The rocky island
Since that evening in the garden of the trattoria the friends had found frequent opportunity to discuss matters. The two older men felt they were becoming more familiar with the spiritual world of their young comrade.
The route of their journey, freely chosen, took them further and further southwards, and they encountered much of beauty.
But eventually they yearned to escape the noise of the cities with their abundance of great art works. So they agreed that they would live quietude for a few days on a rocky island rising out of the sea like a guard standing before the wide gulf of one of the noisiest southern cities.
It was a strange coincidence that the small ship they travelled on seemed to be greeted with gun salutes.
The locals were celebrating the festival of the island’s saint. Though the actual feast day was on the following day, those celebrating were completely uninhibited; during the whole night preceding the holi-day, the three travellers might easily have thought they were in a fortress under attack from an enemy, judging by the continual thundering of joyful gunfire.
There was no chance of getting any sleep this night, and the three strangers suspected they were not going to find the peace they sought here.
When on the next day the major procession of the saint, which offered worshippers another welcome opportunity to give noisy expression to their piety, had finally passed with ancient hymns and under a rain of rose petals thrown at the silver image, the three friends found to their astonishment, and earlier than expected, that they could enjoy the most delicious stillness.
They now walked there in blinding light, on the other side of the small town which crowned the island’s hilltop, between olive trees and lemon groves, vineyards and slopes rich in flowers. They breathed in the perfume of the south and were entranced by all the colours presenting themselves to their eyes.
Olive trees stood everywhere in full bloom, while the lemons brimming with ripeness grew to a size the travellers had never seen before.
They could scarcely comprehend where the ground got the strength to bring forth the abundance of roses and the heavy burden of wisteria which ran riot over all the walls here!
They approached the steep edge which in a colourful wilderness overflowing in petals fell away between precipitous rocky cliffs towards the sea which gradually merged with the glistening distance in the brightest of cobalt blues. Along the shores small bright emerald gulfs ended up against the rocky walls.
Where the sand created softer patches, magical pools came into being which were like round-edged areas of liquid turquoise.
In this magical world, they walked upon narrow paths leading over loose pebbles down to the beach. Half way down they reached their destination: – that old Mithras grotto where once, thousands of years ago, the sun was worshipped as a divinity. Here the mystai had been initiated by sacred mysteries at the time of the spring equinox. In seven stages, from one purification to another and obedient to increasingly demanding commands, they united themselves here with their god, whose image was considered to be the bright giver of life: the star irradiating the earth by day.
They believed that the light which revealed itself to the hearts there in the mysterious grotto lived on the ‘high mountain’ as it did on this earth. It could reach anyone courageous enough to pass the test and be able to feel in his soul and interpret within himself the symbols shown to him by wise priests. – – –
The three friends entered this cool sanctuary. Each of them knew well enough how much closer to God the ‘paganism’ once practised here was compared to many a later cult which smugly believed itself to be the only ‘pleasing’ one to the one true God. So they willingly allowed their souls to be moved by the secret which appeared to flow from the walls of the rockgrotto which for a long time now showed only faint traces of the art with which once the initiated had adorned them. –
They had surrendered themselves to many a feeling for some time before the oldest of the friends interrupted the silence and said:
“It is certainly strange that these people, to whom God testified himself in light, chose grottos in the earth’s stone rock to celebrate the mysteries from which their knowledge of light should emanate, instead of practising their liturgies outside in the fullness of sunlight! – ”
Turning automatically towards the exit – as though profane words were forbidden in this place where once only words of most sacred knowledge and secret hymns were heard – in order to seek out a resting place under shady bushes, the youngest of the three started speaking and said:
“Physically we come from the earth and we must, for the time being, also hide ourselves in the bowels of the earth – whether only in feeling, or visibly as these mystai thought it was right – before we can be ‘born anew’…
It is not without good reason that the mysteries of the ancients were carried out, the more sacred they seemed to be to them, almost always in crypts and caves. Even the hallowed temples with their forests of columns, which cannot be understood by modern man, were still experienced symbolically as the inner chambers of the earth. – – –
Each building is anchored in the interior of the earth; the higher it rises, the deeper its foundations must reach! –
Likewise we must: if the temple we are ourselves is to tower with its dome high up into the kingdom of pure spirit, lay the foundation stone in the earth’s interior. So that it will be anchored there, while we add brick upon brick according to the plan revealed within ourselves.
If we do otherwise and make so bold as to build on the earth’s surface, we will be like those sinners in the legend of the ‘Tower of Babel’ which collapsed within itself because the building powers could no longer understand each other...
