Lessons Along the Way by Mark Haberstroh
Once upon a Time
The young man sits quietly in his small room, reading. He has been sorely tested in his short life and so reads with silent desperation and a certain voraciousness. What he longs to find are new experiences that might guide him to a better life and through his present hard circumstances. So he searches. As he proceeds through the stories in the pages he begins to forget himself and his troubles, and soon has the distinct feeling that the distance between him and the book is narrowing. A penetration into the print on the page, and the ideas in that print, and the life in those ideas, is occurring.
He reads a book entitled “The High History of the Holy Grail” from the works of Robert De Boron, about a time long ago. In the blink of an eye a feeling descends upon the young man, soft, like a warm, enveloping cloud, and he senses that he was part of and connected to the people in the story, that he somehow played a part in the doings of this small group of souls.
Before long an inner picture rises up inside him, a picture showing a celebratory event in a field one bright sunny day. The place was a rather large glade set in the woods with throngs of people gathering and both King and Queen upon the dais. It was a tournament, with jousting and fighting and what not. At some point in the afternoon’s entertainment comes the moment for all able-bodied knights to take the field on horse to battle with wooden shields and swords. The last knight seated a-horse was the victor. Anticipation of this great fun was high, but no one ever expected what happened next. Into the ring of battle rode a big burly man with a great red-brown beard. He was wielding only a cudgel. What shocked everyone was his proclamation, spoken loudly in front of the King and Queen, that he would defeat all the knights and be victorious. To the immeasurable amusement of all he endured the jeers, criticisms, and adulation from different groups, while many in the crowd chanted “Lancelot, Lancelot, Lancelot!” For the big burly man, with all his effrontery, was riding a donkey. And to the delight of all, he did exactly what he said he would do. He decimated the entire field and emerged victorious. The crowd howled in uproarious laughter while the defeated knights stood and stared in wonder, delight, and respect.
And so the young man’s Imagination ended, leaving him with questions. “Who was I? Was I in the crowd? Was I the big man or one of the other knights? Was I watching from above in the spirit?” Oh, how he wished he had been the big burly man riding the donkey, for being someone great in the past would help him feel as if he had meaning and value in his painful present. But he was reluctant to make the assumption, thinking that some kind of verification was needed. The certainty never came. The questions remained unanswered for many years and through many intervening experiences. As an older man, he knows that answering the young man’s question was not really necessary, because everyone that one was incorporates or metamorphoses into everything that one is; that the present life, with all its manifold circumstances and events, holds within it everything that has come before, good and bad, great and small, and is a picture of one’s being and one’s participation in Being. This present life is the book he endeavors to read now.
It was the bees, of course, the honeybees. After removing their hive from residence in his home, the after-image of their swarming 'round him remained very much alive in his mind for days. He brought the humming hive into his sleep and the sweet, pungent odor of honeycomb would never again release him. Millions of speeding, swirling light streamers intersecting fast, so fast, and the mind an orb of light born of their busy, ceaseless circling. It was as if the Kyriotetes had just illuminated Old Sun, with those first glimmerings or flashes of life overarching the dark sphere suddenly igniting into light, brilliant light over all, and “life was the light of men.” And all those bees buzzing seemed as perfect mini-spheres of light speeding by, each with a little “e” for electron, inscribed on its round and devoted body. He had to be calm, as he was the stationary axis around which all activity centered. Calm was also necessary as one sting could inflict serious harm. But Love overruled fear, and the bees sensed this, as Love is their basic life-substance, the atmosphere within which they work and live. He merely remained still and let them work their way through his hair down to the scalp and then back until they flew away, having made their descent into his darkness and released themselves again. All was well, as it could not otherwise be with honeybees.
A Monk’s Heart
The descent was from above and behind, like a gently swooping bird. Only this was a movement in the spirit. Suddenly he was looking out of and from behind the small monk’s eyes. While still outside and descending, he had noticed the tonsure, the burlap-like clothing, and the poverty of circumstance, and knew they were all Franciscans.
He watched as the whole group, walking slowly through the woods, made a turn ‘round a small, ancient stone monument and came towards Him, where He was waiting with folded hands. Clean, yet some unshaven, they all dressed alike in the rough woven woolen cloth and, as they passed, regarded Him with great reverence and respect. He was equal to them as a Brother along the Way, but they looked to Him for guidance and solace. And today, as on many other days, the walk through the woods was not somber, but an opportunity for all to meditate in a voluble manner, like a flock of small birds, on the one overriding feeling they all shared, and that was Delight. Delight in Being.
Among the group of about twenty souls there was one young Brother who walked very near to Him. This Brother had a very short, black, dense beard and rather short hair, too. With dark, soulful eyes and a pronounced jaw, he smiled as their eyes met. At once He knew the young Brother’s heart, what he felt, what he carried, and what he suffered. He knew of his hardship with speech and thought. The placing of His heart in the young Brother’s was an act of love and respect and healing, and the young Brother was conscious in this bliss, conscious that he was known in freedom, in Christ, from the beginning to the ending, from eons past to the distant future, from the Alpha to the Omega. This was true love.
The Dream of Sadie Gwynn
The darkness was profound. It enveloped and intruded with long fingers that seemed to press first, then extend inwards, wrapping around and compressing the organs, especially her heart. Such was the violation that could not be thwarted with clawing response, fists, screams, or any weapon. She was in a new land now, a land where other capacities were needed to survive. In fact, it was an abyss. What Sadie did have was awareness, a being awake and conscious in her helplessness. Somehow she felt that it was in this consciousness, this self-aware knowing, that a defense might be found.
Suddenly her perception shifted into a feeling of great spaces, like valleys, deserts, crevasses, and ravines, all still impenetrably dark. She did not sense the dark as an absence or a nothing, but as a substance pregnant with intelligence, potent with intent to annihilate. Dread walked beside her as fear surged upward from below, met by her fierce and desperate resolve to hold it at bay. She felt an urgent need to right herself in the vertical, and breathe. A responding force from the heart began to take root and expand, like a young seedling in the rock’s moist crevice. More she could not do, and felt that even this was not sufficient, that she would, indeed, succumb.
Gradually there appeared in the stillness before her a glistening of linear silver wafting in a subtle and unfelt breeze, a vertically appearing silver wave with no visible top or bottom. Its light emanated sufficient force to illuminate only that most near but lacked strength to penetrate the dark. Sadie at once knew this line or cord to be her possession, her creation, her lifeline. She did not understand, but knew in a spiritually visceral sense that it must be protected with all her might, as its breaking or severing might cost her her sanity or even her life. Perhaps this is why it was being relentlessly attacked by demons, bred for and by the dark, being only slightly visible in the soft silver light. Again and again they made their forays against the cord while she, with cold sweat and gritted teeth, summoned all her will to maintain its integrity. She could no longer hold.
At this moment she was propelled into that timeless space that all traverse at the moment of death when that final release of ones iron grip on life yields to and, with a gasp, mixes with new found wonder at the gradual arrival and impending inundation of spirit light. There are no words. But she was young and vibrant and did not want to let go. She refused to succumb to the ripping and tearing of her soul by those creatures of the dark. She did not want to abandon a life not yet lived, not yet formed and made fruitful. Her profound desire, which now became clear focus, was to help, to contribute, to create, to give and, especially, to love. The awe filled simplicity in this desire drew her gaze again into the abyss, where new and startling things began to occur.
Far away there appeared a spark of light she knew belonged to her, somehow connected to the pit of her stomach. The distances were vast yet confusing. It was as if she saw both sides of everything. Her stubborn refusal to die ignited and fueled the spark gifted to her, gifted from where or from whom she did not know. Sadie’s soul catalyzed and the dark caught fire. Through wondrous change the dark became fuel for the fire’s flame, for its own imminent and precipitate transformation into light. The ensuing conflagration intensified into a scintillating and color-filled irradiating of a bright new world.
It was a dawning, a rising up, and a flowering for Sadie Gwynn. She could do nothing but open like a blossom to the splendor which now freed her soul as greatly as the Dark had compressed it. She was flowing in a light that carried her on its wave-stream. Descending from on high in the resplendent firmament to greet her wide-eyed wonder came a great, giant butterfly. His wings fluttered in slow motion with kaleidoscopic colors that seemed to magically appear on their transparent membranes, flicker there, move across, and then disembark, let loose unfettered into the surrounding ethers. Brilliant colors played upon the surface of those ethereal wings only to quickly abandon them and fly elsewhere. The usual rapidity of the butterfly flutter was drawn up into a higher force or feeling that altered Time so that movement, all movement became visible, observable, experienced, regardless of original speed. In her heart, Sadie felt every flutter. The majestic butterfly slowly descended, wafting in a gentle breeze of its own making. A second butterfly alighted behind her, and four great wings enfolded Sadie, forming a small rhomboid glade with her as the center. Their wings were now like rainbows that had transformed their dazzling arches into swirling rivers of color. The silent and still wings provided a panorama of delight through which she could also dimly perceive that new and radiant, outer spiritual world. Along with her exhilaration, she felt the keenest intimacy of soul as if she was, for the first time, truly known from within, protected, and nourished.
Raising her eyes, Sadie knew the butterflies to be mighty Angels, bringing hope and love. They were much larger than she had ever imagined and from their faces streamed Compassion as a force or emanation, coursing through the world and now through her. With delight she simply responded with a bright “Yes” to everything and everyone, from now on and for evermore.
When she awoke she could still see various colors coming off her body in many ways, some as violet-blue flames rolling down her arms and shooting from her fingertips to disappear into the walls or floor. Or beautiful rose forms floating up from her brow, rising to the ceiling, and those light yellow sparkles that seemed to coat everything with a fine dust of shimmering, blue-white gold. After a while all these seemed to fade in the busyness of life, of the everyday. She did now know really and truly what she wanted to do and what she wanted not to do. Simply put, her life’s goal was to transform the dark into light through love. Whatever path was required for this she would surely follow.
He was so old and felt hollowed out. Perhaps it was because he had no liver, or lungs, or, for that matter, a brain. The hollow feeling was a memory of a memory of being attached to the corporeal world, his world that was and is no more. The four Canopic jars were posted at the four points of the compass flanking his sarcophagus. Buried here below in the small subterranean chamber he perceived, or rather felt the weight of the great pyramid on top of him. The weight of the monument was not as heavy as the weight of his realization that he had failed in life. Having been a good Pharaoh and done what he was told by the priests, he was now regarded as a great Pharaoh by those masses left behind, by posterity. But in truth, he felt small and alone, and was now keenly aware that while alive, he had also been small and alone. His aching soul knew that he had been one of those truly unremarkable men clothed in great and glorious worldly trappings, and felt now that he had not accomplished much during his earthly sojourn. This, more importantly, was the source of his hollowed out feeling. He longed, even now, for another chance and felt that he deserved nothing and that, from now on into future lives, he would have to earn his keep. To this end he desired that things would happen rather quickly. And they did.
Being free of his body he now began to expand beyond the walls of his sarcophagus and chamber. He spread like a heavy mist along the ground, enveloping and permeating the base of the pyramid. He felt himself thicken or condense at the four corners, where surface meets surface, creating sharp line and clear direction. Without eyes, he was acutely aware of the force in the moon’s light and its effect upon his soul. As he expanded the force seemed to gather him in, as if he was preparing to pounce, like a large cat. With a sudden whoosh into the cold night he found himself propelled and pulled upward along all sides and edges of the monument. Bound to the stone by some magnetic force, his soul’s swift, gliding ascent forced him to contract as he approached the apex, to contract into a single point. This reduction of his Being to the infinitesimal did not impede his clear awareness of the crossing point, but was also excruciating, like being entombed a second time. He was consciously present at the place where the four vectors running along the sides of the structure intersected each with the other, and continued onward, upward, and outward into the stars. Within this point an explosion of infinite energy and light propelled his soul along those same lines of vector force, now expanding and widening into the starry and spiritual spheres. For within that point the Great Inversion had taken place. What seemed bound by earth below the apex was now released as spirit above. He was on his way.
