Yield – Chapter Eight
The symbolism of the New Testament
Yield – Chapter Eight
Into Everlasting Life
Standing before God there came movement upon me, flowing into a dance, for Life came through me and danced me, and the dance was the history of my soul. Seeking independence and self-assertion I had risen up against the influence of my Father in heaven and waged war against him.
But such was his might I crumpled slowly before him, though I fought desperately. And I lay crushed, yet not completely, for my right arm was strong and withheld him; and a great fire rose in me and I stood, yea, even under the weight of God. With the strength of my manhood I rose up and cast God down and was full.
Then came upon me the devils from my own underworld, as fear pressing up from below, and again I waged war, and pressed them back, prisoners of my will. Standing before the great multitude of my within I raised my hand in victory, middle fingers pressed against the palm; index and little finger raised in the sign of one who has fought and been victorious.
But as I stood before the throng with right arm raised, I knew of a sudden I had been wounded during the battle, and my left hand pressed to my heart as my life fled from me. And slowly I fell upon the floor of that arena, and I knew death.
Upon me death lay like sleep, and I fell willingly into its arms for an uncertain age. But there came in the darkness of death a silent visitor, unformed, unseen, not known, yet felt. For the Silence gathered me together out of the darkness. It drew out of the vast ocean of unknowing my essence. Yes, though I had melted like fragrance into the breeze, or ice into the lake, yet It knew me and gathered me out of Itself for very love of me, and brought me forth. I know! Oh yes, I know, for Love showed me, that even if we wage war against heaven itself, and scatter in death and destruction the dust of our being like stars across the void, yet will God gather us again from the tideless shore of death, and give us light.
For in the silent womb of death Life came to me and with its wonder stirred me. And it rose up in me, lifting me from death itself, flooding me with life, emerging me from the grave dancing and rising up.
I am a wondrous plant.
A seed in the womb of time.
And you shall know me for what I am,
The very sperm of God.
Raised from darkness to light,
Into the Everlasting.
For winning we lose and are wounded,
And dying we come to life.
“I was very ill at the time; dying, in fact, from a massive haemorrage following the birth of my daughter. I heard a voice counting and knew that when it reached five there would be sweet oblivion and release from pain and confusion. I felt I was being strangled and turned inside out at the same time. I remember thinking, in a clearer corridor of my mind, that I must have died and gone to hell. I wondered vaguely whether the torture and confusion would go on for ever, and wished for oblivion.
“The count reached five. For a time there was a great noise and flashing lights, as if every cell in my body was exploding. For a few minutes I knew nothing, and then – Awareness – no pain, no confusion; it was very dark, very quiet, very still. I could not speak or see or move. At first I thought I must be asleep. I made a great effort to wake up, but I could not. Why doesn’t someone wake me, I wondered. Or perhaps I am dreaming. But no, I knew this was not so, as I was conscious of my thoughts. I became aware also that I was not breathing. I did not feel any need to breathe, neither could feel any part of my body.
“Suddenly the truth hit me. I was dead.
“Can you possibly understand how I felt? It was such a huge unacceptable truth. DEAD! DEAD I DEAD!
“The word pounded on my consciousness. NO. NO, I cannot be dead. I could not accept it. How could I think if I were dead? I put the idea away from me. I thought of my family. I felt a deep regret I had not told them more often how very much I loved them, and felt a deep sorrow at not seeing them again. Then I thought about my life, about the things I had done and seen, about the people I had known and the places I had been. I knew I had had a happy life. I thought about everything worth giving a thought to. How long had I been here for instance? Time seemed to have ceased to exist. Was it hours, days, years, or even centuries?-
“So far all my thoughts had been outward. I dared not dwell on the thought that I was dead. It was so unacceptable. But I knew I must search deep into myself to find help for the panic which threatened to submerge me. ‘Who am I,’ I asked. What am I? Where am I? Have I always been like this? Perhaps this is my natural state? If so, my life must have been a dream. But if it was, and suddenly the full force of this implication hit me, neither the world nor mankind really existed!
“I thought again about my life. Had it only been an unreal dream? Surely that was not possible?
“It took ages for this probability to sink in. An eternity seemed to pass before I came to the next inevitable thought. I must be God!
“But no. God and any kind of philosophy were of man’s creation. Therefore, if mankind were only a figment of my imagination, God could not exist.
“I was alone. So utterly and absolutely alone. There was no space, no time, no anything. Even I did not exist except as a mind, a lonely consciousness, a still, quiet awareness. I had come to the very beginning of thought, the birthplace of the soul. My mind had gone round and round in ever decreasing circles and had at last come to this void where there were no more thoughts, only awareness. “Then my soul cried out in utter despair and loneliness. ‘Is there no other consciousness, no love, no comfort? Please God, help me.’
“Then I heard the words from another Being, another Mind. ‘I am the Father. The world was my Dream. Come!’
“I was lifted up into the arms of God: a God whom I had thought must not exist. I knew then, that ‘peace which passeth understanding.’ It was Supreme Joy – Knowledge of Ultimate Truth – Absolute Ecstasy – which I cannot begin to describe. There are no words for the complete Love and Light which enveloped me. I was a thought in the beautiful mind of God. I was in Heaven. It would be like this for eternity. And then I heard the words – ‘Go back now, and tell them all about it’.
