The real treasure of the mountains was hidden beyond the highest peaks, in a very difficult to reach valley. The water there was the purest in the world and those who went there had, in general, no intention of going back. The monastery of the valley of the Dragon was the crown jewel of the mountain range, covered in gold leaf and constructed for thousands of years, with the help of every single monk that had ever arrived there to dedicate his or her life to the cause of enlightenment and knowledge.
Men and women were allowed in the temple and they were not segregated in any way. Actually, people of every single ethnicity had at one point lived there as a monk. It was a welcoming community, who had no interest in the personal lives of their people. They only lived to achieve the highest state of knowledge and compassion. They believed humanity existed to learn all that it could and to teach others about the wonders of the universe. They thought that teaching and learning were the pillars of any civilized society.
That’s why, once in a lifetime for every single monk, they had to live the monastery and journey to the outside world in order to teach somewhere whatever they thought people had to learn. Some went to the villages in the outskirts of the mountain range. Meanwhile, others were more adventurous and traveled further, to enormous cities and remote towns where they felt they could make a real connection with people. Each one decided the destination on his or her own, no obligations attached, except for one.
They always had to come back. The life of the monks of the Valley of the Dragon was forever tied to the monastery. After a year outside, they were obliged to come back and dedicate the rest of their lives to further learning and teaching, in the form of writing books or painting illustrative art. They could also help restoring the building, as it was getting very old or they could even attempt to take care of the few crops and animals that they had in that remote space so far into the mountain, so high up too.
Most of the monks never had a problem with coming back to their monastery. After all, it was there where they had felt the ray of enlightenment for the first time and that was a sensation no one could really forget or dismiss so easily. That’s why they felt compelled to go back and keep helping their fellow monks and humanity in their quest to be more cultured and aware of the wisdom that was in all things. However, they had been various exceptions of monks not coming back the moment they were supposed to, which was dealt with in the most sensitive but also serious way their community could.
They would send another monk to the place were the person that didn’t want to go back was and they attempted to talk to them in order to understand why they want to stay in the outside world. They would hear the complaints and the thought of their fellow brothers and sisters and then they would try to make them realize how all of their fears came from places of insecurity and not from any hatred or ill will against their faith. After such a profound conversation, most runaway monks would come to their senses and head back home.
But yes, they were very few that even after the conversation had no intention of going back. Maybe they had remembered what they had missed from the outside world and they just wanted to experience all of that more permanently. Complaints of that nature were unfounded as the monastery had found a way to use technology in their own advantage, for example protecting the most ancient texts with the help of very advances machines and using the internet to further their cause and connect with others seeking the same goal.
The monastery had actually been in contact with several universities in the world and they would often send their monks to those places in their year of teaching, in order to exchange ideas and learn from others who were also seeking the answers in nature. It was mutually beneficial and it was an experience that could make a person grow beyond his or hers wildest dreams. Maybe even love would be born from such exchanges and the monastery welcomed it with open arms. They were not celibate.
In recent years, the monastery had allowed the construction of small huts all around the Dragon Valley in order to accommodate some families that had decided to live there permanently. Life was much simpler, filled with hard work but with a sense of being able to actually help people in a meaningful way. That’s why every monk could decide when and where to go for his teaching year. It was left open to their choices in order to let them feel their way through life, not based on what others said.
However, the place was still remote. Technology had also been used in order to install disruptors in the vicinity of the mountains, in order for satellite imagery to be unavailable for the whole area and to render high-tech equipment obsolete if someone wanted to find the valley through “easier” means. Whoever wanted to join the order had to do it with conviction, by foot and with effort. It couldn’t be in any other way. Men, women and children were all equals in that way and it happened to be the best way to make a proper selection of who deserved to be there and who didn’t.
Dragon Valley was therefore a small fragment of the world that most people had never seen or even heard of in their lives. Sometimes it sounded like a myth or a legend, and people would even dismiss it as fictional. That wasn’t a problem for the people that lived there, at all.
They would live their lives trying hard to actually have something to show for after years of studying and learning from the world around them. They tried not to just be here, doing things, but actually trying to hear the world and also speaking back to it. Their lives were always filled with purpose.