The Haunting (Sequel to Vector Force)
Caesar sat enthroned atop the marble steps as if on Mount Olympus, a man-god, power incarnate. All was regal and white and polished and luxurious. Approaching such an unfathomable and palatial height was presumptuous and dangerous unless one was bidden, under strict orders, to come forth. He, a young man of about twenty-six, walked up the steps, ascending to the throne where a smiling emperor awaited, surrounded by his advisors busy with their duties of running and ruling the Empire. Although trembling with fear, he was also determined to do his duty, and so ascended with his usual sure-footedness and strong legs. He knew he was a worm, that he did not exist for these people, and that Caesar regarded him not at all when he deferentially placed the scroll into the man-god’s hand. He was invisible. For some inexplicable reason his destiny led him to this place and this moment, reaching his hand out to the Great One. Inwardly, though, he felt no affinity for Rome, or Caesar, or the Empire. Within his heart lived no nationalistic pride, no sense of cultural loyalty, or faith in a worldly mission. The brutality of Rome was, for him, simply hubris, with egotism, arrogance and power-lust intensified to the point of insanity. He was glad the Caesar did not look at him. If he had, being an astute reader of men’s souls, he would have recognized the young man’s inner contempt and surely put him to death. Sometimes it pays to be a worm. But at this point all he could really think about was his job, and it was his job to run. Or, to be more precise, his job was to carry messages from one royal court to the next, but he lived to run. His task in life was to run, and run he did, like the wind.
Exhausted and needing rest after delivery of the message, he was usually provided with meager amenities in the soldier’s quarters. Here he would eat and sleep although ever on the alert for certain soldiers who sometimes taunted him. He realized this as an unavoidable and unpleasant part of his job, given the corruption of the system and that he was not a trained warrior, but this infrequent abuse was nothing compared to the continual torment carried within his soul in every moment of every day except, that is, when running. While deep in his slumber he would often have dreams, dreams that seemed real, where a man would stand silently next to his bed. This man never spoke but always stood and looked. He was medium-sized, portly and somewhat older, but mostly looked bitter and careworn. Dressed in the garb of the Egyptian rulers of old, he was clad in white cloth trimmed with gold and the familiar fan headdress of royalty, which was striated with gold and blue. It seemed that pain and unhappiness from this old man ceaselessly streamed into the young, sleeping Roman, always and ever bringing anxiety and torment. In waking life he felt the ground under his feet continually dissolving, pulling him down into the underworld deep into oblivion. Nothing was sure. Nothing was ever solid. This, truly, is what made him tremble before Caesar.
Freedom from the anxiety only existed while running, a freedom indescribable, exhilarating, lofty, and almost godlike. Blazing around a blind corner on a coastal mountaintop path the world would suddenly open up and the brilliant, blue beauty of his beloved Tyrrhenian would dazzle him. But this would never bring him to halt. It would merely propel him, through the instrument of nature’s beauty, onward to further and heartier exertions. He drew upon this beauty for inner strength, to nourish his legs and his lungs. There was no earthly experience he could compare to the feelings he had while running, those feelings of flying on winged feet, released from all restraints. The earth still bound him as his lithe and quick body streaked across its thin surface, but his soul was ever free.
With the goal reached, the message delivered, he would again be forced to face the haunting from the old Egyptian. As the years passed he began to sense that his inner contempt and hostility toward the trappings of worldly power seemed also to be a judgment upon himself. He came to feel that the old man’s message to him conveyed a spiritual rebuke born in the shadowed memories and dim shades of ages past. It was as if he could have, at one time long ago, known and wielded such power but had misused it. It was as if his precipitous descent from the pinnacle of worldly power in one life to an outcast on the very bottom in a subsequent life was, in fact, a morally precise event. Once and finally realized, his torment began to subside, and the old man faded away, releasing him.
It was as if the top of his head opened and a rain of light showered down upon him and into him. He was certain that knowledge and wisdom was the substance of which the light was made. The light was singing, sounding what seemed a single note coming from everywhere, like the cricket’s night song. One has to work to discern the sound of a single cricket within the chorus. And this is what he tried to do with the song in the rain of light. All would increase and decrease depending upon the quiet intensity of the feelings in his heart. The feelings needed to maintain the connection were prayerful longing and devotion. Before too long he approached a moment where he had to really let go. But let go of what he did not know. Perhaps it was fear. Perhaps it was the support of everything familiar. He had to trust and release, and summon his courage. As he did this the light in his opened mind was extinguished in the explosion of light that now irradiated his entire Being. He had crossed into something and now found himself inside an experience completely foreign to anything he had ever known. How long he remained here he did not know.
The consequence of this experience left him with gratefulness and longing. It left him with a newly found confidence in life and in his feelings he sensed his path clear and straight. He also sensed that it would not be too long before his experience would return, because he did not want merely a glimpse, but to possess it permanently. He wanted it back. His clarity and foreknowledge was so great that for months he knew the exact time to be approaching, and so began his countdown to Enlightenment. Unaware of the creeping arrogance taking hold, he lived each day with increasing illusion, convinced that the day would soon be at hand. At the appointed day and hour the Enlightenment did not come. He had been so diligent, faithful, and timely in his daily exercises of concentration and meditation. He even counted them at twenty-four.
The years following his disillusionment were years of whittling, a chipping away at the wooden and rigid arrogance that, he slowly realized, had so impeded his way. As the chips fell to the ground, he began to soften, and with this softening came a different kind of clarity. He became aware that he did not want Enlightenment anymore. This desire had been supplanted by another, stronger desire. He now desired to become the kind of person who deserved Enlightenment. Being true, loyal, courageous, faithful, and good were direct goals, were qualities and capacities he strove towards as the daily substance of his life. As for Enlightenment, he merely noted to himself and said, “Well, we’ll see. But meanwhile there is work that needs to be done.”
The Sick Bed
He had to be quarantined. “The liver sickness is infectious” she said, although no tests were done. She was like that, an Old World doctor, Russian, both gentle and strong and all business. And so he remained in bed for six or so weeks. A friend brought in the soup and bread and he just lay and think. The distance between his thought and will was vast. It took half an hour to rise and grasp the cup of water. Later in life, when he had described to another doctor that he had had this sickness three times the doctor said to him, “You should be dead.”
During those bedridden days he would slip in and out of waking consciousness, feeling all the gradations of consciousness in between. Unable to focus and harness his will, he learned something of surrender and release and, before too long, began to look into his inner darkness. He did this, not because he was interested in observing that inner world (as a healthy person might), but because he had no place else to go. And so it happened one day that he had a waking dream in that darkness and found himself suddenly confronted by a large, round, blood-red face looking directly into his eyes. It seemed only two or three inches from his own face. At once he knew it was his ailing self and that a decisive moment in his life was at hand. He turned away and down into the darkness to flee from the vision and became aware of great distance below, as if he hovered over, but could not see, the edge of some great subterranean cliff. In this one moment several things happened. Far, far below a spark of light ignited in the darkness. Simultaneously he knew that he had to decide to fuel that spark or succumb to the blood-red apparition. It was up to him to awaken the quickening flame. The fuel needed was the conscious out-pouring of his Will. Summoning strength from he knew not where, he seized and ignited the fire. At once the bloody apparition transformed into a blinding column of colored light, a scintillating brilliance that completely enveloped and changed his dark world. All this happened in a flash, as time seemed suspended and space ruled. And out of the column of light forms began to grow, unfold, blossom, and fall away, like water overflowing from a fountain. Such colors he had never before seen, and they seemed to be singing. The column grew and changed, increased and decreased, as if it was growing and decaying all at once, and the multi-colored forms falling away were not dead, as they would be in our world where old petals fall from the flower. These forms were merely being released into the world to continue to multiply. He became aware that this light was a Being, that it was the Mother of all plants in the world. He felt that his life was connected to her life and knew he would be well. It was a new start, a second chance.
Although not Native American, Cherokee was in her bloodline and was also part of her spiritual path. She possessed a natural clairvoyance and also followed the Shamanic path with the help of her Indian Spirit guide. Her father was a Colorado preacher and mother a preacher’s wife. Married for a number of years, she delivered her three children alone in a one-room house in the woods, as her husband was no help at all. His instability eventually led to their separation. She said he had offered his heart in the Mexican black magic rites in a past life and the fracturing of his soul was the result in the present life. But although understood, it was no excuse for his behavior. She was now alone in a big city with children in tow and trying to survive. Through a friend of a friend she met the young artist.
She could see three souls hovering around him, waiting and wanting to be born, and he emanated a deep crystal blue. But that is as much as she would say, not wanting to scare him away. His nature was nervous, very taut, yet well masked by his unusually calm exterior. It was clear from his eyes that he had suffered greatly and the poverty of his circumstances gave clue to the enormous conflicts within, all of which served to split and divide his inner forces. Amidst his inner turmoil, most of which revolved around women and sex, he did know with clarity that their relationship was a spiritual one, and should remain in that place of gentle purity.
After offering him the pipe, she took him back through the breathing and his feeling memory in order to help him with the seeming paralysis of his soul, to hopefully understand in some small measure why he was the way he was. Becoming conscious as to the reasons for his pain might help him overcome it by finding solutions for reintegrating himself. Throughout the ensuing pictures and visions he learned quickly how his wishes and desires affected the forming of those pictures, and was therefore inwardly silent and watchful so as not to fall into illusion. She was reticent to comment on what he saw, but did not withhold confirmation when his rendering was accurate, and stated in few words her part in the relationship.
In so doing, he became clear of a time in the American West when the Indian seemingly appeared out of nowhere, as if he had popped out of a mound of dirt along the top wall of the gully through which they were traveling. It was the northern route, perhaps the Dakota territories. They were windswept, hilly plains with dry gullies and riverbeds. The big man heading up the wagon train was tall, overweight, balding, and with a bushy mustache. He was a tough customer, and had to be, but was also fair in his dealings with people. Everything about the warrior was dark. With no ornamentation anywhere, his shoulder-length black hair framed fierce black eyes and a sharp nose. Angular, severe, and lean he was, and deadly serious in his intent to prevent passage through the gully unless the toll was paid. The toll was a life. The big man restrained the others from just shooting him, as he had only the knife, and it was decided that he and the Indian should fight. The sheer audacity of the young brave piqued the big man’s interest. If he lost, he would be dead, and the wagon train could pass. If he won, the wagon train could also pass. It was a win-win for the wagon train, especially as he felt confident that fairness, respect, and his strength would lead to the right result. “After all, it is his land,” he said to himself.
They fought and he lost, his strength being no match for the brave’s speed and agility. With knife at the man’s throat, nose-to-nose, the brave looked into his eyes and saw only stillness, and no fear. He inexplicably released his grip and withdrew the knife. The man got up, dusted off his hat, and thought to himself, “I should shoot the bastard anyway.” Knowing the thought came from his darker self, he refrained, and all was well in the end.
Released from his vision, the young artist asked her, “Why did you not kill me?” She answered, “With knife at your throat, I recognized you from Atlantis as a teacher for whom I had great respect.” She paused, reflecting, and then said, “I loved my knife. I cut many throats with it.”
It was comfortable slipping out of this body. The transition was effortless, like sliding and spiraling around and down the smooth sides of an enormous funnel. However the operative force was not gravity, but levity, and the movement skyward. Becoming aware during separation and lifting, he found that he could, surprisingly, still see physical objects as he surveyed the familiar wall hangings, books and furniture from the new vantage point near the ceiling, floating like a small cloud. He thought that perhaps it was not the actual objects he saw but their pre-pictures, or their archetypal images around which earthly matter might congregate, condense, and build itself into solidity. Eager for adventure, he easily poked through the wall above the window, glided over the lounge on the front porch and out into the street. The streetlamps were lit and there was no traffic on the road. His awareness took in literally everything, from the chipped brick in the wall of the small bridge over the trickling stream, or rustling weeds in the field, and especially presence of the Darkness just beyond his field of vision. The Darkness felt like a living entity, existing intelligently, waiting. Spatial experience eclipsed the temporal, although a breeze seemed to linger, a portent of a pent up force, as if unmanifest storm winds hidden within the gentle breeze waited patiently for the right moment to burst forth in fury. The road outside his apartment ran straight as an arrow for about one mile, with the entire length bordered by ancient maple trees and covered over with their interlaced branches forming a great green arch that close friends called The Tunnel. It seemed right to follow the road through this tunnel, where he had previously walked on so many late nights, and so began his trip.
Head first like a bird he shot forward with a burst of speed that was his own, that is, provided by his Will. At this speed he was able to take in all things passing him with an indescribable enjoyment. As he traveled perceptions became illuminated as if he provided light from his own eyes. He was a flying flashlight, where objects appeared only when his light shined on them and where conscious presence revealed strange new impressions that rapidly disappeared into the darkness as he passed by. His momentary exhilaration soon changed as he noticed an increase in speed, this time without the assent of his Will. Familiar objects began to visually dissolve with this increase in velocity. The acceleration became fast beyond belief and the world as he knew it melted away into another with intense, but unrecognizable, colored shapes and forms. Fear grew in direct proportion to his perceived lack of control over his situation. Although unable to control the careening vehicle, he did realize that he could stem his fear. However, there was no turning back.
