Katherine Solomon's heart felt light as she hurried up the hill toward the base of the Washington Monument. She had endured great shock and tragedy tonight, and yet her thoughts were refocused now, if only temporarily, on the wonderful news Peter had shared with her earlier . . . news she had just confirmed with her very own eyes.
My research is safe. All of it.
Her lab's holographic data drives had been destroyed tonight, but earlier, at the House of the Temple, Peter had informed her that he had been secretly keeping backups of all her Noetic research in the SMSC executive offices. You know I'm utterly fascinated with your work, he had explained, and I wanted to follow your progress without disturbing you.
"Katherine?" a deep voice called out.
She looked up.
A lone figure stood in silhouette at the base of the illuminated monument.
"Robert!" She hurried over and hugged him.
"I heard the good news," Langdon whispered. "You must be relieved."
Her voice cracked with emotion. "Incredibly." The research Peter had saved was a scientific tour de force--a massive collection of experiments that proved human thought was a real and measurable force in the world. Katherine's experiments demonstrated the effect of human thought on everything from ice crystals to random-event generators to the movement of subatomic particles. The results were conclusive and irrefutable, with the potential to transform skeptics into believers and affect global consciousness on a massive scale. "Everything is going to change, Robert. Everything."
"Peter certainly thinks so."
Katherine glanced around for her brother.
"Hospital," Langdon said. "I insisted he go as a favor to me."
Katherine exhaled, relieved. "Thank you."
"He told me to wait for you here."
Katherine nodded, her gaze climbing the glowing white obelisk. "He said he was bringing you here. Something about `Laus Deo'? He didn't elaborate." Langdon gave a tired chuckle. "I'm not sure I entirely understand it myself." He glanced up at the top of the monument. "Your brother said quite a few things tonight that I couldn't get my mind around."
"Let me guess," Katherine said. "Ancient Mysteries, science, and the Holy Scriptures?"
"Welcome to my world." She winked. "Peter initiated me into this long ago. It fueled a lot of my research."
"Intuitively, some of what he said made sense." Langdon shook his head. "But intellectually . . ."
Katherine smiled and put her arm around him. "You know, Robert, I may be able to help you with that."
Deep inside the Capitol Building, Architect Warren Bellamy was walking down a deserted hallway.
Only one thing left to do tonight, he thought.
When he arrived at his office, he retrieved a very old key from his desk drawer. The key was black iron, long and slender, with faded markings. He slid it into his pocket and then prepared himself to welcome his guests.
Robert Langdon and Katherine Solomon were on their way to the Capitol. At Peter's request, Bellamy was to provide them with a very rare opportunity--the chance to lay eyes upon this building's most magnificent secret . . . something that could be revealed only by the Architect.
High above the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, Robert Langdon inched nervously around the circular catwalk that extended just beneath the ceiling of the dome. He peered tentatively over the railing, dizzied by the height, still unable to believe it had been less than ten hours since Peter's hand had appeared in the middle of the floor below.
On that same floor, the Architect of the Capitol was now a tiny speck some hundred and eighty feet below, moving steadily across the Rotunda and then disappearing. Bellamy had escorted Langdon and Katherine up to this balcony, leaving them here with very specific instructions. Peter's instructions.
Langdon eyed the old iron key that Bellamy had handed to him. Then he glanced over at a cramped stairwell that ascended from this level . . . climbing higher still. God help me. These narrow stairs, according to the Architect, led up to a small metal door that could be unlocked with the iron key in Langdon's hand.
Beyond the door lay something that Peter insisted Langdon and Katherine see. Peter had not elaborated, but rather had left strict instructions regarding the precise hour at which the door was to be opened. We have to wait to open the door? Why?
Langdon checked his watch again and groaned.
Slipping the key into his pocket, he gazed across the gaping void before him at the far side of the balcony. Katherine had walked fearlessly ahead, apparently unfazed by the height. She was now halfway around the circumference, admiring every inch of Brumidi's The Apotheosis of Washington, which loomed directly over their heads. From this rare vantage point, the fifteen- foot-tall figures that adorned the nearly five thousand square feet of the Capitol Dome were visible in astonishing detail.