“Slowly – very, very slowly, my senses returned. I was very dazed for a while, and was told I had been under anaesthetic. The doctors had thought I would not survive, but I had come back!’ (1)
And I tell you again, I am a wondrous plant; a seed in the womb of time. I am a grain of wheat, dead among earth’s vastness. And the earth has swallowed me up, and the rains can rot me. But Life preserves me and by it am I redeemed from the earth and the wind and the rain. For by its power am I become other than I was; a green blade cutting the wind; a hungry mouth devouring the earth and lifting it up by the power that lifts me; and the water I have made my blood. I am resurrected from death. I am transformed, and my body is lifted up, even to the sun. For lo, the very Light have I bound unto my being and am become all things.
For I died unto myself and dropped into the earth, not fearing, and you bore me up. So does Jesus show us the pattern of all Life. By dying we live. By letting go of our own efforts, we see that another Effort can come into our life. The sepulchre Jews is buried in is once more the cave of his death and birth – birth and death. The cave where Mary bore him was the incarnation of our higher awareness into the earth of our daily awareness. Jesus here died to heaven to be born on earth. But the sepulchre, where he is buried, is the same cave of ourself, in which the limited consciousness dies to be born again.
There is no difference between this death, and the very first turning of Joachim and Anna to God. The act is precisely the same. All the way along, there is no change. Whether it is Anna, Mary or Jesus; whether it is birth, baptism, temptation, transfiguration, Gethsemane, Golgotha or burial, it is the same act of dying to self by opening self to God. Each is an act of doing nothing, but letting God act on us undisturbed by our efforts, thoughts, opinions, emotions or fears.
I repeat. There is no difference between Joachim’s repentant opening, and Jesus’ death. The difference lies not in the act, but in its cumulative results. At first, the kingdom of ourself is so full of discord, poverty, sickness of soul and body, strife, conflict, and self-will, that these had gradually to be dealt with before the King could discover himself throughout his realm.
The resurrection is not a new level &f surrender, it is only a new level of inner harmony, health and conviction. The simple act of any one of us saying, ‘God, here I am. I yield unto you’, is as potent as Jesus saying, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ The only difference is that at the next moment, our conventions, our reason, our fears and religious beliefs, may once more close the doors. Your voice is no less powerful than his to call God down on you. Nor does God have any preference. But Jesus persisted despite all, and the KING was allowed thereby to rule overall his kingdom, not just a palace, or a cathedral. Not just in a moment of prayer or a withdrawn meditation was God given entrance into the life, but all the time and in every department – love, hate, lust, mercy, birth and death.
Only then does he become the Christ. Jesus, the man, is annointed with the Christ, or God-consciousness. It makes him master of the dream of life. No longer do the symbols of birth and death, time and place, name and form confuse him. He can walk right up to these monsters with a smile, and transmute them. He appears to his disciples in locked rooms. He speaks to them at the same time in two places at once. He is with them always. He eats or does not eat, as he wishes. His very body is transformed. For by yielding our will to the Life force through all, our body and soul are resurrected. They are lifted up complete, and ascend from the mundane to the heavenly, from the individual to the universal.
Life awakens us even in the deeps of sleep. Death means that the old habits, the old ways of reacting to life, of perceiving things, of gaining information, of living, die. For a while there seems to be nothing, but then the new life comes in and we are reborn by its influx. Resurrection of the body means that the old pattern of energy within the body, which arose from our soul-sickness, fear, indecision and intellectual will has died, and been replaced by a pattern of energy arising from the central will of God in us. The functions of our body improve and sickness is cast out, for the body is an expression of our relationship with Life, and what we have realised of God. This is why sudden healing can take place. The old patterns of force, which caused the body to materialise inharmony, are suddenly changed. The body, like iron filings held by the force of magnetic current, changes as soon as the current is redirected.
To be resurrected in body and soul also means to have all that we have made real, or realised in physical life, lifted up into a wider realm of function. Seeing with the physical eyes becomes seeing with spiritual eyes and catching sight of the inner function of things; and so on with the other senses. If we have developed a sense of music, then it is lifted up into a realisation of the music which the stars, suns and planets make in their living movement. If we were healers of men’s bodies – now perhaps we take part in healing a nation, or seeing how God heals souls.
Being resurrected whole shows us that the personality formed as ourself is not destroyed. Instead, it is lifted up into universal awareness, and realises itself as ‘a thought in the beautiful mind of God’. All our being, by this rebirth, is in no way destroyed, for God does not even destroy sin; he redeems it; he redirects the energies involved. Then we become conscious cells in the huge body of God. We are not God, yet we are God. We maintain our individual awareness, yet we are involved in the whole.
June Dunlap, in recounting her own inner experiences, graphically depicts many of the things we may meet in this death and rebirth, this ascension: “After the multiple writhings and tortures of hell, I was left in blackness, and it seemed impossible to me to get .my breath. I was gasping, breathing harder than I had ever breathed before. Then clarity came, and I was the first fish ever to be on-land, fighting for my life; the pond where I had lived had dried up. Soon I was all the fish which had ever lived where water had dried up. Hot arid winds-blew over me. The earth was rocky and mustard yellow, and no living plant could be seen.
Millions and millions of us lay dying until every fish on land had died. I collapsed in agonised ‘death’ and hardly breathed at all. ”When I recovered from ‘death’, the ocean was lapping the hore near me, bringing tiny shells and single-celled and few-celled animals. I was a one-celled amoeba, throbbing like a heartbeat. With a feeling as if I were bursting, my single cell multiplied into millions until I became not only all near microscopic life which learned to live on land but also small lichen clinging to bare rocks.
“I was the first tiny seed bursting and pushing, with infinite difficulty and every cell in my body, through the rocky soil; then millions of bursting seeds struggling to send up shoots. I was a single root, trying to force my way around rocks, but found the way inconceivably hard. Quickly I was all roots, forcing, forcing, forcing both downward and laterally so that life above could live. Next I became the first plant, a single tiny shoot with a green tip. The shoot was beautiful, growing out of the rocky, mustard-coloured land, and its lovely green tip became hope which gave me, as the beginning of all life, courage to struggle on.