His tree-lined tunnel quickly transformed into another lined with violet, orange and grey and flesh colored walls organically inter-weaving and moving. All was alive, and still his speed increased. It was as if all he knew, everything he could conceive or possibly imagine was dissolving away into something utterly unknown, and suddenly the tunnel became a brilliant, translucent blue in many variegated shades with dark violet-tinged walls. There was a bright white light far in the distance rapidly approaching, as if the light was somehow fixed in place. All the while this new environment began to sound forth. With the increase in velocity came also a corresponding increase in tone emitted by the many living forms in this new blue world. As he approached the light the singing or tonal emanation grew louder and the tunnel and light loomed larger and larger. But it was not merely light he was nearing. He sensed that it was somehow an enormous multi-colored wall or membrane, although he was still too far away to see clearly. Everything grew while he diminished. The lights, colors, and sounds became unbearable in their intensity, and he felt he would simply disintegrate or blow apart if he actually and truly saw. And then there he was. He had arrived. Whatever It was, stood just around the corner. The walls wailed and his eyes burned in the intense light. It was too much to bear.
After retreating into unconsciousness and then awakening the next morning, he wished he had stayed and stood and seen. Upon reflection later in life, he realized his instinct was correct, that the experience was premature and that he had not been, in fact, ready. He would have incurred damage to himself. He then wondered about the Greeks. As they began to lose sight of the spiritual world, and consequently regarded this world more with fear of the Darkness, and felt the Darkness as an intelligent and therefore sinister unknown, that perhaps this experience of approaching the threshold was also something considered very dangerous, and that turning the corner and really looking into the face of It would damage, would paralyze. An image of the Medusa then floated into his mind.
Suddenly time shifted and space changed. Modern became medieval and the clean lines of skyscrapers and technology morphed into pungent earth, stagnant water, and cold stone with tapestries hung upon interior walls. The monastery was a dreary and oppressive place, and it seemed that if light, love, and the buoyancy of life were to be found, they would have to be discovered hidden within the hearts and minds of the monks, for those qualities were certainly not manifest in any outward way. It was a severe life, a life lacking amenities and comforts while imposing a rigid mental and spiritual discipline upon all. If there were moral weaknesses to be unearthed, the nature of this kind of life would expose them, as such a life of lack would surely reveal any longings for that which was lacking. To this end tests were administered to determine the moral progress of the convent brothers and the continuing strength, resolve, and faith of the officiating monks.
The tall young man with short, dark hair and pale, drawn face looked with trepidation upon those few who exited the testing room. None emerged but that they looked completely undone, shattered, and humiliated. He thought he had prepared himself well after three years of grueling study, prayer, fasting, and physical labor. He could not believe that such upending destruction wrought upon the souls of his friends and comrades would result from the mere opening of a book. And those tested were bound by silence, so there was no help forthcoming to add to his preparation. The testing room, at slightly below ground level in the mirror wing off the main building, was small, with four steps down to a door inside a stairwell mostly covered with branches from a great and aged oak. Lining the interior perimeter walls were inclined desks or benches for work upon manuscripts, mostly transcription and illustration. Dead center in the room lay the large, dark, leather-bound tome upon an unadorned, heavy wooden stand. The test consists in simply opening the book. He had carried an armful of books in with him, perhaps for security, and promptly put them down on a bench. As he approached he breathed deeply, girding himself for the unknown soon to be revealed.
Upon opening the book and peering in, an intense wail filled the small room, increasing in fevered pitch while a vortex of scintillating and multicolored lighted forms flew forth from within, spinning wildly. The blast blew through his hair as a wind bright and burning seared his illumined and transfixed face. The book was alive with elemental force as he witnessed the chaos from within form a figure, a naked female form, foreshortened and deformed, a mix of ugliness and irresistible sensual beauty. An intense magnetic repulsion and attraction seized him. Instantly a powerful force gripped him in his most private, forbidden parts, forcing an explosion of his most holy seed. Ecstasy consumed him. He had no chance. The lust in the Being seized upon the dormant, hidden lust within his own being, like to like, and drained his most divine substance from him. He shut the book in panic. Exhausted and completely disheveled within and without, he picked up his books, clutched them to his breast, and exited the room, mortified by his complete and utter failure. He would never forget the wide-eyed, somewhat superior looks on the faces of the young men waiting their turn. With an emptied will, he weakly resolved to be prepared next time. At least that is what he thought. It might be years.
He felt a kinship with the substance of the city, with its feeling and desire life. It was as if the city was some great Being that nurtured within itself all the darkness and light he and other people held within their small selves. The highs and the lows of the city were alluring for the young man, for his interest and intent, from a young age, was to experience life to the full, and to extract from it a certain essence or wisdom. His inner voice continually nagged him, saying “Learn your life lessons, learn your life lessons.”
Such thoughts filled his mind as he rode the empty bus late one sultry summer night through the downtown. As he gazed with longing out the window, thinking the city held some mystery for him, he was quietly filled with a feeling that an integral part of himself, the darker part, was being called home. It was that Desire which was the city, same to same, like to like, calling to him. The feeling became strong and he felt a form begin to take shape in his brow between his eyes, growing with the rapidity of animal movement. He felt his nose and brow begin to elongate and open. Suddenly, a beast issued forth from his face fully formed. With speed and deftness the large grey wolf passed through the window and wall of the bus and fled into the night, ducking around a street corner. The young man sat stunned, yet fully aware. He wondered where the wolf had gone and, with mingled sadness and longing, wished that he could follow. He had read that in the spiritual world, shapes, forms, and Beings approaching from without tend to be really issuing from oneself and that things generated from oneself tend to be, in reality, Beings other than oneself. An inversion takes place where numbers, colors, and images are really their opposite, which is all rather confusing.
But, in this case, he was not inside a meditation safe within his room, but essentially in the street, witness to a creation he felt certain belonged to him. Upon reflection, it seemed to him that it did not matter who belonged to what, but that the wolf was part of him and also the city. He wondered what other animals might come forth in the years to come.
A young man stood in the New England field, arms spread at the shoulder, palms up, and eyes toward heaven. It was one of those pivotal moments in life where the constrained and tormented soul can do nothing but ask the spiritual world for some kind of sign, for some kind of help before all is lost. He felt he was standing at the edge of a precipice looking down into oblivion. He had nowhere to go. The future was a dark unknown and his past he wanted to forget. So he thought he would look up instead, and soon the visitor appeared.
It was a windy day. The hawk hovered directly overhead, about twelve feet away. The brisk wind provided the lift, allowing him to remain motionless above for as long as was necessary. With feathers fluttering, he stayed five long minutes conveying his message. During these moments the young man dropped his arms to his side, as if the down-thrust might give lift to his soul, hoping and desperate for a blending and merging between them. The experience was so unusual that he banished any effort to understand, and consciously endeavored to unite with his visitor in silent communion. This living altar of nature had something to say, but words would have to come later.
Somehow they were bound together by an unfathomable affinity, a mysterious relation between thought crossing thought as their interpenetrating life-waves radiated one into the other. Conscious meaning was received and felt, proven by the hawk’s relation to stone, tree, mountain, and sun. There was only one clear message from his visitor, one word that formed itself from these two disparate souls silently commingled. The hawk’s feathered cross lay horizontal, pointing west. West became the manifesting word of meaning. So west is where the young man traveled. He arrived with suitcase and a few bucks, and so began a new and fruitful life.
There is something to be said for exhaustion. One releases ones hold on things because, let’s face it, everything becomes just too hard. So felt the young man as he lay after a long, hot day of work. He had designed and been building playground equipment at the local Waldorf School. Using the two-handled debarking knife on the logs was tiring, but the chain-saw work was enjoyable. Both the climbing structure and the swing set were massive, which is what he liked. It turned out the kids liked them too.
Unable to move or speak, he sunk down into his mind for comfort, not in concentration, but drifting in an openness, a place without boundaries, for he lacked the energy either to keep things out or himself on track. He was completely open and, unbeknownst to him, widely receptive. He was like a small child who, unable to either protect or assert, must experience whatever comes his way. While dozing off he was inwardly startled by a bright flash of light through his entire being. The light was sound. The sound was light. It did not matter, as he was permeated through and through with feeling inside whatever it was that was inside him. The duration of the sound held no correlation with Time. It could have lasted one second or one hour, though the experience seemed to subside almost as quickly as it had appeared, or rather, that the beginning and end seemed wrapped together in one radiant, circular moment. It left him calm, alert, and profoundly grateful. The bliss he had felt resulted from the spirit of the other, outside him, manifesting itself within him. The other was a bleating lamb. This lamb was one amongst other lambs in a herd of twenty or so sheep living in the field next door. The duration of his experience, he realized, was simply the duration of sound made by the lamb, no more no less. Later he thought “If only people could experience each other in this way. Things might be different."
Where he was he did not know, but he was inside, not outside. He was part of and one with rather than separate from. The plastic form into which his Being was poured, like water in a cup, moved as if alive. It expanded and contracted, was not amorphous, and possessed direction, intent, and intelligence. It seemed as though that life-filled, mobile form was made of wood, a carved but living wood, and that it was shaped like a man.* It was himself, yet not himself. He did not don the wooden man as one would a coat, but awakened to consciousness already within him.
Deep within the center that was his heart appeared shafts of intense light, as if someone, in total darkness, had opened the door a crack, and the sun’s light pierced through. He knew that the light shone from another world, another universe, in fact, foreign to his daily life. The light gathered enough force to illuminate his entire inner being. The sheer force of it drove his hands apart, one above and the other below, while his body and legs straightened and strengthened beneath him as if he knew he could, indeed, carry the world. While his eyes filled with knowledge and wisdom and love, the light finally drove his fingers on both hands apart, dividing them at the middle and ring finger. Those fingers gripped yet also held at bay. The light streamed forth from them, creating an unwavering balance and harmony between the two necessary evils.
He knew his dream was more than a dream, that it was an awakening to a higher world within a dream, and therefore real. This he knew because he was familiar with such experiences in deep sleep, and had learned to distinguish between them. As a long-time Anthroposophist he had never had what he considered to be a Christ experience, although he longed for this. He knew another, a friend, who had had such an experience though not being affiliated with Anthroposophy. But he thought, as the years passed, that his experience was somehow closer to Christ than he had originally thought, and that his experience had to manifest through Art, as that was his chosen path. This gave him new hope to search, through Art, for all that his heart desired.
*An experience of the sculpture entitled “The Representative of Humanity” by R. Steiner.
The relentless and monotonous drumbeat, not overly loud, but strong, rhythmic and pounding, evoked feelings of dense oppression and claustrophobia, as if one had been astonished to awaken after death only to find oneself stuck in a small and sweltering cell deep within the earth, unable to leave for what seemed like eternity. This was how he felt. He was one of two young men in his dream who had been set a task, by whom they did not know, perhaps themselves, to investigate a subterranean event taking place in strictest secrecy. His most immediate impression was one of pure peril: that this was life and death and, if caught, both he and his friend would be no more, would be lost to the world forever. And it was not fear of losing his life that made his knees shake, but dread from the possible entrapment or even loss of his soul. It seemed that their task was simply to gain knowledge of the event and bring it home, back to the surface and the light of day. He was glad his friend was with him, and both together held firm against the Fear.
The small, dark tunnel, providing them with access to a vantage point from which to observe, possessed luminous elements in certain rocks and stones embedded in the walls, shedding minimal light for their trespass. At some point the tunnel broke open on the right before again continuing onward. Through this break they turned right and walked a few steps to a large boulder blocking entrance to a vast cave. Here they sought to perch themselves and look. As they climbed up and peered over the top edge of the rock with tremulous care, they saw the dimly lit chamber teeming with people mixed with oddly grotesque creatures, all moving rhythmically to the beat pounding through the stone. A dull greenish-yellow luminescence tinged all objects in this underworld gathering.
The cave’s smooth circular floor was inlaid with curious signs and symbols in metallic colors, its walls made of rough-hewn earthen stone at the perimeter and a relatively low roof. He knew at once that the revelry and gyration of bodies was not sensual in nature. He felt that the movements themselves were not in any way derived from or connected to the sexual nature as it may find form in dance through people converging, communicating, relating, or loving one another. This was cold, hard, and synchronous movement formed and willed to a purpose, with a conscious and intelligent intent. As he experienced the vibrations of the ritual dance it seemed to him that Light itself was somehow being torn apart or fractured in its very essence and that, although not part of the ritual’s specific goal, this was a necessary and desired by-product, the effects of which would be used for other dark designs or purposes.