Langdon turned his back to Katherine, faced the outer wall, and whispered very quietly, "Katherine, this is your conscience speaking. Why did you abandon Robert?"
Katherine was apparently familiar with the dome's startling acoustical properties . . . because the wall whispered back. "Because Robert is being a chicken. He should come over here with me. We have plenty of time before we're allowed to open that door."
Langdon knew she was right and reluctantly made his way around the balcony, hugging the wall as he went.
"This ceiling is absolutely amazing," Katherine marveled, her neck craned to take in the enormous splendor of the Apotheosis overhead. "Mythical gods all mixed in with scientific inventors and their creations? And to think this is the image at the center of our Capitol."
Langdon turned his eyes upward to the sprawling forms of Franklin, Fulton, and Morse with their technological inventions. A shining rainbow arched away from these figures, guiding his eye to George Washington ascending to heaven on a cloud. The great promise of man becoming God.
Katherine said, "It's as if the entire essence of the Ancient Mysteries is hovering over the Rotunda."
Langdon had to admit, not many frescoes in the world fused scientific inventions with mythical gods and human apotheosis. This ceiling's spectacular collection of images was indeed a message of the Ancient Mysteries, and it was here for a reason. The founding fathers had envisioned America as a blank canvas, a fertile field on which the seeds of the mysteries could be sown. Today, this soaring icon--the father of our country ascending to heaven--hung silently above our lawmakers, leaders, and presidents . . . a bold reminder, a map to the future, a promise of a time when man would evolve to complete spiritual maturity.
"Robert," Katherine whispered, her gaze still fixated on the massive figures of America's great inventors accompanied by Minerva. "It's prophetic, really. Today, man's most advanced inventions are being used to study man's most ancient ideas. The science of Noetics may be new, but it's actually the oldest science on earth--the study of human thought." She turned to him now, her eyes filled with wonder. "And we're learning that the ancients actually understood thought more profoundly than we do today."
"Makes sense," Langdon replied. "The human mind was the only technology the ancients had at their disposal. The early philosophers studied it relentlessly."
"Yes! The ancient texts are obsessed with the power of the human mind. The Vedas describe the flow of mind energy. The Pistis Sophia describes universal consciousness. The Zohar explores the nature of mind spirit. The Shamanic texts predict Einstein's `remote influence' in terms of healing at a distance. It's all there! And don't even get me started about the Bible."
"You, too?" Langdon said, chuckling. "Your brother tried to convince me that the Bible is encoded with scientific information."
"It certainly is," she said. "And if you don't believe Peter, read some of Newton's esoteric texts on the Bible. When you start to understand the cryptic parables in the Bible, Robert, you realize it's a study of the human mind."
Langdon shrugged. "I guess I'd better go back and read it again."
"Let me ask you something," she said, clearly not appreciating his skepticism. "When the Bible tells us to `go build our temple' . . . a temple that we must `build with no tools and making no noise,' what temple do you think it's talking about?"
"Well, the text does say your body is a temple."
"Yes, Corinthians 3:16. You are the temple of God." She smiled at him. "And the Gospel of John says the exact same thing. Robert, the Scriptures are well aware of the power latent within us, and they are urging us to harness that power . . . urging us to build the temples of our minds."
"Unfortunately, I think much of the religious world is waiting for a real temple to be rebuilt. It's part of the Messianic Prophecy."
"Yes, but that overlooks an important point. The Second Coming is the coming of man--the moment when mankind finally builds the temple of his mind."
"I don't know," Langdon said, rubbing his chin. "I'm no Bible scholar, but I'm pretty sure the Scriptures describe in detail a physical temple that needs to be built. The structure is described as being in two parts--an outer temple called the Holy Place and an inner sanctuary called the Holy of Holies. The two parts are separated from each other by a thin veil."