“Above me there appeared a light, a tiny sun the size of a star. As all plant and animal life, I was struggling and struggling to reach it, my arms so outstretched as to feel pulled from the shoulder sockets. That little light was God. I must reach Him. I must! I must!
“The struggle to live was constant and ever present in each plant and animal. The struggle to reach God was also constant and ever present in each, and infinitely more difficult. This life force was a living thing which throbbed inside every cell, whether plant or animal, and knew no satisfying. Despite the infinite difficulty of these struggles, I had scarcely started populating the earth with few-celled animals and covering its surface with lichens, fungi and tiny shoots when world-shaking earthquakes came, instantly followed by tremendous waves. My voice became the thunderous rumble of the gigantic quakes and the swishing roar of the fierce waves which beat and over-ran the sad land, the shaking and beating almost tearing my body apart. Life on land was destroyed – my life and all of my lives. I sobbed uncontrollably at such heedless and cruel destruction.
“Soon I became with lightning sequence a single cell, lichen, seeds, roots, shoots, and an ugly little amphibian. By this time I was lying on the floor, a rocky shore. With tremendous difficulty I attempted to climb over the rocks, but my short, almost useless front legs, which were the upper part of my arms, felt weak and extremely painful. But I was on land, and I could live on land. Despite the struggles I had made it. I felt proudly victorious.
“In an instant millions of years had passed, and the earth was filled with every type of prehistoric animal: snakes, lizards, crocodile-like beasts, dinosaurs, and amphibians, and reptiles of every sort and size, all fighting in green marshes with tropical growth. Seemingly I became each of these beasts, one by one, all making loud and continuous noises, and all fiercely fighting in death struggles, consumed with hatred and terror.
“Repeatedly I asked myself, ‘How could man ever have evolved from this?’ As if in answer, there appeared before me the sun that was God, the size of a small moon this time. I realised that God had made himself felt as the life force which had demanded evolution. I, as every prehistoric animal, had felt this life force as a restless driving which had been so great as to supersede even terror and hatred.
“Without the slightest interruption, I changed from being dying animals to becoming hundreds of volcanic eruptions; my internal pressures forcing fiery lava miles into the sky. I was thousands of animals slithering, lunging, and fleeing in panic before rivers of molten lava, a brilliant red glow lighting up the whole heavens. Still I lived as thousands of other animals, searching desperately for food after all plants had been killed, coughing as I tried to drink acrid, ash-thick water, then dying of thirst and starvation. As a few species, I survived on an earth no sun could reach for so many centuries that an ice age formed. I, as a symbol of all life, seemed to die hopelessly on a bleak and frozen earth.
“Since all life had been utterly destroyed, I lay inert in ‘death’, sobbing at such sheer desolation, such stark defeat. Aeons passed. Then I was again an amoeba, still pulsating like a rapid heartbeat, the beautiful green-tipped shoot, the weak-necked little amphibian, and finally again the thousands of animals struggling together, snarling, biting, clawing, hissing, lunging, killing.
“Millions more years passed. Around me was a jungle, huge trees shading a tangle of luxuriant growth. In sequence I was every animal of every jungle, and every plain on every continent. As each, the life force, that urge to reach the sun and God, that ceaseless drive to evolve, was hot within my breast. As the animals of jungles and plain, I felt very different from those in the marshes. Terror was not so ever-present. As the mother duck and the leopardess, I felt the rudiments of love and protectiveness. As lion, snake, and panther, I knew a degree of security; as fowl a sense of freedom; as monkey and antelope, a joy in rhythm of movement and something kindred to a desire for peace. It seemed wonderful to me – that positive emotions were beginning to evolve.
“Then I became the north wind, whipping blizzards across the plains and animals freezing to death; rain pouring in torrents, bringing floods which destroyed much of life; hundreds of volcanoes, burning alike tortured earth and beasts; majestic mountains formed by the convulsions; mighty waves dashing on the beaches; glaciers of other ice ages; thunder roaring and lightning splitting the heavens. Immediately I was great forest fires set by the lightning; terrified animals fleeing from the fires, overcome by smoke and flames, coughing as if my lungs were being destroyed, then dying agonised deaths; and finally the charred stumps and the brown, burned earth. In a geological split-second I was billions of bursting seeds which instantly covered the earth with rank growth. Again and again as millenniums sped by, I was the death of all things, the rebirth of all things. Many times during each million year span, I, as the sum total of the animals of plains and jungles seemed doomed to extinction. I felt overcome with awe, repeating over and over again ‘How could man have evolved from this?’
“Whenever life seemed threatened with annihilation, the light which was God and the sun reappeared, each time a little larger. As every living thing, I felt the urgency to reach it. This restless, driving, throbbing force remained always as great as before, but the possibility of reaching God seemed a little nearer each time. I now knew beyond all doubting that this urge was responsible for evolution.
“In what seemed billions of years since the first amoeba washed up on shore, I was a caveman, cringing in darkness against a back wall of a cavern. I felt insignificantly small and as terrified, as were the prehistoric animals. Then I was all cavemen, leading lives of utter misery. For a moment I was a Cro-Magnon, carving on cave walls, somewhat less frightened now. The aeons sped by, and I was primitive men of every sort: a lake dweller living in a flimsy hut built on stilts, my surroundings so vivid I could hear the lapping of the blue water which sparkled in the sun; a brown-skinned woman near a grass hut village; an Australian bushman; a cliff dweller with a hubbub of children playing around me; an Eskimo eating frozen meat in an igloo. As each I felt the restless, driving, God force which knew no quieting. As each I was terrified of the elements, ferocious animals, starvation, sickness, and other tribes.