Accompanying the erratic, yet somehow rhythmical stamping of feet, the primary movement of each body was a variation of an underarm spear-thrust, as if the imaginary spear was being thrust down into the earth directly in front of ones feet, but with the palms of each hand facing down, and the elbows cocked at the highest point prior to thrust. The repetitive nature of this thrust multiplied infinite times perpetrated something highly intrusive and even obscene upon the earth’s body, as if with intent to penetrate and fracture even to the core. The creatures sharing this dance with the humans were, in fact, creatures of non-human form and figure, although of similar size and vertical carriage. They possessed points and jags and scales protruding from their grey-green bodies that were powerfully built with large angular heads. All participated in the ritual with what seemed a somewhat forced enthusiasm, as if they had at some point clearly chosen to be there, but were now magically and magnetically enslaved by that choice. There was also present a sense of gleefulness in the activity, and an eagerness to witness the effects of their machinations.
The young man understood not the reason for this dark dance, but nevertheless the alarm- bells were ringing in his mind, set off by his awareness of the generally destructive intent behind the activity and the imminent danger of their discovery. He felt the ritual’s aggregate emanation possessed sufficient power to travel through all complex and multi-layered earthly substance, radiating its pulse through the entire planet. The goal or design was clearly malign, but intended for what, he did not know and could not now hope to find out. He and his friend had to go. They were coming.
Life at Thirty
A peace settled upon and around him, and deepened within him. Profound it was, and very odd as it felt foreign, in that it came from outside, like a blanket being wrapped around him by a friend. This feeling was neither produced by his efforts nor a result of perceptible circumstance. Nevertheless, it was continually present and brought with it a gift of foresight, a foresight that resulted from Feeling in the purest sense, so pure that it was what he imagined as the certainty a developed clairvoyance might bring. Neither illuminated nor dark, this Feeling carried with it a clear knowing of what will be. In this case it informed him of his approaching death. He did not sense his death in a general way, but in a very specific way. Although unaware of appointed date and time, he felt with each passing day that he was nearing a fixed point in time, his moment, as if somewhere he had already decided that this was right. There was no hint of fear, but merely an acknowledging, a feeling of being settled into the moment, every moment, and calmly extracting the essence of that moment to do what he needed to do. He needed to tie up loose ends, to bring many things full circle and to completion. He also felt that such deliberate activity was a preparing to begin, and he was expectant and interested in the prospect of his new journey. Leaving behind the familiar attachments was still difficult at times, but such feelings dwindled rapidly under an overarching and pervasive Peace. Timelessness set in. He was going through the motions, but enjoying them very differently. Juxtaposed with his perception of the coming event was also his quiet awareness of his failure to resolve certain conflicts, certain problems he had been carrying for many lifetimes. He received this knowledge simply as a fact, as he would if his coffee mug had an irreparable crack. He was just thirty.
His girlfriend had two boys, aged seven and three. The older boy attended a local Waldorf School. She possessed a natural clairvoyance, which allowed her to travel at times, especially during sleep, to places in the Spiritual World, mostly in the elemental regions. Prior to sleep she would challenge him to meet her at a small pond deep in the wood, but he was not advanced enough for this. He was, however, awake to her abilities and keenly observant as to her ability to distinguish what was real from what was not. One day they were all leaving the second story flat for an outing and the three year-old was standing at the top of the stairs. The young man, waiting at the bottom of the over-long staircase, turned around and looked up to the top where the delighted and happy young boy smiled and took the first step. He simply fell, head over heels, tumbling down the staircase. Lacking time to run up the stair, the young man immediately took two large steps up and laid his six-foot frame with arms outstretched flat against the steps reaching about midway in an attempt to catch the tumbling child. The mother screamed, but the boy was caught with no harm done. Later the mother described her vision that drew forth the scream at the moment of the fall. Her child, who already had several disabilities, had broken his neck and died from the fall. She threw her arms around the young man and, in desperate tears, thanked him for her young son’s life.
Several days later the pre-determined day arrived. Driving around the city during work the young man wondered when, where, and how it would happen. But it didn’t. This puzzled him and threw him into doubt as to the truthfulness of his feelings and month long perceptions. How could something felt so strongly and clearly for so long be an illusion? When asked later what was wrong, he merely said that he was confused and went to sleep. That night he had a dream where he was floating in the position of a vertical cross high in the blue and white cloudy sky. His back was slightly arched exposing his bare chest while his head was thrown back looking up toward the firmament of heaven. From both sides golden arrows were being shot into his heart. The next morning his girlfriend told him she had a dream where she shot golden arrows into the young man’s heart. He then told her of his dream. She then said her older son awakened speaking of the dream, and that he was on the other side shooting his arrows. Everyone seemed in a state of wonder. Later, the young man resolved never to give in to Doubt again. He now felt that every step and every breath was with a clear knowledge that his preordained time had passed and that he now lived by the grace of God and good people.
For a few moments respite he lay eyeing in wonder the starry firmament, Allah’s magnificent display of Angelic beauty, and witnessing his generosity toward all creation. The pain then returned to his blistered and cracked lips, his burnt flesh, and the bleeding wound in his leg. He could not even tend himself. More painful and unendurable was the return of his delirium, which ebbed and flowed during the night. He could bear the physical pain but the weakening of his mind and undermining of his intellect, his cognitive acuity, immediately propelled him into the abyss of despair. In moments of clarity he considered his circumstance, having been abandoned to die in the desert sands of his beloved Persia.* Through delirium he suffered the torments of hell. His response to this was to open his heart in complete surrender to the inexorable and immutable Will that governed the course of his life. For this he was greatly rewarded, as is always the case with those in Faith. He was a physician in the service of the Caliph’s vast army, but his journey to this place began long ago.
As a nomad, he had wandered from desert to town to city searching for knowledge. He could only acquire knowledge through travel. First, it was anathema to him the prospect of being a sedentary scholar who lacks life experience. Secondly, different entities lived and worked in varied geographical areas. Added to the long list of both good and evil unseen beings to be studied, of which he spoke little but knew much, was also the human being. The study of human beings and their illnesses was the primary purpose of his quest. He sought to discover how these illnesses bespoke a relation between man’s moral-spiritual development and certain noxious beings that prey upon human weakness to cause disease. The unsettled quality of his nomadic life also reflected accurately a certain inner restlessness or disquiet, a karmic heritage from being joined to his family and tribe. They were, for the most part, camel thieves, pillagers, murderers, and swindlers. As a boy he had been banished from his tribe for his lack of calculating dishonesty and aggression, both qualities that commanded high respect. There had been no issue with his ability to defend himself when necessary, but the boy lacked every single quality required to continue the family heritage. It was unbearable to them, simply not to be tolerated, that he refused to learn the vitally useful art of lying. He also balked at the pilfering of goods and jewelry and refused to treat animals and women with the harshness they deserve. The boy simply did not fit and at the age of ten was banished in shame from his father’s tent as an incorrigible failure. Abandoned at a watering hole on the road to Mecca, he began his new life as the one who walks alone.
He became a street beggar and entertainer in that thriving city, the great holy city. The tricks his family used to defraud and swindle he used merely to entertain. Contributions from appreciative onlookers barely sustained him. One day an older man, one of the amused audience, recognized the boy’s quick intellect, deft physicality, and gentle demeanor. He offered the boy a position as an assistant; and so began his long tutelage under this wealthy benefactor who removed the young boy to Gondishapur. As an assistant he served his master diligently, aiding him with all the mundane chores of daily living. He also aided in the illustration and the making of medical books, bookbinding, for his teacher was an highly reputed physician. He had recognized that the boy would benefit from exposure and education, and resolved to train him accordingly. He also felt the world would be well rewarded by his generosity. Given the boy’s lack of pedigree, he would never rise to wealth and fame, but the old man had no use for these either. What was important to him was whether a person chooses to either help or hinder. It was his immediate perception in Mecca that the boy was predisposed to the former.
As apprentice and now a youth, he had quickly learned his letters, and for twelve years absorbed in wonder the knowledge offered in the master’s massive library in Gondishapur. Without distraction other than necessary attendance at surgery, he studied mathematics, astronomy, astrology, physiology, alchemy, history, the theology of Zoroaster, metaphysics and much more. He drank deeply from the well of Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen, but was most drawn to the Indian physician Chakara. Without access to the academy or hospitals the young apprentice had the freedom to pursue, in a concentrated way, avenues of healing more suited to his nature. As Arabic medicine collected and preserved the extant knowledge of the world, the tendency in its thinking was to divide, separate, and specialize. The lure in the Indian medicine of Chakara was its focus on unity, on the relation of all parts connected in a unitary whole. This holistic perspective sought to prevent disease through a harmonizing of life and to aid the living for as long as possible. And it was the kindness and compassion emanating from Buddha that infused Chakara’s work and made such deep impact upon the young student. Through the preparatory years his accumulation of profound knowledge coupled with his determination to help and heal gave him the focus and skills of an outstanding physician. When his patron died the lack of formal schooling and family connections curtailed the young man’s ability to secure a position, and he was once again on his own. He moved from place to place continuing his studies, treating the sick whenever summoned. It was through treating a wounded soldier on the road that he was conscripted into the Caliph’s army. During a military excursion against an unruly and distant tribe his group was ambushed and the ensuing skirmish left him pierced by a lance and abandoned, as he was unable to walk.
Prior to the rise of the morning sun, as dawn approached, his closed eyes and open heart brought vision to his spirit. Out of the white sands a great white limestone wall emerged from beneath the desert floor, an interminably wide megalithic monument which rose and rose up to the sky. Upon the face of this wall vertical rows of black glyphs from an ancient, unknown language were flowing as in a river, upward toward heaven. It was as if the earth had crafted a pathway for the conveyance of earth wisdom heavenward, bearing return gifts. In reality the direct opposite was the case, as the vision depicted the inflow of wisdom from above, bestowed by grace, streaming into his soul. As the eye of his mind opened in understanding, he was able to perceive a change in any glyph upon which his gaze rested. That change revealed itself as a living picture in which living events took place. Before long the transformation of glyphs into pictures was complete and the river of living events, now multi-colored, glowing, radiating, and ever widening, was understood by him to be the reflected river of life, within which the entire history of the world was recorded. It was immediately clear to him that this was the Akasha. He could dive into this river and relive the history of humanity. The history of medicine became alive. He found himself in the river as a past participant, a co-creator, and helper of mankind. Through direct spiritual experience, he met Galen and Aristotle and Chakara, recording their lives and etching their experiences into his deepest soul. The experience of pure freedom in following his thought to a place in time, any place in time, afforded him an expansion in consciousness necessary for his future work and for enduring the trials to come. For this was the end of the first day.
During the night his consciousness awakened during sleep, or his attempt at sleep, and he found himself outside his injured body. This increase in mobility through separation brought further conviction in the reality of the spirit, of his eternal Self as the primary and original entity … that as his wounded body lay with life slowly ebbing away, his real being would continue onward for all time, that Allah’s creation would provide for him a new field of experience beyond all imagining. He also felt a moral obligation to remain bound to his physical self, his injured vehicle, as if a deep universal law, a law about justice and fairness bade him do so. He resigned himself to this with the same recognition of truth as was immediately clear to him when taking the Hippocratic oath. He held the bedrock belief that the human being should maintain life, should live as long as possible with the intent to extract its life lessons up until the very last breath, that this would fulfill divine law in return for the gift of life in conscious existence. So ended the second day.
At noon on the third day he had returned to his body for the last time. Through the encrusted slits in his eyes he looked directly into the brutally hot sun. In response to this final act of both defiance in protection of life and acceptance of ordained fate, there appeared to him the illuminated face of Mohammad covering the sun and conveying to him approval of a life well lived. Before long the image of his prophet began to fade or be pulled aside, like a veil drawn open from the center, and behind him there appeared in golden glory the Buddha. The physician gazed in awe at the loving face of kindness and compassion, gracing his presence as he lay dying. He did not realize that this was but a new beginning, for the visage of the illustrious Buddha was, like a veil, also pulled aside and, once again, came another startling vision. For behind Buddha there appeared the Christ. The spiritual shock of this revelation coursed through his being and brought with it the instant realization that as Mohammad and Buddha were prophets of God, they were also prophets of Christ, who stood with God at the back of all creation … that Christ was not a prophet but the source, the Spirit-Sun, the Son of God, with whom he was One. And with this recognition a peace descended upon him, a peace he had never known, which held and comforted him, released and welcomed him. As the seemingly merciless noonday sun had burned his flesh, so the Christ-Sun now nourished and watered his spirit. The cool water of Christ began to fill his soul, assuaging his thirst and bringing a divine balm that confirmed for the physician all the longings he had held most secret in his deepest heart. At his final breath with eyes fixed on the Christ, his spirit spoke into the wide universe, “I must help. I must go west.”