Katherine grinned. "Pretty good recall for a Bible skeptic. By the way, have you ever seen an actual human brain? It's built in two parts--an outer part called the dura mater and an inner part called the pia mater. These two parts are separated by the arachnoid--a veil of weblike tissue."
Langdon cocked his head in surprise.
Gently, she reached up and touched Langdon's temple. "There's a reason they call this your temple, Robert."
As Langdon tried to process what Katherine had said, he flashed unexpectedly on the gnostic Gospel of Mary: Where the mind is, there is the treasure.
"Perhaps you've heard," Katherine said, softly now, "about the brain scans taken of yogis while they meditate? The human brain, in advanced states of focus, will physically create a waxlike substance from the pineal gland. This brain secretion is unlike anything else in the body. It has an incredible healing effect, can literally regenerate cells, and may be one of the reasons yogis live so long. This is real science, Robert. This substance has inconceivable properties and can be created only by a mind that is highly tuned to a deeply focused state."
"I remember reading about that a few years back."
"Yes, and on that topic, you're familiar with the Bible's account of `manna from heaven'?"
Langdon saw no connection. "You mean the magical substance that fell from heaven to nourish the hungry?"
"Exactly. The substance was said to heal the sick, provide everlasting life, and, strangely, cause no waste in those who consumed it." Katherine paused, as if waiting for him to understand. "Robert?" she prodded. "A kind of nourishment that fell from heaven?" She tapped her temple. "Magically heals the body? Creates no waste? Don't you see? These are code words, Robert! Temple is code for `body.' Heaven is code for `mind.' Jacob's ladder is your spine. And manna is this rare brain secretion. When you see these code words in Scripture, pay attention. They are often markers for a more profound meaning concealed beneath the surface."
Katherine's words were coming out in rapid-fire succession now, explaining how this same magical substance appeared throughout the Ancient Mysteries: Nectar of the Gods, Elixir of Life, Fountain of Youth, Philosopher's Stone, ambrosia, dew, ojas, soma. Then she launched into an explanation about the brain's pineal gland representing the all-seeing eye of God. "According to Matthew 6:22," she said excitedly, " `when your eye is single, your body fills with light.' This concept is also represented by the Ajna chakra and the dot on a Hindu's forehead, which--"
Katherine stopped short, looking sheepish. "Sorry . . . I know I'm rambling. I just find this all so exhilarating. For years I've studied the ancients' claims of man's awesome mental power, and now science is showing us that accessing that power is an actual physical process. Our brains, if used correctly, can call forth powers that are quite literally superhuman. The Bible, like many ancient texts, is a detailed exposition of the most sophisticated machine ever created . . . the human mind." She sighed. "Incredibly, science has yet to scratch the surface of the mind's full promise."
"It sounds like your work in Noetics will be a quantum leap forward."
"Or backward," she said. "The ancients already knew many of the scientific truths we're now rediscovering. Within a matter of years, modern man will be forced to accept what is now unthinkable: our minds can generate energy capable of transforming physical matter." She paused. "Particles react to our thoughts . . . which means our thoughts have the power to change the world."
Langdon smiled softly.
"What my research has brought me to believe is this," Katherine said. "God is very real--a mental energy that pervades everything. And we, as human beings, have been created in that image--"
"I'm sorry?" Langdon interrupted. "Created in the image of . . . mental energy?"
"Exactly. Our physical bodies have evolved over the ages, but it was our minds that were created in the image of God. We've been reading the Bible too literally. We learn that God created us in his image, but it's not our physical bodies that resemble God, it's our minds."
Langdon was silent now, fully engrossed.
"This is the great gift, Robert, and God is waiting for us to understand it. All around the world, we are gazing skyward, waiting for God . . . never realizing that God is waiting for us." Katherine paused, letting her words soak in. "We are creators, and yet we naively play the role of `the created.' We see ourselves as helpless sheep buffeted around by the God who made us. We kneel like frightened children, begging for help, for forgiveness, for good luck. But once we realize that we are truly created in the Creator's image, we will start to understand that we, too, must be Creators. When we understand this fact, the doors will burst wide open for human potential."