“Then I became every variety of more highly evolved man, feeling with astonishing keenness and even accuracy, I suspect, what each must have felt. I was a tiny black baby nursing at a pendulous breast, its mother holding the infant with exquisite tenderness; a Chinese coolie, hunger gnawing at my guts; a prescience scientist, immensely proud to be the first to discover that babies resulted from intercourse; a Korean woman with aching back, weeding a rice paddy; a fat Turkish sultan sitting cross-legged, arrogant and cruel.
“Then I was Socrates, feeling that to die was as nothing compared to forsaking a principle; a Moslem worshipping Allah; a monk in a cold, miserable cell copying a manuscript. As a composite of thousands of persons who lived during the Middle Ages, I died of cholera, the plague, the Black Death, leprosy, and hundreds of other diseases. I was all murderers and all murdered; all lovers and all beloved. I was all beggars, palms outstretched; all givers of alms. I was Columbus watching the fires on shore, proud and thrilled. I was the Mayans, building their temples; Navajos dancing in frenzy around a sand painting.
“Without an instant’s relief I became a mountain climber falling to my death; a sobbing Chinese mother, feeding her children mud during a famine; each of hundreds of people celebrating the rites of spring by having sexual orgies in the fields. All of these persons and more I was many, many times, and each reliving caused me to sob in anguish with the terrified, the sick, and the dying.
“Abruptly, instead of raw ugliness, sheer beauty lay before me. I was Toscanini, conducting an orchestra of hundreds of instruments. At the same time, I was the millions of ears of humanity, listening to the first strains of the celestial music which rose in crescendo – until it saturated my being and absorbed me, egoless, into itself.
“Soon I was again a great variety of persons, lost in a gamut of intense emotions. This time it occurred to me that each of them had experienced the same feelings, struggles, and victories as had the animals in the marshes and jungles. Ever present had been the pull of the life force. This inborn urge to reach God had caused man to evolve until he was capable of love and other positive emotions, a recurring thought which invariably left me overcome with awe.
“Suddenly I felt overcome with compassion. An instant later I became Mary, filled with joy and peace as I rode beside Joseph toward Bethlehem. I was the wise men, bearing gifts, and the shepherds gazing at the star, more brilliant than anything I had ever seen before. We left our flocks and, walking over crackling snow, followed the star; as each of the three, the joy of being with the infant Jesus tore my body with shaking sobs. I was with the child Jesus in the temple; followed Him with His disciples, and with joy in my heart, waved a palm branch as he entered Jerusalem.
“Then I was Jesus, hanging on the cross, felt excruciating pain as nails pierced living flesh, and uttered his words, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ As Mary I sobbed at the foot of the cross. Then He died, was buried, and lived again.
“Suddenly His resurrection seemed shockingly unimportant. It was the same story told already thousands of times. Always after death there had been life. ‘The fact that He rose from the dead is considered important,’ I concluded, ‘only because we have forgotten what each of us really knows deep inside: all life dies and lives again.’
And in different words, Constance Newland’s tells of the same wonder: “Gradually it became clear what had been causing the pain. In every human being, I seemed to be told (from within), there is a fire that burns, a creative fire. When that fire is permitted to burn freely, the human being is healthy and creative, whether he be farmer, artist, mother, workman. But when the fire is blocked, as it is by this pain, then the person is crippled, just as I had been crippled for most of my life.
“Once again I found myself submerging into the sparkling black, which was no longer buzzing, nor frightening, but filled with pinpoints of light. – - and I was dissolving into those pinpoints of light. – - yes, I was dissolving out of the matter which was my body into the energy of those pinpoints of light which grew brighter and brighter, obliterating the blackness and be coming a light which was all Energy.
“I dissolved into the Nothing which is Everything. Transcendence. In the transcendence, revelation:
“There was no climactic moment of release. There was no shattering or explosion. There was only further expansion and further fulfilment. It was as if I had become the expanding universe, spreading further and further in every direction, and through the universe of me there flowed a mighty force, the Life Force, which was like an inexhaustible fountain of fire or air or water, a fountain of eternal replenishment. That must be why the ancient cities of Europe have so many fountains. To show their people this eternal replenishment.”
“Unconscious Me had said that – and now, one after another, the fountains I had seen in European cities rose before my eyes. One in particular stood out more vividly than the rest: the tiny Mannequin – Pis of Brussels, the little boy who has been flowing without stop for almost five hundred years.
“That image too disappeared into the Energy which was sparkling, foam white, endlessly replenishing, refreshing.
“How long did I bathe in that exquisite Energy? Was it hours or minutes or seconds? Time had no dimension in this fountain of fire-or water or air.” (3)
‘And lo, I saw, even with my eyes closed, I saw!’
‘But what did you see? I have done all you have said, and believe me, nothing happened?’
‘Then you have succeeded. What more do you want?’
‘But I still don’t understand you. Nothing has changed. I am the same as I ever was. I have no insights, no greater intuition, no closer awareness of God. It’s all as it was before, so what is the point of my doing anything? After all, everybody, child or grownup, whatever they believe, whatever they do, happy or unhappy, religious or otherwise, they don’t have anything happen either if they just sit down. I suppose what I am trying to say is that my discipline of surrender has not made me any different to millions of others. I sit down, as they might do, and nothing happens.
‘Precisely. Why should anybody be different? The sun shines on all alike. God is interwoven with all.’