*This is an imaginative tale about a reported previous life of Edgar Cayce. It is an artistic response partly addressing the question as to how Mr. Cayce may have developed his formidable gifts. The report referenced in this story can be found in “Many Mansions,” written by Gina Cerminara (page 32).
Intercession (A Redemption Tale)
He had been given his ticket to the Armageddon bunker in preparation for the Endtimes, when humanity would perish according to plan. However, bunker conveys merely the concept of a fortified underground space but not accurately the extent of the luxurious amenities present in what is really an underground city. As one of the chosen few to survive the coming holocaust, he had earned his place at the round table of immortality. The price of the ticket was heavy as the incremental erosion of his conscience over time was hardly noticed by him whilst engaged in both his predatory business dealings and gorging himself at the table of sensuality. He lived only to preserve and exalt the Self, regardless of damage to others, and this superseded any whispers of conscience bidding him to reflect and refrain. As his power grew, his crimes against humanity became legion. There were moments, when speculating on commodities futures and various banking instruments, that a glimmer-thought would flash through his mind, prompting an awareness that an entire people would starve as a consequence of his deed. But he made his sixty million in a week and, besides, he deserved all he could get considering his past; his neglected childhood, a father enslaved at the coal mine, the constant fighting over money, and both parents dying young from lung cancer. He hated coal. He hated the plants that made coal. He hated life. To become a carbon tax billionaire was a worthy goal as carbon was the enemy of life, but it was also the source of much of his personal suffering. As a predator and long distance dealer in death, logic would dictate that he align himself in parallel with poisonous carbon, yet ruled by bitterness and not logic, he was satisfied with revenge on carbon through implementing regulations curbing its emissions and through the new scheme of extracting obscene profits from people and nations. The result would be riches while dominating and weakening others. It was a win-win for him and he couldn’t care less about the relation between carbon and climate. This was the twisted logic of his feelings and such were the superficial excuses he trotted out to justify his actions against humanity. His whole-scale avoidance of self-knowledge through a determination not to penetrate more deeply into that image gazing at him from the mirror … to avoid embracing and endeavoring to understand those subterranean and profane predispositions against life led him into being directly enthralled and bound by those very anti-life forces, but without him precisely knowing this. Such determination had led him down a path of no return.
The first step on his journey down the left hand path, however, arrived long ago through the inner change of his overt cruelty into a calculating coldness. This occurred at about the age of twenty-one. Somehow he intuited that severe restraint in the expression of hostility subsequently directed toward a specific end induced a cold pleasure through the enhancement of that soul faculty that can be described as diabolical cunning. It is then they came, drawn to him like moths to a black light, each finding the other through that magnetic bond of evil, and the potential for more evil. It was here that he was promised immortality, physical immortality. The science was solid, the experiments concluded, and the fact of it as a reality was verified for him to witness. The goal was to provide release from the consequences of ones actions in order to avoid the inevitable judgment of a universe spiritually organized to be inherently just … to bypass that divine balancing process afforded every human being passing through the portal of death. The idea was inspiring and coursed through him like a lightning bolt for he, and they, knew of karmic law. His opportunistic side did not realize that with every new deed along this path he was relinquishing a small part of his being, that a piece of himself was being hardened and then broken off or torn away to disappear into some vague and vast abyss. Only much later did he realize that these parts of his being were being collected and used, but by then it was too late.
While shaving one day after a shower in his penthouse bath, the cut on his chin bled into the sink, quickly forming a shape that swirled into an image of a strangely deformed face. Suddenly a piercing pain between and slightly above the brows shot through his head like a long needle. The swirling streams of blood seemed to connect to that searing center point in his forehead as the image rose out of the sink to reveal a blood red visage hovering in the air before his face. Mesmerized by the apparition, he was startled when it began to move toward him, envelop his head and enter into his skull, where it then morphed into a monumental disembodied head floating on the horizon of his mind. With water running and blood dripping, he stood transfixed by this huge, bodiless head shaped generically like a goat. Upon entrance to his mind the blood red had changed into a yellowish gray face floating in a vaporous, sickly greenish-yellow cloud in a starless black firmament. The over developed cranial structure intended but did not produce horns, while eyes showing great intelligence and unmanifest, yet unimaginable power, regarded him silently as if he was a curious insect. His will was seized and body paralyzed and immobile. There was nothing remotely human in its expression, so his knees rattled when the face began to address his mind in a soft monotone voice and said: “Embrace my gift of dark Will or you will be annihilated down to your last molecule, your last atom. You belong to me and have proven yourself worthy to be my servant. My manifestation to you is the first step in your transformation. Wait for my word. Meanwhile, enjoy. Go forth and eat!”
At this his will was released as he leaned forward onto the sink to then collapse on the floor, folded and crumpled like a wet towel. The pain in his head had only increased the more he became aware that his meeting was no illusion, but a meeting with the boss, the real boss. Exhausted, he faded into unconsciousness, a deep sleep from which he awoke somewhat stiff with a feeling of taut skin stretched across his frame and far less comfortable in his body than was normally the case. As he arose a new strength surprised him as he literally snapped into an upright position again standing before the sink. After washing the remaining blood from the sink bowl, he turned off the tap and felt the cut on his chin, now gone, and then proceeded to wipe the steam from the mirror, as his curiosity had been piqued. The face that appeared in the mirror was not his own, but he did know the questioning and fearful look in those eyes that had been his eyes, that were still somehow his eyes. He recognized himself in those eyes, but not the tight, thin greenish-gray face in the mirror.
He was instantly filled with horror at seeing what he had become yet also sensed an incredible surge of new power. As he observed the image in the mirror, it flickered back and forth between his old self and new self until he realized that he could, at will, switch from one face to the other, from man to locust, from locust to man. For that is what he had become. He was alternately terrified, bemused, and bewildered, and found increased exhilaration as he sensed his new powers. These strange new thoughts and feelings he did not quite fathom, but nevertheless locked him in with their alluring magnetic pull. Those eyes beamed with lust, glowing hatred, and above all, the desire to consume … a desire sourced in a place much deeper and darker than he could possibly fathom. The illimitable and bottomless well out of which this consuming desire flowed overshadowed every aspect of his former self, as he now felt compelled to serve its voracious need. His evolutionary descent into a species of spiritual-human insect was more than compensated for by the panorama of possibilities for consumption permeating his mind in its dark vision. It no longer mattered whether the consumed was mineral, plant, animal, or man, as the goal was the ripping and tearing of all bonds connecting matter to matter and matter to spirit, an act of ultimate reduction through obliteration and annihilation … an extinguishing hatred of the All. Out of this process would then appear the raw material for remaking an entirely new world, an Unworld.
Available to him now was the motivation to acquire and direct his wealth, power, and material industry to a focused and useful end. The only decision required was to merge his being with the manifesting archetype of evil, to endure the initiatory spiritual process that he would then later mirror in the earthly world. In an entranced dream he surrendered his Self to the disembodied Head, to the blades that severed his soul piece by small piece, dispersing each to unknown spaces, there to continue their own retrograde evolution along other dark paths unknown and incomprehensible to him. The inevitable result of his initiation into an evolutionary timeline separate from the rest of humanity was that, having freely sacrificed his Self to the great dismembering entelechy, there was now little if no central human core to hold him together. The ensuing panic and dread he felt at the dispersion of his Being into the peripheral infinite was quickly assuaged by a concentrated influx of power from his group, those other priests of dark negation whose beings are in turn bound together by the Dark One. Insanity was successfully avoided as a new priest was added to the ranks.
The implementation of their plan to transform humanity and the earth proceeded with effective precision and determination, as they held most all earthly power. However, things began to go awry. The spreading of their cloak of evil was met by isolated individuals and small groups that focused a piercing light upon their activities. Symptoms were followed back to their source as plots were revealed and abandoned. Engineered catastrophes were not having the desired effect. Wars led to the emergence of unexpected and unforeseen sympathies and unintended leaps in conscious awareness bringing an irrational and impenetrable Hope to many awakening souls, something impossible to torture out of a body. People were crossing over into a mode of spiritual experience inaccessible to the brotherhood’s consciousness or other probing devices. Needless to say, the dark brotherhood’s plans were thwarted on many fronts and the war between the forces of evil and the Good endured, extended, and became a protracted affair.
His participation as a long time warrior in this struggle led him finally, in older age, to that threshold which all must eventually pass. As he had studied many aspects of occult wisdom, he was keenly aware of his danger at being forced to endure the spiritual process of death and after death experiences afforded to all human beings as a matter of course. The avoidance of karmic law and divine justice was integral to the initial agreement at his indoctrination into the current path so many years ago. Being exempt from karmic retribution freed him from exercising those shackles of moral restraint in conscience, providing him an unimpeded corridor of opportunity for consumption and exploitation. Humanity was, for him, a herd of inveterate and ignorant dupes, easily led to the slaughterhouse. He was anxious, yet excited at hearing that his clone was near ready. The technique of transferring one consciousness into another similar vehicle or body had been successfully implemented and refined in recent years, made easier when very little of the true individual Self remained in the original body. The transference would be accomplished by linking the machine between the original and new host, and a third, the Dark One encircled by his priests, would facilitate the transfer and awakening. He would awaken in a twenty year old body ready to continue the work. Promises would then have been kept, immortality secured, and the earthly army of the brotherhood again reinvigorated.
As he lay on the gurney awaiting the procedure he realized that although his human part had almost been entirely eaten away, his other locust-self was far more capable of enduring the coming trial. Although both lived in continual fear of The Head, they also possessed that false confidence and arrogance of those who thrive while backed by an enormous power not their own, not acquired by their individual efforts. Behind his earthly power stood that incomprehensible and immeasurable supernatural power of destruction that remained, through the dark mystery of its inception, a force that always made his knees shake in fear. So with false bravado and silent trepidation, he embraced those final moments and descended into unconsciousness with decided confidence in the outcome.
He awakened in a seemingly non-physical intra-dimension at the center of a dark black cavern felt to be somewhere beneath the earth and found himself in what appeared to be his old human body standing on a highly elevated small metal disc or platform. He felt and visually perceived a vast, spherical, and dimly lit space with perfectly smooth stone or metal walls. His elevation placed him at the center of this space, creating what felt like a precipice on all sides and he, unseeing into the dark void below, sensed his master’s approach. The barely audible hum and vibration of what seemed to be a great machine began to intensify while, at the same time, there was a slow yet increasing pull on his body at all points; all junctures of sinew, flesh, bone, blood, bonds between molecules and atoms. He was being pulled slowly apart. Suddenly appearing before him, the great goat head spoke in sulfurous tones: “To him that overcometh, I will give all things. Your service will continue. This will be the third and final initiation to remove the last remaining vestiges of your humanity that you may ascend to become a God on a New Earth. Begin.”
The apparition terrified, yet fortified him while what seemed like a thousand thin tentacles sprang forth from behind The Head, enveloping him. Each snakelike arm had a small head with large razor-like teeth that proceeded to tear his flesh from all points, ripping him apart. His agony was intensified by the realization that, as each part was removed, that part immediately regenerated, only to be removed again and again. He knew this was not a physical body, but a soul body, yet the pain was identical, as if it had been his physical body. A perception of an eternity enduring this torture began to dawn upon him. This was beyond anything he had ever known, imagined, or agreed to. The smallest whisper of a doubt began to creep into his mind, like the weakest shadow of what had once in another lifetime been the dimmest light, prompting him to timidly ask, “What if this is wrong?” At this very moment of his penultimate and agonizing dispersal into the infinite, of his final obliteration into darkness leading to complete union with The Head, this one small Doubt netted him like a fish and hauled him in, nagging and nagging at that miniscule human remnant of his Being now being removed and harvested. The tenacious question then grew into, “How could … I … have been so wrong?” Sheer and unrestrained panic gripped him as his rapidly increasing realization mortified yet awakened, while several things suddenly happened at once. The simultaneity of his experiences under and overlapped imaginally while the energies of each event accumulated one upon the other, in ever increasing power: What he felt as his soul body disintegrated in an enormous explosion toward the inner surfaces of the dark chamber while the spherical chamber instantly collapsed, imploding through the single point of its core to then explode in a monumental columnar pillar of brilliant energy and light vaulting upward toward the black sky to broaden and fold over in a billowing mushroom-like plume. Simultaneous with these, as he was for some unfathomable reason still aware, still consciously perceiving, there appeared … swooping down from what felt like a vast firmament above, a brilliant and broad shaft of orange-red light as big as a lightening bolt, swooping down like a pendulum slicing through the mushroom cloud, the dark chamber and the thousand tentacles to vertically bisect The Head. It was a mighty cosmic sword slicing through the planet. Consciousness was extinguished in the searing swath of blazing golden red light.