Langdon recalled a passage that had always stuck with him from the work of the philosopher Manly P. Hall: If the infinite had not desired man to be wise, he would not have bestowed upon him the faculty of knowing. Langdon gazed up again at the image of The Apotheosis of Washington--the symbolic ascent of man to deity. The created . . . becoming the Creator.
"The most amazing part," Katherine said, "is that as soon as we humans begin to harness our true power, we will have enormous control over our world. We will be able to design reality rather than merely react to it." Langdon lowered his gaze. "That sounds . . . dangerous."
Katherine looked startled . . . and impressed. "Yes, exactly! If thoughts affect the world, then we must be very careful how we think. Destructive thoughts have influence, too, and we all know it's far easier to destroy than it is to create."
Langdon thought of all the lore about needing to protect the ancient wisdom from the unworthy and share it only with the enlightened. He thought of the Invisible College, and the great scientist Isaac Newton's request to Robert Boyle to keep "high silence" about their secret research. It cannot be communicated, Newton wrote in 1676, without immense damage to the world.
"There's an interesting twist here," Katherine said. "The great irony is that all the religions of the world, for centuries, have been urging their followers to embrace the concepts of faith and belief. Now science, which for centuries has derided religion as superstition, must admit that its next big frontier is quite literally the science of faith and belief . . . the power of focused conviction and intention. The same science that eroded our faith in the miraculous is now building a bridge back across the chasm it created."
Langdon considered her words for a long time. Slowly he raised his eyes again to the Apotheosis. "I have a question," he said, looking back at Katherine. "Even if I could accept, just for an instant, that I have the power to change physical matter with my mind, and literally manifest all that I desire . . . I'm afraid I see nothing in my life to make me believe I have such power."
She shrugged. "Then you're not looking hard enough."
"Come on, I want a real answer. That's the answer of a priest. I want the answer of a scientist."
"You want a real answer? Here it is. If I hand you a violin and say you have the capability to use it to make incredible music, I am not lying. You do have the capability, but you'll need enormous amounts of practice to manifest it. This is no different from learning to use your mind, Robert. Well-directed thought is a learned skill. To manifest an intention requires laserlike focus, full sensory visualization, and a profound belief. We have proven this in a lab. And just like playing a violin, there are people who exhibit greater natural ability than others. Look to history. Look to the stories of those enlightened minds who performed miraculous feats."
"Katherine, please don't tell me you actually believe in the miracles. I mean, seriously . . . turning water into wine, healing the sick with the touch of a hand?"
Katherine took a long breath and blew it out slowly. "I have witnessed people transform cancer cells into healthy cells simply by thinking about them. I have witnessed human minds affecting the physical world in myriad ways. And once you see that happen, Robert, once this becomes part of your reality, then some of the miracles you read about become simply a matter of degree."
Langdon was pensive. "It's an inspiring way to see the world, Katherine, but for me, it just feels like an impossible leap of faith. And as you know, faith has never come easily for me."
"Then don't think of it as faith. Think of it simply as changing your perspective, accepting that the world is not precisely as you imagine. Historically, every major scientific breakthrough began with a simple idea that threatened to overturn all of our beliefs. The simple statement `the earth is round' was mocked as utterly impossible because most people believed the oceans would flow off the planet. Heliocentricity was called heresy. Small minds have always lashed out at what they don't understand. There are those who create . . . and those who tear down. That dynamic has existed for all time. But eventually the creators find believers, and the number of believers reaches a critical mass, and suddenly the world becomes round, or the solar system becomes heliocentric. Perception is transformed, and a new reality is born."
Langdon nodded, his thoughts drifting now.
"You have a funny look on your face," she said.
"Oh, I don't know. For some reason I was just remembering how I used to canoe out into the middle of the lake late at night, lie down under the stars, and think about stuff like this."