We may also think we can erect the tower of a temple rising into the heavens, on the surface of the external knowledge which gives us our earthly
delusions and thoughts, but whoever builds with such folly will be shunned by true spiritual architects. He relies solely on lower earthly powers which may suffice for a long time as seemingly capable builders. But once the uppermost height still controllable by their powers, has been reached, their ‘language will be become confused’ so that they end up destroying what they once created……
According to legend the one they call the ‘Redeemer’ was born in a shepherds’ cave! – –
The same account relates that he was raised from the dead from a tomb in the rock! – – –
Leave everything ‘historical’ aside and consider only the deep symbolic content dwelling within such words and – correctly understood – transforming legend into a vessel of the most sublime truth! – –
Those who do not, like the exalted Master, find anchorage in the depths of the Earth, will certainly not, like him, be ‘received into heaven’! – – –
Our own body is, in the end, the cave of redemption for the spirit; it is the ‘earth’, and we must firstly descend into its deepest depths to lay the foundation which can bear our spiritual temple. –
Most would like to build their spiritual temple by trying, – even more foolishly than those legendary builders of the Tower of Babel, – first to construct the vault of the dome; and they are even then very disappointed when their work quickly collapses within itself. –
They start in their heads and construct bold arches of thoughts before they secured anchorage, feeling with every sinew, in the depths of the body what could support and bear the dome! – – – – –
The heart is at the centre of physical life. When it stops beating, the life of the body comes to an end.
However, it is far from just poetic imagery when all peoples and ages have also ascribed to the heart the greatest significance with respect to spiritual feeling and experience! – –
Certainly no anatomist can find the soul in the body’s heart; – but all our bodily organs correlate with spiritual organs of the soul. If we now speak of the ‘heart’ in a spiritual sense, then we are speaking of the heart of the spiritual organism whose movements however are in a continual reciprocal relationship with the body’s heart – during our earthly existence – : so that the heart belonging to the earthly body constitutes the soundboard through whose amplifying effect all spiritual experience of the soul enters our human consciousness with utmost clarity. – – –
Animals also have the same bodily organs yet they lack the corresponding spiritual organism. What is generally referred to as the ‘soul’ of the animal is nothing other than the whole complex of its finer fluid bodily powers. Caught in their ignorance, people generally believe these powers, even those in man, to be attributable to the soul …
This same animal body was once the self-sought refuge of spiritual man, ‘fallen’ from his original
spiritual state. And this same animal body in which he now finds himself, becomes his ‘cave of redemption’ when ‘his time’ has come. For, in its fall the spirit did not lose in any sense its creative power, and thus could imitate the shape of the animal body. Only in this shape can he be redeemable on earth and be comprehended by the consciousness of the human animal.
Whoever senses and recognises this ineffably profound mystery in all its immeasurable scope will surely thereafter no longer regard his earthly body as an obstacle and burdensome weight as he strives for awakening in the pure spirit …..
‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ – in the kingdom of pure spirit – ‘and whatsoever thou shalt loosen on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ –
There is no real redemption for earthly man apart from: in the body and bodily experienced through the living substantial spirit formed just like his body!! – – –
Only when he recognises his identically formed spiritual life within his whole self-awareness through the earthly body, has he ‘reached the spirit’. Only then may he allow his thoughts, without fear of deception, to construct the high dome which shall crown the temple of the spirit and be visible from far and wide. –
Prior to this everything he wants to build is at best only an interesting façade blown down by the first storm wind. And when he must return this earthly body to the earth he will not know where to shelter; for what he has built could only be seen by earthly eyes and vanishes with the earthly body from his human consciousness which, not yet united with his spirituality, is hereafter surrounded by illusions. – – –
So might the exalted Master then truly say:
‘Work while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work’. – – –
This ‘night’ is nothing other than the lack of ability without the body’s resonance to hear the voice of one’s own eternal spirit in the way as would be possible here on earth. For that ‘temple’ which is to be built is like, to use a different image, a symphony which needs not only the composer and its orchestra but also the listener capable of hearing it –’’
The speaker stopped talking at this point. The three men looked out, remaining silent for some time, towards the wide sea crossed by a pennanted sailing boat bringing visitors from the nearby mainland for the evening’s festivities.
Like protective watchtowers, massive rocky outcrops rose from the sea by the shoreline. Bathed in a yellow and reddish light, they betrayed the fact that the sun’s globe, already disappeared from view during the three friend’s sojourn here behind a steep, high wall in the west, would now soon retire on its downward path from the hitherto illuminated side of the earth.