He awoke in a brightly lit space and lay, immobile, on a broad, raised, white slab of unpolished marble. It seemed that this flat surface extended beyond the bounds of his perception in all directions. Mirrored above was an equally flat and translucent white ceiling or low sky very near. Between the upper and lower diffuse whiteness he bathed in a soft blue field of color that seemed to radiate from above or through above, and felt like a balm for his soul. He did not move or see clearly, but heard a voice deep and sonorous intone: “The child must wait forty millennia before being permitted to return and begin reintegration. Forty must pass before this soul may return.” Another equally deep voice spoke slowly, like the stroke of a huge bell in a campanile, vibrating from within ones bones: “He must return. His presence here hinders evolution. He must return where he will do less damage. We may chance that he finds his way, given our dispensation.”
He lapsed into unconsciousness to be conceived and reborn within one year into circumstances similar to his previous life, allowing him the same opportunities to now make different choices. Jude was a relatively normal child in all respects and preserved neither memory of his previous incarnation nor any sense as to why he was literally “spit out” of the spiritual world as unfit for residence there. He was reborn karmically unimpacted and relatively guiltless, with a “clean slate,” as it were, except for his dispensation discovered by him at about the age of five. While walking with his parents in the woods one fine spring morning, he ran from one tree to the next, hiding, giggling, and being alternately quiet amongst the pine needles covering the forest floor. Behind a tree he came upon a small robin on the ground, seemingly dazed in a fall from the nest. He picked up the bird gently and stroked its chirping head. The small creature was ever so soft and warm. Somewhere from deep down inside he suddenly felt mean and cold. An idea flashed through his mind as he stepped further behind the tree out of sight of his parents. He grasped the little bird’s body in his left hand and its head in the other and gave a sharp twist. Instantly he was thrown to the forest floor as excruciating pain shot through his neck and spine. After finding his breath, he rose and ran screaming to his mother. He was not physically hurt. After the third instance where he mortally injured a small animal and felt its exact pain inside himself, he stopped.
Thus began his awareness that he was not like other boys. The pain he inflicted upon another became his pain and through an initial interest in self-preservation, he began to curb those inexplicable and hateful impulses that surged upwards from below, from a place frightening to him. It was but a few years before he progressed to being able to experience the pain carried by the other without his being the cause of that suffering. His curse, for that is how he regarded his ability much of the time, compelled him to enter and follow a path of helping others to alleviate his own personal pain. As his curse brought him into mystical union with another’s pain, that union was limited only to the pain and not to the hopes, wishes, joys, or any other more positive aspects of that person’s life experience. Life became unbearable and agonizing as he witnessed and felt the hurt of children being bullied in school, or the wounds on the boar when accompanying his father in the hunt, or the pain in his father’s lungs during tests in a visit to the doctor’s office. If he thought of the origin of the steak on his dinner plate his mind became quickly overclouded with the fear and dumb terror of the cattle in the slaughterhouse, drowning him in a tsunami of suffering. In Jude’s child-like mind he simply wanted to die, hoping this would allow him an escape from the pain he so wished to avoid. He was only eleven.
During this period in his life he gradually slipped into a dank grayness, like being lost in the forest on a cold, rainy night. First his thoughts, then imagination, and then feelings became overtaken by an ever-growing compulsion to end his life. He could no longer hold himself together and wished for oblivion with all his mind and heart. While asleep one night he awoke outside his body as it lay in the bed. He had become conscious while slipping out of the top of his head to hang vertically in the air near the bed, with limbs immobile or rather, paralyzed at his sides. The opaque, rose-grey mist before his eyes began to clear as his gaze was drawn to the closet door, which opened a crack. The bedroom seemed a grey-black cloud permeating him with dread, a feeling familiar to him. An orange-red glow behind the closet door became more intense as the door slowly opened, revealing a heavily robed and hooded figure that stepped, or rather glided forward into the room. Within the hood only the glowing red eyes were visible, piercing him, penetrating him as with many needles. The hiss of a snake curled around the boy’s helpless and confined soul, as great unseen coils prepared to pull him in. Two pale white, gnarled hands with long nails folded back the hood as if peeling off a skin to reveal the visage, the entity beneath. There were only a few remaining vestiges of a human face left amongst the horrid deformities confronting the child, but enough for Jude to register the impression of something that was at one time human, but centuries or millennia ago. This awareness of a deteriorated or retrograde human devolution sparked unimaginable terror in the child as the monster approached. Purple-red bulbous and swollen veins covered the fleshy round head and extended down a neck almost as thick as the head. A shock of blond hair hung loosely on the right side of the head, like some vestigial organ. The crater of the mouth, or what could or should have been a mouth mimed what seemed like lipless obscenities as the glow of blood red eyes approached the young boy transfixed, like a snake’s prey. The thing stopped a few feet away and quietly hissed: “Take your life and you will be chained to me for forty thousand years. It matters not if Earth turn to dust and dissolve into the ethers or whether you are alive or dead. You will see me by your side in every moment.” At this the figure slowly opened his robe to reveal the remaining nest of bodily deformities, a horror too much for the boy to bear. With hair standing on end, he shrieked as he mercifully lost consciousness. Upon awakening the next morning came a strange sound that entered his mind, like a constant humming or dull buzzing that perplexed him with its ebb and flow, a sound that would never again release him. However, he was resolute in the conviction that he would never again consider self-destruction. “There must be another way,” he muttered to himself, and never looked back. In the mirror he noticed that a small streak of white had appeared in his hair over the left ear. The other way came to him sometime later in the form of a boy, Thomas, when they were fourteen.
The rope swing at the swimming hole was secured to an enormous tree branch overhanging a deep mountain pool. Huge roots folded down over a rocky ledge into the water while gripping into the earth beneath the streambed. To the left and right of an ancient pine two sheer rock walls rose about thirty feet above the water. Over the right wall the mountain stream fell in a moderate cascade feeding the pool below. The three sides formed an open rectangle completed by the small beach opposite the pine on the downhill side, a beach consisting of small, smooth round stones. Above the cliffs the pine forest continued up and into the mountain deep as well as following the stream threading through large boulders down the mountainside. Climbing the great pine was difficult due to the increased spacing of its branches as the tree was so ancient. One brave soul succeeded in tying a rope to the overhanging branch, big enough to qualify itself as a tree, giving other brave souls the opportunity to swing out over the pool and drop precipitously into the sparkling fresh water below. A few teenage boys and girls lay about on the small rocky shore soaking up shafts of the sun’s light filtering through the trees. Thomas propelled himself to the maximum swing height as he then plunged into the water. Within a moment Jude felt intense pain in his leg, but despite this leapt up and dove into the water. By then the other kids realized that Thomas had not resurfaced from his plunge. Jude found the boy about twelve feet down frantically pulling at his leg stuck in a tree root. After prolonged effort and near panic, both boys managed to dislodge the foot at the moment Thomas lost his breath. Pulled to the shore and coughing up water, the boy finally stood and with bloodied foot and tears in his eyes, raised his fist and forcefully said: “I will always, always be your friend, loyal and true!” The others present were somewhat taken aback by his vehement proclamation but to the very end Thomas would keep his word, to the everlasting benefit of his new and, unknown to him, severely disabled friend. Jude was also stunned by the promise and felt as if pierced through his soul by a warm and good feeling unfamiliar to him.
Years passed as Jude continued to be compelled by force of destiny to aid other human beings so as to alleviate their pain that he also felt as his own. During these years his friend remained at his side through the initial and inevitable shocks that accompanied Jude’s expanding perception and experience of people’s suffering. His ever-broadening perceptive capacity was always tearing at his nerves, shattering whatever few moments of respite he might find in the interim. He was driven, spiritually chained to a course of action that, although completely motivated by self-preservation, nevertheless had the effect of providing him with tangible results of his deeds for others; namely the gratefulness of other human beings constantly streaming towards him, as if there was an attempt by the universe to fill a soul incapable of filling itself. This incapacity to nourish the Self formed the other side of his dispensation. Although self-aware he could not self-reflect as his introspective efforts penetrated not more than skin deep, preventing his extraction of those moral lessons of the heart possessed as a common heritage potential by all human beings, lessons leading through self-knowledge to inner depth, compassion, release, and freedom. It was as if beneath his skin there lay an unbreakable mirror reflecting back to the world what the world brought to him, yet adjusted by his unique application of animal instinct. Although outwardly identical to other human beings he was fundamentally different in that he was driven by the lash of destiny to offer help to others rather than offer help freely out of moral insight and love. As he had in the previous life chosen to surrender to the demon and was therefore subsequently incapable of accessing and reintegrating his Self, there had to be a way in which a repair might be made. Through the continual in-streaming love from others as recompense for his good deeds, a possibility for a new beginning could be made. The impact of such in-streaming might lead to an inner activation, some kind of self-reflective catalyst as a first movement toward a new inner life, that the smallest part of his soul might be found, reawakened, enlivened, and somehow made more real and whole. Unbeknownst to him, through karmic wisdom the reclamation of his soul was slowly proceeding. If only that mirror would crack just a little to let illumination filter through. Even as refracted light, it would at least be a start.
Upon reading the morning paper near his twentieth birthday a story of a small mountain town destroyed by flood opened him to the inpouring of the suffering in the town’s people, paralyzing him for three days, after which he arose to immediately set to work rebuilding the town in collaboration with its people. He accomplished this by establishing a statewide fund raising effort, lobbying politicians for disaster relief, and successfully negotiating with insurance companies to streamline claim’s responses and timely payments. He served in this capacity for a number of years until the town was rebuilt. By the time he was twenty-eight his body began to break down and collapse under the weight of unceasing stress. It was here that Thomas proved to be most true to his word as Jude’s continuing agony rendered him unable to move from the bed. With hair pure white, his inwardly collapsing soul was now rendered helpless and hopeless as he lacked the strength to either endure or halt the inflowing pain of humanity, unrelenting as it streamed through him like a river cutting deeply into the earth. With arms outstretched he lay in the bed contemplating his end, the deterioration of his physical body and the unknown destiny of his soul. He became aware that his was a crucifixion by fate, by humanity … a crucifixion on the cross of the world. He also knew, for some indefinable reason, that he was not permitted to enter the thirtieth year of life. Weighed down by oppressive Saturn as he lay in agony, his extremities began to tingle as if arms and legs were reawakening after being numbed with sleep. It was then that he felt the hot spots in the center of hands and feet accompanied by the pointed fire of a sharp piercing in those same spots, pinning him to the bed. And again the hum and buzz in his mind reasserted its tonal onslaught circling and pinging off the interior of his skull. Thomas watched and prayed while his friend’s groaning agony propelled him across some boundary or threshold where speech was finally eclipsed as he was forced into silence. And it was in this forced silence that Jude perceived his life’s suffering as the invisible crucifixion. It was here that he also sensed his condition as merely the surface appearance of something much deeper, something more volatile, powerful, and dark, yet somehow less sinister; that the construct of his entire life was merely a covering over some impenetrable substantiality of which he was the responsible owner, maker, and destroyer; that even the holes in his hands and feet were somehow an overlay hiding a secret mystery inaccessible to him … and it was in this moment that Divine Mercy bestowed upon him for the very first time a brief glimpse into his true Self.
Jude was suddenly shifted below the unbreakable inner mirror and sensed that beneath his skin, beneath his pierced limbs was the memory of a curious feeling of being strapped around those very limbs, of having arms and feet wound tightly about with ropes lashing him firmly to some object, painfully cutting off the flow of his blood. As his soul rose out of the bed to hover vertically in the air, the bed, walls, and general structure receded and dissolved into a crowd of people in another time, another place. There was a great weeping and wailing of untold suffering mixed with scornful shouts and curses from soldiers, priests, and various officials hurling abuse, as well as those few silent men in the background gloating over their victory. Horses, barking dogs, angry people and praying people mixed in the jumble of humanity at this sad place, the place of the skull. As he watched the blood flow down the central cross into the earth, a kneeling man caught some of the blood in a cup. Woman and men close by were bleeding, too, but he did not know why. As his vision fell upon the crucified one, he was filled with a frustrated rage and shouted out, “Why, why have they put me next to this fraud, this Holy Madman, whom they name the Christ?” His eyes then fell upon the cross opposite where he recognized the man that he would later save from drowning and who would become his friend. Despite the continual buzzing in his ears, he heard Christ respond to something the other crucified man said. Christ said to him, “Verily, I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Soon the soldiers came to remove the man from the cross and then break his legs, as it was the Sabbath day. As they removed and laid him down at the foot of the central cross, in his semi-delirium he witnessed the descending flow of blood pooling around him, seeping into the earth. In bewilderment he could no longer clearly comprehend what was happening and uttered his last mortal words describing that final image in his eyes and mind as he looked up to the bleeding Christ. In an agony of awe and realization he gasped, “My God, the bees, the honeybees!” With the onset of crushing blows, everything went to black.
