Even now, looking back and trying to write about it I realize that so much time has gone by.”
* * * * * * * *
(Back at the monastery, two months after finding Nick)
“Thank you for the cup of water. By the way, Rama, I am really impressed at how much your English has improved. You have such a good memory.”
“Thank you but all the credit goes to you, my good English teacher. Nickolas, I am so happy that you are feeling better. Later we will help you outside. You can watch me work in my garden.”
“I’d like that very much. By the way, I heard the bell again this morning. It rings often. I like it. It reminds me of my church. Rama, do you know anything about my religion?”
“Only a little, Nick—but Surya knows Jesus. As soon as your strength returns and your thoughts clear you can talk to him. Does your head still hurt?”
“Not as much—thank you. The pain seems to be pretty much a thing of the past. Only sometimes at night. And yes, I’d like to talk to him. In my church back in America our priest, Father Ambrose, uses a bell in his services, too. He also burns incense. Yours smells different but it’s very pleasant. But tell me Rama, why does the little bell ring so often?”
“Around the corner, over there, is where our Deity lives and whenever our meals are prepared, before we eat, we first offer our food to Lord Vishnu.”
“Who is Vishnu? Aren’t you a Buddhist monk?”
“Oh no,” Rama said, laughing. “Soon you will feel better and Surya wants to talk to you. He is very smart and will answer all your questions.”
“How do you pronounce his name, again?”
photo by: Ben Visbeek
“Thank you, Rama. Does his name mean anything?”
“When I was in school, Nickolas, I was taught about a powerful king who built Angkor Wat. Suryavarman II was a great leader who ruled during the first half of the 12th century and my father told me that Suryavarman was named after him.”
Angkor Wat – Built by Suryavarman II
photo by: Colin Payne
After talking for awhile, another monk entered the room and handed Rama some salve for Nick’s forehead. He was feeling tired. Saying thank you, a few minutes later Nick laid back down as Rama turned around and went outside. His eyes growing heavy, Nickolas soon drifted to sleep; questions about Vishnu, Buddha and Christ waiting to be answered. It would be a couple of hours before he woke up.
* * * * * * * *
Back in his vegetable garden, Rama thought about the American’s question. Again his mind took him back to Angkor Wat. Lord Vishnu was everywhere. That was because Angkor Wat had been built to honor Lord Vishnu and generations of early Cambodians had worshiped Him as God—long before all the Buddhist came.
Rama recalled the day he had asked his father the meaning of the stone statues. Some of the older boys had told him that Vishnu was churning an ocean of milk. You can imagine how such a statement would play within a child’s mind. Later that morning Rama asked his father where the ocean of milk was, so he could go see it.
Rama’s father, Ajita
photo by: Marco del Rosario
Ajita took his son by his hand and led him to the front of the temple and up a stone stairway. After finding a place to sit they both looked down at the destruction below. The Phimeanakas Temple was slowly being ravaged by the marching armies of both Father Time and Mother Nature. Smiling warmly at his son, Rama’s father began to speak.
View From Above
photo by: John Campbell
“Rama, it is only natural to wonder about the stories that these statues are telling. The Churning of the Ocean of Milk is the greatest.”
Rubbing his son’s head, Ajita continued. “Rama, Phimeanakas was my favorite place to play when I was a small boy. I brought you here because this is the exact spot where I first heard the story from my father. Now I will tell it to you.
Demons and Demigods Holding a Divine Snake
to Churn The Ocean of Milk
photo by: Kevin King
Demons and Demigods
Churning The Ocean of Milk
photo by: John Campbell
“Rama, you know how soldiers come here every now and then looking for the bad men. In the heavens there are also good and bad men. A long time ago, these divine beings were fighting each other. The good men were called demigods. The bad men were called demons. Both the demigods and the demons were fierce warriors.
“Even though the demigods were very strong, they were being defeated by the demons. Besides being defeated on the battlefield they had become weakened in other ways.”
“What do you mean, father?”
“Son, one of the most powerful mystics in heaven is Durvasa Muni. One day he gave his flower garland to Indra, who was the King of Heaven and one of the leaders of the demigods.
“But sadly, sometimes men of great power become puffed-up and forget how to act properly. When King Indra was given the flower garland, instead of thanking Durvasa Muni, he put it on the tusk of his elephant who then trampled on it. All the demigods began to laugh. This made Durvasa Muni very angry at the demigods so he placed a curse on them for being disrespectful. In this way the demigods were in a very precarious position, having been defeated both in battle and now, in spirit.
“Rama, you are probably wondering why the demigods, who are suppose to be righteous, acted in such a bad way. In fact, son, when you learn other stories about Lord Vishnu you will see that the demigods made other mistakes. Even so, although the demigods are not perfect, the most important thing that sets them apart from the demons is that they never forget God. Ultimately, whenever they find themselves in great danger, the demigods turn to Him for protection.