Still none of the men wanted to think about returning, and the ‘abbot’, prompted into contradiction, began to speak:
“What you have said to us is, after everything we have been permitted to hear from you already, certainly intelligible and I must confess that this exalted teaching entrusted to you, which you have imparted to us here, has shaken me to the core!
The inhabitants of the island have wanted only to celebrate with their endless joyful salvoes the day of their saint in their customary manner. But for me it is almost as though they had, without knowing, greeted the day which unites us here at this place of ancient mysteries where deep spiritual workings have been revealed in which is found the wonderful solution to the mystery of human existence …
I just have one more question; though I know very well that it is likely to turn out to be foolish. As much as my ‘heart’ is full of joy and lifted by all you have said, it resists joy with respect to this question.
Perhaps much in me is still bound to the earth, so that I don’t want to draw the consequences, even if I can. –’’
“If I’m not mistaken,” – interrupted the older of the two, – “do we not find ourselves in the same situation? –
I too can find no way out if I am to say to myself that the spirit is only redeemed within the earthly body. Too many ties of love bind me to departed ones who I can scarcely count to be among those who have already found redemption on earth. – – ”
“That’s precisely the point,” – interjected the ‘abbot’. “Here I find myself challenged to reach a clear conclusion, yet there remains something in me that I certainly cannot feel as ‘bad’ which forbids me from coming to this very conclusion!
I still find dreadful the thought that all those I’ve known on earth who believed they could reach blessedness by other paths will only be victims of annihilation! – – ”
But the youngest among the friends smiled and spoke:
“Forgive me, but you have felt prematurely driven towards a view that has no place at all here!
It was far from my intention to preach a doctrine which held that all were lost who were unable to unite here in their earthly bodies with their spiritual eternal consciousness.
I tell you only that here on earth one must also use the earthly body to reach this goal; that without the resonance which the earthly body gives, one can not reach it at all as long as one lives on earth, – furthermore: the eternal spiritual man in us can adapt to the earthly body in such a way that a possibility of redemption can come about through this spirit-created relationship which we may use as long as we inhabit this earthly body to which our eternal essence bound itself through the ‘Fall’ into the consciousness of the animal body. – –
But this does not lead at all to the absurd view that there would be absolutely no possibility of redemption after our separation from our earthly body!
But while – still bound to this earthly body – we can actively intervene in this work of redemption, and the powers of this body can offer us in this process a very effective aid, if we know how to use them, – we are, following our separation from this earth, forced into a completely passive mode. Whatever can be achieved within the earthly body in a few decades can then, – speaking in earthly concepts of time, – take millennia, indeed, aeons! – – – ”
“Well, that has a quite different sound to it, I must admit,” said the physicist, “and I can understand very well, using several earthly analogies I know, this power-enhancing function of the earthly body.
At the same time it is very comprehensible to me that those aware of such connections knew of no higher task than to show their fellow men the paths by which they might realise the goal of uniting with God here on earth. –
What struck me so often in the past as bizarre gnostic playfulness is now presented in a light which remains inaccessible to normal discursive thought. I see with some shame for myself and others how frivolously one can be caught in the gloom of
ignorant clichés – led astray by a lack of real spiritual insight. You feel called to make judgement where all ability to judge is lacking…
How unspeakably foolish seem to me, in the light of this knowledge, those wiseacres who in their grotesque superiority delude themselves into thinking they can dismiss eternal mysteries, once they have plucked the teachings of the genuinely wise in line with their own narrow academic rules so that they can then store the obtained scraps in their wretched conceptual caskets!
I can’t help but think of the image of a monkey cage into which some prankster has thrown a mirror. The droll animals don’t know what to do with it other than chew at it in their rage, after they have tried in vain to discover its secret on the reverse side; indignantly they go on, gnashing their teeth, furious that there is nothing returning their glances apart from their own grimaces. – –
One must be capable of feeling within oneself even a weak reflection of the eternal spiritual light, if one is to understand that the exalted teachings of the spiritually awakened are not to be pressed into the
template of a narrow-minded search by the arrogant. –
It’s really entertaining to see how so many intercessors within the field of speculative rational knowledge appear to believe in all seriousness that those you have described to us as spiritually knowledgeable through self-transformation, would have no idea of the various deceptions tempting people into error in their search for knowledge; and I see with increasing clarity that the sparse recognition of spiritual psychic connections of which wisdom by experiment, deceived by appearances, is today so proud, was already ages ago a platitude to those spiritual luminaries whose spiritual knowledge was immeasurably superior…
These ludicrous little people live in a world of façades which they have constructed for themselves. Their vanity allows them to see everything only by the Bengal lights of their deceptive conclusions, so that they imagine to have removed the sun as their eyes weaned from it are only dazzled by the sun’s light. – – –
For long enough I let myself be guided by these blind leaders of the blind. I was glad of their ‘wisdom’, although in the end it only too clearly demonstrated to me its narrowness. But I still believed then, like so many others in my position, that man cannot be granted absolute spiritual knowledge …
You have, my dear young friend, taught me something better on our journey’s way!
