Opening words exploring new territory. We begin by jumping to the close of an inaugural assembly, where an unnamed speaker ponders faith and recommends embracing the unknown as an essential category in the spiritual and thinking life. Then we delve into the mind of a new student of the academy.

Faith, at its most sublime, is a rational choice. Your education will prepare you for the moment when you can admit that this is so. You will learn to embrace the unknown, and your life will be oriented around the unknown. Soon, indeed, you will begin to appreciate how life is meaningless without it. We are all one under rational faith. This is our wisdom.

So ended the assembly, and there was the familiar clearing of throats and shuffling of chairs, book bags and bodies as the inaugurated students made their exit out of the auditorium, their thoughts heavy with the awesome and terrifying significance of the year to come.


It was difficult to surface from my slumber the following morning, the first day of classes. My night's rest had been unencumbered by dreams, but still my mind felt crowded, and I had to meditate, still sitting in bed but upright, before I could calmly open myself up to whatever the day may yield. Lessons are best received by the mind which has been brought to a yin state, and it had been a long time since I had been able to nourish my soul with the same. The examinations to enter the academy had demanded the most sustained and concentrated effort I had ever had to put forth in my life as a student, and I had not been able to rest well for several weeks. My teacher who had prepared me for this day was said to be the best, and it was assumed that anyone under her tutelage would be guaranteed entry into the academy. Of course, there are no guarantees, and I suffered the trials as deeply as anyone else, many times teetering upon the brink of defeat, when a single moment of weakness could have sealed my fate and precipitated my fall from the heights which I have so far attained, however meagre they are relative to the rarefied altitudes I have yet to reach. No, my presence within these hallowed walls is beyond dispute, and it is from this fact that I now gather the courage to take with me the pains of my early struggles, when I was taught how important it is not to leave anything behind, and that the past should always be encouraged to stand by your side, like a sensitive and observant, younger companion, whose words—though often obscure—are best listened to. If they lack ready interpretation, it is not so much a sign of their immaturity, but of your own. And when I refer to the heights I have yet to reach, I imagine a scene in which the soft murmurings of my past blend with the brush of the wind in my ears, until together they sound so simple, and deeply I breathe them in, as an affirmation of my existence.



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