Jude awakened from his vision and again recognized Thomas standing at the foot of the bed. He then quietly said “Thank you” to his friend and died. In his final moment of death he glimpsed a distant, radiant future and an image of his Being as a fully redeemed human spirit. Between here and there a magnificent stairway became visible, made of golden light ascending to a bluest heaven. But it became broken and disconnected in many places. There were partial staircases floating, disappearing, and reappearing in a confused whirl of scintillating and luminous rainbow chaos. He was aware that he must rebuild and then ascend the stairway and felt that the first few steps in the thousands to follow were now solid and sure. Only a few years passed before he was again reborn.
Dark Matter (A Whitsun Tale)
The young man lifted a large flat rock and found beneath a small, perfectly round black stone slightly smaller than a golf ball. It was of dull sheen and mostly buried in the dirt amongst the leaves and twigs, other rocks, and various centipedes and spiders. The stone was neither unduly heavy nor light, but possessed an outer surface perfect, smooth, and as he later discovered, impervious to damage. But at this point it seemed relatively ordinary with the exception of its spherical appearance. He dusted it off and noticed it cold to the touch, but very soon it became warm in his hand. The rapidity with which it drew warmth to itself was his first observation of the object’s qualities which soon outgrew the ordinary and began to reveal attributes most extraordinary, if not remarkable.
In the ensuing days, weeks, months, and years, he often pondered on the stone’s origin. He concluded at the end of his life that it was made from darkness, simply darkness, and that it was given to him for many reasons, the most important of which was to help him find the light, the spiritual light, that is.
The dull black stone became for him a chameleon of sorts, not that it assumed different shapes and colors, but that it both absorbed and conveyed to him thoughts and feelings of people in whom he held an interest, assuming he also held the stone firmly in hand while thinking about the person in question. For him to accurately read another’s inner life he required strict silence in his own. But the new ability acquired, he decided not to continue, as access to another’s thoughts and feelings seemed an intrusion, an inappropriate boundary crossing. Besides, he did not lack for work with respect to his own inner life as the stone revealed to him plenty he did not wish to see.
Walking through the woods one day near a trickling brook with thick, exposed tree roots folding down over the bank into the streambed below, his dark stone began to imperceptibly vibrate and to emit an almost inaudible hum. He heard, as others would not, due to the already advanced progress of attunement between the stone’s matter and his personal resonant vibration. Placing hand in pocket, he grasped the stone and heard at once a voice, cold and sharp say: “Come, come away. Ancient roots descend into the nether world, where light is eternally transmuted into dark. Follow and you will discover the secret wisdom of dark Will, which is power. Rule with Him, the Master that cometh.” He responded with an alert “no thank you” and walked on, briskly.
Soon thereafter he emerged from the dense forest cover into a small moss-covered glade enclosed by trees and dotted with flowers yellow, blue, and white, all blossoming brightly in the shafts of the sun’s rays filtering through still and silent leaves above. Something bade him grasp the stone, and his mind filled with thoughts of wonder, beauty and gratefulness. Immediately he felt flames of color issuing from the orb in his pocket and encircling his hand. In a moment many multi-colored tongues of cool fire began climbing his arm, spreading rapidly over his torso and down his legs to the earth. In that same moment his entire body became engulfed in a pillar of fire and color. He could still see and feel and think, quite conscious in the impending transformation, yet into what he did not know. He felt the coolness of those flames but also knew a painful burning, that part of his soul was burning away. The flames intensified until the tips of the tongues of fire began to scintillate as they dissolved upwards into the sun’s rays. As the fire was sourced in the dark stone, the ensuing transmutation of darkness through color into light was dominated by levity, by that which was sun-like. He lived within the fire. He died within the flames. He awoke within the color. And then a voice as of light, both warm and welcoming, spoke with quiet emphasis: “Rise up. Rise up. It is Whitsun. He has done his Deed. It is time you do yours. With Spirit-Wisdom we will help you transform the matter of Earth into Sun. Rise up. Rise up. It is Whitsun.”
The flaming pillar of fire slowly subsided, leaving him renewed where he stood in the small glade. He felt quiet, centered, and strong in his new purified skin. He realized that the stone’s power could be directed up or down, in or out, for good or for ill, as was his intent. Sensing his freedom in the use of this power, he then noticed that the tendency of the black stone, precisely because it was made of matter, was to inherently exert a downward pull toward darkness and the awesome powers that live therein.
He had come to know his stone as a portal or mechanism through which he could transmute light into darkness or darkness into light and realized that it was composed of dark matter, the archetypal atom … the black hole through which matter again dissolves into the invisible universe to reappear elsewhere condensed in another form, another time. He felt it was also the darker part of his self, meaning the primordial matter from which he was made and for which transmutation he was responsible. And he now knew that his spiritual and earthly self housed the identical capacity for transmutation and transformation somehow magically enclosed within the holy stone. Upon finding that he carried the stone’s gift within his own heart, he then held the stone slightly aloft in his open palm as offering to the Sun and witnessed ... as it vaporized into the air and light.
The Rose of Brooklyn
Adam was quite pleased with his life, having acquired the necessary comforts by the time he was thirty, what with a wife, a dog, a beautiful home in Crown Heights North, and a successful career refurbishing vintage homes in various Brooklyn neighborhoods. He spent a good deal of time reducing stress, mostly to relieve pressures caused by himself. The fastidious streak he possessed bordered on compulsion, which never failed to exert tremendous pressure when he and his crew were under contract deadlines. For the most part he did not worry so much about profit, as most of his subcontractors surely did, but was always intent to refurbish those old Renaissance Revival row homes to perfection, as if they had just been built. The new owners could now live in an old house made new, with a history of being permeated by other lives, other stories, a house born in another age where craft and artistry in building were both affordable and highly valued. He held a special affinity for limestone as a building material, as the perfect substance in which to carve floral, animal, and classical motifs that adorn various frieze borders, lintels, and bays of buildings. The ornamental ironwork conveyed strength and a feeling of being secure and safe in the sanctity of ones own home. He derived much pleasure from those final touches applied to the refinishing of the parquet floors, Craftsman styled wainscoting, and beautiful built-ins, all being part of the final stages at completion of the job. And his heart always opened in the colorful glow of the stained glass trim. Adam felt it his mission to resurrect the craftsmanship of those early years.
One source of inspiration for his work, a secret shared with his wife only, was that his great grandfather, as a rather prolific early twentieth-century architect, designed many beautiful row homes and apartment buildings in Brooklyn. As destiny would have it, Adam had been privileged to be able to remodel two of these homes and was continually searching for others. In his mind such longing and effort was a gesture of gratefulness and respect. That he chose not to reveal his ancestral link became his secret source of inspiration, steeling his motivation and resolve to bring beauty, in his own way, to Brooklyn. He imagined himself to be a kind of wandering gardener who planted rose bushes wherever he landed. It was silly, he thought, but true. His quiet, yet hard driving intensity in quest for this beauty tended to exasperate his employees and subcontractors, all of whom grumbled about his compulsiveness, yet appreciated and, in fact, were very proud of the results, which invariably led to increasing the quality of their reputations.
In order to relieve some of the pressures of work Adam would run, usually at night. Ranging widely through many neighborhoods, he would sense their character and life, how they breathed in the night air, or whether they were decaying or growing, and tried to gain impressions of the kinds of people living there, in their nightlife. Subconsciously he would notice building shapes and styles, layouts of neighborhoods and parks, ever drinking in new experience that would later form the inner soil out of which creative ideas would grow. As he enjoyed improvising his run, one night he found his way down into an industrial area close to the docks, where large drab factory buildings separated by wide streets loomed with their dark and sooty brick walls and windows. Patches of dim light interspersed with long stretches of darkened street produced in him a sense of foreboding, especially as his location was in a reputedly unsafe area of the city.
As he rounded a corner he nearly crashed into the open door of a large metal shipping container. The young black teenager standing in the open mouth of the container yelled to someone inside, “Rafael, let’s go, now!” These two and two others hiding in the shadows scurried off, having noticed but taken no interest in the jogger. On high alert and expectant of danger, Adam quickly realized the kids were playing a game, and so continued down the dark and deserted street, at the end of which was a brick wall denoting a right angle turn to the left. A relatively bright and distant source of light shone from somewhere down the unseen street, illuminating the approaching corner. Standing on the corner like a statue in the diagonal shaft of light was a giant man, perhaps eight feet tall. As Adam approached the corner, he broke from a run to a jog to a walk as he progressively realized in wonder and with some reasonable trepidation that he was entering an experience where literally anything can happen. He felt like a man who, confident in his strong legs, is somehow compelled to approach a precipice where he is required to stand with toes slightly over the edge of a thousand foot drop. In such moments the fear is the wholly unexpected puff of wind or a rapidly surfacing inner compulsion that tips one over the edge. Balance and alertness is everything, yet still not enough …
The amazingly tall black man, thin as a rail and dressed in jeans with tee shirt and a light jacket, presented to Adam an unknown equivalent to the precipice, equally capable of either addressing Adam with a greeting of “Hello” as well as casting him into the abyss without effort. He had to summon all his faith in humanity to quell his rising fears, and use his courage to force himself into a minimal openness and trust sufficient for him to look into the man’s eyes and mutter a guarded “Hello” as he passed by. The man, who Adam suddenly realized as someone like a Masai warrior, returned the look with a glimmer of kindness and said, “Would you like to see the North Star?” Adam stopped, being completely thrown back into his fears of uncertainty, while the imposing presence of the black warrior that could break him with one hand rapidly dwindled into a surprising feeling of implicit trust, equally startling to the young runner. Quite off balance, his newfound trust bade him throw caution to the wind as he responded with a meek “Yes, please.” For a brief moment the two stood face to face in a shaft of light on a drab corner in the deserted Brooklyn street, each receiving the spiritual impress and exchange of the other, like ocean waves silently crashing into each other to produce a great, attenuating wave of peace.
Adam had to jog in order to maintain pace with the long stride of his guide. As he neared the source of light illuminating the street, he realized that the source of light was fire while, at the same time, there seemed to be an increase of effort needed to follow the tall man, as if both legs were accumulating weight through the exertion of trying to wade through an unseen substance resisting him in every moment. It felt as if he was walking through a wall of water with his whole body, but it was really air, or what should have been air, but wasn’t. He also noticed that his surroundings had completely changed, for he now found that he walked through a completely devastated Brooklyn, ravaged with fires and partially collapsed buildings amid mountains of rubble. His guide began to ascend one of these mountains composed of brick, chunks of macadam, and partial walls and floors at various angles, as if they had exploded from within. Through the rise in elevation came a clearer and more comprehensive view of the burning city, or rather the sporadic remains of fires here and there in the aftermath of a bombed and pulverized city. Adam lost all time orientation and, bewildered at the immense changes in his perception, which totally contradicted all rational thought and attempts at logical comprehension, looked to his guide who stood silently atop the mound under the backdrop of fire light and star light. He, in turn, looked at Adam with a stern yet kind gaze, raised his long arm like a spear, and pointing said, “Behold, Polaris.” Adam raised his eyes directly overhead to find a brightly lit and sparkling firmament riddled with twinkling stars. While not being too familiar with the night sky, he knew enough to perceive a general change in the night sky. The stars were significantly shifted or askew, as if he had stepped into another age, yet the North Star was immediately known by him as it coursed across the star field like some ancient comet’s return after a millennium.