She nodded knowingly. "I think we all have a similar memory. Something about lying on our backs staring up at the heavens . . . opens the mind." She glanced up at the ceiling and then said, "Give me your jacket."
"What?" He took it off and gave it to her.
She folded it twice and laid it down on the catwalk like a long pillow. "Lie down."
Langdon lay on his back, and Katherine positioned his head on half of the folded jacket. Then she lay down beside him--two kids, shoulder to shoulder on the narrow catwalk, staring up at Brumidi's enormous fresco.
"Okay," she whispered. "Put yourself in that same mind-set . . . a kid lying out in a canoe . . . looking up at the stars . . . his mind open and full of wonder."
Langdon tried to obey, although at the moment, prone and comfortable, he was feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion. As his vision blurred, he perceived a muted shape overhead that immediately woke him. Is that possible? He could not believe he hadn't noticed it before, but the figures in The Apotheosis of Washington were clearly arranged in two concentric rings--a circle within a circle. The Apotheosis is also a circumpunct? Langdon wondered what else he had missed tonight.
"There's something important I want to tell you, Robert. There's another piece to all this . . . a piece that I believe is the single most astonishing aspect of my research."
There's more? Katherine propped herself on her elbow. "And I promise . . . if we as humans can honestly grasp this one simple truth . . . the world will change overnight."
She now had his full attention.
"I should preface this," she said, "by reminding you of the Masonic mantras to `gather what is scattered' . . . to bring `order from chaos' . . . to find `at-one-ment.' "
"Go on." Langdon was intrigued.
Katherine smiled down at him. "We have scientifically proven that the power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought."
Langdon remained silent, wondering where she was going with this idea.
"What I'm saying is this . . . two heads are better than one . . . and yet two heads are not twice better, they are many, many times better. Multiple minds working in unison magnify a thought's effect . . . exponentially. This is the inherent power of prayer groups, healing circles, singing in unison, and worshipping en masse. The idea of universal consciousness is no ethereal New Age concept. It's a hard-core scientific reality . . . and harnessing it has the potential to transform our world. This is the underlying discovery of Noetic Science. What's more, it's happening right now. You can feel it all around you. Technology is linking us in ways we never imagined possible: Twitter, Google, Wikipedia, and others--all blend to create a web of interconnected minds." She laughed. "And I guarantee you, as soon as I publish my work, the Twitterati will all be sending tweets that say, `learning about Noetics,' and interest in this science will explode exponentially."
Langdon's eyelids felt impossibly heavy. "You know, I still haven't learned how to send a twitter."
"A tweet," she corrected, laughing.
"Never mind. Close your eyes. I'll wake you when it's time."
Langdon realized he had all but forgotten the old key the Architect had given them . . . and why they had come up here. As a new wave of exhaustion engulfed him, Langdon shut his eyes. In the darkness of his mind, he found himself thinking about universal consciousness . . . about Plato's writings on "the mind of the world" and "gathering God" . . . Jung's "collective unconscious." The notion was as simple as it was startling.
God is found in the collection of Many . . . rather than in the One.
"Elohim," Langdon said suddenly, his eyes flying open again as he made an unexpected connection.
"I'm sorry?" Katherine was still gazing down at him.
"Elohim," he repeated. "The Hebrew word for God in the Old Testament! I've always wondered about it."
Katherine gave a knowing smile. "Yes. The word is plural."
Exactly! Langdon had never understood why the very first passages of the Bible referred to God as a plural being. Elohim. The Almighty God in Genesis was described not as One . . . but as Many.
"God is plural," Katherine whispered, "because the minds of man are plural."
Langdon's thoughts were spiraling now . . . dreams, memories, hopes, fears, revelations . . . all swirling above him in the Rotunda dome. As his eyes began to close again, he found himself staring at three words in Latin, painted within the Apotheosis.
E PLURIBUS UNUM.
"Out of many, one," he thought, slipping off into sleep.