“Now I am going to tell you about someone who is very important and who played a vital role in the churning of the Ocean of Milk. At the dawn of creation, the first person that Lord Vishnu created was Brahma. Because he was the first, Brahma is also the most famous and honored demigod. So naturally, when the demigods realized how the demons were about to destroy them, they went to Brahma and explained to him what was happening.
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
“After hearing about their plight, Brahma began to pray to his Father. He then gathered together all the demigods and along with Shiva took them to the Ocean of Milk. Do you understand the story so far?”
“Yes father, but who is Shiva?”
“Rama, soon you will learn about Lord Shiva. He is a very powerful god.”
“What happened next, father?”
“In the middle of the Ocean of Milk is an island where Lord Vishnu lives. Standing on the shore and looking toward the island, Brahma started to recite many wonderful prayers to his father. In all, Brahma offered the Lord 24 prayers. At the end of the last prayer—so brilliant that at first the demigods couldn’t even see Him—Lord Vishnu appeared before them.”
“Rama, you and I can only see the stone statues of Lord Vishnu but what the demigods saw in person was much more wonderful. The Lord was dressed in yellow garments and His entire body was attractively decorated. They saw His beautiful smile and earrings, and His head crowned by a helmet bedecked with valuable jewels. Around His waist He wore a belt. They saw bangles on His arms, a necklace, and ankle bells. He also wore a beautiful flower garland and carried His personal weapons—His disc and club.”
After pausing for a few moments, Ajita continued.
“Gazing upon the beautiful form of his Father, Brahma and the others immediately fell to the ground. Then the Lord spoke in a voice that sounded like deep thunder. He told the demigods that they needed to make a truce with the demons for the specific purpose of churning the Ocean of Milk. Doing so would produce a delicious nectar and whoever drank it would become immortal.
“But the Lord also said that at first the ocean would produce many other things, including a deadly poison. However, the Lord assured the demigods and told them not to fear. Later when the demigods approached the king of the demons—Bali Maharaja—about establishing a truce and making the nectar, the demons falsely agreed. Actually, the demons planned to steal the nectar from the demigods as soon as it was produced, giving them all immortal life and certain victory over their eternal enemies.
“Soon after making this agreement, both the demons and the demigods worked very hard. Together with their mystical powers they uprooted the mountain—named, Mandara—that was made of solid gold. They were going to use the mountain to stir the Ocean of Milk. But because the mountain was so heavy, Lord Vishnu had to help them carry it to the ocean. This was an easy task for the all-powerful Lord. He carried the mountain on His shoulder.
“Then Garuda, the huge bird that carries the Lord on his back, removed the golden mountain from the Lord’s shoulder and placed it in the ocean.
“In order to spin the mountain and churn the Ocean of Milk, the demons and the demigods asked Vasuki—the Snake King—to wrap himself around the mountain. With the demons pulling Vasuki from one end and the demigods pulling the snake from the other end, their plan was to churn the ocean and make the eternal nectar. They promised Vasuki some of the divine potion if he would help them.
“Unfortunately, because the mountain was so heavy, as they started to churn the Ocean of Milk, it immediately sank. Not to fear, when this happened Lord Vishnu turned himself into a huge tortoise and on his back, lifted the mountain to the surface. The rotating motion of the mountain felt wonderful on His hard shell—exactly like the pleasure one gets when someone scratches your back.”
Rama smiled as he remembered how his father then reached out and scratched his back.
His father continued. “When the demons and demigods saw the mountain, again they began to work very hard. Even the Lord helped. The snake, however, being pulled back and forth so quickly, started to breathe out smoke and fire which soon made the demons and demigods very sick. Once again Lord Vishnu came to the rescue, this time in the form of a huge rain storm which cleared the air.
“Continuing their hard work, still they could not churn the ocean fast enough. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu grabbed the snake with His strong arms and churned the ocean so fast that all the fish came to the surface.
“Then the deadly poison that the Lord had mentioned suddenly appeared.”
Looking at his son, Ajita reminded him of his earlier question about Shiva.
“When this happened, Lord Vishnu and the demigods went to see Lord Shiva. After offering him nice prayers they told him about the deadly poison. Shiva turned to his wife, Bhavani, and reminded her about the glories of acting benevolent to relieve the suffering of others. Thus speaking, Shiva asked his wife to let him drink the poison in order to save everyone. Bhavani agreed and with his mystical powers, Shiva condensed all the poison into the palm of his hand and began to drink. Although the poison was very deadly, the only effect on Lord Shiva was a blue line that appeared on his neck.