While gazing at the star, he felt his soul exit his body, following his eyes to accompany or ride along with his vision until his seeing soul, now placed midway between his earthly frame and the star itself in cosmic space, was afforded a much clearer and nearer view of the star’s true substantiality … for he witnessed that the whole process of its Being and Movement and Body, coursing through the heavens, was composed of a community of Angels. They surrounded, emerged from, played through, and overarched the North Star. He saw them, felt them, and knew them. Wonder seized, uplifted, and awakened Adam as the ethereal Beauty revealing itself nourished him in places that he had not known were so weary. Sensing a dissonance from below, he felt his rational mind clamoring for acknowledgement, demanding access to judge this new experience. Nothing, absolutely nothing made any sense, as the inner ground upon which he stood, that reliable interior structure constructed with the building blocks of logic, stable emotions, and strong will power began to erode, to dissolve into a quicksand beneath his feet. His incapacity to implement those conceptual links in his rational mind that were supposed to bring understanding acted like a dam cracking and breaking to release a flood of feelings surging from below and pouring in from above, overwhelming him. Suddenly he was drowning in an inconsolable sorrow. He fell to his knees to then fall back and sit on a flat slab of concrete with head in hand, not understanding, not comprehending, but careening uncontrolled through an abyss of sorrow, an inner space or place somehow transferred back in time to similar or same feelings coursing through him now. He felt a large hand lightly touch his right shoulder. As the tall man walked by Adam, he said, “You are mystic.” The long gaited giant descended the rubble mountain with spear in the right hand used as walking staff and garbed in bright tribal colors, a mostly red shuka, sandals and shaved head. He disappeared as in a mist, leaving Adam falling into the dream of his abyss.
Enveloped in his atmospheric feeling of inconsolable sorrow, he continued to descend through this feeling into a memory that began to provide some firmness under his feet. At first aware of a hard surface, his consciousness ascended slowly through perception of feet, legs, and torso until he visually perceived an entire walking body. This he perceived from behind and slightly above. He felt hard stone under those booted feet, for they were his feet. On large tile floors, he was walking briskly with determination down a long, upper hallway of a castle. Persian tapestries hung on stone walls brought a rich warmth and color contrasted by the marble floor striated with veins of black and white. He wore a rich fur cloak over a rust colored tunic and felt old and careworn as he approached the solid oak door at the end of the hall. The upper middle of the arched door revealed an embossed, carved rose blossom. As he opened the door, there she stood in her crimson floor length gown with long black hair, liquid brown eyes, and pale white skin. Nabuthu stood erect and silent off to the left with spear in hand resting on the floor. The fear and worry in her eyes knew at once the answer from the king’s eyes, and quickly the anxiety she felt secured a hard edge somewhere deep within her soul, steeling her resolve and resignation … and suddenly standing before him was no longer a frightened girl but a powerful and radiant young woman, a princess, in fact. He walked to her, embraced her in his arms saying, “My love, my child, we have not overcome their evil. They parsed words like snakes as my logic eviscerated their arguments and charges. They could cite neither evil effect nor damage done by you but, unrelenting, stood firm upon their perverse Canon Law and accusing testimony of the cook.” She replied, “My heart belongs to Christ, and only He have I followed, bringing aid to those in need. I have done no wrong.” The King said, “Yes, dear one, but you have challenged their power with sweet healing herbs and the Bible and they will make example of you as royalty that may not overmatch them. They are at you like a pack of wolves and will have your death.” At this his blood began to boil and he shouted, “I will have at them, these servants of Satan, and crush their flat heads under my heel!” She grabbed and held him saying, “Father, calm yourself … your heart.” Through love it was she and only she who held power over him, a power to which he gladly acquiesced ever and again. But he was caught between the rock of her Goodness and the evil he desired to destroy, an evil that subtly undermined his authority and people … the goodness in his people, by sickening their souls through fear.
As witness to these rapidly impending events, Nabuthu, as tall as a tree, began to feel the rising panic and fear that a parent endures for a child in serious jeopardy. Memories of a long ago sorrow began to surface along with other memories of a fear, terror, and hatred that he thought was buried forever. When he arrived in this land, some said from distant Arabia, he began searching and wandering the deep forests. One day he broke through a wall of trees into a small glade to suddenly come upon a hunting party. Shocked and alarmed by the appearance of a black giant holding a spear, swords were drawn and bows quickly strung. As the king approached the tall stranger with placid face and regal bearing, he immediately sensed in him a man of integrity and danger, capable of being either an implacable foe or powerful friend. He knew at once this truth, as it was his practice and gift to read men’s souls through a synthesis of innumerable signals and gestures, both tangible and intangible, emitted by the human being; a look or glance, the tilt of the head, a gesticulation or lack thereof, an emphasis on one word and not the other … all communicated and revealed to him a picture of the human being answering ever the one and only important question: Is he worthy of trust? The answer to his inner query came swiftly in the shape of a large boar breaking forth through the trees rapidly bearing down on the king. Before the king’s men could turn their weapons and step into the boar, he had been skewered by a long spear and lay at the king’s feet. The tall man then tilted his head in a small bow while all eyes stared in wonder. The king then pulled the spear from the boar and, holding the spear in the air as a sign of victory, handed it back to the warrior with a gesture of great respect. The king proclaimed, “I will call you William, after my courageous brother the hunter, may he rest in peace.” Nabuthu did not understand that he had been graced with a courtly name, nor did he know he had been given a place in the court of the king. In time, as he and the king began to understand one another, Nabuthu found that the duty assigned to him by the king was that he do exactly as he pleases, and that he make himself useful. He chose to remain at the court as he assigned himself the role of protector of the king’s daughter, as the queen mother had died giving birth. His reasons for doing this no one would ever know, but it pleased him to do so, as there was something about her, a purity, that in him resurrected feelings and memories of a long ago happiness … and mysteries of much deeper things he did not understand.
While he stood as witness to the king’s frustration and fury, his growing inner turbulence began to severely tax his inner strength, his capacity for self-restraint. Memories of loss, death, disease, and slaughter began to flood his mind, along with memories of powerlessness to protect and rescue. All these were juxtaposed in his soul with later memories of the revenge he had exacted for his and their suffering, leading him now to that dark place he knew so well. He had sated his bloodlust in revenge time and time again and experienced the intoxication of power that accompanied revenge. He became known and feared. But damage was done to his soul, as he perceived a creeping emptiness, a hollowing out of the place where his heart should be, with each passing day. Both his reputation and the inner perception of his soul’s loss through violent deeds propelled him into social and spiritual isolation. He shaved his head and became a wanderer, searching for his lost heart, and so traveled to Arabia, and through the Holy Land then came to Britain.
All those old feelings began to rush out of his depths onto the surface. Her dire jeopardy was at once his dire jeopardy. He feared for her as she was his heart, or rather that he had found his heart through her … it did not matter … and he feared for what he was about to do. Those feelings of rage rushing up and out of the cauldron of his soul, out of volcanic depths of heat and fire, began to overtake him and, in a flash, his eyes became spears, every limb and protuberance on his body became a sharp spear that would decimate, pierce, dismember, sever, and annihilate any threatening look, gesture, lustful glance; anything that would impact the purity of this rose, his heart, this princess, would be obliterated. It was this burgeoning inner rage that was overriding his calm exterior. She noticed that his entire body began to tremble under the strain of his as yet unmanifest power. She intuited his approach to the precipice, deadly dangerous for others but most dangerous for him and, sensing his jeopardy, quickly strode to his side, reached over and firmly grabbed his forearm and said with love, affection, and a new-found hardness in her voice, “William, dear one, you must continue on. Father needs you!” That she addressed him with his given name and not with the reverent Nabuthu of her adolescence, or the intimate Nabu of her childhood, brought to him a more formal emphasis upon his now shifting royal duties, duties that required of him that he maintain equanimity. Her embrace of his forearm, and the fathomless depths in her eyes loving him communicated all of this. He willingly obeyed. She had suddenly, within a few moments, become his queen.
The king perceived the sudden blossoming of his daughter who, faced with imminent death and before his weary eyes, had transformed herself into a woman of power. Through those weary eyes he now felt and saw what he thought were the flickering tongues of flames beginning to dart up and down and over her body. Presently these flames converged into a single large flame covering her entire self except for her face and eyes, a flame rushing from below upwards in a pillar of rose-colored fire accompanied by that great, living wind belonging to all fires. He saw in rapidly succeeding pictures this woman as she had unfolded from what had come before, from each preceding stage of development. As in a backward flowing river he perceived her devoted adolescence and dreamy childhood, as the newborn gift of life, and suddenly he became aware of her prior to birth as a fully mature light-being, radiant and bright and good, a being that had chosen them, him, out of pure love. He perceived her as a radiant circle or spiral of golden light, ever beginning, never ending, always somehow intersecting with him. This brought him a brief glimpse of a faith in eternity, a hope of a deeper justice embedded in the structure of creation. Through exercise of self-restraint due to the forced and habitual practice of many years as a monarch that must selflessly judge and rule, he managed to calm himself a little and, with sorrowful eyes said, “You are to be forthwith shorn and taken to the stake. They come.” At this the three hearts that had lived and beat as one broke as one. She walked William over to the King, placed his hand over the King’s hand, and with hers cupping theirs from above and below said, “We hold ourselves three together, in Christ, through all time. You must endure.” The handmaidens came to clip her hair; the guards removed her to secular authorities serving the church, and then delivered her to the stake. The King and William endured, but slowly withered, as did the rose garden and therewith, the life of the court slowly died.
Emerging from his mystical reverie, Adam now understood his relation to the Masai warrior and, in gratefulness, fresh tears flowed until he also realized the same about “her.” He jumped to his feet and kept repeating to himself over and over, “It is She. She is the Rose!” Feeling suddenly stupid and dense, he proceeded swiftly down the hill of rubble while, with every succeeding step, his vision became increasingly comprehended by him in all its particulars. His vision of a devastated Brooklyn, black and burning, was no less than the destructive pent up rage in Nabuthu and the King, made visible to him in all this startling, alternate reality. With clarity he realized that what human beings think, and especially feel creates other worlds within which other Beings live and work. Every human being adds vital substance, spiritual substance to a universe ever changing as a living entity ever renewing, ever transforming according to what it absorbs from the creative beings making up humanity. He now understood that the universe, the All, responds intimately in every moment to each and every human being as a parent with an only child. The North Star brought to him the realization that it was also she in her swift passage through his previous life, guiding him while Angels in turn guided her.
He rounded quickly through the right angled street corner, which had opened to him a new world, to find familiar concrete, metal, macadam, brick, and wood properly placed in empty late night city streets. Brooklyn beneath his feet had not changed and he wasted no time in running for home. Eventually he reached his neighborhood and city block with a determined stride that began to encounter a strange resistance with each succeeding step. The air seemed to thicken as he neared home, as if something endeavored to again prevent him from reaching that which lived so deeply in his heart, to eclipse forward movement, and thwart love. In his new awareness he realized that the thickness barring his way and making it so difficult to run and breathe, was simply his past rage and present fears. He feared something would precipitously occur to prevent his declaration, his desire to say to her, “I know, dear one, I know … everything.” Once realized, he ruthlessly suppressed and extirpated the fear, as if stepping with heel upon the head of a poisonous snake. With the miasmic cloud dissipated, Adam slowed to a walk and ascended his front steps.
As he opened the front door and entered the entrance hallway, there she stood in her crimson, floor-length bathrobe, with long black hair, liquid brown eyes, and pale white skin. She stood at the bottom of the stairs roughly thirty feet away and looking at him with fear and relief said, “I was worried.” Having endured his mystical ordeal beneath the North Star only to face the wall of his fears, he succeeded in penetrating the karmic mist to arrive safely here upon the spot where he now stood, calm and happy to have arrived without incident. He had found her again and was filled with an immeasurable gratefulness as he stepped toward her. This profound feeling, however, quickly linked to those tumultuous feelings of sorrow in his vision, and by the second and third step those feelings began to inundate and overwhelm him. He perceived the compulsion to again give way to uncontrolled tears, however, these tears mixed also with joy and gratefulness. Immediately he knew he must, absolutely must lift himself out of these deep emotions and access a higher part of his nature; that part which both feels and knows and, through knowing, lifts any and every experience into a higher place, a place approaching grace. His spirit soared and his eyes were now eagle’s eyes flying high over the earth. With every step toward her he flew over a continent or an ocean while above him the stars radiated their life and wisdom into him as innumerable points of light penetrating his back and wings. He felt Angels near, hovering, watching, and caring. And so the upwelling tears threatening to overwhelm did not appear as tears but rather as an interior scintillating brightness, a sparkling of light flowing forth rising from his heart and issuing from his eyes. She saw his shining as he, happy, relaxed, and victorious, crossed over to her, cupped her face in his hands and slowly covered her face in gentle kisses. She responded with one slow kiss on his mouth indicating to him that she was his forever, that she knew from her depths of wordless knowledge … everything. She then said, “Dear One, go take your shower.” He obeyed as he always had and always will.
Outside in the darkness and off in the distance one could see in the dimly lit street an unusually tall man in jeans and a light jacket round the corner and disappear into the night. There was a spring in his step that conveyed a deep gladness, high hopes, and a dream of brighter horizons.
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