‘But you talk as if I am experiencing something wonderful; as if I am now aware of God. This makes me terribly confused, because as far as I am concerned, nothing at all has happened.’
‘Yes, you are experiencing God. Something wonderful is happening. It is alike for every being on this globe. And yes, you are also confused, but that is because you bring so many hard and ready-formed opinions to what you are experiencing. You bring image after image to the formless; conception after conception; and hopes, plans, ambitions and desires. These are your restlessness. These are your sense of failure. After all, have we not said that the central experience of self is Nothing? Well, you are experiencing it. But look what you are doing to it. You bring expectations to it. Perhaps you have read that God is Light, so you expect to be immersed in light. Or else you believe the Absolute takes one away from all sensory perceptions. Maybe you wish to help others, or be a healer, or find some great wisdom here. You bring all these and more to the experience of Nothing, and cloud it over, feel unsatisfied with it, run away from it. Your self cries out to get away from it, to deny it, to belittle it, to say it is not what it is.
‘If instead, you had visions, or heard a voice, or had some great revelation, or felt bliss, or were immersed in a huge awareness lost to the body, then you would say, “Ah yes, this is it, something has happened”. But I tell you, these are all things that emerge from Nothing, and are not the centre itself. Your being, your consciousness, your all, are such emergings; but you are constantly also aware of the Centre from which they emerge. In fact, that with which you are aware, is that Centre. Therefore, why be unsatisfied with what you are experiencing?’
‘I see a little more clearly what you mean, It is nevertheless very difficult to believe that my own common experience of nothing happening is the very thing I seek – God. Also, you said that God is Nothing – and Everything.’
‘Well, that is true, but you must pierce the confusion of your own emotions and thoughts, before you experience this clearly. All your expectations and preconceptions; all your inbuilt dreads and disconnected urges and strivings, act like a cloud or irritant. It is like yourself, never having met me, but wishing to, and yet having an idea that I have short blonde hair, looking for me in a crowd, and never finding me because I have long dark hair. It is, you see, not because I was not in the crowd that you did not find me; but because you came with a wrong conception, the wrong expectation and image. And this is what we do with God. It would be better if you simply stood in the crowd and kept calling my name, without moving.’
‘Why would I not have to move?’
‘Because the crowd is really the mass of your own thoughts, past experiences and emotions; your whole surging soul. If you do not know me, then neither do you know whether I am far or near. If you move, you may be moving away from me, perhaps lust as I was about to reach you.’
‘On the other hand, maybe you are out of hearing and do not notice my calls.’
‘That is the chance you have to take. In fact, God hears all, and as soon as you call and wait, tries to reach you through the surging and difficulties of your own thoughts and emotions. It is a matter of waiting.’
‘Okay, but we come back to the point that I do not seem to feel God has reached me, despite my waiting. I have read that when a Master meditates on God, his body and his thoughts disappear, he is lost in the absolute. Nothing like that happens to me.’
‘You see, you are coming with images and expectations again other people’s photographs of God. But I am not taunting you, I am simply trying to help you believe in your own experience as it stands now. You do not have anything else, and making yourself discontent with what you have will only add further turbulences to be dealt with.
‘Let us be very clear. The only thing which in fact worries you is the feeling that something other should happen. If there were no such feeling or thought, you could sit all day without discontent. It is this discontent which makes you long to achieve something other than you have. But where does the discontent arise from? Is it from your Centre? Is the Absolute discontent? If it is not from your Centre, then it is from the complex of hopes, expectations, fears and dread you have built into yourself. Yet these are not what you seek. You recognise these as your problems, as your fears, but you let them advise you and ruin your relationship with your Self, your Centre.’
‘How do I alter that, though?’
‘Let me finish what I was saying.’
‘When you close your eyes there is nothing. Perhaps images, memories, colours, impressions arise, but each in turn subsides or gives way to others. Behind all this emergence, subsidence or giving way is Nothing. It is God. It is your Centre. But you have denied it so long and hard; you have taken the images and emotions, the drives and fears, the colours and dreams that arise from it as the Reality of life, and have ruined your relationship with it.
‘Can you not see, with a-little perception, that even your socalled meditations are a denial of this central fact of your being? Can you not see how you struggle and thresh about to avoid it? See how you keep trying to fit names and desires and ideas and anything else on to it? In so doing you cover it up – you deny it – you mistrust it – you crucify and bury it. But it rises again every time you sleep; every time you die.
‘By all these acts, that relate you so badly to it, you keep separate because you will not dive into that absence trustingly and lose yourself in it? How can it be Everything while you are putting a manhole of disbelief, doubt, desire and ambition on it? While you are running away from it? I tell you that when men work a miracle of healing, or telepathy, or some manifestation of materialisation, it does not come through effort. It comes out of that Nothing, without any thought or planning on their part. They are probably as amazed by it as anyone else. It happens for them because they are doing nothing, because the manhole is off their Centre, and it flows out spilling creation as it wishes. Or it draws souls into it and annihilates their darkness and separateness. These men are just holes through which Nothing can express Everything.’
‘I still find myself confused; and what you say hard to believe.’
‘Do you find it confusing or hard to believe that memories of your distant past can arise out of your inner darkness and nothingness? Or that poetry or music can call forth from it a spectrum of feelings and moods, associations and ideas? And what is it that blocks these ideas and memories, emotions and moods, from even greater depth and intensity? Is it perhaps your own fears and limitations?
‘If memories and emotions arise from this dark pool of mind what is to stop other people’s emotions, memories, longings from arising therefrom also? It is done by many, why not by you?
‘What, I ask you – mysterious pool that you are – is stopping God himself from being known there? Is it yourself?’
