Taking a short break from the novel writing to organize my thoughts. I'm back in the ancient China chapter, and realize the ending needs work. In the hero's journey, as described by Joseph Campbell, after several trials or tests, the hero eventually gains the boon, the important self-realization that changes him. And incidentally gives him exceptional powers. The boon in this chapter is called an "unselfconscious breath", which Gu YuHuan experiences at the ending. This unselfconscious breath changes his awareness, and he sees the Pure Land (i.e. Heaven) all around him.
I'm trying to set up this transformation. In his case, Gu YuHuan's unselfconscious breath is more like a sigh. He realizes the profundity of his friend's sacrifice. He embraces his grief, and sees sorrow as the foreground of a wonder. These things are all stated or implied so far; now I'm trying to trigger that breath. He has a conversation with the head of the Gaomin order about his friend's sacrifice. And then using his meditative training described earlier in the chapter, Gu YuHuan breathes. It's that conversation that needs work.
Whenever I get stuck I switch gears and work on the next chapter in the sequence. I'm up to chapters 14 and 15 now. Chapter 15 returns to the main storyline, set just prior to Hurricane Katrina in Algiers, Louisiana, the West Bank of the Mississippi River, directly across from the French Quarter. Gu YuHuan, now called Goodfriend, picks up the main thread about the power struggle between 2 Baptist preachers. I'm glad to be back to the main storyline, taking definitive steps toward the final confrontation.