Lord Shiva Drinking the Poison
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
“With the poison no longer a threat to the demons and the demigods, once again they took up the task of churning the Ocean of Milk. It was then that many wonderful things began to magically appear.
“One of the first things that the ocean produced was a Surabhi cow, whose milk, yogurt, ghee, dung and urine are used by the sages in ritualistic ceremonies.
“Next, a beautiful white horse appeared. Bali Maharaja took the horse for his own.
“Then many elephants were produced by the churning. Also a very beautiful gem appeared out of the ocean. Lord Vishnu took it and hung it around His neck. The demons and demigods then saw parijata flowers float to the surface of the milk. These flowers are used to decorate the celestial planets.
“After the flowers appeared, many beautiful women were produced.”
Looking at his son, Ajita said, “Rama, remember the stone carvings of the Apsaras—the many beautiful damsel that we looked at last week?”
photo by: Christopher Cotton
“Yes Father, I remember looking at them with you.”
“Some of those are carvings of the heavenly damsels that came out of the Ocean of Milk. Then, right after the Apsaras were produced, another beautiful woman appeared. Her name is Lakshmi.”
Lakshmi The Goddess of Fortune
Painting By: Raja Ravi Varma
“She is the Goddess of Fortune and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Upon seeing her unique beauty, the King of Heaven, Lord Indra, offered her a jeweled-covered seat. The sacred rivers in their human forms brought her pure water and golden pots. The earth, personified, brought her many herbs. Everyone worshiped her including the elephants, clouds and sages. Flowers, jewels, beautiful clothing, ornaments, earrings, and other nice things were given to her.
“Lakshmi then looked around for a suitable husband. Unable to find one among the demons and demigods, she turned to Lord Vishnu and accepted Him as her husband. She placed a garland of fresh lotus flowers on the Lord’s shoulders. Bumblebees looking for honey surrounded the flower garland. When the demigods saw the Lord accept Lakshmi as His wife, beautiful music and dancing greeted the Divine couple. From the heavens above, flowers showered down upon them and they could hear wonderful prayers.
“Unable to attract Lakshmi for their own pleasure, the demons became very agitated. Then out of the churning milk appeared the goddess, Varuni, who is sought after by those attached to strong drink and intoxication. The King of the Demons took the young girl. This made them very happy.
“Still churning the Ocean of Milk with great fury—Lord Vishnu—in the form of a young man suddenly appeared and was very strong, young, and handsome. In His hands He carried a large jug filled to the top with the nectar of eternal life. However, even though He was very strong, by the will of Providence the demons were able to steal the jug.
“When the demigods saw this disaster, again they turned to God for help. Always protecting those who approach Him, the Supreme Lord entered the hearts of the demons and made them argue amongst themselves as to who would take the first drink. Because of the fierce argument that ensued, none of them tasted the nectar. During the height of their fighting the Lord transformed Himself into His incarnation of a woman. Her name was Mohini and because of her incomparable beauty she captivated the demons who became like soft clay in her hands.
“With her smiles and shyness, She set into motion a colossal trick to take back the jug of nectar and give it to the demigods.
“Desiring Mohini’s favor, the demons asked her to settle their argument. She consented and the demons gave her the nectar, allowing her to disperse it however she saw fit.
“After fasting and other rituals, Mohini had the demons and demigods sit in separate rows across from each other. First she approached the demons, offering them only her sweet words. She then appeared before the demigods and gave them the nectar.
“One of the demons, who was called Rahu, spotted the trick and disguised himself as a demigod. Sitting with them, he had just barely taken a sip of the nectar when the sun and moon gods revealed Rahu’s true identity. Quickly, Mohini used Her disc and severed Rahu’s head from the rest of his body.
“However, because the nectar had touched Rahu’s lips, although his body lay dead on the floor, his head remained alive. Brahma then took Rahu’s head and turned it into the planet that causes both the sun and the moon to eclipse.
“Now, my son, you know the story told by these stone statues.”
“Thank you for telling me the story father. Now I can tell it to my friends.”
“But don’t forget—there is a great lesson to be learned from this story. You see, both the demons and the demigods had desired the nectar but only the demigods succeeded in obtaining it. Despite their foolish actions, their folly never left them completely blind. Whenever trouble rears its ugly head they always turn to the Lord for help. The demons, however, were cheated out of their share. The Lord only blesses those who take shelter of Him. The demons hate God. They never take shelter of Him because they deny His existence. Therefore, the demons were thwarted in their attempts to steal the pot of nectar.
“Rama, I have told you what my father said to me and now you can see that all around us these statues are telling us the story of the Ocean of Milk.”
The Churning of the Ocean of Milk
© Exotic India