What is it to let ourselves drop into that Nothingness, which pressed out from Jesus the cry, ‘My God; My God, why hast thou forsaken me’, and to die in it? And what is it to be reborn by the very power of this Nothing – the power called the Life Force – into Everything? To be born from Nothing to Everything is to rise from the dead by the power of the Spirit, and experience spiritual rebirth. Does that mean we have become a superman? Perhaps. But maybe it means what it says, simply, to be reborn of the spirit from the cave of earth. To roll back the stone and be released from death and darkness. To leave behind unruffled the clothes that wrapped us, and yet appear as a simple gardener, or a traveller on the road of life, not as a king, or an angel, but, at last, a man.
Do I speak in riddles? Then I will explain them. There is not any birth, and change, any realisation, any growth, any finding of new understanding, any opening up of self, which is not a spiritual rebirth. For the cave is as much the cave of eternity as the cave of matter. It is as much a growth and development to be born out of the eternal into the limited, as to arise from the limited into the eternal. The path of the soul leads us through both caves in its quest for its own identity and ‘purpose. The baby as it grows into a child has died to its babyhood and been born to childhood. The child who grows into youth has died to childhood and been reborn to youth. The youth entering maturity dies to youth and is born into maturity. And what force takes us through all these births and deaths? The Life Force! And when the youth dies and is born an adult, is not the youth who dies a mature one: and the adult born a youthful one? Jesus is fully developed when he dies on the cross. It is time to die, for he can go no further as he is. And the Christ who emerges from the sepulchre is a new being, newly risen and not yet to be touched. The Christ is a baby, for this new birth has to be grown into. The story of the two caves is deeply meaningful. To arise out of one and not the other is only part of the journey. To let the light flow through us at Transfiguration is not completion. In the cave of birth, our eternal awareness enters willingly the limitations of matter, that we are the very Light. But this realisation is only burnt into us as an unshakeable conviction in our willingness to become completely involved in our own physical existence: to have that light die under the impact of our inner and outer darkness. The outer darkness is the mob and persecutors; the inner darkness is our cry of ‘loneliness at the loss of ‘Our Father.’ This willingness to experience the very dregs of our own human condition, is a demonstration of absolute conviction that no matter what befalls us, the Light never in fact leaves us! It sometimes takes long years of inner wrestling, searching, and hard won experience, before we can trust ourselves to that degree. To etch it into our every approach to Life, is not easy. But it is a great truth that the hardest path in life is the easiest. It is difficult at first, getting easier and even delightful, as we progress on it. Only the beautiful easy path is the one becoming progressively painful. And this willingness to lose all, and die, is a joyful shout saying, God lives in me, and nothing can harm me!
To quote one soul who had found this: “In the summer of 1916, I was moving up with my battalion to the line. We were eager and rather nervous. It was our first active experience of war. The last march before the trenches had to be made in the late afternoon and at night. We started, heavily laden, stumbling over the cobbled roads. The rain pelted down, soaking us. We went on till midnight, and came, in the black, to a half-ruined village. Everything was quiet, almost peaceful. We quartered in such barns and farm buildings as still had roofs and walls; struggled out of our equipment and were asleep at once, as our bodies touched the ground.
“I awoke with a start; a shrieking in my ears and a crash like the crack of doom. For a few seconds, silence, broken only by the sound of falling fragments. Again the ghastly, drawn-out shriek and another, more shattering explosion. As I lay there on the floor, torn from the depths of sleep, I felt such extremity of fear such as I had never known. From the waist downward I shook in an uncontrollable trembling, horrible to experience. In the same fraction of time, the upper part of me reached out instinctively, with a deep gasping breath, to something beyond my knowledge.
“I had the experience of being caught, as neatly and clearly as a good fielder catches a ball. A sense of indescribable relief flowed through my whole being. I knew with a certainty, such as no other certainty could be, that I was secure. There was no assurance that I should not be blown to pieces in the next instant. I expected to be. But I knew that, though such might be my fate, it was not of great account. There was something in me that was indestructible. The trembling ceased and I was completely collected and calm. Another shell came and burst, but it had lost its terror.” (4)
To fall into that and find oneself caught, held, then lifted up, is death and resurrection. Are we, from that moment on, new beings. Yes, we are not. Yes because, from now on we know through direct experience, that we are eternal. No, because we are still the same old us. We still have to bring this realisation through the barriers of our life long habits: our past doubts, and the point of our particular development. If we receive this conviction as a child, it does not suddenly make us a man. It will help us to face the process of growth to manhood more surely and successfully, but it does not transform immediately, It gives us the certainty that we are sons and daughters of God, and we can clearly see the wondrous possibilities we have, but the road is still before us. The difference between the man reborn of the spirit and the man unregenerate, is that the reborn knows God’s Fatherhood in his everyday life, and this knowledge gradually transforms him. This rebirth unties us from old limitations, past mistakes, long-held wounds, and allows us to walk on less hampered. And we walk on with a certainty of our unity with all living.
But at a deeper level still, the second cave is one of tremendous transformation. It is a deathlike sleep like that of a caterpillar dead in a chrysalis. Amazing forces are at work, and the caterpillar is reborn as a winged and transformed creature. So the soul of man, when it can face its own darkness and inner death with certainty, comes into an entirely new relationship with the Light. If at transfiguration we experience bliss; if we see the great wisdom within; if we touch the universal power and love, they yet remained largely internal. Now, matter, the body, is literally lifted up, released, transformed. We become channels at this time of actually expressing as physical facts the things we previously only saw within. Thus, because the Universal mind of Life knows all languages, we may speak tongues we have never learnt. We may see into others and diagnose their sickness, knowing from that One Mind, what treatment or medications to use.