I thank you!
But I may also say to you that nothing will hold me back any longer from travelling to the end of this path, scarcely begun, which leads to the light of eternity. I shall walk it until – if my earthly days permit – I reach during my existence on this planet the high goal that, feeling as I do now, I can reach here!
In future I shall no more be led astray by the empty sayings of those happy in their illusory wisdom; they can only rummage around in empty words and regard such folly as the way to knowledge! –’’
The youngest of the three had got up and contemplated the evening sea as though he had scarcely registered the last words. He seemed to want to ignore his friend’s gratitude.
Their white-bearded companion now spoke:
“These are important things which have preoccupied us here today, and our restful sojourn on this wonderful island is clearly blessed by propitious stars!
As far as I am concerned, I have hardly anything to add to the last comments I have just listened to. Except to say that I believe I probably have an even more pressing reason for not wanting to leave this earth until that goal which now stands before me in my advanced years, grants me to hold it.
But I can scarcely believe that chance providence would have shown it to be in my reach, unless I was being allowed to grow towards it. –
Had I heard of all these things earlier in the way thathas happened during this journey – who knows if I would have been mature enough to follow the call!?
I must confess that in my younger years I was most at ease with a philosophy I had devised myself on the basis of the great conclusion of ecclesiastical eschatology: the teaching I so faithfully accepted in my early youth of the ‘last things’; as an enthusiastic confessor of my acquired belief in the exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which I completed almost every year under the guidance of his spiritual sons, this teaching made a great impression on me.
Far from regretting such an education today, I can perhaps only now really measure the blessings it brought into my life, despite its erroneous premises, as through it I certainly learnt a method of thinking and a control of feeling which formed the will. I would truly wish this upon many who only know the dark side of the work of those zealots of the Roman Church. –
If later on I began to see many things differently from the way they had been presented to me earlier, the tight spiritual discipline stayed with me which made it impossible for me to give myself over to religious enthusiasms. I quickly saw through the deceptive conclusions of empty speculation, even though they touted themselves so temptingly as ‘incontestable’.
But deep down in my soul I felt resignation …
I found myself before a mighty ignorance: concluded that we could never know anything about many things, and thought it best to heed the poet’s saying: ‘calmly give respect to the unfathomable’…
Happy in this way to maintain some sort of inner balance, I would certainly not have been an attentive listener had I been told then about these things to which we have already dedicated ourselves for so many hours. –
It was not until recent years, as the thought pressed ever closer of my departure from the earth, that I felt differently. I often felt the urge to unbolt forcibly a door behind which the mystery of the last things might lay hidden from me. – –
Since my own experience offered me nothing, I sought eventually to base my judgement on the experiences of others. So it happened that I have devoted myself for a long time to those studies the mentioning of which in your presence resulted in all the disclosures you, my young friend, have imparted to us.
Here too I have no regrets at all about giving up so much precious time to work through the accounts. Their authors, of high academic repute, at least gave me some assurance that they had not allowed themselves to be tricked.
But now I can see despite this, that I had spent a long time on false path. The mysteries of our remaining spirituality will never, ever be solved by experiments with somnambulists and ‘mediums’.
I too have now found the start of the true path!
Let higher powers know whether I may reach its end here on earth! – –
For now I give thanks to the mysterious guidance which gave us the opportunity on this journey – even though from a great distance – to perceive the first rays of eternal light in us.
I have the feeling that he who was charged with drawing the veil, which concealed so much from us, a little to the side is refusing to accept our gratitude. But that will not stop me from thanking him anyway within my heart. As if he does only call himself a ‘pupil’, may he commend us to the protection of the one he honours as a Master! – – – ”
The younger man answered and said:
“I am grateful that I was allowed to become a tool in the hand of a high leadership that brought you near to me and gave me the opportunity to give of the little I am able to give!
But you do not need me anymore if you, now aware of your actions, are willing to entrust yourself further to the same high guidance to which as you know, I owe my knowledge.
‘Ask and it shall be given you!
Seek and ye will find!
Knock and it shall be opened unto you!’