Or perhaps our creativity becomes amazing – or our love as the ocean. So too, our being reaches beyond time and space, into the lives of others, to help and heal them.
‘But I would ask you another question. I have read that the spiritual path needs detachment. You have said that life is a dream. Should I therefore develop a detachment from people and the events of my life? Should I cultivate a sense of the Absolute?’
‘Please, come here close to me. Hold my hand. Now perhaps I can talk to you not just with words. Now let me ask you some thing. What is the Absolute you speak of?’
‘I don’t know. It is because I don’t know I am asking you questions.’
‘Do you know whether life is a dream or not?’
‘No, but so many great mystics have said this. Perhaps it is true, and we are the fools who can’t see it.’
‘All extremes are but defences against the one Reality I have called Nothing; generally called God. If a man says “Life is a dream, therefore I need not get involved in its fantasy,” do you
know what he is really saying underneath?’
‘He is really saying, “I am frightened of becoming too involved in life experiences, lest I discover my inadequacies, lest I expose my fears, lest I feel the things I am afraid of.” This detachment is a means of covering our nakedness and fear. It is a way of escaping from Reality. For once again it is imposing yet another condition on the formless. Even in detachment most people have entirely misunderstood its meaning. They turn aside from existence thinking this is detachment. But that is attachment -attachment to values they have about the world. To be truly detached means we can accept all life experience. This is the real test of detachment, as the Christ demonstrates, whether or not we can be completely immersed in life experience – not, as some believe, a rejection of their family ties, their children, the work they are called to do. Such avoidance is, as I say, attachment.
‘Nothing is Nothing is Nothing is Nothing is Everything.’
‘The person who says, “I will lose myself in life experience” is using the same means of defence. He is saying, “I cannot bear to face anything other than I know.” And you misunderstand those great ones who talk of life as a dream, or the world as an illusion. It would be better to have said the conscious life is only part of Reality – one level of it. When we become aware of other aspects of Reality, our relationship with this level is transformed. In fact our old view seems illusory.
‘So how do I come to know more of Reality?’
‘You are holding my hand. Are you thinking about that?’
‘No. I felt a bit silly at first, but I’m okay now. Quite pleasant really.’
‘And when I said for you to come and hold my hand, did you have to think a great deal about it to make the experience possible or real?’
‘No, I suppose not; although I thought quite a lot about why you asked me, and where you were leading up to.’
‘So You see, all this talk about looking for the absolute; or attempting to be the absolute in ways we have read, or thought up, or conjectured, they are all defences. None of them are the thing itself. No written or spoken word has ever described what it is like to see. No sightless person understands such words. Sight is beyond conception, until we do it. So why not give up all the attempt to understand Life, and get on with being involved in it, while at the same time realising it is more than anything you know. In this way you neither impose your tiny ideas and conceptions on it, or block its further realisation as yourself. Discovery is not made by holding on to any hard and fast attitudes, only by being open. To say that the world is an illusion is a concrete attitude. To say it is not an illusion is just as prejudiced. After all, perhaps it is both, or neither. Maybe mankind has yet to realise what it is.
‘Similarly to say I must be detached, or not detached; it is all meaningless, or meaningful; what are these but means of closing ourselves off from Nothing, which is Everything. Far better to have a childlike sense of awe.’
‘I will try.’
‘No, don’t do that. To be a child is natural, not cultivated. We don’t have to try, we just stand out of the way and let it happen,’
When I dropped into God and was held in the formless and imperceptible being of my creator, he grew me as a seed. I arose knowing the power of all life was in me, and I was reborn of the spirit as the early Christians. I went back to my daily life feeling all would be different, all problems gone, all pain wiped away, but it was not so. The old pains still hurt. The old failings still managed to be stumbling blocks for me. So what had changed? It was that now I knew I had in me the power that had created the universe and made man. Maybe I wasn’t expressing it all that well, but I nevertheless knew that no matter what, God was ever with me, and trying to heal me and grow me in his image. I knew that no matter what problems came my way, this Life in me had the power to deal with them. Perhaps applying this Life Power in the right way would take some learning, but God was with me, helping me. My Father had made me and let me stand on my own feet, facing my own mistakes. He had not left me though. Oh no, he was standing back there with a smile – a loving smile. Sometimes he said, ‘Son, that was some mistake! Thank goodness I gave you eternal life from the beginning, and the end of your body is not the end of you, otherwise you would have been good and finished.’
And sometimes I get all high-handed and proud, or occasionally just plain ignorant, and do not ask for my Father’s comment on my efforts at living. Then when I do turn round there are tears in his eyes, and in mine too, usually. But there is always a smile and love even under the tears. So although I still have problems, pains and everything everybody else has got in the way of good and bad, now I’ve got God too.
This closer walk with God, if we have been reborn from the sepulchre, leads to an end, which is another beginning. From unconsciousness Life has led us step by step to self-conscious expansion of great development of our own unique personality. The journey from God leads us on to the refining and gradual expansion of this self we are, until it knows its unity with all things – not just thinks it, but knows it through direct participation in body of journey leads from the tomb to again, and ascension is our end, which is a beginning because Infinity is, as the word suggests, There can never be ultimate ends, or final beginnings, not in infinity. All that can be achieved is a balance and wholeness. For even if, as the mystics say, we lose ourselves in God, and the world is God experiencing himself in creation, we have still not escaped from the act of creation.
We cannot escape from the world, although thousands of ascetics have tried, and will probably continue to do so. We cannot escape because God is, apart from being the formless, also form and substance. Therefore to ‘escape’ into God is to arrive back at our departure, like Alice in Wonderland. True we may, again as a defence, escape from our wholeness into an awareness of but one part of self – the void. But as soon as we are totally lost in the void, the Nothing, it knows itself as the world again. So where is the defence and escape? Why not be whole now, knowing ourselves as all things, and enjoying it?
This is the balance and wholeness which is possible to all men. It is to know ourselves as Nothing – the non creative – non dual -unmoving – timeless and formless – and as Everything – the ever-journeying exploration of the infinite possibilities in the projection of time, space, and as Cayce says, ‘patience.
Winston Churchill, describing his vision of this great journey, says, “The sanctum is occupied by alien powers. I see the absolute truth and explanation of things, but something is left out which upsets the whole, so by a larger sweep of the mind I have to see a greater truth and a more complete explanation, which comprises the erring element. Nevertheless, there is still something left out. So we have to take a still wider sweep. The process continues inexorably. Depth beyond depth, of unendurable truth opens.” (5)
It is everyone’s experience to be born, to pass through babyhood t& childhood, and from childhood to maturity. The journey from the cave to the cross, and from the cross to ascension, shows the pathway of another growth – that of our individual soul – our self. It is a pathway few have trod; few, that is, compared with earth’s millions. Yet it is open to all, and enough of us have passed along it to assure others of its reality and bounty. Enough have stood at the ending and beginnings of ascension to tell us what lies in this new ‘still wider sweep’ of evolution. It is at last to awake even in our sleep. Perhaps we may find that as natives of that sphere there is a deeper sleep, a ‘wider sweep’ still to be explored. But the travelogues that have been given to us by the great adventurers of our race, deal mostly with the journey there, and little concerning the land beyond.
The journey from the sepulchre to the mount of ascension is description enough for our needs. The body is lifted up, reborn whole yet changed, and disappears in a cloud, to be with us always.
To explain it coarsely enough for our understanding to grasp, the sense of individuality our body gives us, lost as it usually is as soon as our senses are lulled,-is at last maintained. Even without our physical body we can now consciously maintain our self-awareness, consciously entering into the infinite. For this is the meaning of ascension, that the body is lost in the cloud. And so the man who climbs that mount of awareness to enter the cloud and travel beyond the range of human sense, becomes a dweller in another realm. It does not mean we have dispensed with our physical body, or that we have to die to enter the kingdom of heaven, for it is within us. It means that our body image, our self-consciousness, can be carried beyond our senses into the Cosmic Mind – into God’s vastness. We enter into the timeless, spaceless inner world of the saints. We become another pathway to God. Within Buddhism and Catholicism, and even in Paganism, this was acknowledged in the pantheon of the gods, and in the communion of saints. Each agreed the influence of the saint, enlightened one, or god, reached out of the invisible to incorporate our lives into the whole. Through the invisible influence of a saint, a thousand or million others might find help and guidance to walk the path.
St. Theresa says that each one of us who takes the way of the cross carries many others with him. And freed as we are in our consciousness, entering timelessness and spacelessness, we can enter the souls of hundreds at the same moment, and throw our love, our wisdom and our power, into their lives to help them – but only when invited.
From afar we can take part in the spiritual growth of those distant from us. We can lean our weight with theirs- as they face pain or fear. We can throw into the arena of their awareness a thought, a realisation, as they wrestle with thought and doubt in their journey. At death we can hold them safe in our awareness until they wake again. And we do this not as ambassadors of our own will – but as helpers in the Lord’s vineyard, sharing the wonder of the harvest; joining in the great mystery of spiritual growth, and the creation of a human soul. Heaven may even be hard work – but joyous, and we, soul gardeners therein.
And Mary, with whom I began, Mary, mother of God in me, even before I knelt at your feet you loved me all unbeknown. Only now do I see the tender guidance you gave in my folly, the pointers, so lovingly gentle, to your son. You led me to yourself out of my hate and violence. Out of my pride and vainglory you called me. Mother, Mother, you loved me and drew me into your very heart, and showed me your humility, And you brought forth to me your son, the light unto my darkness. Ever quiet, ever unassuming, you brought him into manhood. You held dear his words and treasured them even in my doubts and ferment, and you gave them unto me again when I would look. Yes, to the very cross you held open the doors of your tenderness and self-negation that God may create this wonder through you, and present this mystery unto my world.
Thus have you, my mother, earth that you are, earth of the world and of my body, brought forth my soul. Mother to my soul, wife of God, you are the substance of my body, that God entered as the Light into the Darkness, and my soul was born out of the unknowing into the knowing of myself. You brought forth within me, by the power of my Father through you, the growth of me from darkness to light. For I grew from loneliness to knowing I am very Spirit. From ignorance you matured me until I knew myself as a Son of my Father, child of the Eternal. Now, soul of my soul that you are, you have been the stage upon which the great drama has been done; and the Word was made flesh; the Light spoke unto me and was crucified. In your arms you tendered the body of the Light. For, my soul, out of the substance of my thoughts, and poems, experience and longings, you wove a body for the formless, that, lost as I was, I might know the unknowable. And verily, as that woven form of words and heart pains and tenderest knowings is broken in your arms, yet in its very brokenness I pierce the veil of form and substance into the secret empty sanctum of my temple. In my unknowing now I know. In nothing I see everything. In Emptiness and death a fullness everlasting. Thus am I reborn. Thus are you, my mother and my soul, uplifted to the heavens and made Queen there. My soul; my mother; now thou art with God.
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
And now it was evening,
And Almitra the seeress said,
Blessed be this day and this place and your spirit that has spoken.
And he answered,
Was it I who spoke?
Was I not also a listener?” (6)