The one who once spoke to his companions in this way is even today not far from the earth, and the few I described to you as the ‘Luminaries of the first First Light’ know him as their brother in his spiritual form, in which he will remain continuously with the men of the earth – in the earth’s spiritual circle of life – , until the last of spiritual men, having had to surrender to the human animal through his ‘fall’ from exalted light, has abandoned the earthly body…
He is near to those who are able to ‘call’ to him through deed and life, like so many of his brothers who likewise remain near the earth, although they abandoned the earthly body a long time ago!
You need not know of the existence of these spiritually exalted helpers to receive their help. You need not confess in words to him they call the ‘great man of love’ and whom a large part of humanity sees as its saviour.
Very many have received this exalted help without knowing either the name of this Sublime One or knowing of his spiritual brothers. For all that is required here is a ‘belief’ shown through deed and this belief is not exclusively tied to particular religious opinions!
To be sure, this certain knowledge will be ‘condemned’ by all those who imagine that salvation is only attained through adhesion to their own dreamed up formulae of belief. Yet, the eternal spirit they believe they are serving, is even further removed from their ‘condemnation’ than from their ‘blessing’ which they imagine they alone are justified in dispensing in its name! – – –
Not hindered by this adhesion even the adherents can yet experience the same exalted help, and it is truly insignificant who they believe they must honour as their helper! –
The faithful people on this island pray today to their saint, but whoever he may have been on earth – whether his life and deeds are worthy of it or not – the request, rendered effective by deed and life, will reach the true spiritually exalted helpers – just like when the desert sheik lifts his heart to Allah, or the pious Hindu to some god in his pantheon which seems so grotesque to us in the West. – –
Indeed, even the savage in his temple of fetishes can obtain the same help if he, as much as his awareness permits him, only but fulfils the conditions through his every deed. – – –
This is the quintessence of the ‘glad tidings’ once brought to mankind by the Master of Nazareth. But even today you will scarcely meet a man who understands them! –
On the one hand, everything spiritual to which these tidings witnessed was increasingly separated from the earth and volatised into inessential nothingness above the clouds. On the other hand, attempts were made to amalgamate spirit with matter to the extent that finally one did not longer notice that one holds only matter in one’s hand. – – –
Whoever wishes to find the spirit in himself, let him be aware that he can find it only as formed alike matter, but neither immersed in matter, nor above all that is material in inessential dreamed up imagery!
As long as the spirit is not yet united with man’s own consciousness it can reach man’s consciousness only by creating the possibility for the not yet unified consciousness to feelingly participate with the inner living light of a human consciousness already united with the spirit! – – –
Those totally united with the spirit on our earth are the few men in each age whom I described as the Luminaries of the First Light!
One does not approach them by getting to know one or all of them, as this approach does not depend on their own or our arbitrary, personal, wishes – only the personal inner attitude created by deed and life determines whether one can participate in their conscious life united with the spirit or not! – – – – –
No god could stop those who become capable – even if only by the merest intuition – of participating in it. The more he anchors himself in this capability, the more power will come to him from that spiritual sphere where the consciousness of these masters of knowledge, united with the divine spirit, resides and the more he will gain help from those flows of spiritual universal power in which rules their will working eternally according to the laws of the spirit! – – –
Those who have once recognised this have already well progressed along the path leading them to unity in the spirit within themselves!
He will be so far removed from regarding these ‘Luminaries’ as mad sectarians and crazy enthusiasts, just as he will beware of thinking of them as demi-gods or vain magicians! – –
I have now placed you, my dear friends, within the ‘force field’ of these exalted helpers …
I can do no more. But those of whom I spoke here, and to whom I owe all my awareness, could also do no more!
It depends now on you alone what powers you can draw from this spiritual ‘force field’! – – –
Then give thanks to ‘God,’ who resides closed in yourselves as in a tabernacle, for the grace which may become yours. But do not thank me who was simply allowed to be the catalyst to stir your will! –”
The rocks rising from the sea near the coast had lain for a long time in an opal mist. Only the last reflection of the day allowed light and shade to be recognised on them.
Above the heads of the three friends the first stars already shone. At last they decided to leave the sacred place and follow the path back to the small town on the island’s ridge.
It had already turned completely dark when the wanderers reached the guest house which was to be home to them over the next few days.
They had supper there. But since they did not feel like going to bed but also did not want to touch again upon the profound matters they had discussed at the grotto of Mithras, they walked to the small piazzetta where the island’s people and its guests promenaded as though in a festival hall enjoying the bright melodies played by a jolly band.